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Best Resources for Buy-to-Let Property Research

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    How to Navigate Buy-to-Let Research

    It’s no secret that we live in an information era. One in which online content, be it factually correct or otherwise, is at our disposal if and when we need it. Although this has many benefits, it can also make it difficult to cut through the noise, which can cause problems when researching things like the buy-to-let property market to find a rental property that will deliver strong returns.

    There are a variety of factors that come together to form a successful property investment strategy. Location, price point, rental yields, tenant demand, and regeneration in a given area can help many investors decide where to invest when to enter the market, and what type of property to purchase. But how do we acquire this information, and what are the most reliable sources? Well, bear with us, it won’t take long!

    In this blog, we’ll briefly examine some of the best resources for researching buy-to-let property and kick-starting your investment journey.

    These include:

    • The UK House Price Index
    • Property Portals
    • Market Forecasts
    • Rental Market Stats
    • Property Investment Agents

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      UK House Price Index

      So, what’s one of the first things you think about when purchasing a property, or anything of value for that matter? Price, no? If the price isn’t right, then a given investment will likely be a non-starter. Naturally, this is one of the first things to consider when deciding what to invest in right now.

      In terms of the UK market, the official House Price Index is probably the most reliable database for conducting this type of research. This useful resource is updated regularly and is great for monitoring the direction of the market by tracking the rise and fall of property prices over time. The House Price Index will give you the average property price in any UK region or local authority, so if you want to invest in a particular area, it’s good to compare list prices with the regional average on the latest index to see how a potential deal might compare.

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      Property Portals

      If you’re searching the market for a residential or buy-to-let property, you will almost certainly come across a property portal or two. Websites such as Zoopla and Rightmove are excellent, easy-to-use resources for seeing what’s available in a given area and comparing prices.

      You can filter your searches to show you exactly the types of properties you’re interested in and set minimum or maximum price points so you’re not sifting through listings that are out of your budget. Additionally, property portals often publish reports detailing the performance of residential and rental property markets across the UK, providing prospective investors with invaluable insights.

      When researching a particular region or city, you can also find valuable stats such as average rents and property prices on portal websites. Property portals are often the first point of call for buy-to-let investors, and it’s easy to see why. If you haven’t already, we recommend checking them out!

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        Market Forecasts

        Unlike many investment classes, buy-to-let property shouldn’t be approached as a short-term venture. When it comes to property as an investment, the most significant gains are usually made in the long term, when the value of a property increases over time. This is called capital appreciation, and although it can’t be guaranteed, the rate at which a property’s value is expected to rise and fall over time can be predicted quite accurately by some market experts.

        There are several sources from which you can access insightful market predictions. In the UK, two of the best regarded are Savills and JLL, who each publish regular reports detailing where the UK property market is heading. Useful forecasts, such as property value growth in UK regions and rental value growth in UK cities, can indicate the best places to invest in property at a given time. If you’re entering the market to benefit from long-term growth, consulting the latest projections from Savills and JLL is a great place to start.

        Further Reading: See our overview of UK house price predictions for the next 5 years for more information!

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        Rental Market Stats

        For buy-to-let property investors, the most regular and immediate returns on investment will come from rental income. This is often referred to as a rental yield, which is the annual return as a percentage of the property price. Rental yields can vary from place to place depending on the value of real estate in a given area. Much like the research you might conduct around property prices and market growth, understanding the yield you are likely to get from a buy-to-let property is key to developing a solid investment strategy.

        You can gain insightful stats on average UK rental yields from several sources. These include the website PropertyData, which gives the average yield by postcode in most UK cities. Alternatively, you can easily calculate a rental yield yourself by taking the average property price from a source like the UK House Price Index and the average annual rental figure from Rightmove or Zoopla. If you divide the property price by the yearly rent and multiply it by 100, you will have the expected rental yield for that property. Either way, calculating the estimated rental yield from an investment property is good practice before making any significant financial commitments.

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          Property Investment Agents

          When researching buy-to-let properties, there is arguably no better resource than consulting a property investment agent. In most cases, they can provide you with all the above information and more when identifying your ideal buy-to-let property.

          Property investment firms are experts in the field and will take you through everything you need to know about the market, the properties available, rental yields achievable, and tenant demand in a given location. They will also have the latest information on the scale of investment and regeneration within the UK’s top buy-to-let locations. As such, investment agents can introduce you to cities and even individual districts that are set to experience the most significant market growth in the coming years. As a prospective investor, these are the areas to look out for, and this is where an experienced investment agent can become an invaluable asset in your buy-to-let journey!

          For more property investment insights, check out some of our recent buy-to-let guides, such as:

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          Patrick Faulkner

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          Patrick is a property content writer at RWinvest. Keeping a close eye on the UK property market, Patrick helps our readers stay informed and up to date on the latest market news and statistics.