What do you need to know before buying your holiday let? Get the lowdown from two holiday let property experts with a combined 20 years of industry experience…
We asked the team over at Sally’s Cottages, a family run holiday home letting agency based in Cumbria, and Chris Dacre, a holiday let mortgage specialist here at The Cumberland for their top questions to ask when viewing a holiday let property.
The Sally’s Cottages team start with 6 key questions that are important when you’re viewing a property with holiday letting in mind:
1. What is the annual turnover?
If the property is already a holiday let, ask for at least three years worth of information. This will allow you to forecast affordability and potential returns on investment.
2. What is there to do in the area?
Different people will want different experiences, so decide who you’re catering for. Similarly, make sure to ask what and where the nearest amenities are. At a minimum you’ll want to know where the nearest pub and shop are.
3. What are the quirks of the property?
Every property has aspects that aren’t ideal, but paying guests expect as much convenience and comfort as possible.
When viewing a house, consider how you would market it.
Look for amazing views you can proudly highlight, or any special features that will entice guests into booking a stay. Try to find at least one good, unique selling point – which can be the location, the charm, or the views.
4. How are utilities supplied?
Depending on where you’re looking to buy, but especially in remote areas, access and maintenance of utilities, such as gas and electricity, may not be as straightforward as you’re used to and some may not exist. In some areas water may be from a private supply.
5. How much will the bills be?
How much will the utilities cost? Make sure to balance expenses against income. If you’re looking at a current holiday let, find out about other regular expenses, too, such as repairs and maintenance.
6. Are there any problem neighbours?
What are the neighbours like? Make sure they won’t cause any problems for your guests! The sellers are legally obligated to tell you if they lodged complaints against noisy neighbours, and it’s best to find out as soon as possible.
Chris, a Lending Manager here at The Cumberland, gave us an insight into some of the key information your mortgage provider would want to know when discussing a mortgage application:
7. What is the vendor’s situation and when do they expect to complete the sale?
Understanding the vendor’s position, including whether they live in the property or currently let the property can be important in understanding whether or not the purchase is feasible. A valuation will need to be carried out and solicitors will also need time to fully investigate the title and carry out searches for you.
8. Are there any restrictions around the property’s usage?
When you approach a mortgage provider, it’s great to come prepared with knowledge of whether there are any restrictions around the property use.
Questions to ask include:
- Are there any occupancy restrictions affecting the property, or can it be let 365 days of the year?
- Can the property be used as a residential property as well as a holiday let? This can affect the resale potential of the property, and it’s relevant if you’re also planning on living there in the future.
9. Is the property listed and/or in a conservation area?
The conveyancing process will tell you this, but it could be handy to find out sooner. The answer can change your view on a property and you may need to rethink using it as a holiday let.
There are three categories of listed buildings in England and Wales:
- Grade I, which are buildings of exceptional interest and the rarest
- Grade II*, which are buildings of particular importance
- Grade II, which are buildings of special interest and the most common
If the house you’re viewing is located in a conservation area, there may be restrictions on what you can change without planning permissions, therefore owning a listed building or living in a conservation area will affect how much and what you can refurbish; repairs, extensions, or improvements may cost more money, take more time, and involve more paperwork.
On the plus side, it could also mean you can charge higher rent, as the property or area will have a particular historic and architectural interest.
10. Has the property ever been affected by flooding and is it in a flood risk area?
You can check the post code at gov.uk/check-flood-risk to see if the property is at risk of long term flooding. Properties can still be at risk of surface water flooding even if not located close to a river/sea. Understanding if there is a history of flooding (selling agent may be able to confirm) is key when looking to insure the property.
11. Does the property have its own parking space?
A parking space can impact the saleability of a property, and affect its appeal as a holiday let. Sometimes the local area can have free parking spaces but in busier locations in high season, parking can be difficult and may be the difference between a guest choosing your property over another.
12. If the property is leasehold (e.g. an apartment)…
- How much is the ground rent and maintenance, and what services (e.g. maintenance of shared areas) are included?
- What is the remaining term on the lease?
Most lenders would expect there to be at least 85 years remaining on a lease to be considered suitable for mortgage security so this question is important to clarify early on.
- Are there any occupancy restrictions in the lease?
It is essential that the leaseholder can confirm that holiday letting is permitted before you buy the property. It’s something your solicitor should verify for you, as well as confirming that the lease conditions are reasonable.
The small details
- How is the water pressure?
- Which direction does the property face?
- When was the boiler last replaced/serviced?
- Are the drains and guttering sturdy?
- Does the property have a shared driveway?
- What’s included in the sale?
This list isn’t comprehensive, and we’re sure you’ll have a few of your own too, but use it as a starting point.
Keep a list with you of questions to ask when you go to a viewing – it always pays to be prepared, and will help you to find your ideal holiday let property. Download or print our handy questions sheet to take with you.
About the experts
Thank you to Sally’s Cottages for the tips and insights. Sally Fielding set up Sally’s Cottages in 2003, with just one property on her books. Now a regular winner of national awards and accolades, Sally’s Cottages employs well over 100 people, and offers a choice of 500 holiday cottages to rent.
Chris Dacre has dealt almost exclusively with holiday let and hospitality mortgage cases in the past three years at The Cumberland, and has 14 years experience in personal and commercial banking. He enjoys discussing his clients’ future plans and helping them to achieve their goals, and loves coming up with creative solutions to complex problems.