Can BTL really deliver better returns than a pension?

Can BTL really deliver better returns than a pension?

Despite the government’s recent tax hikes and tougher criteria for mortgage lending, over the long term, the right property investment can provide an enviable pension pot.

According to Armistead Property, there are plenty of reliable surveys that show that despite the property market being more risky than pensions, property is nevertheless, king.

Though pensions will beat a portfolio of just one property, those investors who are willing to take more risk, by taking out a mortgage and managing multiple properties, have the potential to exceed a pension pot.

Data from AJ Bell reveals how much £100,000 would grow (in capital and returns) over 10 and 20 years in three scenarios. Using historic and housing stats, the projections compare investing in a pension (assuming a basic rate taxpayer) with someone buying a single buy-to-let property without a mortgage and with someone buying three properties with a total mortgage borrowing of £300,000.  The original £100,000 is split into three where each third becomes a 25% deposit on a property. Stamp duty, tax and other costs are factored in with the property investments.


Value of Investment Over 10 Years

Annual Income Over Period (Pre-Tax)

Value of Investment Over Another 10 Years

Buy-to-Let (1 x property)




Buy-to-Let (3 x properties)




Pension drawdown after first 10 years




Peter Armistead, Director of Armistead Property comments: “The research shows that three buy-to-let properties produce £42,000 more than a pension over the 10 years.  However, property investment comes with greater risks such as fluctuating house prices and capital growth; void periods; fluctuating rents, maintenance issues, tenant management issues etc.  Property is definitely a long term investment and does have many drawbacks as an asset class which a pension doesn’t, the most notable one being lack of liquidity.

In an ideal world, people should be investing in both a pension and property from as early an age as possible and ideally from your 30’s.  It is advisable to spread the risk and have investments for the future in more than one pot.

In my 20s, I had a normal day job before becoming a full time property investor in my 30s. During my 20s, I managed to save up the deposit for my first house.  I lived in that for a few years, then remortgaged it and took the cash and bought a second place.  I kept the first property, rented it and lived in the second.  Two years later, I did the same again.  After six years of doing this I had four properties worth over a million with £300,000 of equity.  All of this came from an initial £30,000 which I had saved up. That was the 1990s, but the general principles still hold true today.

I would definitely advise having both a pension fund and investing in real estate, but it’s important to consider the two in separate terms.  If you are using a managed pension fund then you don’t need to be hands on with that investment.  Property on the other hand, requires you to actively manage it and treat it like a business not just an asset class.  If you don’t want to take up the day-to-day issues with the property, then you can (as most investors do) instruct a lettings agent to do all of this work for you, but you will still need to manage the lettings agent.”

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Christian Donovan
Christian Donovan 18 Aug 2017

The write-down on house values, combined with the fall in the GBP saddled the fund?s property portfolio with a 1.4% loss in the second quarter. The shocking amount of $240 million.

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Samantha Goodman
Samantha Goodman 11 Aug 2017

Interesting point of view.

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Samantha Goodman
Samantha Goodman 11 Aug 2017

It depends on the people, some older adults decide to make a long-distance move in order to live closer to their children or settle in a place with a lower cost of living.

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brandonlee10 24 Jul 2017

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IrisJ. 19 Jul 2017

Great advice, but may I also add that when buying an already built home, make sure you do all of the proper inspections. Most importantly pest inspection because people tend to get surprised when they

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IrisJ. 17 Jul 2017

The third point is, in my opinion, the most important one. People have become too inconsiderate and careless when it comes to rented properties. If a landlord wants to protect their property, regular visits...

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cornishalan 10 Jul 2017

Added to the cost of purchasing these village properties are the above average maintenance costs. Particularly where the property is a listed building or requires specialist building skills such as thatching...

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Jo Mullett
Jo Mullett 07 Jul 2017

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NathanG 05 Jul 2017

McDonalds, for example, have been purchasing their real estate on prime locations for years. If something happens to the company they'll have invaluable assets that will be able to save them. We might

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Jonah 04 Jul 2017

Graham: surprised to see you cite the "extra tax liability" as capping out at ?560. It doesn't - the extra tax is exponential, as it is levied on the income (i.e the inflating level of rental income you...

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Dianne Griffen
Dianne Griffen 29 Jun 2017

Be very wary of anyone bringing you deals that they have ?found? and want to ?sell on to you? or ?joint venture? with you on ? you need a proper legal contract for this, involve a RICs surveyor to confirm...

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jason hadzikostas
jason hadzikostas 28 Jun 2017

The most important thing is a budget. Students have to manage their spendings in food, house maintenance, books and many other things. According to me, student Studios are the perfect option for them as...

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