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Under the skin of the letting market

Here we share news and views on both the local letting market in & around Oxfordshire and all planned and recent legislation.

Inspired investment – making it easy to invest in Oxfordshire

Our Inspired Investment service had a busy year in 2012 and is looking forward to helping more clients in 2013. Finders Keepers started life as an acquisition service and now the Inspired Investment service searches for, negotiates and acquires property on behalf of residential investors.

The January realisation

The phone of Frank Webster, our Director in charge of Inspired Investment, rings a lot each January: “People take a step back over New Year and look at their investments, particularly the low returns on savings accounts. They feel that residential property can give them both an income and long-term capital appreciation. We outline the costs and the return of investing in different areas. Our rental valuations are guided by the thousands of lets we negotiate each year – nobody else has this deep data to inform their income projections.”

“We charge a fee of 1% of the purchase price for a successful acquisition and in the majority of cases we recoup these funds for clients by negotiating a discount on the acquisition price. Most of our investors understand that they need a 5 to 10-year commitment to the property.”

Woodstock – a productive place in 2012

We have helped five clients buy in two schemes recently. The town has grown as a place to invest due to its proximity to Oxford, the A34, Kidlington Airport and the new Begbroke Science Park. Applicants like its atmosphere and independent shops. The first scheme of 12 large 1-bedroom homes offers exactly what the market wants: smart homes for singles and couples with good kitchens and high overall specification (See Photo 1). With prices from £180,000 to £190,000 the gross yield is over 5%, proving you do not have to invest in Jericho or Summertown to generate solid results. The new owners have furnished the properties themselves which is easily manageable with a 1-bedroom space. Colin Berry, Manager of our North Oxford office, worked with a client to acquire a 3-bedroom house in a second Woodstock scheme (Photo 2): “The development has a premium edge and the build quality is high. Once purchased, the property was not yet ready to market but we opportunistically showed it to a senior engineering executive and his family for whom we were determined to find the perfect home. They loved it and our client now has a great investment, a 5.2% gross yield and a fantastic tenant.”

Inside the ring road

One client wanted to invest in Thame but we advised considering this 3-bedroom house in Marston (Photo 3) as good houses are in short supply, the developer Thomas Homes has a good reputation for design and it is close to seven teaching hospitals. It would make the ideal ‘sharers’ house but the new HMO regulations make this unlikely, so when we gain possession the target market will be families or a couple at a target yield of 4.5%. Interestingly all seven houses in the scheme have integrated fire sprinkler systems as a condition of the planning as the access is too narrow for fire engines.


Opportunities off the market

Estate agents and developers often contact us with properties that are not on the market as they know we work with some excellent investors. Photo 4 is a case in point. The ex-owner had two 2-bedroom properties in Summertown to sell with tenants in situ. An estate agent contacted us before the apartments went on the market and we matched them with two investor clients. The seller was delighted, as were the new owners. We helped manage both transactions and now look after the live tenancies.

Formal advice, informal advice

We help many clients and some are not Inspired Investment clients, as Associate Director Simon Tyrrell explains, “Some clients want us to do the searching, in which case they sign up to Inspired Investment. Other clients just want reassurance and an honest and realistic estimate of the rental value. All our Office Managers are hands-on advising clients.”

To learn more about Inspired Investment contact Frank Webster (01865 311011), Simon Tyrrell (01865 200012) or your nearest Finders Keepers office.