Richard is well known in the property world as the editor of the excellent Property Investor News (for which I now write a column). I have been nagging him for ages to be one of my NPP’s and he has finally given in. Here is his story.
1. Please introduce yourself. Say a bit about yourself and your
Richard Bowser, I have been the editor of the monthly print magazine ‘Property Investor News‘ since 2002. We have consistently focused in the last 8 years on providing up to date market news and in-depth analysis of investment strategy/trends for our regular readers, many of whom are experienced long term property investor-landlords with UK residential portfolios built up over many years. For 5 years we also published ‘Successful Renting’ magazine on behalf of the NFRL until the ‘merger’ with the NLA.
2. How did you first become involved in property?
Well I bought my very first residential property as a homeowner in London, back in 1977 for the princely sum of £13,500. I added some value to it by a conversion to gain an extra bedroom. House price inflation was very strong over the next ten years and I sold it in 1987 for £66,000! I then became an accidental landlord myself in 1990. I realised that I should have been much more active in property investing and from 2001 onwards, bought a number of high yielding properties in the North East of England, which I continue to hold today.
3. What do you think is your greatest achievement so far?
In career terms, launching and sustaining ‘Property Investor News‘ over the last 8 years has been a bumpy, but highly enriching experience as the market has been a roller coaster ride, particularly in 2008/2009.
4. Do you or your company have any exciting plans for the future?
As a traditional print based publisher, we having to deal with the impact of broadband communication networks and also adapting to the new world of social media. However we are working on a couple of new projects which we hope to bring to market in 2011.
5. What do you think are the greatest problems facing the private
rented sector today?
The lack of mortgage finance options for many investor-landlords is certainly restricting further growth in the PRS. It seems quite ridiculous that many experienced landlords with a very solid business model, with low gearing and strong rental cashflows across their property portfolios cannot get mortgage finance on competitive terms due to the limits imposed by the relatively few lenders now left in the BTL market.
6. What do you think are the greatest opportunities?
Meeting the increasing demand for rental property from new tenants, many of whom are now excluded from becoming a first time buyer resulting from the banks asking for much larger deposits and their increased lending margins.
7. We have a new government. What would you like them to do for the
private rented sector?
Revert the payment of Housing Benefit / LHA directly to the landlord and not to the tenant, as this has caused chaos, or at least give the tenant an option as to whether they can choose to have the LHA paid direct to the landlord.
8. Do you use social media (blogs, twitter, LinkedIn etc)? What
place do you think it has in the future of the property industry?
I look at a couple of forums when I have a spare moment. Twitter – I just do not grasp and I cannot really see what it ‘brings to the table’? LinkedIn, I can certainly see the networking value there, but Facebook/YouTube certainly is being abused by the profileration of ‘get rich quick’ email marketers who have sprung up in the last few years using property as a means to an end to attract starry eyed naive wannabees attracted to their clever sales spin as to how you can easily become a millionaire via investing in property etc.
9. What is the most important lesson you have learned during your
time in property?
The old adage about ‘cashflow is king’ certainly applies, as too many people lost sight of this fundamental truth during that period of irrational lending and between 2005-2007.
10. What advice would you have to someone thinking of entering the
property industry today?
From an investor perspective : think long term and only buy to hold if you see true investment value. The lending market has changed significantly in the last 3 years. We are not going back to the easy lending days any time soon, so investor-landlords need to understand what this reality implies for the next few years, in particular with the upcoming tax rises and deep cuts in public sector spending impacting of consumer confidence.
Many thanks Richard. Anyone wishing to subscribe to Property Investor News can do so here.