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  • Buy-to-Let

    First Buy to Let - Feedback + Advice Please

    I am new buy-to-let landlord and have recently purchased my first property.

    I thought I would share the property details and my plans with this Forum in the hope of getting some advice / feedback .

    The Property: 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment with separate living room and kitchen located in Berkshire with 1 parking space and a garage. Approximately 1,000sq ft. Built in 1978 and is good condition but as far as I can tell still has the majority of original fixtures and fittings (needs modernizing).  Lease has recently been renewed and has 125 years remaining.

    Financing: purchased for £243,000. Funded by 25% cash deposit and 75% mortgage (2.55% interest only with 5 years fixed rate + £995 mortgage fee).  Management fees are £800 per year and ground rent is £100.

    Refurb Plan:

    • Kitchen – replace existing kitchen with a modern fitted kitchen (budgeted £7,000)
    • Bathroom – replace existing bathroom with modern bathroom (budget £3,000)
    • Bedrooms and Living area – paint and potentially replace carpet (budget £1,000)

    Letting Strategy – targeting a professional couple (property is approx.. 1 hr from London, close to the M4 and Reading). Hoping to achieve £1,150 per month rent. I’m planning to use a letting agent to source tenants and collect rent.  I estimate this will be a 10% monthly cost.

    Interested to hear your thoughts on my investment - do you think my refurb budget is realistic? Any suggestions on the best place to source a bathroom / kitchen? Any recommendations on identifying good trades people?  Do you have any feedback on my letting strategy?   Do you think this was a good buy for my first buy to let?  Any other advice?

    Thanks for taking the time to read.


    I like Howdens for kitchen and you can get it cheaper than your budget, but you will most likely need that money on something else.

    Why use the estate agent to collect rent? I have never seen a value in the agent being a mailbox either do full management or tenant find only. If you live close to the place why not use open rent?

    Some people like rent guarantee insurance.

    If you sign up to RLA you also get a trade card to B&Q which can save you a little

    best of luck with your first property


    Hi Matthew,

    Welcome to the tribe!  Congratulations on your first property. From what you have told us, it looks like you have made a good sound purchase.

    My question is, does it really need refurbishment and/or so much money spent on it?

    Without pictures it is hard to tell.

    I certainly think £7K is well over the top for a new kitchen. You could just replace the doors and keep the old carcasses, and then replace the worktops and sink and taps. That would give a similar effect but cost significantly less. There are a number of companies that offer door replacements at the fraction of the cost of a new kitchen, so this is well worth looking into.

    Your budget for the bathroom also seems a bit on the high side.  This might be of interest - an alternative to tiling to give a quick make-over.

    Well worth re-decorating and replacing flooring and perhaps putting up new window coverings to give a fresher feel.

    A very deep clean would also be a good idea.

    You can source good tradesman via our partner site Checkatrade.

    I pay 10% fully managed, and, as this is your first foray into buy to let, I would recommend that you opt for a fully managed service to ensure that you are fully compliant.

    Our lettings partner is Northwood and they have offices in Berkshire and would be delighted to assist you.

    I would recommend that you join a landlord association and PT is partnered with the Residential Landlords Association and you can enjoy a 25% discount off membership with us.

    My final bit of advice is to get all of the above done as quickly as possible so that you can get the property rented out.  I would start advertising it now and, if you find suitable tenants, you could invite them to choose a wall colour in the bedroom to get them invested in the flat.  Certainly, I would not expect the above to take more than a max. of 3 weeks, so start approaching the lettings agent now with a view to getting it marketed advising prospective tenants that it is under-going refurbishment.

    Hope that helps for starters and good luck! Smile


    I  agree with much of the above but I'd be very wary of getting tenants lined up before the property is ready. Sometimes things take a lot longer than you expect and the last thing you want is for the tenants to have given notice on their previous home and be all ready to move in and then the property isn't ready.


    Well done, as Vanessa said reburb budget is on the high side. Look into LNPG membership is well worth it as you get contract pricing on kitchens from Magnet which beats Trade prices, they also have deals with Bathroom.com were we get a bathroom set for significantly better than trade. Their membership is slightly high for people in the lower end (number of properties) however they offer you a second year free if you don't save at the least your membership costs. I have been a member for 2 years now and have covered my membership each year with one purchase (year one Kitchen year two paint and insurance). One other thing make sure you have the right insurance policy ie buy to let not general residential.


    Re insurance

    The leaseholder has to have the block insurance

    The ON:Y insurance a LL can buy is contents insurance

    It is ILLEGAL to have 2 buildings insurance policies on the same property!


    Well done. Matthew.

      I estimate this will be a 10% monthly cost. - Never estimate -Know. Spreadsheet time.

    ( My fag packet calculations of the past were big mistakes- today landlords need to account for almost every penny. )

    Don't forget the Vat on management costs. 10% becomes 12%.

    Is this ground floor apartment?

    Only advice I can add is generic - keep a sinking fund for unexpected costs and maintence. keep up to date with obligations via Property Tribes.  Smile

    do not know area. But there is regular Berkshire meet I have heard about.

    Some of this might help - to check average rents. I assume you have done homework with accuracy to nearest £50 though.



    Thumbs up from Howdens from me.



    Coming soon Investorsk8.com

    Wisdom - an integration of knowledge, experience, and deep understanding that incorporates tolerance for the uncertainties of life as well as its ups and downs. 

    If at all possible choose only tenants or their possible guarantor who qualify for RGI

    If they don't then understand you are taking a MASSIVE business risk.

    Evicting tenants is a long; expensive  and protracted experience!!

    If you cannot afford a long eviction process then hold out for tenants who will qualify for RGI.

    In the area you have invested I can't see there being any problem in you sourcing tenants who would qualify fior RGI.

    Don't use a normal LA.

    They simply aren'y needed.

    Use LRS


    Upad basic

    etc, etc



    Good job on a clear post with good information!

    1000sqft for a 2 bedroom apartment is great, and much larger than most you will get these days. Guessing it may have been council owned at some point. Management/services charges with apartments are frustrating to bear, as it’s nearly a month of rent. With 1000sqft to play with there might even be scope to create additional rooms in future, depending on the lease.

    We always refurbish properties we take on – we want to give our target tenants the quality they seek and that we are happy to provide. Did you buy the property in your personal name or in a company? If the former, repair and replacement refurbishment costs can be useful to offset against income (including mortgage interest ‘income’ which if you’re a higher rate tax payer will become increasingly uncomfortable over the next couple of years).

    I would certainly recommend replacing carpets, alongside a tidy paint job new carpets can really lift a property. I would also put down a good quality underlay which will improve the feel of whichever carpet you select, prolong its life, and help to reduce a little of the noise that can transfer between apartments (if you’re not on a ground floor).

    Fair enough to use a letting agent if you don’t have much free time. If you can spare the time it is useful to experience letting at least one property yourself (through something like Open Rent) as suggested above, as you can learn more about that side of the business. One of the key things to get right is the AST and referencing which you can get assistance with through the National Landlords Association or Residential Landlords Association.If you do use a letting agent I would sound out 3 or 4 and see which you resonate best with.

    I would also look for agents that have a track record of renting property like yours in that location. In addition, try and get a sense of the kinds of tenants that gravitate to that agent…some agents are better at attracting young professional renters than others. You also want them to be selective in the tenants they take on for your property – if they put in the wrong tenants who treat the properly poorly your maintenance costs will escalate.

    For a single property quite a few agents for fully managed will charge 12%+VAT. You might succeed in getting 10%+VAT.

    As mentioned above, LNPG is a good option for sourcing kitchens through Magnet, albeit we tend to find kitchen appliances cheaper elsewhere. You can also try and match Howdens/Magnet for pricing. We have sourced some bathroom stuff through Bathrooms.com, but you can also find some good local deals. Spending a little time searching can save quite a bit of money.

    Good trades people…pop along to some local property networking meetings and see if other investors there have any recommendations. You can also try Checkatrade and community Facebook pages. Always check people out yourself, including other projects they have done and what feedback their clients had, and ideally try them out first on a small job to see if they are reliable and do things to the standard you want.




    Guy Brown
    Blue Infinity Property Group
    M 07791-661491 | T 0118 3360366 | E guy@blueinfinityproperty.com<script data-cfhash='f9e31' type="text/javascript">/* http://www.blueinfinityproperty.com

    * New build residential developments and flat conversions in the Home Counties
    * High end HMOs in Reading and Bracknell

    My 2 bed flat in the centre of Reading is a little over 1000 sq ft. No grarage, just a parking space.

    It is currently rented for £850pm - but I had to lower the rent as 4 office blocks on the same half mile stretch of road have been converted to flats in the last few years,

    I plan to sell next year. I am hoping that the overdue redecoration of the interior common areas is done before then.