Please Note: This Article is 5 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

Property tycoons, Fergus and Judith Wilson have made a deal with Arab investors to sell them their remaining (some were sold off earlier in the year) buy-to-let property portfolio for an alleged £250m.

The retired school teachers, both former maths teachers, started investing in property just short of 30 years ago in 1986. They amassed a portfolio of around 1000 homes spread across Ashford, Maidstone and Folkestone in Kent, all towns located within commuting distance of London.

The couple had previously sold off around 100 tenanted two and three-bedroom homes in the summer for a reputed £25million to Chinese and Indian investors.

Mr Wilson says the tenanted properties have been sold at market value with a “token” £1million premium to two “wealthy individuals and institutions” in a deal that’s thought will complete entirely before the summer next year. Of the £250 million proceeds, around £80m of that will be needed to pay off interest-only mortgage debt. Another large slice will doubtless disappear into the Treasury’s coffers in the form of capital gains tax.

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Mr Wilson had said in the summer that he was selling due to the high property values in the south-east and told the Financial Times prices have been rising due to a shortage of properties on the market in Kent.

The sale also appears to be a timely one for the Wilson’s after the Chancellor announced various tax measures aimed at cooling the buy-to-let boom. The withdrawal of interest rate relief over a 5-year period, given that the Wilsons have a considerable amount of mortgage debt, would have hit them hard.

The withdrawal of mortgage interest relief, along with other changes to buy-to-let expense claims, were announced in the Summer Budget. This was further compounded as a damper on buy-to-let investment when a Stamp Duty surcharge of 3%, plus tougher mortgage criteria when investing, were announced in the November Autumn Statement.

According to the Financial Times the Wilsons have been trying to sell their 1,000 property portfolio since the financial crash in 2008, but the falling values at the time forced them to hang on so they could meet their substantial mortgage repayments commitments. There were said to be around £350,000 per month when the financial storm hit.

One of the main lenders to the Wilsons at that time was Mortgage Express, a subsidiary of the Bradford & Bingley building society which faced insolvency.

Mr Wilson told the Financial Times he is sorry to be giving up “but common sense must prevail” and at the age of 67 he is “getting no younger”.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself . . . it’s been a happy, happy ride, a hobby that’s got out of control. Sometimes, years ago, you’d be buying a house for £35,000 and you’d be arguing over just £500,” he said. That time has long gone.

This “happy ride” was despite the couple enduring a lot of bitter controversy and negative anti-landlord sentiment over the last few years, especially when they sent eviction notices to around 200 tenants on housing benefit (HB), claiming they were bad payers. This was in contrast to the large number of immigrants they were housing who paid their rent on time, and they argued that the move was aimed at preventing HB tenants spiralling into debt.

As advice to new landlords Mr Wilson said: “One of my tips to aspiring buy-to-let landlords: buy where it doesn’t flood.”

Please Note: This Article is 5 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.
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