IMAGE. Buy to Let Guide. What to consider before turning your pension into a buy-to-let investment

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1 IMAGE Buy to Let Guide What to consider before turning your pension into a buy-to-let investment

2 Withdrawing money from pension pots to fund a buy-to-let investment could potentially become a more popular option as the rules regarding pensions changed in April This is because of the pension reforms which came into effect in April These reforms will enable people to access their retirement funds from the age of 55 and use the money to purchase a buy-to-let property. Many are viewing this as a good opportunity for investment. Taking money out of your pension pot is a big step, while entering the buyto-let market is a commitment that will place demands on both your time and money. For these reasons, anyone considering this option should set aside some time to research each stage of the process. Please note: if you are considering using your pension to purchase a property you should seek independent financial advice before taking any action.

3 Withdrawing pension funds Withdrawing money from your pension fund before you stop working could leave you with less income in retirement, so it s a big decision. There are several factors to take into account before committing to early pension release, such as the benefits you could be giving up by taking money out of your pension pot and any penalty charges you might incur. Like with any big financial decision, it s always a good idea to seek independent advice before going ahead. If you decide that unlocking your pension is the right option for you, the next step is to go about it in the right way. It s illegal to take money out of your pension fund before the age of 55, unless you are in very poor health, so avoid any schemes or companies offering to do this. Accessing your pension pot before it is legally permitted could leave you with a tax bill of up to 55 per cent of the sum withdrawn. Done properly, early pension release can provide the necessary funding for a buy-to-let property investment. From this point, the success of your venture could depend on how carefully you research and prepare for the challenges ahead. Done properly, early pension release can provide the necessary funding for a buy-to-let property investment. Finding the right property and location Finding the right property, in the right place, is a key step on the journey to becoming a successful buy-to-let investor. You can refine your search by thinking about your target tenant. For example, you may want to focus on the student market in which case you will be looking for fairly simple, centrally located properties with good transport links and shops nearby. Another option is the family market, which could offer a higher chance of finding long-term tenants. Families are likely to be looking for plenty of indoor and outdoor space, good local schools and a safe, friendly neighbourhood. Whatever demographic you choose to concentrate on, it will help to do some local research before deciding to invest in a particular place. Up and coming areas attracting interest from homebuyers and businesses could offer a better chance of price growth and good returns on your investment. Also, bear in mind that local authority regulations for landlords can vary depending on your location. Before committing to a property, consult the local council to make sure there are no unusual rules or requirements that could come as a surprise further down the line. When it comes to choosing a property, it is also advisable to think about how much time and money you are willing to invest in its upkeep. Older homes could bring a higher risk of plumbing or electrical problems, or might need some refurbishments before being let out.

4 Getting a buy-to-let mortgage The buy-to-let mortgage market has grown to the extent that, over the past year, the total cost of repayments has reached almost 22 billion. (Source: National Association of Landlords). Here are some stand out facts associated with the BTL market: 1 in 5 homes in the UK are now owned by a Landlord BTL lending in Q3 of 2014 was at an 8bn high On average, it takes six weeks to secure a buy-to-let mortgage (Daily Telegraph 22nd Oct 2014) (Bank of England Stats Q3 2014) (National Association of Landlords) Research has also suggested that people taking on buy-to-let mortgages this year could benefit from the lowest interest rates the market has seen for some time. Sylvia Waycot, editor of Moneyfacts.co.uk, pointed out that the favourable situation in the buy-to-let market is in contrast to the current outlook for savings rates. It is hardly surprising that buy-to-let is proving popular with investors, and this is likely to increase once the rules relaxing the drawdown of pension pots in April come to fruition, she added. Buy-to-let mortgages are unique products and it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with their features. For instance: Buy-to-let mortgages tend to have higher interest rates than regular mortgages, and demand larger deposits Some lenders will accept deposits of 20 per cent, but you will be in a stronger position if you can put up at least 25 per cent of the property value Buy-to-let fees are likely to be higher than traditional mortgage fees You should also consider how the housing market could change over the next ten years Your application could also be affected by certain criteria, such as: How much you earn Whether you already own your own home What you are likely to receive in rental income Your age borrowers who will be over 70 by the time the loan is due to end could find it difficult to get a buy-to-let mortgage However there are a number of Lenders in the buy-to-let market who will only look at the rental yield of the property you are looking to purchase and the affordability based on rental returns. It is well worth taking the time to review lenders who you will not typically find on the High Street who are more comfortable lending to people over the age of 70.

5 Being a landlord For people with multiple properties in their portfolio, being a landlord is a full-time job. Even if you are only letting out one home, it will still place demands on your time and finances. Do you see your new venture as an occupation to replace your regular job, and if so do you feel confident of earning enough to live on, now and in the future? If you continue to work while letting out a property, will you have the time to maintain the home and keep your tenants happy? One option is going through a letting agent, who will charge a fee for liaising with tenants on your behalf and looking after any problems with the property It s also worth doing your research on the tax implications of holding a BTL property specifically what you will have to pay on income generated from the property and which other claims you could make. Another consideration is the legal responsibilities that come with being a landlord. These include some but not all responsibilities: Safely maintaining all gas and electrical equipment Providing an energy performance certificate Protecting tenant deposits in a government-approved scheme

6 Rental yield and capital growth Rental yield and growth in the value of your property will be your two main sources of income as a landlord. During the research stage, you will probably want to calculate how much you are likely to earn, taking into account all of your costs and being as realistic as possible. You can work out your net expected rental income by deducting your costs from what you receive in rent. Making allowances for things like having to pay for repairs and maintenance as well as regular expenses like your mortgage and insurance premiums. Dividing your net rental income by the value of the property including the costs associated with buying it will give your rental yield. Average rents and prospects for price growth could be important factors when you are looking for an area to invest in. With house prices levelling off and inevitable rises to interest rates as the economy improves, anyone considering investing in buy-to-let should think carefully before taking the plunge. This means planning for the long term and looking to sustainable yields, not hoping for a windfall in capital appreciation. Carol Uphill Chairman, NLA According to the latest Homelet Rental Index: Greater London, the south-east and the southwest have seen consistent growth in rental values over the past year Scotland saw some of the biggest year-on-year rent increases in the three months to January 2015 Average UK rents in January 2015 were 889 per month, or 702 per month excluding London As far as house prices are concerned, it s important to remember that the value of your property can always go down, even in areas where prices are generally increasing. You can add value by carrying out improvements and refurbishments, but consider whether the effect on the future price of the property is worth the initial outlay.

7 Costs and other considerations The costs of your investment will be one of your big considerations when you enter the buy-to-let property market. Stamp duty, surveyors fees, landlord and buildings insurance premiums, and property repairs are some of the expenses you might need to factor into your calculations. Like any investment, buy-to-let property comes with a degree of risk, so it s advisable to prepare for possibilities like house price decline, rental voids (periods when the property is unoccupied), non-payment of rent and legal disputes with tenants. According to the NLA, a third (32 per cent) of landlords in the UK experienced rent arrears last year. The organisation has also advised landlords of the potential impact of rising interest rates, local licensing and regulation, and the introduction of rent controls. Another factor to think about particularly for retiree landlords is tax. You will pay income tax on amounts you earn from renting out a property, so consider if you are willing to take money out of your pension which will mean sacrificing benefits like exemption from income or capital gains tax to fund your investment. By taking such issues into account, and doing your research when it comes to withdrawing pension funds and finding your buy-to-let property, and understanding the tax implications you can increase the chances of your investment being a success. Stamp duty, surveyors fees, landlord and buildings insurance premiums, and property repairs are some of the expenses you might need to factor into your calculations.

8 aldermore.co.uk/mortgages Aldermore Bank PLC. Aldermore Bank PLC is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. (Financial Services Register number: ). Registered Office: 1st Floor, Block B, Western House, Lynch Wood, Peterborough, PE2 6FZ. Registered in England. Company No Telephone calls may be recorded or monitored for security and training purposes. ARM

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