If I got a pound for every time I was asked where the best place in Bristol to invest in a buy to let property is, then I would be writing this column from a beach sun lounger for the ‘Barbados Life’ Magazine.
As repetitive as my answer now seems to me, it's a topic of great value that I love to talk about, mostly because it covers two of my most favourite things - Bristol and Property!
There are potentially huge benefits in investing hard earned savings into property, rather than stocks and shares or ‘high’ interest savings accounts. Residential buy to let property is a long term investment and it must be treated as such. But there can be great returns on offer both in the short term with a sound return on investment percentage, and in the long term from the capital growth of the asset. Property can be a low risk, high return place to build your pension pot, but only if it is approached correctly with a sound understanding of the market.
Location, Location, Location. Is it as important as Kirsty and Phil make out? Well in this case, yes and no. There are of course more popular areas with Bristol’s renters, many of whom are in their 20’s and 30’s and want to be ‘where the action is’. The suburbs located either side of Whiteladies Road, Gloucester Road and North Street are all very popular with professional renters. However, we have a saying in our office that every property lets in a similar timeframe, as long as it is presented well and is priced correctly. So properties priced at the lower end of the market, in suburbs on the outskirts of the city, should not be discounted as sound investments, especially for those with lower investment budgets.
Where location does become more important is when you have a strategy for letting your property to sharers - so multiple people forming multiple households within one property. This could be to a group of students or young professionals living together - they have their own room but share the communal spaces. These types of let’s can bring higher rent returns, but there are numerous considerations for a landlord when choosing this route. For example, there are various licensing schemes across Bristol that in some instances cover lets to three or more people, and in all instances apply to lets with five or more people from different households. Meeting these license conditions can be challenging to navigate for new or part time landlords.
There are also Article 4 planning restrictions in place in many areas of the city, that cover a change of use meaning the route to house conversion for multiple use is dependent on formal planning consent. So, although potential returns can be more exciting, there are numerous hurdles to jump when setting up a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) which is where a good letting agent really earns their money.
If you are brave enough to take the HMO route, then student lets are a fabulous option. Popular areas for the University of the West of England students are Filton, Horfield and Ashley Down, however we have seen landlords successfully operating these lets in less traditional areas like Stapleton and Eastville. To appeal to Bristol University students you need deeper pockets, with property in Redland and Clifton very popular with these students. Although with the new campus at Temple Meads, I wouldn't mind betting that Brislington becomes an area of interest for Student landlord investments in the coming years.
If property investment and becoming a Landlord interests you, there is much more to consider so feel free to contact me to discuss this in more detail… but if you get an overseas dial tone, then I am definitely not in Barbados.