Buy-to-let - can you still make money?

Caroline Cassidy

The property market has taken a sizeable battering thanks to the recession and many buy-to-let investors have found themselves struggling as mortgage rates rose.

Handing over housekeys
Handing over housekeys

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But is there still money to made in the buy-to-let market?

Well, the good news is that property prices have fallen to reasonable levels and if you're looking for a decent rental return that than capital growth, it could be worth investing.

So what should you be looking for?

If it's a quick profit you're after, then it might be better to invest your money elsewhere. The buy-to-let market may have good long-term prospects but there are no guarantees and property values may yet fall in the short term.

But if you're in it for the long haul, make sure you sit down and crunch the numbers. Buy-to-let lenders regularly demand 15 or 25 per cent deposits in the wake of the recession and the rates and arrangement fees are often larger than on a standard mortgage.

Besides the initial cost, it's important to remember that you may have to fork out for repairs, agency fees (unless you rent the property yourself) and there may be months in which the property remains empty - can you afford the repayments?

Choosing the right area is the next step. Ensure that you know your market - are you in a commuter belt? A smart, stylish apartment could be the way to go.

Similarly if there are good schools in the area a family-friendly property might your best bet. And don't assume that your town will be the best - your target tenant or ideal property might be elsewhere so look further afield to get an idea of the area most likely to provide a decent rental return.

One advantage of buy-to-let is that there is no chain which means you are in a good position to negotiate on price and if the monthly rental exceeds the mortgage payments, you may be able to invest or save the extra cash.

You won't be a millionaire overnight but as a long-term investment, buy-to-let is still a viable option.