Surge in buy to let mortgage choice in the UK

The choice of buy to let mortgages in the UK has increased dramatically in the last three months, spurring landlords to shift their existing equity towards new purchases.

Also, new purchases made up a significantly larger proportion of lending in the final quarter of 2013, across all residential property types, according to the latest Mortgages for Business Complex Buy to Let Index.

Standard buy to let lending saw the biggest move towards new purchases, with 47% of these plain vanilla mortgages going towards new buy to let properties. This compares to 38% representing new purchases in the third quarter of 2013, and 31% at the beginning of 2013.

 More complex properties also formed a growing feature of landlords’ shopping lists. Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) saw a similar trend to standard deals. Some 29% of mortgages against HMOs were for new purchases in the final quarter, compared to 23% for new purchases in the third quarter of 2013 and 20% in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Larger, multi unit freehold blocks (MUFBs) saw the same trend, with mortgages for new purchases making up 31% of loans against such properties, compared to 30% in the third quarter of 2013 and 25% at the start of 2013.

The data also shows that there has been a significant fall in remortgage activity over the last six months despite remortgaging still making up the majority of buy to let activity. In the last quarter, 53% of standard buy to let deals were a remortgage, down from 65% in the second quarter.

For HMOs, 71% of buy to let activity was a remortgage compared to 84% six months ago. And for loans secured against MUFBs in the fourth quarter some 69% were a refinance rather than a purchase, down from 88% in the second quarter.
It also reveals that loan to value (LTV) ratios have remained broadly stable.

For vanilla buy to let properties there was no change in LTVs for the third month running, standing at 68% once again in Q4. HMOs saw LTVs drop slightly to 70%, from 71% in the third quarter, and loan to value ratios on semi commercial property fell from 66% in the previous quarter to 53% in the fourth quarter.

The only properties to see higher LTVs in the fourth quarter were larger MUFB blocks, with loan to value ratios averaging 68% compared to 62% in the previous quarter. This is likely due to the increase in average property values among MUFBs causing landlords to require larger LTVs.

As price rises accelerated in the final month of 2013, yields have dropped across all property types. Vanilla buy to let yields saw a gentle fall to 5.9%, down from 6.3% in the third quarter while yields on MUFB properties fell to 6.8% from 7.6%.

HMOs generally record higher yields, although these have also dropped slightly, from 11.8% in the third quarter to 10.4% in the final quarter of the year.

The most dramatic fall in yields was in semi commercial property, where the average yield now stands at 4.8% as of quarter four, down from 9.8% in the previous quarter. However this is probably due to a smaller data set consisting of higher value, lower yielding properties in London and the South East which have stronger growth potential.

‘At the end of 2013 landlords could choose between more than 500 mortgage products and the figure today now tops 550. But that choice isn’t just delivering cheaper deals as there are now even more imaginative and flexible financing options out there too, many of which offer some of the best yields,’ said David Whittaker, managing director of Mortgages for Business.

‘With demand for tenancies as strong as ever, landlords are making use of a more buoyant situation to boost their portfolios. As we move into 2014 capital accumulation is accelerating, and joining solid rental income to make buy to let consistently attractive to investors,’ he added.