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If you need to move, should you continue to rent, look to purchase, or even start a buy-to-let property portfolio? The choice is yours, but Carole Stubbs of Medics on the Move has some useful advice to help you decide.

Whichever route you take, the search for the right property is a time-consuming business and the chances are you will spend weeks, possibly months, looking at lots of unsuitable properties before you cross the threshold of your new home. If you’re working full-time, this means doing the rounds in the evenings or at weekends. If you’re relocating to a different part of the country, the job gets even more difficult, especially if you don’t know the area you’re moving to very well. Even with the help of estate agents, property details or web-based search engines, the hassle factor can still go through the roof, and you could end up making a costly mistake.

For most doctors, time is short and if you would rather someone else did the leg work for you, you could use the services of a professional home finder. This isn’t some new smartphone app, it’s a real, living person with local knowledge who will scour the property pages and agent’s windows on your behalf, and give you a hassle-free approach to finding a home or investment property.

In-depth knowledge of the local market and expert negotiation on the purchase price of a property are just two of the benefits a professional home finder can offer.

You may also wish to consider help to start or expand a property portfolio; people purchase investment property for many reasons, from providing for school fees, inflation-proofing their children for a future home purchase, or to act as a nest-egg for their old age.

Be aware of making costly mistakes when buying a property for investment purposes, and consider getting professional advice from the start and talk to a buyer’s agent. The ideal residential property investment is a combination of yield, rent-ability, sale-ability and capital gain. It’s important to balance these factors to provide you with the highest return, combined with the least risk.

Renting

Pros

  • Flexible term – leases are usually for a minimum of six months.
  • The landlord is responsible for property maintenance.

Cons

  • Expending rent monthly without any financial benefit at the end of the lease term.
  • There will always be a mild feeling of insecurity when renting, as there is always the chance that the landlord may terminate the contract.
  • Landlords will typically ask for a bond to insure themselves against damage to the property or in case the renter attempts to leave the premises without paying rent. This is usually refunded at the end of the rental agreement, after a post-rental inspection.

Buying

Pros

  • Using your finances to invest in an asset which experience has shown will grow in value over time.
  • Building up equity: rather than the dead money argument of renting, by purchasing your own property and repaying a mortgage, you build up equity over time, in what can be considered a valuable investment.
  • The property is likely to be your most valuable asset and, if necessary, can be sold or re-mortgaged at any time to realise capital for the homeowner.
  • If you need to move temporarily, there is nothing stopping you from letting your current house while you temporarily rent elsewhere. This is a particularly popular option with individuals that move overseas for a period of time.

Cons

  • Level of deposit needed against loan to value mortgage and the associated costs in purchasing, e.g. stamp duty, lender and solicitors’ fees.
  • Ongoing repairs and maintenance costs for the property.

Buy-to-let investment

A form of residential investment where you buy a property, usually with the aid of a mortgage, and rent it out to tenants.

Pros

  • A good managing agent can assist with all the legal obligations and ongoing management of the property.

Cons

  • Requires ongoing expenditure on property maintenance costs.
  • There is a risk of void periods where the property is not let.

Carole Stubbs, FRSA, Medics on the Move Limited