We are overseas landlords and have been living in the USA for the past 12 years. We kept our family home in west Lancashire and that has been rented out continuously since we left the UK.
In 2009 we decided to purchase an investment property, with a view to building a small portfolio. This seemed a safer bet for our cash than the stock exchange and (planning for the future) was also a secure way to fund our retirement income & still have the properties for our kids to inherit.
We chose north Leeds for a number of reasons. We are familiar with the area, having both studied at Leeds Uni, and so we know what a vibrant and exciting place it is. Headingley has fantastic shops/cafes/pubs & social scene, along with great road & rail links to the city centre or surrounding countryside. There is great demand for good quality rental property and, having also considered other towns for our purchase, we found that the rental returns are very favorable.
The first property we purchased was a challenge, as we did not know anybody locally on whom we could call for help, support, advice etc. We had a friend of a friend view the property on our behalf (she is also a Leeds landlord) and we muddled through with help from the selling agent. The purchase went through and then we added a few days to our UK vacation, to spend at the house & find a letting agent.
We spoke to a few different agents (and there are many to choose from) but Redbrick stood out as having a fresh, modern and pro-active attitude to property management and letting. We left the keys with them and the rest, as they say, is history.
I have since discovered that Redbrick offer a service to overseas landlords where they will view properties (prospective purchases) on your behalf, and we have used this service for our three subsequent property purchases. As local property experts, they gave us an unbiased opinion on the property - is it in a good area / highlight any major maintenance concerns / advise on whether it has good rental potential etc. They have been very thorough and so helpful and even sent dozens of photographs for us to view (as we could not view the properties in person). In addition, they have a small army of contractors that can deal with every property maintenance scenario and they are always happy to pass on contact information and recommendations. This was particularly useful during the purchase process, as we could call on the relevant tradesmen to visit the property and quote for work that needed to be done.
As well as the distance issue with an overseas purchase, the time difference is also a challenge. We are six hours behind the UK, so it means getting up extra early to deal with the admin side of things ie. answer emails, make phone calls etc before the end of the UK working day (at 11am, our time).
We are really happy with our properties in Leeds - they let out well. Redbrick find great tenants, and also provide a full and comprehensive management service. Apart from the occasional email regarding minor maintenance issues, we very rarely hear from them. It definitely gives peace of mind to have our investment in such good hands.