Working Paper No. 549
By Philippe Bracke
In 2013 buy-to-rent investors — referred to as buy-to-let (BTL) in the United Kingdom — accounted for 13% of all UK mortgage-funded housing transactions and for an even greater fraction of non-mortgage sales. This paper studies the behaviour of BTL investors using 2009–14 micro data. Combining the universe of transactions from the England and Wales Land Registry with online listings from WhenFresh/Zoopla, I identify a BTL purchase as a transaction where a rental listing on the same property appears on the web in the six subsequent months. The micro data reproduce the increase in BTL transactions over 2009–14 and show that BTL investors are more likely to invest in regions with large rental markets. I find that, on average, BTL investors pay 0.9%–1.1% less than other buyers for equivalent properties. Discounts are larger (around 2%) in regions with less liquid housing markets. Results are robust to including detailed geographical fixed effect and advertised sale prices in the regressions. I also show that properties purchased by investors spend on average five days less on the market.