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New landlords and investors from both the UK and overseas are hoping to enter the UK housing market. What’s behind the rise?

The number of people searching for property in the UK for buy-to-let purposes is booming, according to new research from Legal & General. And the biggest increase in demand has been from first-time investors and landlords over the past few weeks.

The insurance firm says it has seen an 18% increase in people searching for terms such as ‘first-time buyer’, ‘first-time landlord’ and ‘non-owner occupier’. This spike has been most prominent since the start of September.

‘Holiday lets‘ was another popular search term on the company’s site. This is likely to reflect the rise in ‘staycations‘ across the country as people’s international travels are restricted. The trend had already been growing as more people have chosen to holiday within the UK in recent years.

Good time to invest?

The UK housing market as a whole has seen a surge in demand over the past few months. Movers and buyers who had held off in March and April have been taking action since early summer.

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After Rishi Sunak announced a stamp duty holiday for the first £500,000 of a property purchase, buyers were further spurred on. And in the buy-to-let space, despite the 3% surcharge that still applies, interest also increased. Buy-to-let investors can still save thousands of pounds in tax thanks to the stamp duty change, which ends next March.

The data from Legal & General also showed that searches for ‘expat not in UK’ had increased by 50%. Most of these searches were in seek of buy-to-let mortgages, the firm added.

Interest from the expat community in the UK property market is nothing new. With sterling continuing its low performance against the dollar, many overseas investors believe it is a good time to buy property here. It is also seen by many living abroad as a “safe haven” for investment, compared to many other markets.

“Our latest findings from SmartrCriteria suggest a growing number of first-time buyers are searching for mortgages for buy-to-let ventures, including those engaging with the growing trend towards staycations this year.”

Mortgage market changes

Mortgage rates remain incredibly low right now, although they are beginning to inch up. This is further attracting property investors to the market, whose borrowing costs directly affect their bottom line.

Lenders are continuing to approach the current situation with caution, though. While rates are competitive, the number of products available remains lower than at the start of the year. Those looking for higher loan to value options may struggle the most.

But according to Kevin Roberts, most lenders are willing to consider a wide range of borrowers.

“There have been thousands of criteria changes since the lockdown and mortgage advisers are supporting seasoned property investors, first-time landlords and other buyers to find lenders and products that meet their needs,” he comments.

Options for first-time landlords and investors are changing all the time, so getting independent financial advice can be helpful.

One of the latest lenders to offer specialist product to first-time investors is LendInvest. They have launched a new range of products which offer up to 80% LTV for student lets and new landlords.

The maximum loan amount is £500,000 at this level. However, for those with a bigger deposit, loans go up to a maximum of £1.5m on standard properties. There are also options for multi-unit freehold blocks up to £3m, as well as houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

Source: Buy Association

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