The rise of unoccupied property

As the housing crisis continues, new build properties are cropping up by the thousands across the UK. Yet somehow the government’s aim to build 300,000 new homes each year is falling short. Since the end of the stamp duty holiday, the UK has found itself stuck in one of the worst housing crisis of its time.

In our latest independent research, we uncovered that 52% of UK adults find the housing shortage to be one of the biggest social issues currently facing the UK. With demand for property at an all-time high, 26% of those in our survey said that the shortage of houses has prevented them from getting onto or moving up the property ladder.

But land is becoming a precious resource. Our green spaces and picturesque countryside’s are diminishing. Yet over 268,000 homes in England along were empty for at least six months, according to Government figures in November 2020. Which begs the question: why are these unoccupied properties being ignored?


Buy, refurbish and refinance

Unoccupied properties offer the opportunity for investors to buy, refurbish, resell, and receive a fast return. These assets can relate to buildings that have been empty from mere months to several years.

Due to the building’s standards, these properties in need of refurbishment often go on the market at a reduced in cost. This will depend on the amount of works needed to rejuvenate the asset.

There are plenty of ways in which you can revamp old properties:

  • Restyling and re-modelling interiors
  • Transforming houses into flats
  • Converting old commercial buildings – Old barns and churches have been popular conversion targets in recent years

Refurbishing a property can be a great way to increase the yield on a property portfolio. They are a popular choice for many buy-to-let landlords and property investors. However, refurbishing an old property can also create a wonderfully unique home for a buyer. Merging and modernising old architecture is very much an on-trend, niche avenue that is shown to be popular within the market.

As a style that can incredibly be hard to find, could restored properties become the future of property investment? Advantages of an older property can include:

  • Larger garden area in comparison to new builds
  • Spacious interior layout, providing more options for layout
  • High ceilings, creating the illusion of a more open atmosphere
  • Original features that provide the refurbished property with ‘character’

Finding finance

The ability to convert a spacious house into individual dwellings, is an appealing alternative for landlords looking to build up their assets. Buy-to-let refurbishment bridging finance could see funds in your account within days, rather than months. This means conversion works could start imminently.

Learn m ore about our buy-to-let loans.

Government funding

Whilst government refurbishment finance / funding can be time consuming and complicated, a refurbishment loan could be a fast alternative to take advantage of. You can find out how MFS could help you renovate your next investment on our permitted and light development bridging loans page.

Government funding for refurbishing unused properties is available. Although it can be a lengthy process to obtain this funding, the benefits of refurbishing an older property can be significant. As a result, our latest research uncovered that 73% of UK adults in our survey, would like to see local councils offer greater incentives to renovate derelict properties.

Download our latest report on the UK Housing Crisis, featuring our latest MFS independent research.

Homes to hospitality

Whilst high streets have been struggling over recent years due to the rise of e-commerce, quirky bars and unusual coffee houses have become a favourite, particularly with millennials. They hold many commercial lending opportunities, whether it be as a:

  • Coffee house
  • Restaurant and bar
  • House style pub
  • Site-specific theatre house

Converting old houses for a commercial use could help to not only boost the economy via real estate, but also increase local businesses and revive the high street. It would also increase the number of jobs available.

Time to consider

Of course, like every investment opportunity, property investment relies on 3 key factors:

Firstly: Location

If you’re renting – what kind of tenants are currently in the area? Are these tenants right for you, or your asset?

Secondly: Cost

It is important to consider not just the property’s price, but also the building costs required. Getting quotes from builders before investing – if possible – is always a good idea.

Third: Timing

Investment opportunities disappear quickly, so funds need to be ready.

A refurbishment bridging loan can cover issues with cost and timing, using resale or refinance as an exit strategy, and funds can arrive in your account in days.

It is just imperative to understand your timeline and make sure that your finance solution fits with that. Including scope for snags along the way.

By utilising the past, we can not only spare the green areas of land left in the UK, but also provide thousands of new homes to ease the negative effects of the housing crisis. This benefits not only property investors, but also boosts the economy and provides homes for thousands of UK residents that are struggling to find homes.

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