Often people fail to make a profit from property investment when they do not understand the true market value of their chosen property, both in terms of resale and rental income. Investors hoping to purchase a run-down home or off-plan development and sell it on at profit when the work is complete; a practice known as flipping, are often caught out by over-inflated prices or under-estimated renovation costs.
On the other hand, buy-to-let investors can be seduced by suggestions of high rental values and then disappointed when these do not materialise.Whether you’re planning to flip a property or buying-to-let, it is important to ensure that you do not pay over the odds, as money saved on the purchase price will lower your mortgage costs and increase your profit margin.
Understanding the local market
One of the best ways to estimate the potential value of a property is to understand the local market. Fortunately there are a number of tools to help you do this:
Use the internet – The Land Registry (landregisteronline.gov.uk) now provide information on all properties sold in England and Wales since 2000. Through this you can access information on the property’s value when the registration took place. Remember this information will not be up-to-date, but it may give you a broad idea of what the current owner paid.
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Browse estate agent listings – Using the internet and local papers, you can soon get an idea of the market value for different types of property in the area. It is also worth arranging a couple of viewings, allowing you to make suitable comparisons when you have decided on a place to purchase.
If you are planning to buy-to-let, it is also worthwhile speaking to a few letting agents to try and gauge the general rental prices that could be expected. Again rental listings on the internet and in local papers will help to verify the amounts tenants will be prepared to pay.
Seek professional advice
Once you have decided on a property and feel confident that it reflects the true market value, it is advisable to carry out a full survey. Although it is a requirement for mortgage lenders to inspect the property, the surveyor will not look at inaccessible parts (such as the roof, floors and drains), unless there is reason to believe that there may be a serious defect, in which case it is likely that a recommendation for a more in-depth survey will be made.
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The risk of relying on this basic inspection is that the surveyor could miss an important defect which will be expensive to repair. By having a more in-depth survey, the surveyor will be able to identify such defaults and advise on the potential cost of repair, allowing you to negotiate a discount on the purchase price to cover this.
Take your time
Unfortunately there is no silver bullet approach to accurately valuing property and one of the secrets to running a profitable property business is investing time and money to ensure your buy your property at the right price.
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