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PRC PROPERTY INVESTMENT GOLDMINE

What do the initials PRC mean to you as a landlord and property investor? Probably not an awful lot. However, these type of properties which can be found literally around every street corner in the UK are frequently available at up to 50% below the market value of similar properties in the area. PRC properties therefore represent a potential golden investment opportunity for shrewd property investors.

PRC Properties

The initials PRC actually refer to the fact that these properties were constructed from Pre-cast Reinforced Concrete panels. Many thousands of these types of houses were constructed in the 1940’s and 1950’s across the UK to cope with the massive need for homes after the war. They were built from pre-fabricated panels and were constructed in this way because house building materials and craftsmen after the war were in short supply.

PRC homes offer generous family accommodation and gardens and were very popular with their original Local Authority tenants.


PRC problems

The problems relating to these buildings came about in the early 1980’s. Tenants had been buying these properties under the Right To Buy scheme. When it became apparent that these temporary structures were deteriorating due to the cracking of the concrete panels from which they were constructed. Building societies, banks and other mortgage companies would no longer lend on these properties which became classified as defective making them unsaleable for those tenants who had already purchased them. The government responded by stepping in and offering to buy the properties back or fund their structural repair to the tune of 90-95%. This funding which saw many of the PRC properties repaired has now ceased.

Once repaired it is often difficult to distinguish these properties from houses of a typical brick construction because part of the process involves re-cladding them with a brick skin.

Investment opportunity

All this is well and good but where is the property investment opportunity for landlords?

The opportunities are in several forms. Firstly, there are still unrepaired PRC properties that come to the market. These properties because they are unmortgageable will sell at prices 50% below the value of equivalent repaired or traditional construction buildings. Therefore property investors can pick up an unrepaired property which are frequently available at auction and then employ a specialist contractor to repair them. Repairs will involve removal of the redundant concrete pillars, blocks and internal beams and their replacement with traditional block and brick. In some cases the properties do not require the removal of the existing concrete structure. Instead they are best dealt with by treating the existing concrete to prevent any future corrosion and wrapping with new face brickwork.

Increasingly though notes David Nichols of PRC Homes UK Limited a specialist PRC consultancy he is coming across properties that have been repaired but where the original certification that proved that the work has been carried out has been lost or not received by the owner. The result is that these properties become unmortgageable in the resale market and therefore will sell normally at auction at a large discount to other similar properties. In this case landlords and property investors that identify these properties can then use PRC Homes UK Limited to put in place retrospective certification subject to proving that the repair is a recognised one. Once this is in place the property becomes mortgageable potentially generating a large uplift in value for the property investor.

Where can I find them?
PRC properties are found throughout the UK and are particularly prevalent in areas which experienced heavy bomb damage during the war. Places such as Bristol, Southampton & Birmingham for example have high concentrations but PRC properties can be found around literally every street corner throughout the UK.

Once repaired, because of their generous size and location which is frequently suburban or semi rural locations, these properties are highly sort after and make ideal family rentals.

PRC properties frequently appear at auction, therefore landlords seeking to bag a bargain are best advised to start by scowering their local auction rooms for these investment opportunities. Websites such as auction property for sale allows an investor to search auction rooms nationally for potential PRC properties. Having identified a potential investment opportunity landlords will need to line up a specialist loan to purchase these unmortgageable properties. A property investor will then need advice about how to repair the PRC property or obtain retrospective certification that confirms the property has been correctly repaired. The landlord is then able to refinance the property by obtaining a traditional buy-to-let investment mortgage.

Dangers for unwary property investors

Property investors not familiar with PRC properties need to be wary warns David Nichols Director of the specialist consultancy PRC Homes UK Ltd. He recounts his experience with one investor he advised. The property investor and landlord had committed to purchase a PRC property at auction for £120,000 using his own funds. When the landlord applied for a buy-to-let mortgage the mortgage company’s surveyor requested the certificate showing that the property had been correctly repaired. This was not available which prevented the buy-to-let loan being approved. David Nichols then carried out an inspection on the PRC property for his client only to discover that the investment property had not been repaired at all and had just been re-skinned in brick. The result was the purchaser was faced with a repair bill of £40,000 meaning that the £120,000 purchase price no longer looked cheap.

The advice that David Nichols gives to potential PRC investors is that “They are good investments if they are bought carefully”

Property Hawk would like to hear from landlords that have had experience good or bad with investing in PRC properties.

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