If I said to you buy to let property was a boom area you’d probably think I was talking about the 1990s.

But that’s all in the past isn’t it? A lot of people got their fingers burned in the last buy to let boom. Surely no one makes money from buy to let nowadays do they?

Buy To Let Is Back… Here’s How To Make Money From Being A Landlord

Well, I’ve got interesting news for you. Buy to let is back in fashion. The global financial crisis has made mortgages more difficult to get, pushed up the demand for rented accommodation in many areas, and kept rent levels buoyant. And at the same time property is more affordable to buy in some areas than at any time for years. (In some places you can even buy a property outright for £20,000 or even less!)

So, buy to let can represent a very viable opportunity right now. But you need to know what you’re doing. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Be smart on finance. In the past it was usual to take as large a mortgage as possible to finance buy to let, and let the rent take care of the repayments. Today, it’s better to put down as much cash as possible. If you don’t have enough ready cash look at getting together with other investors and buying as a syndicate.

More and more lenders are coming back into the buy to let market now. But you’ll get a mortgage more easily, and get a better rate, if you have a good cash deposit.

Investigate the area you’re thinking of buying in very thoroughly. Do people actually want to rent a house or flat there? What’s the going rate for monthly rentals? Is there a shortage of rental property there (this is the ideal type of market to invest in)? Or, is there a surplus of unlet property (which isn’t an ideal market)?

Take of advantage of good quality free advice: local estate and letting agents will usually be glad to tell you what the rental market is like in that area – and if they’d be able to find a tenant for your property easily and at what sort of rental.

Source your property as cheaply as possible. By and large the biggest profits are made in property when you buy not when you sell. To make a good rental yield and maximise your chances of capital appreciation you need to buy at the lowest possible price.

Note: you won’t normally find the lowest possible prices at estate agents. Instead, look to buy at property auctions.

Be willing to consider work. The best bargains right now are existing properties that need anything from major renovation to simple cosmetic improvement. These tend to make much better prospects than the brand new, ready to move into city flats that were popular a few years ago.

If you’re considering this type of property get realistic estimates of the renovation costs before you buy, and watch your budget carefully.

Be your own property agent and manager if you can. Yes, it’s easy to have a letting agent find a tenant and manage your property for you. But it can cost dearly – up to 15% – even 20% – of the rent in some cases. And that can make the difference between showing a good yield on a property, and returning a not so good yield.

If you can, find a tenant for your property yourself. Internet websites are a good, low cost way of doing this nowadays. And organise any maintenance and repairs that might be needed yourself – you’ll save lots of money by doing this. Make up a shortlist of reliable builders/plumbers/electricians/gas fitters and so on who you can call on if any urgent repairs need doing.

Next step: Here’s a useful article on how to buy property successfully at auction