Q: I’m looking to purchase an investment property. What considerations do I need to keep in mind? Mandy Meredith of Sherry FitzGerald Lettings offers her expert advice.
A: As with all property decisions, location is key. Within this, there’s a sliding scale of priorities. Transport is top of the list. A property that’s close to a good public transport link – Luas, Dart, or a good bus network – will be very attractive to potential tenants, so make this your first priority. Good amenities are also a big advantage. Many people now work from home and like to be able to pop out to the shops. Ideally, a rental property will have a good local shop selling fresh produce and chemist within walking distance. It’s not essential to have a supermarket within walking distance as most now offer delivery. If you plan on renting to a family, look at the schools in the area and how easy it is to get to them. A property will be more attractive to families if there are a good range of crèches and primary schools nearby, with secondary schools accessible by public transport. Find out if there are any local sports clubs, GAA, or other family-friendly amenities in the vicinity.
Then, get a feel for the area. The best way to do this is to visit at different times of the day, in the evenings, and at weekends. Does it feel safe? Is there a good atmosphere and sense of community? Are the properties well-cared for? Talk to the neighbours. Do they enjoy living there? If there are communal areas, look at how they are maintained and if they are being used. People chatting to each other and kids playing in green spaces are all positive signs. Neglected homes, rubbish, and vandalism are warning signs. If there’s a vacant plot of land or derelict property close by, check the planning applications to make sure that any future developments won’t negatively impact the property you are looking at. If there is not planning in progress, investigate the zoning. If an area is zoned to remain green amenity space, that will have a positive impact on the properties around it.
The next thing to think about is accommodation and decoration. One-bedroom apartments let very well, particularly if they have a modern kitchen with a dishwasher and a modern bathroom. Bear in mind that many of tenants in search of a one-bedroom apartment will look for one that’s already furnished. If you’re investing in a two-bedroom apartment, remember that a property with two bathrooms will be much more attractive to prospective tenants than one where the occupants have to share. With all rental properties, keep the walls and floor neutral. It’s easier for viewers to imagine themselves in what may become their new home if the décor is plain, simple, and not dominated by someone else’s style.
It’s a legal requirement for every property advertised to have a Building Energy Rating (BER) certificate. Currently, this is a big consideration for tenants because of the cost of heating. People are very wary of high utility bills so the higher the BER rating, the easier it will be to let the property. A BER of C3 or higher is usually an accepted rating for tenants, and anything below this will set alarm bells ringing for tenants. If you’re looking to purchase a property with a lower rating, we would recommend that you look into the cost to upgrade this to a C3 or higher. Grants are available through seai.ie.