How to run a buy-to-let empire hundreds of miles away

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The couple used a real estate agent to help select homes, though Wilkinson went to look at each one before committing. To rent property in Wales, landlords must be licensed and Wilkinson must undergo eligibility training.

“If you want to succeed you have to be willing to do the things that other people aren’t, like giving up your weekends to go to Wales to look at a house or take a test,” he said.

They spent £25,000 upgrading their first property, had it revalued at £100,000 and re-mortgaged it to take the capital back and buy the next. The couple uses a rental agent to manage their properties, which means their day-to-day involvement is limited to making decisions when something needs repair in one of the properties.

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Their tenants, Wilkinson said, have been exceptionally reliable and yields are good. A three bedroom house in Tonypandy currently rents for around £600 a month. Leaving mortgage fees and brokerage fees, the monthly income is approximately £450 (not including any maintenance fees). Multiplied by eight properties, the portfolio’s annual income is over £40,000.

Wilkinson says managing the homes involves little more than a monthly phone call with the real estate agent.

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“I know you get horror stories, but I think some people go into buy-to-let with the wrong attitude and expectations,” says Wilkinson. “I want to be professional and that my tenants are happy, because then they won’t be a problem. You get what you give.”

A rental that will become a lifestyle change

Vic Paterson and her husband Greg Pritchard are – somewhat coincidentally – long-distance real estate investors. The couple live in Spalding, Lincolnshire, where they run a pain and injury rehabilitation clinic. In the depths of the pandemic, the couple headed to the Scottish Highlands for a staycation.

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“It was just incredible,” says Paterson, 48, a hypnotherapist. “I had the strangest feeling of coming home.” They decided to buy a holiday home and rent it out for a few years, with the aim of moving to Scotland mortgage-free in the medium term.

In December 2021, they paid £180,000 for Tig Cottage, a two-bedroom workers’ cottage near the coastal town of Ballantrae, 70 miles southwest of Glasgow. It desperately needed some TLC – a new boiler, damp work, a refurbishment and new doors were all needed. But finding people to do the job wasn’t as easy as they thought.

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