Should I buy a home or just keep renting? Due in no small part to the Covid-19 lockdown causing people to feel cooped up in their rented flats, this is a question that more people than ever before are asking.
There are pros and cons for both, many of which depend on individual circumstances and the sort of lifestyle we want to create or maintain for ourselves. Here are a few pieces of advice to help make your decision a little easier.
Buying a home is expensive. You need a good amount of money up-front for your deposit, ideally 15-20% of the property’s value, and then a reliable income to pay the monthly mortgage instalments. This makes renting often look like the more affordable option
But, when you buy a home, all of the money you spend contributes to your eventual outright-ownership of that home. In other words, everything you spend is an investment in your own future. The same cannot be said for rent which is little more than a guarantee of four more weeks of shelter.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on the health of the housing market, too. Some times are better for buying than others.
Location and Lifestyle
Renting is ideal for flexibility. If your job or lifestyle sees you travelling a lot or moving from place to place on a regular basis, renting is a great option. But if you feel settled in a location and see yourself staying there for the foreseeable future, we would always recommend buying if you can afford the deposit because, as mentioned above, it’s an investment.
It’s also important to consider the kind of lifestyle you want to have. One benefit of renting is that it enables you to live in areas where you could never afford to buy a home. This is especially true for those cities around the UK where house prices are well-above average.
If, for example, you work in the centre of Cambridge and enjoy living a ten-minute walk away so that you can grab after-work drinks with your colleagues, renting is a better match for your lifestyle because, depending on your budget, buying could require you to move 20 miles out of town.
Maintenance and extra costs
When you rent, your landlord is responsible for all costs associated with upkeep and maintenance of the property. When you buy, however, all of these costs fall to you. If the boiler breaks, the shower leaks, or roof tiles fall down, it comes out of your pocket. When considering a house purchase, these sorts of unexpected costs should be included alongside mortgage payments in your monthly budget.
But remember, any money you spend on fixing and upgrading your home might add value to your investment if and when you come to sell it.
When renting, you are very limited with regards to the amount of changes you can make to the property. Your landlord probably won’t let you paint the walls let alone knock through the kitchen wall to make a large, family living area. If you’re the kind of person who likes to put a personal stamp on a home and really make it yours, buying is always the preferred option.
When you buy your home, so long as you keep making your mortgage payments, you have absolute security in your home – nobody can force you to leave. When renting, however, even if you pay your rent on time and treat the property with respect, your landlord can still make you leave. For example, they might choose to sell the property and, depending on the details of your tenancy agreement, you may have as little as four weeks to move.
Have you made the choice to rent rather than buy? We’d love to know why. Drop a comment, below.
If you have a Rent vs Buy question for our property expert, Russell Quirk, pop it in the comments section below and he will get right back to you.