Earlier this year we spotted an opportunity to set up a buy to let Estate Agency. However, due to lack of resource (time) very little has been done other than a dozen or so sales on behalf of developers, plus setting ourselves up with The Property Ombudsman Service and organising Professional Indemnity insurance to keep ourselves legal of course.
The reason we haven’t got around to growing the buy to let Estate Agency business is that our passion is facilitating the sharing of best practice amongst landlords and letting agents on the Property118 forum which I set up just over two years ago. Prior to that I was a commercial finance broker and I’ve been a landlord since 1989.
The opportunity is a very simple one. Nearly 200,000 landlords and associated professionals subscribe to our daily newsletters and engage on the Property118 forum. Some of these people are no doubt in the market to buy more property. It occurred to us that most properties are sold with vacant possession, however, for landlords that can be a bit of a nightmare as both the vendor and the purchaser both experience costly void periods.
Rightmove and the Zoopla Property Group portals are ideal to sell properties with vacant possession but if a landlord wants to sell or buy a tenanted property these portals are far from perfect as there’s no search facility for buy to let property. Furthermore, their interfaces are not geared up to show rental yields, returns on capital invested, costs of letting etc. At Property118 we have created a landlords calculator to work all of these things out
As we haven’t got time to source properties to sell, never mind to prepare sales particulars, do floor plans, arrange viewings and progress chase offers through to completion, our idea is to work on a split commission basis with other agents.
We will showcase properties on the Property118 forum and link to them in the daily Newsletters. Enquirers will be landlords who may well already own properties in the area, hence for agents who partner with us on this venture, all referrals will be good leads for future sales and letting opportunities as well as prospective purchasers of the property which is being marketed.
From the landlords perspective, they will be presented with properties which are already let and will have no void periods and perhaps most importantly, without any buyers premium attached to them. The sales particulars will include details of the tenancy including:-
- rent currently being paid
- profile of the tenant
- time already in the property
- management fees currently being charged
- other expenses relating to the management/maintenance of the property
This information, together with an indicative financing quotation will enable us to calculate not only rental yields but the cash on cash equivalent annual returns after all costs including mortgage, insurance, lettings and management, a sensible maintenance budget and where appropriate any ground rents or service charges. This will enable investors to compare cashflow returns on their money to the returns they are currently receiving elsewhere on their investments. The potential for capital growth is obviously a primary reason for people to invest into property too of course.
We will not allow this activity to overwhelm what we do here at Property118, therefore, we will cherry pick the properties we want to promote based on those which we believe make sense to buy as investments.
It is unlikely that we will be in a position to accept instructions directly from landlords to sell their properties due to the lack of infrastructure to provide a sufficiently professional service, i.e. floor plans, viewings, for sale signs etc. Therefore, any such enquiries will be referred back to the agencies we end up partnering with. Landlords are, of course, also welcome to introduce us to any agencies they are already working with as we will not get tied into any exclusive contracts. Our independence is vitally important to us.
I would like to have a chat with any agents who see some mileage in this opportunity. I have some ideas on splitting commissions but I am very open minded at this stage as the project is very much in its infancy.
If you would like to chat please comment below, email me – firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07834 754 223.
Mark Alexander – founder of Property118.com