It's survival of the fittest for landlords in 'Parliament City'

*Buy-to-let investors are finding market too pricey, says Rob Trotter.*


*IT'S been a tough few years being a landlord in "Parliament City". Only a few years ago the market was at saturation point. Tenants were firmly in control. If you could present yourself as a good quality tenant, you were able to negotiate yourself a pretty good deal. Today, we see demand outstripping supply for the first time in a long while.*

The reason for this is that a number of buy-to-let investors have dropped out of the market because they simply couldn't keep up with increased interest rates and rising living costs. The people I am talking about have unfortunately been dubbed the "amateurs". They have been the victims of irresponsible borrowing and going for quantity not quality.

I believe that you are better to own two properties in prime areas rather than ten properties in what are known as "developing areas". Unfortunately, and it's only human nature, we all have some sort of ego that needs to be massaged now and again, and recently the ability to drop into conversation that "I own ten flats in Edinburgh" has become a fashion accessory catchphrase.

I say "Parliament City" with a slight smile on my face. One of the reasons, apart from the easy access to money and mortgages, that people wanted to have a piece of Edinburgh's residential market, was because the hype of the new parliament was going to boost further an already booming market place. It didn't quite happen, delays to the building and spiralling costs contributed to a slightly negative welcome to Scotland's new beginning.
The current situation is simple. Reality has set in and it's going to be a good old-fashioned survival of the fittest. You now need to have a long-term view on your property investment. Gone are the days of buying a property and "flipping it", as it's called in the business, and making yourself a quick profit.

This was a regular occurrence until recently, and all you needed to be successful was a bit of bottle. It was bit like the tenants being in control of negotiating good rental rates that I mentioned earlier. All you had to do was go to the bank, present yourself well and negotiate some borrowing.

However, the best thing you can ever invest in when investing in property is advice. It's a saying that has lasted the distance and will never go out of fashion, but it is location, location, location.

Unfortunately, the people in for the rough ride now are the investors who were buying multiple units and being drawn in by huge incentives. £10,000 cash back, 25 per cent off, mortgage paid for a year, all these sorts of deals. If it's too good to be true, it usually is.
The market can change daily, and I don't want to make myself sound dull, but I am a simple guy. I deal in facts and I have the best team of experts at my disposal who don't cost a penny to employ. It's the person coming through our door.

Rob Trotter is a senior property manager DJ Alexander's city operation.

_EDINBURGH EVENING NEWS, 9 April 2008_