Where to invest in the current economic climate- Property versus Shares
There is much debate regarding the merits and fallbacks of investing in property versus shares. Traditionally, investments in property have been seen as more stable whilst stocks are far more volatile. Either way, with the retail banks continuing to offer painfully low interest on savings, coupled with high rates of inflation, investors are looking to achieve higher rates of return on their capital. This article gives an outline of the respective issues surrounding both methods of investment.
Figures for August 2013 show a sharp rise in UK property prices, with the average UK property now worth 3.5% more than a year ago. Economists have pointed towards increased consumer confidence, due to the economic recovery, as a key driver behind rising house prices. Equally, the Government’s Funding for Lending (FLS) scheme and the Help to Buy scheme have gradually improved credit availability.
While rates offered by the banks for your savings remain low, property investment can offer a higher return on your capital. Buy-to-let investment is a very sensible option as it offers two potential returns on your investment. Firstly, assuming you find tenants rapidly, you will enjoy a regular stream of income from rent. And secondly, provided you invest in the right property, you have an appreciating asset that can earn you a healthy profit should you look to sell in the future.
Furthermore, unlike with shares, property allows you to leverage up your investment. This can be simplified as follows:
This is a hugely simplistic example which discounts some of the costs of property investment but it does highlight the benefits of leverage in property investment.
Issues with Property
Be careful to choose your location wisely as this will be central to the future value of your property and the rents you can command. Inevitably, the surrounding suburbs of London are extremely popular as they can allow for easy commutes whilst being priced more reasonably than equivalent properties in more central locations. Kingston upon Thames, Ealing, Hackney and Merton are all prime examples of this.
Equally, it is worth considering that this unprecedented period of record low interest rates is bound to come to an end as the economic recovery gathers momentum. If interest rates rise then this will make mortgage repayments a far greater burden on potential property investors.
Investing in equities is another method for achieving greater return on your capital. The FTSE 100 index has seen a notable recovery since the financial crash around 2008 and now shares are becoming a more appealing investment once again.
However, investment in shares requires more industry-specific knowledge in order to outperform the market and thus it may be advisable to invest in an Investment Fund or an Investment Trust:
Tax Implications for Investments in Property and Shares
As with all investments, profits made will be liable for Capital Gains Tax (CGT) so this is worth considering before you invest. However, there are certain methods to avoid CGT. For example, you may wish to put your property or shares into a trust. Equally, stocks and shares ISAs can be used to shelter equity profits from CGT. Also, utilise your full tax-free allowance by splitting your assets with a spouse so as to minimise your tax bill.
Overall it is probably fair to say that the optimal investment strategy would involve both property and shares. Bricks and mortar provide a more reliable investment option whilst the riskier option of share investment can reap higher rewards. However, with the FTSE 100 at extremely high historic levels one might argue that property can provide more reliable profit margins.
By Tom Hoadley. To read more interesting articles visit www.taxaffinity.com/blog. Tax Affinity Accountants are expert tax and business accountants based in Kingston upon Thames. They provide a comprehensive range of services to businesses across the UK. To contact them visit www.taxaffinity.com.
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