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Weekend reading: Buy-to-let market showing signs of retreat

What caught my eye this week.

When former Chancellor George Osborne announced he was raising stamp duty and reducing tax relief on mortgage interest for landlords, there was some scoffing.

“We’ll just raise rents!” the less sensitive cried. “Generation Rent can pay our taxes!” 

Well it turns out that riding one of the greatest asset price booms the UK has ever known doesn’t make you an economic wizard. Rents are falling [1] across much of the UK. Now there are signs some landlords are selling up.

A graph in today’s Financial Times [2] [search result] shows that:

“… growth in outstanding buy-to-let mortgages is failing to keep pace with new mortgages being granted, in a reversal of the broad relationship between the two over the past decade.

This strongly suggests some buy-to-let mortgages are being redeemed as investors sell rental properties.”

Here’s the graph:

Graph that suggests landlords are beginning to cash out of buy-to-let sector.

Source: FT/Savills

I can add my own anecdotal observations to what this graph seems to be suggesting. One of the several reasons why articles on Monevator have been a bit thin on the ground recently is – wait for it old-timers – I’ve been looking to buy a property!

(What’s that? Oh yes, I agree. If there was ever a sign the bubble is about to burst, the last bear [3] in town turning is surely it. Expect a long post on why I’m embarking on such madness in due course.)

I can confirm landlords are thin on the ground right now. One agent told me that in the area of London where I’m looking, 50% of sales used to go to landlords! Now they’re lesser spotted.

This is good news for first-time buyers, who have struggled for a decade to cope with the landlords’ trifecta of interest-only mortgages, tax relief, and deeper cash reserves.

I’m not someone who thinks landlords are evil (far from it – and mine have all been great) nor that there is no case for tax relief, say.

But I do think owner-occupiers should come first on our property-starved island.

On balance then, I am all for the changes to the attractiveness of buy-to-let, and the impact they seem to be having. Prices will probably stall or fall as the effect of higher taxes kick-in, and the economics of land-lording will be reset at a lower level.

Property has been a great windfall for the forty-plus demographic, but I suspect it’s time to look for new opportunities.


Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view these enable you to click through to read the piece without being a paid subscriber.1 [4]

‘$300m in cryptocurrency’ accidentally lost forever due to bug – Guardian [5]

Gas and electricity fuel price have risen at triple the rate of inflation – Guardian [6]

Investors shun UK markets to shelter in bonds – Telegraph [7]

Budget could end valuable tax perks for investors [Search result]FT [8]

UK can ignore Brexit and stay in EU, Article 50 official says [Search result]FT [9]

How Nationwide got annual pension contributions to 23% of staff salaries – Guardian [10]

UK market has been more expensive, but expected returns still low – Value Perspective [11]

Products and services

The online brokers taking the misery out of mortgages – Guardian [12]

Paragon Bank’s new easy access account tops tables with 1.31% rate – ThisIsMoney [13]

Get an extra £100 if you invest £5,000 with Ratesetter via my affiliate link – RateSetter [14]

Evaluating funds using Morningstar’s new style box – Morningstar [15]

Investment trusts’ discounts narrow as demand rises [Search result]FT [16]

NS&I boosting Premium Bonds prize fund rate to 1.4% from December – ThisIsMoney [17]

Barclays admits posting out pin numbers with new cards – Guardian [18]

Comment and opinion

Considerations for cashing out of the stock market – A Wealth of Common Sense [19]

How good decisions and compounding can lead to huge results – Of Dollars and Data [20]

Mean vs median vs mode life expectancy for retirement planning – Oblivious Investor [21]

Merryn: Paradise Papers reveal a turning tide on tax avoidance [Search result]FT [22]

The truth behind three common indexing questions – Vanguard blog [23]

Bond investors are stock investors’ latest concern – Bloomberg [24]

What order to use savings in retirement to reduce your tax bill – ThisIsMoney [25]

How the top 1% really feel about paying tax – Guardian [26]

Stock pickers, where’s the line between speculation and investing? – Gannon on Investing [27]

FANG futures – The Macro Tourist [28]

Why I’ve sold my Rio Tinto shares – UK Value Investor [29]

Feeling giddy (and greedy?) with markets at all-time highs – SexHealthMoneyDeath [30]

The bank of Mum and Dad: ‘A huge amount of money. And guilt’ – Guardian [31]

Off our beat

Animation: The rapidly aging Western world – Visual Capitalist [32]

Being a Startup Founder is a minimum wage job – Medium [33]

The tension between creativity and productivity – Kottke [34]

And finally…

“Are you going to be okay?” I said to Debbie. We were in the bedroom, Debbie sitting on the bed watching me pack for London. “I’m leaving you with all the animals, and Kylie in a strop. It’s all a bit unknown. The enclosures should be fine, but to be honest, if Ziggy and I built it, it only comes with a 24-hour guarantee, which runs out, um, about lunchtime. After that we can’t be held responsible.”
– Simon Dawson, Pigs in Clover [35]

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  1. Note some articles can only be accessed through the search results if you’re using PC/desktop view (from mobile/tablet view they bring up the firewall/subscription page). To circumvent, switch your mobile browser to use the desktop view. On Chrome for Android: press the menu button followed by “Request Desktop Site”. [ [38]]