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There are more property millionaires than ever before in the UK.

The half a million people in this bracket tend to fit into one of two categories – they’re either an oligarch or businessman who likes buying exclusive properties, or they’re a shrewd operator with one gem that was purchased in the right location decades ago, primed to feast on rising house prices. 

For the rest of us, who aspire to be rich property owners with a strong portfolio, neither of these might be possible. The latter of these two types is largely dependent on external factors, as well as choosing a home in the right location in the first place of course. The former is dependant on business acumen, some talent and luck, and contacts.

However, with a little long-term work it is possible to construct a portfolio of properties that can bring in a steady or perhaps even impressive income for years.

The usual first step is to pay-off the initial mortgage early on the house in which you live. This can be beneficial for a number of reasons; it will save you paying interest, and lenders are more likely to give you a mortgage for a second home.

Therefore, after getting rid of a first mortgage the next step is to follow that with an investment in another property to be rented. Tenants will pay that rent (and therefore the mortgage), and the process eventually continues.

That’s the common first step, but some still do things differently. Controversial landlords Fergus and Judith Wilson established a gigantic empire in Kent, at one point owning around 700 homes and paying multiple mortgages simultaneously. In 2010 the couple admitted that monthly payments to one provider alone were more than £350,000.

Theirs’ is a long complex story, built on experience, trial and error, as well as luck – the latter played a part in rescuing them from the brink when Lehmans collapsed, leading to the Bank of England slashing its interest rates and in turn allowing them to refinance. The couple, who are now selling many of their homes, had tips for those looking to establish an empire which can be found here.

There are two main functions of stepping into the buy-to-let market, and the intended aim is the same from both: making money. The first is making money through rent from regular tenants, while the second is through appreciation in the house price itself. A buy-to-let buyer should be looking for homes that will rise in price for a spell of time until they are sold on in several years, with enough enticements to find and keep tenants installed.

Finding a home that is likely to appreciate will take plenty of research, and not just about the property market. Studying demographics, local business trends and local infrastructure will help, but any conclusions should not be set in stone (or bricks and mortar). Who would have predicted the US housing slump of 2007, for example? It’s easy to look back in hindsight and pinpoint sub-prime mortgages and lax regulations as causes, but nothing was done at the time.

In this Simon Lambert piece for Thisismoney.com, he states that despite prices falling in London for the sixth month in a row the likelihood is that London homes will rise over the next five years by as much as 30%. Meanwhile home ownership has been steadily falling since 2003 in England – will this pick up? Could external forces from across the world conspire to plunge the market into crisis for a year or longer? If pure financial growth is the aim over several years, then could an ISA be a better option? Do you have a plan B if your idea foundations crumble?


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Building a property portfolio - how to get started
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