“In property, location is key. We caught up with Northwood Milton Keynes director, Davinia Taylor to see what she had to say about the location of Milton Keynes and its amenities.”
Davinia observed: “Milton Keynes is deemed one the property hotspots in the UK, great vibrant rental market, lots of stock, lots of landlords, lots of investors looking to come into the area. We often get calls from landlords living in London, up north, and all over the country. They see Milton Keynes as a growing place, there are lots of businesses coming here. It’s a very, very buoyant rental market.”
Vanessa went on to ask: “Do you have a shortage of any particular property type? Are flats less popular than houses for tenants?”
Davinia clarified: “Generally speaking, flats, we tend to say as an agent, to avoid them, simply because there’s a bit of a supply issue. Lots of flats are being purchased by investors, and at the end of the day, there are a limited number of occupants that want flats. So we would say, good old houses, the 2 and 3 bedroom houses. Steer clear of the larger properties, the 4 or 5 bedroom houses, there is a demand, but it’s not a massive demand. Most people at that level would be owners rather than renters, that’s more the executive market so pretty limited. Your average 2 to 3-bedroom property to be honest, that’s exactly where we’d advise you put your money. “
Vanessa wanted to know: “Are there any key hotspots within Milton Keynes where you think there’s a good opportunity for investors?”
Davinia confirmed: “Absolutely. We generally say to our landlords looking to invest, look at areas where there’s good schooling, schools are key really. Most of the good areas, it’s all about what those areas offer in terms of facilities. Bearing in mind we’re mostly looking at families who are renting, there is a professional market, so access to central Milton Keynes, the train station, that’s important, but a lot of areas directly surrounding central Milton Keynes may not be the most desirable areas. So contrary to the potentially popular belief that those areas are the ones to go to, we might say move out slightly further afield. Milton Keynes is a great place to travel around, it’s not difficult to get from A to B , from one side of Milton Keynes to the other only takes 15 minutes at the most. So we’d say, good areas, with good facilities and we can always offer advice if landlords are unsure where to purchase.”
Vanessa reiterated: “I think that’s something landlords sometimes forget, that letting agents are always happy to give advice about where there is the best demand, obviously you want to start that conversation with the landlord with a view to managing that property.”
Davinia replied: “Absolutely, we recently helped a landlord that had no idea where to invest, or what to invest in. He was new to the industry, and to be honest with you, I must have spent 5 or 6 hours just advising him. Not in one go obviously, just continuous advice. I gave him advice on where to invest, what sort of property to invest in. He then went away and shortlisted, and I said come back with a handful of properties, and I’ll be able to tell you immediately which one of those 5 properties to invest in, because it’s what we do. He had no idea, couldn’t see the pros and cons of any of them. He shortlisted 5, but had no idea which one to go for, and within minutes we said ‘that one, for that reason.’ He went along and purchased it, and he’s coming back to us for management, so that’s exactly what we do. I even offer to go out to view properties with estate agents, the landlords don’t need to be present. It’s in our interest to make sure they’re investing in the right property, and I’d rather that than they come to me having invested in something in the wrong area, and ultimately we’re saying to them we can’t offer the level of rent guarantee that you’d like, because the risk is high. So, it’s all in the ground work and we’re happy to do that free of charge.”
Vanessa queries: “You mentioned the guaranteed rent service, which of course Northwood is very famous for, market leading, nearly 2 decades now in existence. Is the guaranteed rent service popular with landlords in Milton Keynes?”
Davinia affirmed: “Absolutely yes. The fact that we guarantee against voids and arrears is great. Voids are now perceived to be less of a risk to landlords, and I would say that’s true, we’re in a very, very buoyant area, huge tenant demand, so the risk of voids is nothing like it was in 2008. Back in 2008, in one month we had £8500.00 worth of voids, that risk is no longer the same, but at the end of the day, a risk is still a risk. I think that continuous income, the fact that a landlord knows no matter what happens, on the 5thof the month I’m going to get my money, there’s a lot to be said for that. There are a lot of landlords out there that do not want the fuss and aggravation of every month ‘am I going to get my rent?’ Ultimately, for those landlords, the scheme is perfect for them. We’ve 15 years of trading in Milton Keynes, one of the first independently owned franchises in the network, and I think the longevity of our business just demonstrates how successful the brand is.”
Vanessa summarised: “So, in summary, the rental market in Milton Keynes is very vibrant, buoyant, but due diligence is key. Do speak to Northwood Milton Keynes about the best places to invest, because it’s easy to fall into a pitfall isn’t it?”
Davinia stated: “As we said earlier, it’s all about the groundwork and the work you put in upfront. We are more than happy to offer advice on that, so take the advice that’s free!”
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