Retirement customers looking to invest the tax free cash lump sum from their pension pots into the buy-to-let property market has remained constant this year, despite the looming tax clampdown, according to data from Fidelity International.
Come 6 April 2016, any buy-to-let investor will have to pay an additional 3% stamp duty surcharge compared with residential buyers while higher-rate tax relief on mortgage interest will reduce from April 2017 to the basic 20% rate and landlords will be able to claim less for wear and tear on their properties.
But the raft of impending changes has done little to dampen retirees’ enthusiasm for bricks and mortar with 7% of Fidelity’s retirement customers using their tax free cash lump sum to invest in a rental property this January – the same proportion recorded in the last six months of 2015.
Overall, property purchases remain hugely popular with retirees – accounting for 14% of all usages of tax free pension cash in 2015 and placing it firmly among the top three options after reinvesting and topping up income. Out of this number, the split between buy-to-let and owner occupier purchases has consistently been 50/50.
Maike Currie, investment director for personal Investing at Fidelity International, said: “The British love affair with all things property is well-documented and, for many retirees, buy-to-let is seen as a ‘no brainer’ investment given the spectacular rise in property markets, particularly in London, over recent years. But tax changes aside, the illiquidity of the housing market as well as costs in the way of maintenance, stamp duty, mortgage arrangement fees and a host of unpredictable outgoings can chip away at income. Not to mention the time and effort required to manage a property and the risk that it may lie empty between tenancies.
“Investing in property funds allows investors access to an income stream without the hard work and unexpected costs of a tangible property. Buy-to-let in retirement may work for some but with the added extras that come with it, it’s worth asking yourself, whether you really want to be managing a property in your eighties?”