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Property tycoon says ‘age of amateur landlord is over’

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A couple said to be the UK’s biggest landlords have reportedly offloaded almost half of their property book in the past year, saying the heyday of the amateur landlord is over.

According to the Financial Times, Fergus and Judith Wilson have sold around 400 of their 900 houses in Kent. Most were sold to foreign buyers and around 50 were sold to tenants.

However, Fergus Wilson says more stringent lending criteria has changed the landscape for amateur property investors.

The Wilsons bought their properties following the launch of the buy-to-let mortgage in the mid-90s.

He says: “If you were an amateur landlord in those days, as long as you could spell your name, you would get a mortgage. No one appeared to check anything.

“I wouldn’t say it is impossible but it is much tougher. Some [banks] are offering loan-to-value of only 60 per cent.”

Wilson adds: “Is it the wrong time to be an amateur landlord? Yes. Some people will succeed but on the whole, too many amateurs walk into pitfalls. The day of the amateur landlord is over.”

Wilson revealed plans to sell his £250m property portfolio in December. He said last year that he owed about £45m to around 14 lenders and that he hoped to emerge with £200m in profit.

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