“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” So quipped Mark Twain upon the erroneous publication of his obituary in a famous New York newspaper, or at least that’s how the legend goes.
If the buy-to-let sector could speak, it could well say the same. Sure, thanks to a mix of tax increases, cost jumps and regulatory changes in recent years, the allure of the rentals market has taken an almighty whack. But investors who are hunkering down and trying to ride out the storm are reaping the benefits of the worsening property shortage.
According to estate agency Hamptons International, the average rent in the UK rose 1.9% in July, with Scottish renters benefitting the most from the growing homes shortfall as rents rose 5.2% year-on-year. Rental growth was also strong in the South West and South East of England, registering at 4.7% and 4% respectively.
The new exodus
Landlords who are riding the rent wave in these places might be particularly quick to dismiss claims that buy-to-let is rapidly dying as an asset class. But there are many others for whom returns from the rentals sector are simply not sufficient, and the aggravation related to increased regulation far too great, to justify their own participation in the sector. Indeed, recent data from the Residential Landlords Association shows that a whopping half of Britain’s landlords are considering exiting buy-to-let completely following government steps to scrap ‘no-fault’ evictions.
So forget about buy-to-let, I say. I would argue that individuals looking to grab a piece of the UK property sector would be far better off investing in Warehouse REIT (LSE: WHR) today.
Watch this space
I probably don’t need to explain how big the e-commerce segment is now, nor remind you of the rate at which online retail activity is growing. But I’d like to briefly mention a recent JP Morgan report, which estimates that internet sales in the UK — a region that accounts for 30% of the whole European e-commerce sector — will grow 9% each year for the next few years and result in a total market value of €231.2bn by 2021.
Clearly, businesses with exposure to the online shopping sphere are onto a good thing, and Warehouse REIT is one such share in great shape to ride this trend through its network of urban warehouses that provides space to retailers and logistics firms. What’s more, the AIM-listed business is engaged in rampant expansion the length and breadth of the country to exploit this exceptional growth opportunity.
I firmly believe that Warehouse REIT could generate some serious returns in the years ahead, but it’s not just a share for those with an eye on retirement riches — a 6% dividend yield for 2019 suggests some big returns in the near term too.
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Royston Wild has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.