Vincent Walker, an investor in Octopus Choice , also owns three 4-bed flats in London and four off-plan apartments in Manchester and Liverpool.
Have any of the regulatory changes changed your outlook towards the property market?
It’s discouraged people who are not experienced, or have not entered the market yet. Because, especially in London, the additional stamp duty kills the yield if you’re after a single let rental property. I think there’ll be a move towards HMO investing by more sophisticated investors because that’s the only way to really make the rental yield work at a palatable level.
Do you consider yourself more of a professional property investor?
Two to three years ago I was more casual about it. But if I want to do this going forward, then there’s certainly a massive step-up in the quality of product that’s being produced now. This is really going to influence people when thinking about whether to go in to buy-to-let, because the barrier to entry is becoming higher for people that don’t know what they’re doing, or are not capitalised properly.
How do you see the buy-to-let market at the moment?
I think now is a good time as the property market is flat. There’s a lot of negative news: London prices aren’t going up; rents are static. I think it’s a lot easier to go in and buy now. Asking prices are coming down, and are softer. So this is looking like a reasonable time to get a good deal – if you’re buying, you can really shop around.
Why did you also choose to invest in property-backed peer-to-peer lending?
I think buy-to-let is a great asset class to be invested in. However, I know it would be silly to keep all my investments tied up in one place. The problem I have is that I want a good return on my money, but do not think the amount of risk and volatility that comes with stock market investing is worth it. Property-backed peer-to-peer lending gave me the opportunity to diversify my investments, but retain a foot in the door of an asset class I have confidence in. Property has proven to be a much more stable investment than equities – even during the credit crunch, while property values did fall, it was much less volatile – which is important when taking into account the nature of the security that these loans hold