Riveting Refurbishments: Buy-to-let upkeeps

The buy-to-let (BTL) market is a popular option for property investors, as the demand for rental properties continues to rise. In fact, the average rental income of a newly let property outside of London has risen by 8% in the 12 months to February 2021. What’s more, since the beginning of coronavirus pandemic, the rate of new rental properties being listed has been declining. With demand increasing, buy to let offers significant opportunities for investors. But how can bridging loans be used by investors seeking to enter the BTL market or expand their portfolio?

Source: Hamptons Letting Index

Buy-to-let refurbishment

With so many tenants entering the UK property market, the time for landlords is now. But a constant stream of tenants does have one slight downside. The dreaded wear-and-tear. A natural occurrence, particularly for houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs), that landlords should factor into their monthly rental charges, as property upkeep will be unavoidable. With BTL properties being under constant stress from the stream of tenants moving in and out of the property, the challenge for landlords is finding time to renovate and refurbish.

BTL refurbishment loans offer landlords a fast and flexible bridging finance solution that covers the gap in income. This gives the time and funds to renovate the property, and get new tenants in.

Things to consider

When it comes to maintaining a BTL property, there are several elements’ landlords need to consider:

  • How often they intend to refurbish their property
  • To what standard they wish to renovate too

It can be a time consuming and, in extreme cases, a costly experience depending on the existing tenants. However, whether you’re looking at minor updates or full property renovation, any updates are likely to increase property value and/or gain attraction from potential renters. The age range and type of tenants you’re looking to target will expect different levels of quality within the property, so landlords should be sure to factor this into their refurbishment decisions.

Whilst young professionals will still be looking for a clean and upkept property, a lower quality of items are often accepted by this age bracket, as their key priorities will most likely be reduced travel time or lower rental charges.

Buy to let refurbishment loans are regularly used to fund these projects. By having a bridging loan in place, landlords are able to complete renovation works quickly and, in doing so, reduce the risk of project deadlines being missed, which could incur an additional cost.

Below we’ve listed the areas of the property most often damaged by wear-and-tear, and those that potential tenants are likely to inspect more closely when viewing your property.

Bathroom

Tenants can be easily put off by an out-dated bathroom. It’s a place where tenants want to feel their most relaxed, and the look and feel of the room plays into this feeling. Older bathrooms can also give the appears of being unclean, as bathroom tiles and paint may begin to crack, marks may appear on the walls and elements such as the bath and taps can begin to gather rust, grime or build up limescale should the water in the area be hard.

  • Renovating your bathroom will not only add a sense of modernity to the property but it also has the potential to increase your property value by 4-5% on average.

Source: RESI

Kitchen

The kitchen is the hear of the home, so it’s important to ensure it is looking it’s best, particularly if you’re targeting older tenants. Whilst annual wear-and-tear may not take on an immediate affect in the kitchen area, when the time does come, it can be a very costly update. Particularly when it comes to white goods.

Ensuring all the white goods are up to standard and assets like the oven have been professional cleaned are elements that tenants are likely to notice, especially if they’re paying a more premium price. Installing a dishwasher can also be a way to increase your rental charge, as it is often an added benefit for the tenant(s).

  • Quality counter tops – particularly those in a darker colour such as granite – won’t mark as easily, reducing its maintenance needs.
  • A new kitchen has been estimated to add up to 4% value of your home, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

Source: Country Stone

Living Room

If you’re letting your BTL with furnishing’s included, then items in the living room are likely to receive the most wear-and-tear, as this is the room that tenants spend most of their time. Regular maintenance from the landlord will most likely be needed, so consider this when purchasing your items from this area of the property.

  • With an increase in working from home, landlords should look at adding workable surfaces for their tenants, such as installing a larger dining table or adding a desk.
  • Replacing carpet with wooden floors is likely to see less damage and last longer, as carpets flatten, and underlay will need to be replaced. Real wooden floors will also increase your property’s overall value.
  • When it comes to HMOs, you will likely want to add a communal area that all your tenants can relax in. When it comes to multiple people in one property, the larger this space, the better. If you’re looking to convert your property into an open plan style to maintain the feeling of spaciousness, then why not check out our conversion bridge loan.

Bedrooms

Having space to freely walk around the bedroom without banging your legs against the edge of the bedframe is a tenant’s dream come true. Keeping this room unchipped, fresh-faced and mark-free will be the challenge for landlords, as it is guaranteed to be used practically every day.

  • If tight on space in the living room, desks may be best located in bedrooms. Properties with multiple rooms could see the introduction of an office space pique the interest of many tenants, particularly since the pandemic hit last year. This is likely to be highly rated if you’re looking at housing students or young professionals as well, who may now be working from home on a semi-permanent basis.
  • Installing a built-in wardrobe can attract potential tenants to your property as they often offer create more storage space, and you’re likely to see an increased return from this if you’re looking to sell your property in the long run; if performed to a quality standard.

New regulations

Recently here at MFS, we have seen a rise in interest in our buy to let refurbishment bridging loans. This is due to new HMO regulations. Landlords need to ensure they meet the minimal standards for all of their BTL properties, and pay particular attention to the differing rules for HMOs. These standards include minimal room sizes for occupants as well as ensuring all rooms and communal spaces are “fit for human habitation”.

Download our Guide to HMO to find out more on regulations and landlord responsibilities.

Take advantage of bridging finance for BTL

Refurbishment loans are just one of the ways bridging finance can be used to support residential investments. With demand rising, now is an opportune time for investors to consider purchasing a BTL property. In these instances, refurbishment finance in the form of a bridge loan is ideal. Funds can be with you in a matter of days, meaning works can start quickly and without delay.

If you or your clients are looking at a buy-to-let purchase, get in touch today. MFS’ team can provide more information about the bridging finance options, be it a refurbishment loan or a residential bridging loan.

Find out more about our refurbishment product here.

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