"We would advise anyone considering entering the market at the moment to take professional advice or delay until market conditions improve," said spokesman Jeremy Leaf in May 2002.
So what has taken the lustre from the golden goose?
There are several factors at play.
One is a glut of rental properties, which is beginning to depress rental yields. RICS says that the number of buy-to-let properties flooding the market pushed rents down in the first quarter of 2002 - the first fall for two years.
Much of this has happened in the top-end corporate letting market in central London, but RICS says that the effect is rippling out nationwide.
To this uncertainty over rental yields, add uncertainty about interest rates. Few commentators expect a sudden sharp increase, but even a single percentage point rise could push many buy-to-let borrowers into negative cashflow - especially those who have bought with only a small deposit, as has become increasingly common.
There is also the property market to consider. Estate agent FPDSavills, says that many buy-to-let investors were speculators, eager to reap a fast profit from soaring house prices. As price rises begin to steady - as they undoubtedly will - the attractiveness of the property market will begin to fade.