If you regularly read the nation's newspapers or keep up with the property industry press you will have noticed that not many weeks go by where there isn't a story about the buy-to-let sector.
There are frequent reports comparing the profitability of investing in property against other asset classes, and bricks and mortar routinely comes out on top.
Not too long ago, we wrote a piece detailing the impressive yields and returns the UK's landlords have been seeing in the past few years.
In April, pension freedoms – which allow people to cash-in on their pension pots early – encouraged a surge in the number of 'silver landlords' entering the buy-to-let sector. According to research from Saga, around one in ten over 50s have entered the buy-to-let market since then, equating to approximately 2.3 million people.
Now, though, it seems that the country's younger generation wants to get in on the act.
Research recently released by online letting agency Rentify suggests that there are some four million 18-39 year-olds actively trying to purchase buy-to-let property in the UK.
The agency says that many people it spoke to believe that April's pension freedoms are unfair on the younger generation, as the over-55s have been given a cash boost that is unavailable to other demographics.
The study also found that 49% of those surveyed said that they believe purchasing a buy-to-let property is the best investment opportunity available today.
It draws attention to a piece of research released by Wriglesworth Consultancy and buy-to-let lender Landbay, which stated that, on average, £1,000 invested in a buy-to-let asset in the final quarter of 1996 was worth £14,987 by the end of 2014.
With interest rates remaining low for the time being, demand in the property investment sector could continue to rise, despite George Osborne's tax change announced in July's Summer Budget.
As well as increased accessibility to property investment and the prospect of attractive returns, Generation Y, (those born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s – also known as millennials) – are finding it hard to get on the property ladder because of factors like tighter lending criteria after last year's Mortgage Market Review and rising property values combined.
What's more, the percentage of home ownership levels has decreased, as the number of renters in the UK has grown. This year's English Housing Survey revealed that home ownership levels have fallen to a 29-year low, with just 63% of over 22 million households being owner occupiers. The report also stated that In 2013-14, 19% - around 4.4m – of households were renting privately, up from 18% in 2012-13 and 11% in 2003. This increased demand for rental property is a landlord's dream and has helped to boost the long-term viability of the Private Rented Sector.
Put all of these factors together and it's no wonder why the UK's young and ambitious are turning their attention to the buy-to-let sector.
Five quick tips for young property investors:
1. Do your sums
One of the first things you will need to do is calculate your budget. How much is your mortgage going to cost every month? How much do you expect to earn back in rents? You also have to factor in maintenance and other charges. If your sums don't add up, it might be time to rethink.
2. Speak to the experts
Reading around the subject is of course very valuable but first-hand knowledge might just make the difference. Buy-to-let mortgage brokers, letting agents, experienced landlords – speak to them all to get a feel for the market and pick up pearls of wisdom from those who have been doing it for years.
3. Know your location
When buying your own home, location is one of the key criteria and it should be exactly the same for an investment property. Don't buy in an area you know nothing about – it might not be a viable investment location. You need to think about your target demographic and what they're looking for as well as rental demand, average yields and property prices in each location.
4. Remember your business head
Although it may be a handy piece of experience for a feel of the process, buying a home for yourself is a completely different situation. You can't be emotional and let your own likes and dislikes colour your decision when it comes to buy-to-let, you must be cool, calculated and precise.
5. Read up on the legislation
As the Private Rented Sector continues to grow in size so does the number of legal obligations a landlord has to adhere to. In just the next few months alone, landlords will need to take on board new rules concerning immigration checks, Section 21 notices and smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms.
These tips are of course just a starting point and if you're seriously considering investing in the buy-to-let market we advise you speak to an expert, be it a local letting agent, mortgage broker or property investment specialist.