James: ”Founder & CEO of www.upad.co.uk”
Question: What is Upad in a nutshell?
James: ”Upad is the UKs largest online lettings agency. We help landlords nationally to let and manage their properties, and because we’ve grown so large, we can pass on massive savings to landlords.”
Question: How is it different to other lettings agencies?
James: ”Our landlords are generally experienced buy-to-let professionals who like to stay involved in their property. They will for instance, meet and show tenants around their property themselves, so they can make an informed decision on the best tenant.
“Upad allows landlords to purchase only the services they need. For example if they already have photos, we don’t charge them for more. Successfully letting a property doesn’t require a high street office or a fleet of cars, so we cut out all the fat making the process efficient and affordable.”
Question: What do you see happening to UK rents in 2012?
James: “We believe there will be a modest 2-5% increase in rents outside of London, while in London rents will hike up to around 5-10%, propelled by events such as the London Olympic Games. Indeed, there will almost certainly be a ‘renter swell’ and we will soon forget what the meaning of a ‘first time buyer’.”
Question: What will be the greatest challenge for landlords this year?
James: ”The capping of housing benefits will cause a massive upheaval in many areas. Even if landlords let privately, local markets will change. It’s hard to measure knock on effects and unintended consequences of regulatory changes. Availability of funds proves to be an ongoing problem and with the economic forecast looking grey, I would definitely suggest that landlords do whatever they can to stay cash positive. ”
Question: If you had £100k to invest in B2L, what you buy, where and why?
James: ”I would purchase a 3 / 4 bed property in Swansea, ideally SA1 or SA5 postcodes, as the yields no longer stack up for me in most parts of London.
There is a huge quantity of stock available there, many of which are ripe for total redevelopment work. There are healthy grants available if the property has been empty for 2 years and reduced vat rates on works. Housing Benefit tenants still ‘work’ there too – I’m looking to sell some of mine in London soon due to the recent capping.”