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60 Seconds with…Dominic Toller

What are you doing at the moment?

I’m preparing for the launch of Propertyearth.net. It’s a web portal that looks to match mainly professional buy-to-let investors with chain-free properties such as those repossessed by lenders.

With repossessions on the up, stock is obviously not an issue at the moment and the number of chain-free properties is increasing. The biggest difficulty has been finding time to sit down with lenders and explain the proposition – everyone’s so busy.

The website is going live next month when it will link automatically to Microsoft’s Virtual Earth system to give purchasers a bird’s eye view of properties they are interested in while detailing all necessary information such as price, rental yield and electronic versions of Home Information Packs and Energy Performance Certificates.

Is the portal an alternative to using an estate agent?

Not at all. It sits in between housing transactions by private treaty and those by auction. Both systems have advantages and disadvantages.

Once clients have found the properties they are interested in they can click through directly to the selling agents. We provide a one-stop shop for potential property investors.

Is there still an appetite for buy-to-let investment?

There is an appetite for buy-to-let investment but not amongst the uninitiated. A lot of investors have been holding back because rental yields have been too low. In the past couple of years you could have been looking at yields of 2% but now there are opportunities to invest where yield will be 8%. Professional investors are returning to the market.

You mentioned HIPs – do you think they have a future?

Regardless of which party forms the next government I think HIPs will be around in some shape or form.

HIPs are neither here nor there when it comes to the future of Propertyearth.net but if they are around we will ensure they are easy to obtain and as up-to-date as possible.

When do you think we’ll see a sustainable market recovery?

I’m a pessimist. 2009 is going to be a tough time to do business and that is likely to continue well into 2010.

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