Aberdeen tops the list of Scottish cities with buy-to-let investors, according to Stuart Carnie, tenancy manager with city-based Stonehouse Property Management and Leasing.
“Stonehouse focuses on the high end, corporate lettings market and that remains buoyant,” he said. “That’s a trend that has remained stable throughout the recession and we have a steady supply of properties and tenants.”
Part of Stuart’s job is to advise potential landlords on what makes a good buy-to-let investment and with more than nine years experience in the property market in Aberdeen he is uniquely positioned to do this. Once the sale is completed he then finds a suitable tenant for the property – Stonehouse offers the complete service. Many of their clients are people with enough money to buy an extra property in addition to their home but don’t want to get involved in the business side of being a landlord.
“Some buyers don’t know what they are looking for and we are there to advise and guide them. Many don’t live in this area, or even in Scotland, but are aware this is a good city for buy-to-let property and are happy to trust us to manage their investment,” he added.
Stuart is very clear about what makes a property suitable for a Stonehouse let, and cliché though it is, location is crucial with the West End and Ferryhill the most sought after by the corporate market and young professionals.
“Our tenants are looking for luxury new-build apartments and they can find that in both these locations,” he said. “They want parking, possibly even underground parking. They want modern kitchens with all the gadgets; en suite facilities; light airy accommodation. They want to be close to the city centre with all its amenities, and if they have a family they will want the right post code for their choice of school.”
All these criteria are being met by various developments in the city at present.
Among the things Stuart avoids when looking at a possible property for letting is older properties with high running costs, lack of parking and an inability to accommodate contemporary technology as these don’t do well with Stonehouse potential tenants. He prefers to avoid basement properties because they are dark and ground floor properties because of perceived security risks.
Stonehouse works closely with relocation agents who act on behalf of corporate clients. They are equally focused on what they want and their views are identical to Stuart’s.
“Oil continues to drive the leasing market in Aberdeen and that is what makes luxury new-build apartments such an attractive investment opportunity to buy-to-let landlords.”
The average lease at present is 12 months, but at the top end of the market where rents can be in excess of £4,000 a month, some company leases can be for three or four years where a company director with a family comes to the city on an long assignment. More typically, two bedroom luxury apartments in west end developments such as Kepplestone and Dempsey Court will lease for around £1,400 per month, whilst slightly smaller two bedroom properties in areas such as Ferryhill or the Beach will achieve rents in the region of £900 per month on a fully furnished basis. The average rental figure achieved by Stonehouse Property across their portfolio is £1,150 per month so it is clear to see why Aberdeen is attractive to investors.
Rents in Aberdeen continue to be higher than those in other Scottish cities and Stuart doesn’t see that changing, nor does he see a time when he will have a surplus of properties or potential tenants.
“I never take on a property I’m not confident or leasing,” he said.
ü Age of property
ü Modern, open-plan kitchen
ü En suite facilities
ü First floor or above
ü Underfloor heating
ü Bright and airy
ü Good furnishings