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Britain: A nation of landlords.

Napoleon famously tried to insult the British by calling us a nation of shopkeepers.

Today, calling us a nation of small landlords would be nearer the mark, according to Solihull-based Paragon Mortgages.

The niche buy-to-let property market has grown so much in recent years that Paragon regards it as a better bellwether of the housing market than the private market and has launched a new quarterly survey of residential landlords.

In less than five years, up to pounds 7 billion has been lent to landlords against some 135,000 properties, according to Paragon managing director John Heron. 'Increasingly we are becoming a nation of small landlords,' he said. 'These private investor landlords are now an important part of the nation's economic and social fabric and we need to understand this economic sector better and be able to gauge how private landlords react to the ups and downs of the economy.'

According to the inaugural Paragon property investor confidence tracking index, or Pict, more than two-thirds of private investment landlords with mortgages have created a small portfolio of property.

Nearly 38 per cent have two or three properties, 13 pc have four or five and nine pc have between six and ten.

Fewer than ten pc have built up substantial portfolios of between 11 and 50 homes. Nearly two-thirds of the investments surveyed lie in rental property. More than a third have been landlords for less than three years while one tenth have become landlords in the past year.

The profile built up by Paragon shows that the highest proportion are small business owners with full responsibility for their own pension and personal finance planning.

The second largest group include senior managers and professionals with middle managers representing just over a tenth of the total. The rate of return of investment property attracted 35 pc of landlords, while 28 pc said it was a 'safe' investment.

Most property portfolios are modest, with an average value of pounds 258,000, says Paragon. Nearly 60 pc are less than pounds 250,000, while just seven pc are worth more than pounds 1 million.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 21, 2001
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