The rise and rise of ‘buy to leave’ properties

An eye-watering £10.7 billion’s worth of homes are sitting empty in London, according to new research by HomeProtect on unoccupied homes.

The overall number of long-term unoccupied properties in the capital grew between 2013 and 2018 to a total of 22,481. That’s nearly 1% of all properties in the capital reports Property Investor Today in this article.

The boroughs of Southwark and Croydon are home to the most vacant dwellings in London, with 1,766 unoccupied properties in the former and 1,521 empty homes in the latter. Barking and Dagenham, by contrast, has the lowest number of unoccupied properties in the capital, with only 106 sitting empty.

This excellent Moneywise article explains why homes become empty in the first place, why finding the right lender to lend on an empty home is important and how investors who are not cash buyers can go about getting a mortgage for an unoccupied property.

Zah Azeem, Partner at Scrivener Tibbatts said: “Not all the empty properties in London are buy-to-leave homes owned by multi-millionaires, of course.

“Many have fallen into disuse or disrepair for one reason or another. Often, these buildings are eventually purchased by developers for new housing schemes or bought by individual investors looking for a bargain at auctions.

“In many cases, they can offer an opportunity for investors to buy a home on the cheap – albeit one that might need a fair bit of renovation work to ‘do it up’.”

Investing in empty homes doesn’t come up without risks, and with no residents or tenants in place it is highly likely to need some remedial work and renovation (which will add costs), but with so many on offer in London and across the country (and the potential for excellent future price growth if a home is bought cheaply) empty homes could represent a great opportunity for all types of investors.

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