Where is the next buy-to-let hot-spot? The top 10 revealed

Ambitious buy-to-let landlords should head to Birmingham for the biggest yields, new research shows.

A report from property group Move with Us and search engine Home.co.uk reveals that the city has three postal districts in the top ten rental yield hotspots. Most lucrative of all is the B7 area, where landlords are pulling in 10.6 percent.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%

The district's closely tailed by the TN28 area of Kent, with a yield of 10.5 percent, the Merseyside postcode of L14 at 9.6 percent and the Surrey postcodes GU6 and RH4, which offer 9.5 percent and 9.1 percent respectively.

The study, which looked at the sale prices and rental values for two-bedroom properties, concluded that the highest yields are scattered widely, mainly in areas outside Greater London. But in some rural districts, such as the Brecon Beacons, rural Devon, the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales - which tend to attract homeowners rather than young renters - yields are as low as two percent.

"Landlords clearly need to be open-minded about where to invest and not simply look in their immediate area," says Doug Shephard, Director at Home.co.uk. "A highly localised approach identifying the ultimate combination of in-demand property types, lower capital investment and higher rental prices will deliver good yields and fewer voids, and maximise potential returns."

Surprisingly perhaps, given the strong house price growth currently reported for London, yields aren't particularly high. The best performers are N9 (Lower Edmonton), where landlords are seeing returns of 7.8 percent, followed by E13 (Plaistow) at 7.5 percent and SE2 (Abbey Wood) at 7.4 percent. E6 (East Ham) and E15 (Stratford) follow with 7.2 percent each.

"Landlords looking to maximise yield will need to look outside of Central London," says Sean King, chief executive officer at Move with Us. "Commuter belts to the west and east of London are clearly yield hot spots, as renters look to access the capital's work and social opportunities without the cost of renting a central London property."

10 top ways to add value to your home
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Where is the next buy-to-let hot-spot? The top 10 revealed

Of course with all these things, the value it adds depends on the property you have to start with, and the kinds of improvements you make, but Which? estimates the cost of a new kitchen at £8,000 and HSBC calculates the added value to your property at £4,500 - which is a clear loss.

This has been done by 41% of people in the last three years, and 29% of people plan it in the next three. It's cheaper than a kitchen, and Which? estimates the cost at £3,000. This is roughly the same value that HSBC says it will add to your property - so you'll break-even.

It may be difficult, but getting your property ready for sale means depersonalising it. 

Clutter can distract viewers and more than half (60%) of the property valuers who took part in the 2012 HSBC Home Improvement Survey said that the number one way to increase a property's chance of selling quickly, and for a good price, was to de-clutter.

This has been installed by 31% of us in the last three years, and 15% plan it in the next three. Installing central heating is a disruptive job, and according to WhatPrice it will cost you around £3,235. However, this is the first of the top ten to actually pay off. Property expert Phil Spencer says it will add £5,000 to the value.

A quick splash of paint can work wonders on tired-looking walls, and sticking to neutral tones is the safest bet.

Keeping the colour scheme simple, fresh and inviting will help potential buyers to see themselves living in your home.

Some 18% have added one in the last three years, and 30% will in the next three. This is another huge job, but with more people struggling to move and deciding to improve instead, it's increasingly popular. The amount it costs will depend on an enormous number of things, from the area you have to work with, to the size of the extension. However, assuming you add a single room you could spend around £20,000. HSBC estimates it will add around £15,500 to the value of the property, so you are unlikely to gain as much as you spend.

According to Halifax valuers, loft conversions - which require lofts with a roof height of at least 2.4 metres - are a good way to increase the potential sale price of your home.

Be sure to stick to your budget, though. The average loft conversion will cost between £10,000 and £30,000, while HSBC's figures show that they typically add £20,876 to the value of a property.

Putting in new windows adds around £5,265 to the value of the average property and can reap big rewards when it comes to energy efficiency.

It is, however, sensible to ensure that your new windows are in line with the style of your property to maximise the added value - particularly as putting them in can set you back about £5,000.

Off road parking or a garage can be especially advantageous in areas where parked cars line both sides on the street.

Nationwide's figures show that adding a garage, which can cost anything between £8,000 and £25,000, can increase the value of your property by 11%.

Outside space is just as important as inside - especially when people are seeing your home for the first time.

While 63% of the HSBC survey expert respondents said that repainting or varnishing a front door would make a difference, only 23% of homeowners recognised this. Peter Dockar at HSBC said: "It is often the smaller jobs like painting the front door that can make all the difference when looking for a sale."

However, according to Caroline Kavanagh, managing director of south-east-based estate agency Townends Lettings and Management, tenants are getting fussier and sticking out for the best deal. Landlords, she says, should feel pleased with themselves if they're managing to get any more than four percent.

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"Landlords have had to be more realistic in the last few months and adjust their expectations and prices accordingly in order to maintain their competitive edge," she says. "Price fluctuation within the rental market is the nature of the business, and shrewd landlords will work this into their business model."

The top 10 yielding postal districts in England and Wales

1 B7 (Birmingham) 10.6%
2 TN28 (Kent) 10.5%
3 L14 (Merseyside) 9.6%
4 GU6 (Surrey) 9.5%
5 TS1 (Middlesbrough) 9.2%
6 B35 (Birmingham) 9.2%
7 L4 (Liverpool) 9.1%
8 RH4 (Surrey) 9.1%
9 B18 (Birmingham) 8.7%
10 EN8 (Hertfordshire) 8.7%

Take a look at the houses that £1 will buy you
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Where is the next buy-to-let hot-spot? The top 10 revealed

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