A recent Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA) report has revealed that getting on for a third of its members believe landlords are snapping up properties in greater numbers.
This is the highest reading for nearly seven years. More than 29,000 became landlords for the first time last year – an increase of more than three quarters since 2010.
It’s not hard to see the appeal. Pensions, stocks and shares and similar financial investments seem volatile or offer low returns, tumbling mortgage rates are making property buying more attractive, and more people are staying in the private rented for sector for longer, making it easier than ever to find tenants.
What’s more, this strong demand for rental accommodation looks set to continue, and mortgage rates are expected to remain low.
The changing landscape means a greater diversity of people aiming to take advantage of the buy to let boom.
This shifting profile of entrepreneurs led the Sunday Times to identify different “tribes” of landlords in an in-depth piece on buy-to-let recently.
These included “Grandlords”, or older landlords who invest to boost flagging pensions. (The cost of being retired has jumped by over a quarter since December 2009.)
Then there are the “Mumtrepreneurs”. Property investment allows parents to stay at home with young children while providing mental stimulation and bringing in a much-needed income. It also gives a family a tangible asset which can later on be used to fund school or university fees if necessary.
The paper also highlights the “Second Steppers”, or those who upsize by renting out rather than selling their first home to fund a move to a bigger property.
The “Divide and Conquerors” are couples who use divorce settlements to put a deposit down on an investment property. Again, this group will feel the benefits of financial security and having a sellable asset.
Finally, expat entrepreneurs are increasingly buying property instead of hedge funds or pensions. This gives those living abroad a foothold in the British market, and the choice of moving back in, selling up or continuing to rent out on returning to the UK.