Over 55s thinking about switching the cash in their pensions into buy to let property as Chancellor George Osborne eases the rules on taking cash from their funds should think again, warn industry experts.
The value of homes owned by Britain’s 2 million buy to let landlords is reckoned to add up to £1,250 billion, while the total amount amassed in pensions is £1,600 billion.
Some experts are predicting a swing from pensions to property as the over 55s opt for investing in property rather than putting the cash into equities or an annuity.
Traditionally, an annuity is an insurance contract paying a guaranteed income for life bought with the balance of a pension pot after drawing the 25% tax-free lump-sum.
The question is whether shifting that cash is the best option for someone approaching retirement.
One industry insider, David Alexander of letting agents DJ Alexander, with branches in Edinburgh and Glasgow, suggests property investment is not for everyone looking to drawdown their pensions.
“They need to think about issues like sinking all their capital in one asset class,” he said.
“Younger investors also have a salary to rely on to cover times when the property does not have a tenant or expensive repairs. Pensioners would need to make this spending up from their savings.
“Tax is another problem. If they make rental profits, this will affect tax on their pensions and if they sell or gift a property, they may have to pay capital gains tax.”
Alexander has drawn up an action plan for new property investors approaching retirement.
He suggests buying homes that need refurbishment is a good way to start in the property rental trade as renovation adds value.
“Don’t forget rental property is an asset that can be taken into account when considering long term care costs when you are older as well,” he said.