An Englishman’s home is his castle – or so the saying goes.
Home ownership has long been a great British aspiration, providing financial security. For many, it is seen as a natural step towards a more prosperous and stable future.
Yet is owning a home really the right choice for everyone and what things should you consider in 2018 when deciding what to do?
Making the right choice
The decision depends on individual circumstance, according to Chris Norris, Head of Policy at the National Landlords Association. ‘If you’re in it for the long-term, are certain about where to settle and can afford the upfront costs, then buying may be best,’ he says. ‘However, if you’re still finding your way – or your deposit – then renting wins almost every time.’
Portico Regional Director Mark Lawrinson agrees that there is no definitive answer. ‘There are more people nowadays who prefer the flexibility of renting than a decade ago. Ultimately it comes down to personal preference, with pros and cons for both based on people’s situation. Portico is an established agent with many years’ experience in both sales and lettings, and we can help anybody seeking advice on buying or renting.’
Below we outline the key factors to consider when making the decision that is right for you.
Renting your perfect pad
The UK now has the fourth lowest home ownership rate in the European Union, behind Germany, Austria and Denmark. Meanwhile, the private rental sector has doubled in size since 2004, according to government data. Contrary to common belief, home ownership does not equate to prosperity: the countries listed above are among the wealthiest in Europe, while those with the highest level of property ownership – Romania, Croatia and Lithuania – are among the poorest.
Renting in London can be costly. Prices in the capital may have dropped 0.83 percent last November, sparking the first nationwide fall for five years, but the slump is unlikely to continue for long and in fact rents are due to rise in the next few years. Yet recent research suggests that people may be underestimating the financial benefits of renting. Buyers may have to own their home for up to ten years before they are better off than they would have been as renters, according to academics at the University of Stirling, even when economic conditions are favourable.
Stirling University senior finance lecturer Dr Isaac Tabner believes that many buyers overlook costs included in their rent, such as buildings insurance and maintenance. ‘Renting is frequently more worthwhile than buying for financially constrained households, as well as households likely to relocate within ten years,’ he says.
Norris agrees. ‘When buying, there is no guarantee the asset will be worth what you paid for it, or that you will not spend a significant sum maintaining it. If you may want to move in the short-to-medium term, then renting may be a lower cost and lower risk option.’ Pros
Upfront costs are much lower
There are no costs for property upkeep, repairs or building insurance
There is no risk of mortgage default
You have the flexibility to trial areas or move if your circumstances change
You can rent near desirable schools
Check out our latest available properties to rent! 5 Bedrooms, 2 Bathrooms | Wexford Road, Wandsworth, SW12
View more properties to rent.
Getting on the ladder
Buying in London is getting cheaper. Home values in the capital fell 1.8 percent in 2017, according to Rightmove, and look set to decrease another 2 percent in 2018. In December, prices fell by 3.7 percent in London and 2.6 percent nationally.
‘Economic and political uncertainty tend to weigh more heavily on the capital,’ says Rightmove Director Miles Shipside. This year, UK property will be ‘a real mixed bag of different price pressures both up and down, but the net result is that we forecast another year of a slowing in the pace of price rises.'
The average house will set you back nearly £500,000, however: 14.5 times average earnings, according to Hometrack. Yet for those who can afford it, buying remains an attractive option. Mortgage repayments are often cheaper than rent, especially in high demand areas, and property can be a highly lucrative investment.
'Owning a home remains the aspiration of every generation, and renting is perceived very differently,’ says Lawrinson. ‘People buy property as an investment, and it often forms part of a retirement plan.’
You are investing towards your future
Once you’ve paid off your mortgage, you won’t have to pay for somewhere to live
You can improve and renovate your home without asking a landlord
In the long-term, it can be cheaper to buy than rent
If the market increases, you benefit financially
Check out our latest properties to buy!4 Bedroom, 1 Bathroom | Henslowe Road, East Dulwich, SE22
View more properties for sale.
If you would like to speak to one of our consultants about what might be best for you, contact one of our offices directly or call our head office and we can direct you to the right person. Why not check out our current properties available for rent here, or to buy!