The National Landlords Association (NLA) has claimed that landlords will sell 500,000 properties between them in the next 12 months. It says that confidence in the sector is low – the lowest since 2008’s financial crisis. The government has targeted private landlords in two consecutive budgets, introducing hefty taxes and a Stamp Duty levy unexpectedly. However, landlords are surprisingly optimistic, and no significant fallout has been felt since November’s Stamp Duty announcement. Ian Wilson is CEO of The Property Franchise Group, of which Whitegates is one of the brands. He said, “We completed a survey of 1,500 landlords. The majority said they are untroubled by the prospect of higher rates and the Stamp Duty levy, because they are pragmatic enough to know they will recoup that extra cost by having a long-term asset with their name on it. “We will see a greater proportion of professional landlords. They will deal with legislative changes, increased regulation and tax breaks.” Resentment for the policy is most common in small-scale landlords, who will face the most significant shortfalls upon the introduction of the new landlord taxes. Meanwhile, competitors with more than 15 properties will be relatively untouched. Richard Lambert, CEO of the NLA, said, “Landlords are more likely to sell off less desirable property that won’t necessarily appeal to the first-time buyer market.” The NLA also predicts a further 100,000 sales in 2017, though commentators are quick to add that this does not indicate a) the end of buy-to-let or b) a significant increase in homeownership for first-time buyers. Ian Wilson agrees. “First-Time buyers are simply over-stretched. The average first-time buyer now earns £50,000 a year – the national average is half that, so you can wipe out roughly half the working population being able to afford a sustainable mortgage. The average deposit is now £33,000 and the average FTB home costs £190,000. “Unfortunately first-time buyers simply don’t have the means of purchasing that stock. In other words, we believe investors are best-placed to purchase that leftover stock.” Thus, the future of buy-to-let may consist of slightly fewer landlords, with slightly more properties per landlord. Furthermore, because of the Stamp Duty surcharge going live in April, rents will likely increase to offset the extra thousands of pounds landlord investors will spend on second homes. Whitegates is one of the most successful estate agents in the North. If you have any plans to adjust your portfolio in 2016, please contact your local branch today.