Should I rent or buy my first property?

This is a question that many people in the UK will not even have to ask themselves as they simply do not have the necessary funds to put down a deposit on a home and therefore must make the ‘choice’ to rent by default. However, there are some very good help to buy schemes available, including ones that allow prospective home owners to purchase a percentage of their home initially and by making regular payments on top of the interest on their mortgage they can gradually increase the share of their ownership until eventually the property is fully owned. And then, of course, there are those who have access to savings, loans from their family or good enough incomes to be eligible for a mortgage straight off the bat. Let’s assume for the purpose of this article that you are in a position either to go for a help to buy or purchase a property with a regular mortgage if you decide to do so. Is this a good idea compared to renting a property? What are the pros and cons of each? Let’s take a look.

Firstly, your decision may come down to whether or not you plan to live in an area for a long period of time. Purchasing a property comes with many associated costs and inconveniences, so if you are to stretch your finances to purchase a property you had better make sure that it is in an area that you are going to be living in for a decent amount of time, because those costs are very difficult to swallow the second time around. If you are moving to an area to test the water with a job search, or starting a new job that might see you relocated or you might not stick with, then it is strongly advisable to rent initially. Of course, should you be in a healthy financial position and you are moving to a good area with very strong investment potential, then buying might not be a bad idea, even if you may later move as you could always let out your property and rent a new home elsewhere down the line.

When renting you may find you have a wider choice of places to live as it could make some prohibitively expensive places affordable or areas with short supply of properties for sale, available. On the other hand, over the last seven or eight years interest rates have been incredibly low, so having your cash (should you have any) tied up in a mortgage over this time would have made your monthly expenses seem very low, without you having wasted much in the way of earning potential on your capital. If you have a good cash sum, then buying (assuming interest rates stay low) could be a great use of that cash as compared to rental prices, mortgage rates can be very attractive.

Finally and most importantly, owning a house comes with responsibilities. You must fix things when they go wrong and have no landlord to come to your rescue. If you are not ready for these responsibilities then renting is the way to go!