Save £110 a month by buying rather than renting

rental signsThe monthly costs associated with buying a two bedroom flat in the UK totalled £567 in July, based on an average first-time buyer (FTB) property, according to new figures from mortgage lender Halifax.

The typical rent paid on the same property, however, totalled £677 a month, or £110 more.
This marks a big change from 2008, when the average cost of buying was 29% - or £212 a month - more than the average rent paid.

Reasons for the swing include that lower house prices and mortgage rates have come own over the last few years, slashing the cost of getting onto the property ladder by a massive 40%.

The average mortgage rate for a new borrower now stands at 3.84%; a fall of 207 basis points from an average of 5.91% in mid 2008. And the average FTB house price has fallen by 14% to £124,378 over the same period.

Rents, in contrast, have only fallen by about 8% and have actually risen by 8% in the last 12 months.

Even this huge reduction in the cost of getting a foot on the housing ladder has failed to persuade cash-strapped FTBs that now is the time to take the plunge, though.

Despite the improvement in the affordability of buying relative to renting, figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders show that there were 84,000 first-time buyers in the first half of 2011, 23% lower than in the same period in 2008.

One of the main reasons for this is the trouble they are having raising a deposit - especially as the best mortgage deals are reserved for those with 30% or more of a property's value to put down and few lenders will consider applicants with deposits of less than 15%.

Suren Thiru, housing economist at Halifax, said: "The recent decline in the cost of buying a property for first-time buyers compared to renting has been substantial and reflects the drop in both mortgage rates and house prices since 2008 as well as a marked increase in the average rent paid over the past year.

"However, while these affordability gains are welcome, conditions in the housing market for those looking to get onto the property ladder remain challenging. Difficulties in raising a deposit and the current economic uncertainty are likely to mean that number of prospective first-time buyers entering the market will remain relatively subdued in the near term."

To get young people to start buying - and reaping the related financial rewards - banks and building societies may therefore have to loosen their grip slightly and start offering more deals for borrowers with deposits of just 10%.

As the problem for some buyers is that their credit scores let them down, however, Halifax has launched a new service called Halifax Credit Expert in a bid to help these individuals improve their scores as quickly as possible.

To this end, the new service will offer unsuccessful applicants unlimited access to their Experian credit report and Experian Credit Score, expert support and advice on what's impacting their score and personalised advice on steps to improve their credit profile.


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