What works for you Commercial or UK Residential property?

The UK residential property market remains buoyant as a result of the various SDLT holiday extensions and the Furlough scheme supporting employees. Yet some investors have turned to the commercial property market to look for opportunities. Recent and further impending planning Class changes from 1st August 2021, relaxing the rules around converting many types of commercial buildings to residential, have meant investors are embracing the potential opportunities this brings.

UK Commercial and residential buildings

But the commercial property sector also has its inflated price challenges. And it isn’t just the private residential rental market where the government has imposed restrictions on landlords over evictions or seeking to claim unpaid rent. It is also in the commercial sector.

Although some restrictions are lifting like the Residential eviction ban was lifted on 31st May, there are other more lasting changes that will endure. For example new ‘breathing space’ laws, which might affect the types of tenants residential landlords want.

Whichever type of opportunity you are seeking, remember there are some enduring principles that work whichever the sector, particularly when it comes to due diligence.

UK Residential and Commercial Property: 6 Tips

Check UK Property Title

This is useful to do early on in the process, to look for Title defects or covenants and to get an idea of the pricing history, all of which is useful information shaping the decision on whether to invest and also with the negotiation stance

Right area?

Whether commercial or residential, this is important. If for example you are seeking to do a commercial to residential conversion, then it is important to check that the area has a sufficiently residential look and feel for. This will increase the chances the end product will work well and be profitable, either as a hold or sell-on opportunity

Sourcing requires similar skills and sources:

Agents – are useful in both sectors although the type of agents differ in their approaches. Commercial agents may talk more qualitatively about the building rather than the numbers, but all agents are motivated to conduct viewings to be actively promoting a property.

Direct to Vendor is a buying strategy for both sectors. For Commercial property tools like LandInsight and Nimbus are used for Land and commercial and can help when checking Title or identifying the owner to approach directly

Google Street views are powerful to show the history of the building for planning and to show how it has been constructed and extended over time.

Checking Property Floorplans

This is a useful technique for ensuring whatever planned building usage changes, the minimum space requirements are met for residential living

Property Tenant checking

Whilst this is important for residential properties, it tends to come at the end of the Due Diligence process. Whereas for commercial it is one of the first priorities to check out the tenant company. This can be done on Companies House if it is a Limited Company to ensure there is a robust income stream and business model to sustain rental payments.

Property Contractual terms

Are important for both residential and commercial sectors, but more so in commercial as the various Lease clauses change the nature of the contract significantly, more so than for a more standard residential Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) contract.

If you would like to talk about residential or commercial opportunities, whether that be Student Accommodation or Hotels then please get in contact or email info@property-venture.com

My business focuses on helping time-strapped expats and busy business people who don’t have the local presence, or capacity, to acquire the ‘right’ properties for them. Property Venture® is an award-winning, Boutique property consultancy that finds the right investment properties for clients.

Disclaimer: Property Venture® has outlined information in layman’s terms to enable top line comparisons. Property Venture® is not offering advice. With regard to in-country legislation, letting licences and taxation laws, then you must take appropriate legal or taxation advice during your purchase process, at which time your solicitor or adviser will discuss with you up-to-date legislation and costs

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How Covid-proof is the UK property market?

Only a few months ago we sighed a sense of relief that we had a majority in government and that we could move forwards politically and economically… and then Coronavirus hits the streets.…

The lockdowns across the globe are creating an interim ‘normal’ as property investing, for many, takes a back seat. However, there are still some of you checking property investments out from the comfort of your homes but have many questions like:

  • How ‘safe’ is it now to invest in the UK property market?
  • What am I best doing now?
  • What will happen with property prices?
  • Can I still get a mortgage?
  • How will the market look post COVID-19?

How ‘safe’ is it now to invest in UK property?

UK property market

The UK has long had a supply: demand imbalance and the building industry has been trying to keep up with the annual supply of houses, but has never quite managed to meet target numbers. That remains the case and is now exacerbated by vendors not being able to come to market, or at least not as easily in the past. Estate agents have stopped physical viewings, surveyors have halted site visits and many conveyancers are not rising to the challenge of digital and remote working.

All of this means that supply is constrained, but core demand is still there. UK residential stock is a defensive sector, with vanilla buy-to-lets the cornerstone.

The commercial sectors (retail, office, industrial) will, in all likelihood, suffer greater impact as commerce takes a hit during the lock down period. Although Permitted Development Rights developments will potentially get a boost as more high streets lose retailers.

Sectors such as Serviced Accommodation (short lets), Holiday Lets and some HMOs are finding the times challenging as everyone migrates back to their longer term residences. These sectors will, no doubt recover, but it might take time.

The biggest risk currently is delays in new schemes coming to market, with different parts of the supply chain getting back up to speed after the crisis. Possibly impacting bigger developments more, if there are volume supply issues with materials like bricks.

The key is to plan ahead, understand and prepare for these eventualities as an investor.

What am I best doing property-wise now?

Choose the property sector that best suits your strategy, given any risks mentioned earlier. Don’t over-stretch yourself financially over the next 6-9 months and take sensible risks.

Projects nearer completion may be ‘safer’ for investors, given the inherent delays there are going to be in the supply chain for new projects and developments. There may well be some keen prices on early-stage off-plan and new builds, as developers seek to bring cash flow into their businesses, but the risk needs to be evaluated alongside your own financial position and appetite for risk.

What will happen with property prices?

Whilst transactions have fallen away as viewings are not happening, it is less certain property prices may tumble given the level of demand for property is still present.

Many valuers have a 3-month Covid-19 Clause which indemnifies them for their valuations, so we will tend to see normal property valuations continue in the short term. But after 3 months, there will be no historic, robust, 3 month comparables. We might then see valuations being written down to cover surveyors who will be thinking about their Professional Indemnity Insurance, but demand will still be there. There are more likely to be delays bringing residential property to market than significant down valuations.

Can I still get a mortgage?

Some lenders are reducing loan-to-values (LTVs) and increasing rates, not all lenders though. Banks still want to lend. Property offers security versus many other forms of lending with little or no security.

It might be useful to consider the banks financial position, given the stronger lenders with a solid financial backing are more likely to persist with a decent flow of lending and less likely to tighten their risk-management.

How will the market look post COVID-19?

Comparisons have been drawn with the Credit crunch of 2008. During the credit crisis, the FTSE declined 43% from peak to trough. UK property prices declined 19% from a peak in Sept 2007 to a trough in March 2009 (Land Registry). 

The 2007-09 credit crisis involved different dynamics, given it was financial, with an almost-complete collapse in the banking system. Millions of people lost their jobs, their homes, their savings or their businesses as credit dried up. While the economic disruption now is immense, the long-term effects on the economy are likely to be far less severe given the speed of government intervention.

UK government stimulus now is more than ten fold the stimulus package in 2008. This gives rise to the view that the bounce back will be quicker than post 2008.

If developers survive the shut down, it could take 3 times the length of the shut-down to recover. Some contractors and consultants may not survive even if developers do, which will create delays as developers seek to replace key members of their build team.

On the upside, we could be living with another 3-5 years of ultra low interest rates, which will ease the borrowing situation and enhance leveraged-investor returns.

If you would like help with planning ahead, understanding and preparing for these eventualities as an investor then please get in contact.

I work with time-strapped expats and entrepreneurs who don’t have the capacity, local presence or gaps in their know-how to build property portfolios in the right way for them. (Or who are simply stuck with little progress). This means you can carry on your day-to-day lives without spending disproportionate time getting sucked into investing.

Our clients get regular updates on hot deals and the latest changes in the property market. Want these? Go here

Property Venture® is an award-winning, European investment property specialist and sits on the Advisory Board of the Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP) the business has been vetted, approved and voluntarily commits to Industry Regulation and the Professional Code of Conduct. We are known for our quality customer service and non-pressurised approach to sales. Take a look at what our clients say

Sources: Inspired by ‘Trusted Land’ Webinar, Invest-like-a-Pro, CER

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Visiting the London Stock Exchange to check out latest offers

Taking time out to visit the LSE and hear about new property-related products and financial offers which might be of interest to Executive investors and Expats

Our clients get regular updates on hot deals and the latest changes in the property market. Want these? Go here

Want guidance on what’s best for you to invest in? Then please get in contact

Louise Reynolds, Director of award-winning, European property investment firm Property Venture® who helps busy business people enrich their lives through property. The focus is mainly: Buy-to-let homes in the UK, Poland, German investment property, Managed Leaseback in France and Spanish city property.

On the Advisory Board and a Member of the Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP) the business has been vetted, approved and voluntarily commits to Industry Regulation and the Professional Code of Conduct. We are known for our quality customer service and non-pressurised approach to sales. Take a look at what our clients say

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Commercial the new Residential following Autumn Statement?

By following through on plans to reduce Corporation Tax and boost productivity through infrastructure investment, Philip Hammond tries to ensure the UK is an attractive place to do business, as we grapple with Continue reading Commercial the new Residential following Autumn Statement?

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Buy-to-Let on Naughty Step, Commercial property ‘Teacher’s Pet’

What has George Osborne’s 2016 Budget done for property? Given how unsurprising this budget was expected to be, there have been an awful lot of surprises. Continue reading Buy-to-Let on Naughty Step, Commercial property ‘Teacher’s Pet’

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