Making Money from Property and Buy to Let

publication date: Mar 16, 2012
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

Making Money from Property and Buy to Let

The good news is that - even in these tough market conditions - there are lots of ways of making money from property, whether you have capital to invest or not. From renting a room in your own home to carrying out large projects, 2012 and beyond offers good opportunities, as long as you do thorough research and understand that to make any significant profits, you need to take expert advice and be prepared to dedicate time and effort.

If you don't have any spare capital, you can still make a little money from your own home to help you pay the bills. Renting a room can bring in £4,250 per year - tax free - and this could be to someone who only needs it during the week while they're working in the area, or to a student, who will hopefully spend most of their time working away quietly! You could also rent out your driveway or garage, which could be worth £50 a month or more, although you will need to investigate the tax implications of this, as it is extra income.

Trying to renovate a property for profit is tough at the moment and is best left to professionals who can buy and restore a real wreck, i.e. a property which has been fire damaged, suffers from subsidence or needs new wiring and plumbing. In this market you can really only add significant value by carrying out major renovation - a kitchen and bathroom re-fit and redecoration isn't going to cut it.

To Let Property

Buying an investment property to let or renting out your own home as an ‘accidental landlord' is proving increasingly popular. However, this type of investment is fraught with difficulties and there are numerous pitfalls. Knowing what and where to buy to make money, either from rental income now or from selling it in twenty years' time, requires help from property professionals and a specialist tax adviser. There are also a huge number of rules and regulations you have to abide by, many of which are particular to your local area, so, again, specialist help and advice is needed.

As a landlord, you should be a member of an organisation such as the Residential Landlord Association, and, if they offer one, join your local Council's Landlord Accreditation Scheme. If you are using a lettings specialist, make sure they are a member of the National Approved Lettings Scheme. These organisations understand existing and future regulations, and it is vital you seek their advice and help on an on-going basis.

Changing a property's use - for example, from commercial to residential - is something the government is keen to make easier, from a planning perspective. This kind of project can deliver good returns, but you will need specialist advice and help from local experts such as surveyors, and to invest quite a lot of money upfront before you reap any reward.

Probably one of the best investment projects for 2012 would be to build your dream home from scratch. Unlike renovating, a lot of the costs can be fixed, you can save money on VAT and, with specialist mortgages providing money upfront, you can stay in your current home until your new property is ready.

Depending on where you are looking to build, there could be quite a few plots available, as small to medium-sized developers are generally struggling to secure finance. It might even be worth directly approaching developers in your local area to see if they have some land they would be happy to sell you.

Making money out of property in 2012 is possible, but the days of just buying any old property and sitting back to watch it grow in value are over - certainly for the next few years. You need to approach the investment in the same way as you would if you were setting up a business, with all the same diligence and planning. Most importantly, as you are effectively investing for financial gain, it is vital that you take advice from financial and wealth professionals, as well as property tax specialists, who can look at all your financial interests together and make sure you invest in the way that is best for you.


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