Property education is fast becoming one of the most popular property investment strategies, but is it really worth spending out on costly training courses and seminars?
The truth is that there appears to be an ever-increasing knowledge gap between what landlords need to do to remain compliant with current legislation, and what they’re actually doing. The 2018 English Private Landlord Survey by the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government actually found that 42% of landlords were completely unaware of legal requirements when new legislation was introduced in April last year, with an additional 17% claiming that they were familiar with the changes but did not understand the details fully, suggesting that something needs to be done.
It’s not all that surprising to learn that many landlords feel confused by the added complexities that have resulted from increased regulation across the industry. Since 2010, there seems to have been a non-stop cycle of changes, including buy-to-let tax changes, buy-to-let mortgage lending restrictions, the emergence of the build-to-let trend, and stamp duty land tax changes. With the Government report finding that the average landlord has been letting property for 11.5 years, many of today’s student landlords have managed their portfolio throughout this busy period of change.
So… should you think about investing in property education?
Yes… but maybe not in the way you think.
Understanding Property Education
Would you open up a beauty salon without any training in aesthetics or business management? Would you build a tech company without having learned the basics? Of course not. So managing a property portfolio without suitable training perhaps isn’t the most effective avenue to success. There’s an old saying — if you think education is expensive, try ignorance — but valuable property training doesn’t have to be costly.
While we may think of property education as being formal and expensive, there are actually a number of different types of training that landlords can start looking into:
- Self-directed training utilising free resources
- Landlord associations and professional bodies training
- Landlord mentoring and property seminars
Landlord training is more diverse and flexible than it seems, and there are lots of different options available. So which format is most worth investing in? Let’s take a look.
Self-directed training utilising free resources
Referring back to the Government report from 2018, the researchers found that around 30% of today’s landlords are in full time employment, suggesting that there are about one third that simply don’t have the time needed to undertake formal property training… and that’s OK. We are living in the digital age, which means that there is a wide range of valuable resources available (for free), accessible using the internet.
Online property blogs, like our own blog here at Smart Property, includes posts that cover everything from HMO extensions to maintenance issues in student properties. There are also a huge number of influential property accounts on Instagram that can give insight into the industry. Government resources can also be beneficial, especially in terms of keeping up-to-date with the latest updates to legislation. It’s all ‘education’!
There’s a post on the This is Money blog that’s worth a read. It looks at whether formal property training is worth the cost and delves into the options. The post concludes that ‘almost all the information taught at education courses costing thousands of pounds could be found for free, or at little cost, on the internet or in books’.
Landlord associations and professional bodies training
While factual information can be found online for free, some landlords may feel more motivated to learn and adapt when supported by a professional body. The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) and National Landlords Association (NLA) both offer training courses that can provide a good educational base on which to develop. Looking once more at the Government survey, it was reported that three quarters of all landlord in England are not a member of any organisation, despite the fact that these associations can prove to be a good starting point for beneficial property training.
Landlord mentoring and property seminars
Landlord mentoring and property seminars can be quite hit and miss, with some proving to be quite beneficial and others more interested in ‘selling the dream’. If you do choose to invest in this sort of property education, it is vital to properly research different companies to find one that is most likely to help you improve your letting knowledge. Ideally, these seminars should be run by property experts who have been in the industry during both the good times and bad times, and who focus on letting explicitly during the current market conditions. There should also not be a sales agenda behind it.
The best way to do due diligence on a mentoring company is to check details with Companies House, which is free to use. You can use this to verify how long the company has been in operation, check to see if accounts have been filed on time, look at charges (loans and court orders for unpaid debts), and see what other current and former organisations the directors have been linked to. Always trust your instinct.
Property Education: Yes or No?
Yes. Property education is absolutely essential when managing a portfolio, just as education is key for operating any business, in any industry. But is there a need to invest heavily in property training? Perhaps not. While courses and seminars, as well as training through professional bodies, can certainly be beneficial, they are not always necessary, especially if utilising the many free resources that are available for landlords online.