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The first tip for building the portfolio is simply: take it seriously. Unless you’re rolling in money and see acquiring homes as a plaything – and you probably won’t be rolling in money if you have that attitude towards it anyway – then choosing the right properties and the right people to live inside are both crucial aspects. It’s a similar story if you’re buying a home as a holiday property, or an empty shell to renovate. Don’t rush in.

Make sure you budget so that you are not stretching yourself too thin. Paying off an existing mortgage will increase the likelihood of being approved for a new one. Look for a property in a good stable, location that immediately presents itself as liveable with only a small amount of initial work/fittings/repairs to be completed upon purchase. According to, ignoring ‘buying the best home in the neighbourhood’ and extras such as swimming pools are both wise moves.

A good online agent such as HouseSimple will be able to help with letting a property, finding a wide range of potential tenants across several hundred property portals. It’s worth seeking advice on specific locations and areas that seem to be popular for specific types of renters, such as students, young professionals, and families. Buying a home tailored for a specific market rather than a more utilitarian one that needs work will save time and money. Use Zoopla house prices and values to consider what a property should cost, and how easily it sells, before making an offer.

You’ll probably need a specific buy-to-let mortgage, which will require a higher deposit (probably 25% of the home value as a minimum) and charge a higher interest rate. Many buy-to-let mortgages tend to be interest-only, as the interest is deductible from rental income for tax. A lender will analyse your intended rent charge before making a decision.

Once the home is up and running you need to find tenants. Estate agents will help if you wish, and there are certain preferences and restrictions you can request (although you cannot discriminate on the basis of race, gender, disability, sexuality or religion) such as a limit on the number of children accepted. Try and be flexible with arrangement of viewings, so that you can meet tenants and answer any questions – you might have a different view of what makes a good tenant to your estate agent. An agent will also arrange rental agreements and tenancy deposit schemes.

At some point, assuming everything goes well, you’ll be ready to buy your next property. You’ll have learned lessons on what, who and where works well, and why, and that should influence your next decision. An HMO (House of Multiple Occupancy) will usually need licensing from the local authority, depending on the number of ‘households’ living in the property. However the newest and most controversial tactic of snapping up multiple homes is the ‘multi-unit freehold block’ – essentially slicing up a large home into smaller flats, or buying a block itself. According to the Telegraph this can yield a gross return of 9.3%.

You’ll be monitoring local news for trends of migration and the types of people moving into properties. You’ll know what new jobs are coming to the city and buy properties suitable for professionals. You’ll keep an eye on social media and contact people moving nearby to tell them of your vacancies. Above all, you’ll take advice and take your time – until the time and properties are right. And then you move onto the next one. 


Building a property portfolio - how to get started
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