Help landlords to survey the options

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The buy-to-let market in the UK has experienced strong growth in recent months. Data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders found that a total of 40,000 mortgages were advanced to landlords in the second quarter of 2013, up from 33,500 in the first quarter.

But while many landlords are well versed in current rules and regulations in the sector, others are less certain. This presents a unique opportunity for advisers, something made more attractive by the fact that the recent BDRC Landlords Panel found that 78 per cent of landlords had a significant requirement for advice.

The first step for advisers is to encourage landlords to commission a good quality independent survey rather than relying purely on a mortgage valuation.

Buy-to-let is quasi-commercial insofar as a landlord buying a property to let out to a tenant is effectively a commercial deal.

As with any investment or large purchase, it is important that landlords ensure they are properly informed about the properties they are renting out.

This is where a quality independent survey is vital.

A homebuyer survey, which typically starts from about £250, will alert the owner to any structural problems the property might have.

A building survey, which costs around £1,000, is an even more comprehensive survey, and is particularly useful for older, larger or non-traditional properties. An adviser can play a key role in helping landlords select the right survey.

While budgets will undoubtedly be stretched when buying a property, buyers should not overlook the importance of paying for a survey.

It is easy to assume that a mortgage valuation will cover all eventualities. But, as every adviser will be aware, this merely reflects the security of the property for a loan and does not look at the condition of the property in any detail.