Property Type: Which Property Type is the Best Investment?

Property Type: Which Property Type is the Best Investment?


Most investors will have different opinions on the ‘house vs flats’ debate.

Often the group that prefers to invest in houses believe this as they don’t want to pay service charges and they feel they don’t have control negotiating maintenance costs. Additionally, they may not like the proximity of the other tenants in the building. 

Then you have the other side of the argument, the group that assumes flats are superior investments as they often offer higher profit margins due to lower sale prices and they have less upkeep to organise as a factor takes care of all external works.

Having invested in both types of properties, we have created the lists below to outline some of the pros and cons of each as investment opportunities. As ever, you will have your requirements to consider in addition to these. We have created this as a guide to help you get started.

Pros when investing in flats:

  • Traditionally flats have lower sale prices than comparable houses
  • Different lifestyle trends may show that renting flats is a popular option for younger people or people without children
  • Often they deliver higher cash returns and yields
  • Maintenance fees are split between all the tenants, and usually, the managing agent or factor will undertake organising the works
  • Quality flats can sometimes be secured for around two-thirds of the price of a house
  • As flats are often cheaper, you can buy more of them, and it can be quicker to increase your property portfolio
  • It is possible to spread your risk across more properties which will reduce the effect of a property being untenanted (if the rent is not guaranteed through a letting agent)
  • Buy in bulk, and you may receive higher discounts, and avoid stamp duty in Scotland (6 or more properties bought at one time)
  • Demand in urban areas can increase prices
  • Can easily add an extra bedroom if the flat has a separate kitchen by combining the kitchen and living room

Cons when investing in flats:

  • They could have high service charges
  • Sometimes they can have cramped living spaces
  • Difficult to qualify for financing on certain types of apartments and LTVs can make leaders see flats as higher risk
  • Fewer renovation opportunities – reduced ability to extend, convert the loft or add an extension
  • Flats in large blocks are very similar, and therefore there is less wow factor
  • Frequent tenant changes
  • Some maintenance costs may not be obvious, and this can result in unexpected costs cutting into your profits
  • High-rise buildings are often slower to return capital, and high-rise council buildings can sometimes be unmortgageable
  • It might not be possible to change the property to an HMO (which will help you avoid empty properties and can increase cashflow)

Pros when investing in houses for buy-to-let:

  • There are more options for development, conversion or even extensions which can add value for reselling or remortgaging
  • No additional costs for maintaining common areas
  • Buyers and tenants get a greater feeling of space and privacy
  • Tenants more likely to stay on a long term basis as families tend to commit to properties and will often maintain them
  • The potential for capital growth is much higher
  • There’s scope to convert a more substantial house into multiple flats which can be leased, remortgaged or sold
  • Houses have a broader target market as they attract property investors, developers, first-time buyers and families

 Cons when investing in houses for buy-to-let:

  • Initial costs are normally higher
  • Could have a garden area to maintain
  • Interest and stamp duty rates will be greater
  • Families with children can result in more damage to the property
  • Maintenance can be pricey given the extra size of such properties
  • Cash flow is more of a potential risk with the yield of the property being lower
  • Vandalism and theft are more likely with houses if left empty

The pros and cons of purchasing flats or houses are clear to see.

Which type of investment is right for you?

No answer is correct in this scenario. The question that investors should ask themselves is “What return on investment am I trying to achieve and which property type will help me to do this?”. So long as they have a high yield, both flats and houses are reliable investment options, and neither should be ruled out when making the decision to invest.

If you would like to find out more about how Nichol Smith Investments could help you reach your property goals, click the button below to book a call with us.

Which Location Should I Invest in Property?

Which Location Should I Invest in Property?

Location, location, location: Which location should I invest in property?

When getting started in property investment, you may find yourself asking, ‘where should I invest?’ and we always recommend the best place to start is your local area. While I still advise you speak with local Estate Agents to find out about the property market in a specific area, we have to remember that estate agents will likely try and convince you their area is great, as you are looking to buy a property and they are trying to sell a property. We advise when starting out to stick with the area local to you that you know well. That way, you know how quickly homes are selling and the areas to potentially avoid.

We would advise you to buy a map of your local area and start looking online at homes for sale. You will find that similar properties come on the market regularly in specific areas, for roughly the same price and the same condition. You can then use the same mortgage provider, solicitors etc. to secure the properties. This creates a predictable and scalable system for you.

It is easy to get caught up in the hype of locations and be tempted into buying in a nicer area at a higher price because it seems like a sensible approach, but in practice, this is the opposite of what works when you are trying to create a sustainable and cash flowing investment portfolio. If you bought properties all around the UK, then you’d need more hours than are in a day to be able to make this work, not to mention your social life would be non-existent. We would recommend investing in a small area locally and grow this area slowly over time.

Apart from living in a rural sparsely populated area or an expensive city, the answer to “where should I invest?” should always be in your “local area” albeit in the slightly lower-end suburban area. This will increase your chances of success over time which will keep the cash flowing.

Every location has its advantages and disadvantages. So long as you understand the pro’s and con’s of an area and develop a level of knowledge other investors don’t have, you will make money where they haven’t been able to.

Finding Trustworthy Tradespeople

Finding Trustworthy Tradespeople

We all need to relay on tradespeople from time to time, but not all tradespeople provide the same level of service as others. Finding trustworthy tradespeople is possible, but spotting cowboy builders or plumbers can be tricky. Follow our top tips to find the best tradespeople and protect yourself from a costly mistake.


Word of mouth

A personal recommendation is always preferable to a written reference. Ideally, a tradesperson that has been recommended by a friend or a neighbour should be trustworthy, particularly if you can ask the individual about the work ethic of the tradesperson and satisfaction of the finished product. 



We always recommend getting at least three quotes for works required, which should be detailed to ensure each tradesperson quoting knows precisely what the job entails and finish needed. Usually, we would not recommend going with the tradesperson who has quoted the lowest price, as this can occasionally indicate a lower quality job or finish. If the quotes seem very high, trust your gut feeling and get another quote. If you get a bad feeling about a tradesperson, chances are you should trust your instinct, even if the price seems competitive.



Ensure any quote received is written formally with a proper business address. Some cowboys like to hide their traces, whereas reputable tradespeople are open and above board.


Bigger projects

When it comes to choosing a company to carry out larger scale building works, companies with more than ten years of experience will tend to charge a premium. Bear in mind a younger company may need to outsource specific tasks to other professionals such as gas/electricity, which can sometimes impact the quality of work. 


Specialist works

Some homes require additional experience when it comes to renovations. Buildings that are listed or period homes, or homes in Conservation areas, will require a builder with more experience. Check that the company you are considering for your project have the necessary experience or examples of previous work on these types of properties if your home falls into one of these specialised areas. 


Local vs national

We always consider time when choosing a company to carry out work. If a tradesperson is local, this can be an advantage over another tradesperson who needs to travel miles to get to you. They will likely inflate your price to cover time and fuel required to get to you for the duration of the project. 


Requests for cash

Always be wary of tradespeople offering a discount if you pay in cash. Occasionally these individuals may cut corners with other vital things like guarantees and insurance. If the tradesperson asks for cash, count this as a warning flag. 



For larger projects, it is very important to have a signed contract that includes full details of all work involved, but also a start and finish date. Unforeseen delays can occur at any point throughout the project, so having a start and finish date can help keep tradespeople on track and when necessary, be used to protect you from a never-ending project. Also, confirm with the tradespeople where they will dispose of builders waste and the standard you expect the property to be left once work is completed. 


Payment schedule

Always have a clear outline in your signed contract with your tradesperson detailing payment. We often advise a system of paying in thirds. Ideally, pay a third of the total cost upfront and agree on a date or mid-way point during the project to pay the second third of the total cost of the job. The final third of payment should only be paid once the job is completed, any snagging issues sorted, and the work has been carried out to your satisfaction. Put any changes to the payment plan in an email to the tradesperson detailing why a payment has not been made, to ensure there is a legal paper trail in case of disputes.



Check both your home insurance and the insurance of the tradesperson chosen to complete the work to ensure you are covered in case of any unforeseen problems. 


We hope you have found this blog helpful when considering tradespeople for your next project. Here at Nichol Smith Investments, we offer hands-free investing in property. We oversee all work involved in property, from full refurbs, extensions to small renovations, on behalf of our clients. If you’re interested in investing in property but don’t have the time, knowledge or know-how, click the button below to book a call with us.

Sell or Let Your Home Fast: Our Top Tips

Sell or Let Your Home Fast: Our Top Tips

Anyone looking to sell or let their home knows it can be a lengthy process. From our experience in property, certain things can get you an offer on your house quickly.  


Selling or letting a property can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be this way if thought is given to the simple things.


First impressions

First impressions are crucial and could potentially make or break getting an offer on your property. Take a step back and think about what you, as a buyer, would be looking for when viewing a property.  Viewers will look at everything, top to bottom, side to side. If possible, allow viewers to start in a welcome hallway or feature room, to make that all-important first impression. 


Tidy and declutter

It might seem a little obvious, but make sure you have thoroughly tidied your home before photos are taken and viewings commenced. Give it a deep clean and declutter where possible, as a neat and tidy room appears more spacious and therefore more appealing to viewers. A home that needs a good clean can often turn potential buyers away, as your home will not homely to the masses. Gardens, garages and communal hallways (where applicable) should not be overlooked when tidying. 


Small but important touches

Have you ever walked into a home and been hit with a wonderful aroma. Coffee brewing, bread baking, and fresh flowers are ideal. These can all appeal subliminally to potential buyers and make them feel at ease. It may seem obvious to mention that odours from pets or laundry will impact potential buyers, so ensure your home is well ventilated and any unwanted aromas dealt with before viewings. During winter months it’s always a great idea to keep your home warm, and even light a candle or two. Allow viewers to get a feel for the peaceful surroundings, keep background noise to a minimum.


Be as flexible as possible with viewings

While selling or letting your home can be a lengthy process, try to accommodate viewings where possible. Your property will only sell or let to individuals who have managed to view your property, therefore the more people who come to see your home, the more likely you are to receive offers. Some estate agents and letting agents can help with viewings if you are unavailable to show a viewer round your home, which is a huge benefit of using local agents rather than online agents.

You may be asked some difficult questions during the viewings, remember to be honest and polite no matter the question. You will know your home and local area better than anyone else, so don’t forget to drop in things you love about your home and neighbourhood, to help viewers in their decision making. 

‘For Sale’ or ‘To Let’ signs must always be displayed prominently and checked regularly, to ensure they are upright and facing the correct direction for maximum impact. 


Experience is invaluable

We always advise our clients to consider using an experienced local estate or letting agent. The years of experience they have with handling potential buyers is invaluable and can make this process far less stressful, particularly if you are struggling to organise viewings and dealing with a high level of interest. Using a local expert can make all the difference in achieving the successful sale/letting of your home.


If you would like assistance in selling your home, please get in touch with Nichol Smith Investments on 0131 322 1442. We have a team of experts who can guide you through the process of selling or letting your home.