When buying a property as an investment property to buy, improve and sell on at a profit is an art and requires skills that are quite different from buying property to live in. Get it right and you can make a tidy sum – get it wrong and you will end up with a financial mill stone around your neck!
Key Points to Consider When Choosing an Investment Property:
Have a definite budget from the outset and stick to it. You need to be hard-hearted and not allow a property’s perceived character sway your choice, if renovating the property will take you above your budget – walk away!.
Always have a contingency fund of around 15% to allow for unexpected issues or a delay in the sale of the Property
Decide what type of person you are going to sell the property to before choosing the property. A professional couple is more likely to want a modern house (modern kitchen, bathroom, stripped wood/ laminate flooring etc) near to their work and the town centre and shops. A family will be looking for more neutral scheme of decoration (enabling them to put their own stamp on it), with good transport links, parking and near to a good school
Check what type of people live in the area – what is the average income? What is the average type of employment? All these factors combine to indicate your target market.
Research what the properties in the area sell for and how frequently they sell, and use this information when considering how much refurbishment you are going to do to the property. Each area has an unofficial limit as to how much a property will sell for. No matter what you do to a property or add to it, you are unlikely to be able to sell the property above this limit. Check how long the property has been on the market – if it has been on the market for more than a few months there is unlikely to be any profit in it.
Research the neighbourhood: The type of neighbourhood a major factor in deciding the success or failure of a development project. You may find a property that only requires a lick of paint, new carpets and the installation of a new kitchen and bathroom, however if the property is in a run-down area with a high crime rate, it is unlikely to sell regardless of what you do to it – walk away.
Check the condition of the property – Visit the property several times with tradesmen such as plumbers, electricians, carpenters, damp proof companies, many of these will provide free estimates and this will provide an invaluable indication of what the issues are and what the renovation is likely to cost you. Although this is an important first step, it is not a substitute for having a survey carried out on the property by a surveyor once you have chosen the property.
Have a careful look at the neighbouring properties – if for example you are looking at a two bedroom house with a view to converting it to a three bedroom house by building a two storey extension – check whether the other properties in the street are extended, if they are not, this may be because it is difficult to obtain planning consent for such an extension from the local council. There may also be restrictions or ‘covenants’ on the title that prevent the extension of the property – it is important to seek the advice on this from a conveyancer who is experienced in such matters.
If the renovation involves extending or converting a building – it will most likely require planning consent; make sure that the purchase of the property is made subject to the obtaining of planning consent. If you complete the purchase without making the obtaining of planning consent a condition of the contract, you may find yourself saddled with a property you cannot do anything with.
Check whether the property is a listed building or in a conservation area: If the property is in a conservation area or is a listed building, there will be restrictions on what you are able to do to the property. Conservation areas are designated to keep the character of the area, and you will have to apply for planning consent before doing anything to the external appearance of the property; if your plan is to install uPVC replacement windows this may be rejected and you may have to install made to order sash windows which are considerably more expensive. With a listed building, any change or repair to the property will require listed buildings consent and will usually involve the need to use materials in keeping with the original construction; such materials may require extensive sourcing or you may have to have them specially made. The expense of this may easily wipe out any profit in the project.
Check whether the property is Freehold or Leasehold: If it is Leasehold you will need to obtain the landlord’s consent to any changes to the property. The landlord may not give the consent or may charge for it.
Do the minimum that you need to do to sell the property at a profit: Keep ‘your eye on the ball!’ Remember this is not going to be your home – the purpose of the project is to sell the property at a profit in the minimum length of time. If you spend money on unnecessary improvements (for example, hot tubs, modern spotlighting) or spend too much time on the renovation – you are eating into your profits and will have less to invest on your next project
Appoint a Project Manager – this could be you, or as is more advisable, you can appoint an experienced builder or property developer. The project manager will oversea the project, negotiating with the builders, electricians, plumbers etc, making sure that the work is done to the desired quality and to the correct timetable.
Leave the skilled work to the professionals – an experienced builder, plumber, carpenter etc is more likely to do the work in a fraction of the time and to the correct buildings regulations standards. Remember the adage – ‘Time is Money’!
When choosing a builder always get references and consider choosing a builder who is a member of the Federation of Master Builders.
Do the basic work yourself – Avoid paying skilled plumbers, builders etc..(at Â£20.00 + per hour) to sweep up or strip wallpaper do it yourself and leave the professionals free to concentrate on the work for which they are skilled and get their work done in the minimum amount of time.
Draw up a formal contract with the builders and other professionals: It is important for the parties involved in the project know what is expected of them from the outset. Without a formal contract it is unlikely that you will have much redress if things go wrong. Be very wary of the builder who is reluctant to sign a formal contract.
In conclusion, always keep in mind the fact that the longer you own the property, the more it is costing you in amongst other things mortgage payments and interest. The more you spend on the property, the less profit there is in the project as there is always a ceiling on the amount you can sell the property for.