Buying vs. renting a home in London
If you rent, deciding whether to take the plunge and buy a property is probably the biggest decision you’ll ever make. In recent times, the dilemma hasn’t been made easier by Brexit uncertainty and its impact on the housing market. Islington borough has seen a 6.9% fall in average house prices over the past year – but is this enough to make a foot on the property ladder easier – and should you wait to see how it all pans out?
For many people the decision will be swayed by what’s affordable to them. In most areas of the UK, average monthly rents have always tended to be higher than mortgage repayments, making buying a better bet, as long as you can afford the deposit.
But London house prices means that here the reverse is true. Islington is among 10 London boroughs where average rents are cheaper than average mortgage repayments – £2,012 compared to £2,243, a difference of 11.5%, according to figures released by property portal Zoopla late last year.
Everyone’s circumstances are different, but if you’re struggling with the decision, weighing up the pros and cons of renting and buying a home, is a good place to start.
The pros of renting
- If you’re renting in London, you’ll probably be better off, in the short term. You’ll be paying slightly less in rent and won’t have just shelled out for a large deposit, giving you more disposable income.
- In addition, you won’t need to put money aside for maintenance and unexpected repair jobs.
- You may also be able to afford a nicer property in a more expensive location.
- You won’t need to worry about falling property prices, and you may find it easier to budget, as rents tend to change less frequently than mortgage rates.
- Finding a home to rent is quicker than house hunting for somewhere to buy.
- And if you need to move on, renting is much more flexible.
The cons of renting
- Paying off your mortgage will ultimately mean you own the property outright, while money paid in rent will go entirely to your landlord.
- People who never buy their own homes could feel less secure in their retirement, when they’ll still be paying rent from their pensions.
- There is also less security in renting. Although changes are afoot to remove landlords’ rights to seek possession without a cause, you will still need to move out if the landlord decides to sell or if there’s an unaffordable rise in the rent.
The pros of buying
- If you’re buying a property, each payment takes you nearer to full ownership and life without this significant outgoing.
- If house prices rise, you will benefit from the increase in value, especially if you decide to downsize at a later stage.
- Homeowners also have much more freedom to put their stamp on a place and renovate to suit their lifestyle.
- Money spent on home improvements is likely to be an investment, increasing the value of the property when you come to sell.
- It’s not always the case, but if you’re buying a house, you are also more likely to stay longer, and so invest more heavily in the community, engaging with local organisations and sending your children to local schools, for example.
The cons of buying
- Buying involves a large initial financial outlay. You’ll need enough money for a deposit, stamp duty, legal costs, buildings insurance and mortgage fees. You’ll also need to furnish the place.
- If you fail to keep up your monthly payments, you are at risk of losing your home.
- Mortgage rates have been at historically low levels for several years, but this won’t last forever. While you can protect yourself for a period with a fixed rate, you’ll need to be able to meet the higher monthly payments when rates change.
- You are also responsible for keeping on top of repairs and maintenance and acting swiftly if anything goes wrong. Unexpected emergencies, such as broken boilers or dry rot, can cost a great deal of money.
Renting v buying – a checklist
- If you are thinking about buying, answer these questions first, and be realistic
- Do you have enough money in the bank to cover the initial financial outlay of deposit and other costs?
- Is your income high enough to cover mortgage repayments?
- Is your career stable enough to commit to an area in the long-term and are there other reasons why you might need to move?
- Would the flexibility of renting be a better lifestyle choice?
- If you’re looking to take out a joint mortgage with a partner or friend will the relationship go the distance?
If you are looking to rent or buy in the Islington, Stoke Newington, Newington Green or Highbury area, contact our team of experienced agents today.