Q. I am an expat living out in Singapore for some years now but recently I have been seriously thinking that I really want to invest my hard earned cash into some Buy to Lets back in the UK. Question is how I manage to do that successfully from afar; obviously it’s not possible to be commuting back and forth with work commitments etc. Can you advise what the best solution is to action my dream successfully?
A. Many individuals manage to successfully run a portfolio of properties from afar. To accomplish this successfully it’s imperative that long-distance landlords find a letting agent they trust wholeheartedly. I know for most buy-to-let investors the issue of whether lettings agents are worth their fees is the issue that concerns them most. Many try negotiating down the fees; others look to cost-saving options such as using online agents or doing it themselves, which is not advisable or even possible from overseas. Living thousands of miles from your property the lettings agent is arguably the most crucial person in the equation. It’s the individual that you can rely on to make the investment stress-free and successful. Of course it requires a fair amount of trust but once found the lettings agent deals with everything. I would highly recommend that you seek the agent through personal recommendations and please don’t fall in to the trap of looking for the agent with the most competitive fee, obviously that is an important factor but for success bot I believe its more about the level of service they can offer than the competitiveness of their fees. Managing agents will look after everything including ensuring that the council tax liability is transferred to the tenant during occupation and then pay it on your behalf during void periods. Lettings Agents in London charge anything from 10-16% for full management; for this they will do everything for you, all you would need to do is monitor your emails and reply to them. Lettings agents can even sign your rental contract for you if you give them the authorisation to do so. Later if you decide to add to your portfolio and your relationship with your agent is good so much so that you trust them implicitly you may even decide to go ahead and purchase something upon their say so. Many Landlords do this but there has to be a mutual level of trust. Being completely physically and emotionally detached from properties is what makes a successful business, you can’t get too attached to an investment property, see it as a working machine and things will run perfectly and remember you are not only making money on the rental yield but also the longer you have it the capital growth will also be increasing year on year.