What are the key buy-to-let opportunities in 2022?

We’re quickly heading towards that time of year when many people tend to have one eye on the past and one on the future. For landlords, 2021 has proved to be an opportunity-laden year and there’s plenty of optimism in the air to suggest that 2022 will see the private rental sector become an even more prominent focal point within the economy, the housing market, the mortgage industry and the intermediary community.

Related topics:  Blogs,  Mortgages   |   Cat Armstrong | Dynamo for Intermediaries
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2nd December 2021
Cat Armstrong Dynamo
"One area already looking well ahead into the new year is the student community"

One area already looking well ahead into the new year is the student community which – after a sustained period of uncertainty, remote studying and living far afield from campuses – has seen numbers return in their droves. A move which is bolstering rental demand in the larger, student-heavy areas which really suffered over the course of the pandemic.

One good example of this is Leeds, where rising student numbers has resulted in properties already being reserved via virtual viewings for the next school year, with many prepared to pay record rents to secure the best homes. This follows the University of Leeds saying that many courses were oversubscribed this year and it’s estimated that the student population in Leeds has now swelled to more than 70,000. When commenting on these numbers, Josh Buckley, lettings branch manager at HOP’s Leeds city-centre office, suggested that ‘many students also seem to have bigger budgets than ever before and it’s generally the most expensive homes, with the highest specifications in the best locations that are generating the most interest. In many cases, tenants are happy to rely on virtual viewings and will sign for a property without even physically visiting it.’ This is certainly an interesting observation and one which is bound to capture the interest of landlords and investors in the area and also those assessing the potential of other major university towns across the UK.

Looking back, many urban areas have struggled from a rental perspective over the course of the pandemic and this was very evident in towns and cities with large student populations. This is despite such areas having long provided attractive investment opportunities, especially when it comes to HMOs. Of course, such property types are not just limited to the student population. A rising number of young, and not so young, professionals are utilising shared accommodation to reduce living costs and this remains prevalent in some of the larger, more expensive cities across the UK from a rental and purchase standpoint. Professional landlords are always assessing trends and I’m sure that many will be refocusing their attention on the HMO and student let market in light of such figures as we, hopefully, continue on our path to some degree of educational ‘normality’.

Quality, energy efficiency and location will remain three key elements for landlords and for tenants who are demanding more from their homes, however short-term these may be. In addition, landlords need to seek greater clarity and advice from intermediaries and lenders when it comes to maximising yields, minimising costs, how to finance any investment opportunity or refinance to meet existing portfolio demands. 2022 will not be without its fair share of challenges for landlords but these will continue to be overshadowed by opportunities and this may well be one such area worth exploring.

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