Expansion in the buy-to-let sector will slow this year, but landlords are unlikely to sell up, due to rental growth prospects and long-term ownership aspirations says new research from Savills. And, despite low net income yields – currently averaging 3.2% – two-thirds of buy-to-let investors are seeking to expand their portfolio in the medium term.

The report finds that most investors have long-term hopes for profit, with buy-to-let forming an important part of many owners’ pension provisions.

It also reveals that only 3% of investors hold less than a 10% equity stake in their portfolio, with 70% of owners of 20 or more properties holding equity of over 25%.

It also claims that as many as 45% of investors are totally reliant on rental income to cover borrowing costs. For them, continued pressure on rents covering borrowing costs is unsustainable.

On the other hand, investing in overseas property is perceived to be a more attractive way of diversifying property investment.

Buy-to-let investors are thought to be quite savvy these days, according to the report. Many are aware of the opportunities to negotiate discounts on asking prices in the current market, particularly in the case of those who own a number of properties, Savills found.