ARLA believes landlords may sit tight this year

The number of landlords that sold a property in the last 12 months rose from 6% to 8% in the last quarter of 2011, according to research from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).

Meanwhile, over the same period, the number of landlords saying they had bought properties also rose, from 23% to 25%.

ARLA believes these figures suggest that landlords focused on reshaping their property portfolios during the year. Landlords in the North West of England were particularly active, with 31% of respondents buying at least one property during the year, and 11% sold at least one.

In contrast the number saying they expect to acquire further properties in the next 12 months dropped slightly, from 27% to 25%, while the number saying they expect to sell rose from 8% to 9%.

The trade body believes that landlords have been steadily decreasing the percentage they are borrowing on each property. ARLA explains that this could reflect the continuing lack of mortgage finance or be a reflection of the drop in property prices in some parts of the country.

The current average loan-to-value of 46% represents the lowest seen since Q2 2007, when landlords reported an average of 60%.

Tim Hyatt, ARLA’s president, said: “PRS forecasts have stated that the rental sector will still offer growth in the coming year – probably 4-5% according to Liam Bailey of Knight Frank.