Cover of MoneyWeek magazine issue no 699

The race to rearm: How to invest in a dangerous world

11 July 2014 / Issue 699

Increasing tension over borders and territory is a worrying sign of approaching conflict, says Jonathan Compton. Read this week's cover story here.

The blue-chip bookie that's worth a punt
What is short-selling and why is it hated?
The man who brought 'proper' beer to Americans

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John Stepek

A ‘top of the market’ tale?

Is this the end of the road for UK property? The poster couple of British buy-to-let, Fergus and Judith Wilson, the former maths teachers who built a rental empire across three towns in Kent, are selling up.

Breathless headlines have told of how the pair are in line to make £100m profit by offloading their 1,000-strong property portfolio. “We are selling up the whole lot,” said Mr Wilson.

“The market has recovered and passed the 2007 level.” Apparently, they are hoping to sell the whole package “to a wealthy investor or institution”, says The Daily Telegraph.

It’s a classic top-of-the-market story. Coming, as it does, at a time when the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, is under growing pressure to raise UK interest rates (even if only by a little), it’s tempting to think that the Wilsons have seen the writing on the wall – despite Mr Wilson’s protestations that it’s all about his desire to retire, rather than the state of the market.

But before you start get too excited about the prospect of another collapse in house prices, it’s worth noting this isn’t the first time the Wilsons have talked of selling up. In March 2010, they told The Guardian’s Patrick Collinson that they were getting out – buy-to-let was “absolutely dead and will never return”.

They had 700 properties back then, not the 1,000 they now hold.

• Read the full editor’s letter here: A ‘top of the market’ tale?