06 Mar First-time investors: How to find a property to renovate in North London
First-time investors come in all shapes and sizes – maybe you’re a professional with buckets of construction experience looking for your first solo project to work on with a few trade partners or you could be a complete novice seeking the support and guidance of a builder to turn your vision into a profitable venture. Whatever your background, the most important first step is to find the right property to work on.
It can be tempting to go with your heart, but it’s vital that you allow your head to make your buying decisions for you if you’re hoping to make the right investment.
Here are a few tips to help you on your way:
How much work do you want to do?
A renovation project could mean anything from a new lick of paint to something just shy of a rebuild, so figure out how much work you want to do to a property. This will enable you to shortlist appropriate places for consideration. For your first project, pick something you can handle; you want to boost your confidence with a successful project as the first one out of the gate, so choose carefully and know your limits.
How much can you do?
It’s one thing to want to renovate a property, it’s another to have the means to do so. Therefore, ask yourself, how much can you do yourself, who do you know that can help, or do you have access to the right professional help? The same advice applies as in tip number one above, know your limits, be realistic, and choose your property accordingly.
Finding your renovation project
Estate agents describe them as ‘in need of modernisation’, but if they are already being advertised then they are likely to be a poorer prospect. If you are looking to buy your properties through estate agents it pays to build closer relationships with all your local agencies because you want to be the first person they call when a good property comes onboard. Another way to find a ‘doer-upper’ is through an auction. Many of the properties available through auctions have seen better days and if you come to understand the ways of the auction room you can pick up a bargain, giving you a greater prospect for profits. Local newspapers may also be a good way of finding a project property, especially private ads, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you could always look for a commercial property, like an old pub or small hotel that could be renovated into a place to live, though planning permission would be needed for a change of use.
Restrictions could limit you more than you think
When looking at properties to renovate don’t forget to check out whether the property is listed, is in a conservation area, or if there are any protection orders on trees on its grounds and any other restrictions that could prevent you from doing what you need, or want, to do to the property.
Learn to recognise an expensive problem
Subsidence, rising damp and rot are all potentially expensive fixes. But what is ‘too expensive’ is a relative question. For some, a rewire may be outside of budget, or lead piping, massive trees too close to a property, or an improperly water sealed basement. Buy a property on a whim and you could learn to regret it later on as any one of these issues could wipe out any prospect of profits.
Nature can be a bat-ch
There are some creatures you don’t want in your investment property, such as rats gnawing through wires or deathwatch beetles boring through your supporting beams. Then there are some you really don’t want in your property like bees and bats, because they are protected. Bats especially, as it’s apparently a criminal offence to disturb roosting bats, which could put a serious crimp in your renovation plans.
Ask your local builder
A builder – the right builder – can be a useful renovation partner, but they may also already have a wide network of relationships with local agents, developers, landowners and others, any one of whom may have a property just right for your project.