What is all this about the "particularly hard-hit buy-to-let market" I keep hearing about in reports about the demise of Bradford & Bingley?
The thing is, I tend to follow the figures a bit and was not aware of any of the "reliable" variety that had pointed to BTL being "particularly hard hit". Indeed, I had been a bit surprised at how well it was holding up when I read the latest data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
I contacted Julian Birch - he provides a very worthwhile read, blogging for Inside Housing - to check if I had missed something. We chatted. He broadly confirmed my sanity. I put the phone down. Almost immediately he forwarded an email from CML that had just popped into his inbox. It backed up what we had been talking about.
Arrears and possessions for BTL appear to be no worse than the average of all mortgages if we look at the CML figures.
Phew. I worry about missing things.
While I have concerns over the potential for problems in the BTL sector, I was not aware of any data showing a nasty slide in fortunes so far.
Regarding my concerns, I suspect - as many do and some stats do show - that many latecomers to the BTL market were seduced by capital gains and not rental yield, with some running annual losses on their mini businesses.
If this is the case, given the direction of the general market, a point will be reached when the numbers just don't stack up. This could burst the dam and we could see a flood of BTL homes hitting the market.
I am not saying this will happen. Although there are those that are fairly convinced that a major bail out is due. But the relationship a novice investor has with a rental property is very different from owner occupiers with their home. It is one wholly of investment, so they will bail on commercial grounds.
With a million or so homes in the BTL market there is the potential for a serious flood on the market that would kick prices further and faster downward for other sellers.
How many more bumps can the new-build market take before we stop building altogether?