YORKSHIRE'S love affair with property investment shows no signs of abating - despite recent tax changes.
A new stamp duty surcharge on second homes came into force at the beginning of the financial year. But initial research by Linley & Simpson indicates that it has failed to dampen the enthusiasm of buy-to-let investors across the county.
The independent residential sales and letting agency reports that more than 100 new investors have registered with it since March, including 50 in April itself - figures that send out a clear signal that there continues to be no shortage of interest out there.
Despite the race in February and March to complete on property purchases before the 3 per cent tax hike took hold, the company has sold three times as many properties to investors in April than the previous month.
No fewer than 22 properties, totalling £3.1m, were sold by Linley & Simpson to buy-to-let investors in April. And a similar story is already being played out in May.
The company, which has 11 branches across North and West Yorkshire, launched a specialist buy-to-let department last year to meet growing demand among investors looking for an alternative to banks and low interest rates.
It has just passed the milestone of having registered 1,000 investors looking to buy. They can draw upon a combined budget of more than £340m to spend on the thriving Yorkshire property market.
"These figures would suggest that Yorkshire is bucking a trend - witnessed more in London and the South - which has suggested that investors are deserting the market. Some agents in the capital have reported a 55 per cent fall in second home sales in April," said Emily Wilkinson, Head of Research at Linley & Simpson.
Although we recognise it is still comparatively early days, our experience in Yorkshire is very different. It reflects a market of opportunities - one that still holds plenty of appeal for the established investor extending their portfolio as well as for those entering the buy-to-let sector for the first time.
"We have helped more and more customers with the latter profile since new financial freedoms were introduced last year that allow pension pots - some of which can be taken tax-free - to be channelled into property investment for the first time."
Research this week by the specialist High Street brokers, Bingley-based Mortgage Q, shows that buy-to-let mortgage rates across the board have fallen to their lowest levels.
Average two, three and five-year fixed loan rates have fallen from as high as 6.25 per cent in April 2011 to as low as 3.25 per cent currently - potentially offering a significant saving for the borrower.
Emily added: "Investors are also being spurred on by an all-time high demand among tenants for homes to rent across Yorkshire, wedded to the availability of much more competitive home loans in this sector.
Buying a property is one of the biggest investment decisions in a persons life. We are pleased that after entrusting us to source the best possible property, clients then entrust us to ensure it is let to its maximum potential.
They are all attracted by the seamless and fully-integrated service we provide, safeguarding every aspect of their investment under one umbrella.
With approaching 20 years specialism in the lettings market, establishing a reputation as Yorkshire's number one letting agent, coupled with a branch network reaching across all the core markets in the region, would-be investors can take comfort in knowing that our buy-to-let advice is given off the back of unprecedented knowledge of the Yorkshire rental market.
Our comprehensive letting and management service is there to ensure that any investment properties purchased through the buy-to-let service are expertly managed."
As well as demystifying the buy-to-let process and guiding investors through it - from finding a suitable property through to the completion of the sale and securing tenants - Linley & Simpson has also added a new dimension to its website.
Its team of experts have drawn upon their letting expertise to vet all the properties on the market and highlighted those that offer the best rental potential and return on investment.
It has singled out 140 such properties across North and West Yorkshire with prices ranging from £50,000 to £375,000 and yielding a gross annual investment return between 5% and 10% - in addition to capital growth that the home may generate.