Your goal will determine whether you need to focus on rental income (for money in the bank every month) or long-term price growth (for a lump sum one day).
If you are buying your first property, you can choose one suited to your goals. But as an accidental landlord, you already have a property – and it might not give you what you really want. Going through the goal exercise will help you work out your next moves: should you keep it, sell it, improve it or remortgage to buy another just like it?
We want you to start thinking how you can use it as a first step to set your course in any number of ways. Here are a few examples to inspire you:
‘I want to pay my children’s school fees and/or boost my income while I build up my new business.’
Income or growth? Income – enough monthly rental profit to cover the school fees and/or shortfall in the family budget.
Ideal property. High cash flow with tenancy management outsourced, such as an ex-council flat or older new build in outer London, or small houses within a mile’s commute of city centres like Liverpool or Leeds.
Next steps. Renting out what used to be your starter home? This might be a good fit as your target tenant will be yourself a few years younger. A minor spruce-up might be all that’s needed, but if those school fees are high, you could consider remortgaging down the line to buy another income spinner.
‘I’m retired and want to add to my pension income.’
Income or growth? Mainly rental income, but it should be secure with low maintenance to limit stress. To work out your profit target, calculate your average monthly spend, add a 30% buffer and then deduct your current income.
Ideal property. A high-quality, low-maintenance home with strong rental demand, for example city-centre flats in Birmingham or Manchester.
Next steps. If you’ve downsized and are now letting out your former family home, you might want to sell this and buy something that would let more easily and require less maintenance. Also, consider longer tenancies for extra security.
‘I want to create a nest egg for my children and/or build up extra income to maintain my lifestyle when I retire one day.’
Income or growth? Long-term price growth, but with enough income to cover your costs. Your growth target is whichever big lump sum you want to cash in on far into the future. Time is on your side, so you can afford to take more risks.
Ideal property. A wow property in an established area that will rise in value, such as central London, Cambridge or Solihull.
Next steps. Make sure the rent covers your costs in the meantime and set aside cash reserves. Avoid having too much debt on the property, which would push up your monthly costs. If the place then sits empty, you could be forced to sell your nest egg.
‘I can’t yet afford my forever home, so need a leg up.’
Income or growth? Growth – and capital preservation. To calculate your growth target, deduct the deposit that you’ll need for your dream home from your current savings and equity. You can’t afford to lose any money, so avoid risk.
Ideal property. A period property (older than 100 years) on the edge of an attractive area, where prices are likely to rise because of gentrification. Forthcoming transport links or big regeneration projects nearby will have the same effect.
Next steps. Rather than just relying on market growth, work out if you can add value with a makeover or extension. You could also try solving a legal problem such as extending a short lease or getting planning permission for works.
Fear not, we won’t tell you to now silently recite your vision until the universe comes into alignment. We won’t even ask you to stick it on your bathroom mirror. But think about your goal and write it down, so you can use it to guide your decisions about your property.