22 May 2013
When investing, what’s your end game?
What’s the bottom line you want, when all is said and done?
Ask 100 investors and you will get a varied response.
Which one is better, single lets or multi-lets?
OK, that was a trick question.
You see, that’s akin to ‘Which is better, a fastball or an off speed pitch?’
If you need immediate income, you know cash flow is a yield on a pile of gold.
And, the one with the most and biggest piles of gold wins, right?
But not all of us can unanimously agree as to which strategy will help best accomplish our objective.
Some investors are die hard single let investors, whilst others focus intently on multi-lets.
Both viable strategies and each has its advantages and disadvantages which will be discussed below.
1- Ease of Purchase – Bread & butter or ‘vanilla’ single lets are bar far the easiest & most reasonably priced and easiest to finance, which makes them very popular and accessible to the majority of investors.
Although smaller multi-lets are also relatively easy to finance, you will find difficulty financing larger units where the property needs mandatory licensing.
They will either need to be financed for cash or through specialist commercial arms.
The bigger buildings will also carry a higher price tag, which will require a higher deposit, but with knowledge, experience and joint venture cash, they will also have the highest cash upsides.
2- Consistency of Income – If you’re lucky to land a 5 star tenant who renews their AST every 6-12 months, with no issues, no voids, no rent arrears, then you can ignore this section and you can comfortably rest on that high horse of yours looking down upon the rest of us mere mortals…..
If you want the reality then read on.
This is the part where you can lose your shirt, and a vacancy can take months to fill, costing you a boatload of mortgage costs.
You see, with single lets, most tenants [especially at the lower end] tend to stay longer term, making recurring income on auto-pilot.
But, when vacant, they can seriously take a bite out of the cashflow, as there will be zero income, but the mortgage will still need to be met.
With multi-lets, you are diversifying the income which clearly isn’t possible with single lets.
This can offset potential higher vacancy rates.
3-Income Diversification – A genuine question:
Going into war, is it better to have one soldier on your side, or four?
Of course you would have four –if one goes down, you still have three others to get the job done.
You with me?
This is one of the advantages multi-lets have over single lets.
4- Ease of Tenant Management/Maintenance - This is another area where the burden, up-keep and maintenance of tenants of single lets can outshine multi-lets.
Perhaps you’ve also tried HMO’ing.
You hated it.
You tried to self manage, you got too involved, you didn’t vet the tenants properly, put the wrong types of tenants together, in the wrong location, to the wrong living standard.
Never again, I’ll stick with single let thanks.
But consider this also.
Needing 100 single lets in order to achieve your investment objectives [but scattered] compared to 5/6-twenty multi-lets in a tight geographical location?
The multi-lets would make more sense right? There is a lot of efficiency in this model too.
But there might be another reason to own smaller single lets which brings us on to the next point..
5-Ease of Sale – The simple reality is single lets are much easier to liquidate should you ever want to exit.
The potential pool of buyers is much larger along with generous financing & mortgage options.
Given smaller multi-lets are also easier to finance, the problems arise with larger licensed buildings which often have many drawbacks with the availability of finance, and larger deposits needed.
Naturally, there are a few commercial players who could offer niche finance for this market, but this would require the buyer to have deep pockets and some past business borrowings.
Conclusion – while both strategies and financing options are different, which one is more better depends on the investors strategy.
Cash flow vs. Capital appreciation? Multi-lets will deliver mammoth returns, whilst single-lets will likely break even after all costs are factored in. This is of course based on the assumption you have recycled your capital after the ‘title has seasoned’
Yes, each strategy has its own benefits and drawbacks, but remember, which ever strategy you choose, your priority should be not to lose!
So, let’s talk about it!
What’s your preference? Single or multi-Lets? Leave a comment below.
Rob Moore & Mark Homer
Co-Founders of the Progressive Companies
Full Time Property Investors
Double Best Selling Property Authors
Over 350 Properties Bought & Sold
© Progressive Property Education LLP 2013
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