Like many involved in the Northern Irish property sector, Tanya McGeehan, director and founder of MCG Investments Ltd, is aware of the market’s current buoyancy.
Absolutely, 100%. Anybody in this field is only going to say the same answer to you across the board, UK wide. It’s extremely buoyant. There’s just so much activity out there,” she says.
“Funny, a lot of people would ask me is that just in the sales end but it’s in the sales and the rental market space. It’s simply down to the change in lifestyle and what people are looking for through the pandemic. Nobody in a million years, not the best economists in the world, could have forecasted what has happened.
“In fact, probably a lot of economists at the start of Covid may have forecast that we were going to have a huge house price crash, possibly with a recession on the foot of that. That hasn’t materialised; that’s doesn’t mean to say it won’t happen. What goes up must come down, that is going to happen at some point, that’s normal economic cycles. When that will happen remains to be seen.
“What has happened with the pandemic is that it has totally thrown a complete curveball into the mix. Any trends that may have been forecasted were totally turned on their head because the pandemic, and especially the duration of it, going on longer than anyone first foresaw, people have completely changed their whole working life balance.
“You only have to look at stats, is that the increase in four and five bedroom houses has gone absolutely through the roof. There’s an increase in the number of five bedroom properties by 89% in terms of the last three year average.”
The additional space for a family can facilitate a home office, all the more realistic given our pandemic working lives. Northern Irish property looks attractive, not only to those coming home, but those looking to make the location their new home.
“That exact view is one of the reasons for one of our most recent acquisitions which is due to complete now,” says Tanya. “We have acquired an existing three bed detached family home in the Malone View Road area of Belfast. A BT9 property, obviously in that area very highly sought after from all stages of life.
“There has been an influx in the number of people who previously worked and lived in London, but are from Northern Ireland. Again, who want a bigger space, want gardens, no longer have to be in the office 9-5 and are moving back home to where their family are, where they can get an absolutely beautiful family detached property with a large garden. They can commute maybe once a fortnight because that’s the only requirement from them and they’re able to work from home, because they’re getting a detached property, one of the bedrooms can be used as an office.
“That’s a very attractive possibility for families. We have acquired that property with that view in mind — we’re going to convert it to a four-bed, we’re going to modernise it and bring it up to a high standard for potential families that are looking to move home and work from home for the foreseeable future.”
Tanya’s company is involved in a number of services and areas, pivoting during the pandemic to offer more to clients: working in the buy-to-let market, offering consultancy services and working with joint venture private clients as well as project management of refurbishment works, and a fixed return service.
Of the latter, she says: “That is simply whereby there are certain clients that are looking for a better return on their savings, their pots of money that they have sitting maybe in a business account, so we offer very attractive rates of return for people to invest in our company. That’s quite an unusual one, and you don’t have to be in property as such, you don’t have to be a property investor to invest in this type of service.”
She describes interest in property investing in Northern Ireland as ‘phenomenal.’
“We’ve had more investor calls and leads in this calendar year, than we have since we started the business, it’s just been phenomenal. I mean from all corners of the world — we have people ringing us from Australia, from Doha, from Qatar, Dubai.”
The idea that you have to be of ultra high net worth to dabble in property investment is a perspective that Tanya and her company is trying to change — rather, she says, three things are important when it comes to engaging.
“There is a perspective out there that in order to invest and work in property, you have to be an ultra high net worth individual, or even a high worth individual. That’s not the case.
“By no means am I going to be advocating for people taking out their savings out of their piggy banks and investing in property unwisely.
“I certainly would not be in any way advocating or encouraging that — I’m very strong on compliance, on good legal and financial advice to anybody getting involved, whether it be with me or any other company. Go in with your eyes wide open.
“There are great opportunities there for someone. All they need to have is two strong elements: a full-time job and a good credit history. And the third one is good advice from someone who can guide them correctly. Someone can get an investment property with obviously the right level of mortgage, not leveraged to 95% or doing anything like that, which I don’t endorse or encourage.
“Do it smartly and wisely, and you can end up with a really good investment property to have to give to your children when they grow older or to have as a pension pot. There’s so many opportunities for people that are not property experts and are not very high net worth.
“As long as you have the right advice, and that’s why it’s so important for people to use people like ourselves and other similar professional business. Get the right advice from people who know what they’re doing, because in 2008, that’s what happened.
“Anybody you were speaking to was investing in property because it’s something everybody else was doing, but they were doing it with no experience, no knowledge, and they were not doing it correctly. It’s not something that you just go out and buy the first house you get. To do it right, you need to know what you’re doing, you need advice. There are still good investment opportunities to be gained without a shadow of a doubt.”
For more information, see mcginvestments.co.uk