Renting cheaper than buying in 54% of major cities and towns, study finds

Renting could work out cheaper than buying a property in more than half of Britain's major cities and towns, according to analysis from a property website.

Zoopla researched the monthly cost of renting a home with two bedrooms, compared with servicing a mortgage, in Britain's 50 biggest urban areas.

It found renting is cheaper than buying in 54% of locations. This marks a turnaround compared with similar research carried out in October 2016, when buying was found to beat renting in most (60%) places.

The cost of renting on a monthly basis was found to be particularly cost-effective compared with buying in London, where the typical property asking price is £599,950, the research found.

The average monthly rent in London was found to be £1,861, while a mortgage repayment could set a home owner back by £3,001 a month, according to the calculations.

Cambridge and Bristol, where house prices have jumped in recent years, were also on the list of places where the monthly cost of renting a home is particularly likely to beat buying one.

Meanwhile, Glasgow and Dundee topped the list of places where monthly mortgage payments were found to be cheaper than renting.

The research analysed the asking prices and rents on two bedroom homes which might typically be bought by first-time buyers.

It assumed a buyer would have a 10% deposit to put down and that they would be repaying their mortgage over 25 years.

Across Britain's 50 biggest cities, the average monthly rental payment on a two bedroom home is £690 - £47 less per month than those making mortgage repayments of £737, Zoopla found.

Lawrence Hall, a spokesman for Zoopla, said: "These figures are encouraging for those who are currently renting and perhaps looking to save as much as they possibly can to get on the property ladder.

"It is important to remember that whilst renters may be better off in the short to medium term in some areas of the country, buying a property is a long term investment."

Here are the top 10 cities where renting could beat buying, according to Zoopla, with the average monthly rent followed by the average home asking price and a monthly mortgage repayment based on someone having a 10% deposit:

1. London, £1,861, £599,950, £3,001

2. Cambridge, £1,099, £297,498, £1,488

3. Brighton, £1,199, £315,000, £1,576

4. Reading, £1,000, £260,000, £1,301

5. Bedford, £764, £195,000, £975

6. Liverpool, £623, £156,750, £784

7. Southampton, £779, £189,750, £949

8. Bristol, £900, £210,995, £1,056

9. Oldham, £476, £109,950, £550

10. Bournemouth, £848, £194,975, £975

And here are the top 10 locations where buying could beat renting, according to Zoopla, with the average monthly rent followed by the average home asking price and a monthly mortgage repayment based on having a 10% deposit:

1. Glasgow, £649, £95,000, £475

2. Dundee, £549, £82,000, £410

3. Coventry, £775, £125,000, £625

4. Bradford, £493, £79,998, £400

5. Barnsley, £450, £75,000, £375

6. Leeds, £736, £125,000, £625

7. Middlesbrough, £497, £84,950, £425

8. Bolton, £493, £85,000, £425

9. Birmingham, £749, £130,000, £650

10. Walsall, £523, £91,000, £455

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10 property hotspots

In Scotland, Edinburgh is seen as a city with huge growth potential. In 2014, prices in Edinburgh were up 10% in a post referendum boom that shows little sign of slowing down.

Local agents are not expecting quite such stellar growth for the next 12 months, but they think price rises will be well above the average predicted for the whole country.

Rightmove named this as the area where it expects house prices to grow the most over the next five years. It says that over this period there will be a huge number of people moving out of London in order to afford to get onto the property ladder. They want a reasonable commute combined with plenty of attractions in the local area, and Southampton offers all this. With relatively affordable housing stock, it's a prime candidate for growth.

Luton was Rightmove's candidate for the second biggest house price rises over the next five years. It emphasised that this isn't a mater of opinion, it is the result of crunching the data.

Luton is another major beneficiary of the move out of London, and while it is arguably not as attractive a place to live as Southampton, it's only 23 minutes into central London - which rivals some of inner London's commuter times. With average prices of £179,368, it's clearly a far more affordable option, and the area has already started to show signs of a boom.

This was the third area suggested by Rightmove. As with Southampton, it is well positioned for London commuters, and also has huge local attractions.

A survey last year asked young professionals to name the place they would most like to live, and Brighton and Hove were the only areas that appeared on the list outside London.

One of the reasons it's not higher up the list is that houses are already on the pricey side, with an average cost of £338,956 - up 13% in the past year alone.

There may be few people who grow up with the dream of living in Swindon, but the electrification of the rail line to London will bring travel times down across the West Country, so Swindon becomes part of the outer commuter area.

Given that the average property costs £168, 968, it's easy to see why Swindon will be a popular option for commuters on a tight budget.

Bath is also going to benefit from electrification of the line, because the commute to London will fall to a manageable 70 minutes. The beauty of the city - along with a vibrant social and cultural life - makes it a clear choice for more long-distance commuters.

Of course, with an average asking price of £374,617, it's not a tremendously cheap place to buy, but the geography of the city restricts development, so these prices are expected to rise still further.

Property Frontiers says that the booming house prices in Oxford are set to get even higher. At the moment, travel to London takes 60 minutes, but this will reduce even further in 2016 when the line is electrified. Prices in the most desirable parts of the centre aren't much cheaper than London.

However, further out there are pockets of affordability, and when the Water Eaton station opens in 2015 it will open up areas to the north of the city too.

Manchester has seen enormous property price rises over the last couple of years, and Property Frontiers expects this to continue into 2015.

Other commentators are expecting the growth to slow over the next few years, especially given the gains made since 2012. However, demand for properties remains buoyant, and with the growth of the local economy, price rises seem inevitable.

Rising prices in London have pushed buyers further and further out of the centre, so estate agents are now claiming zone three as 'the new zone 2'.

Savills believes that the biggest gains over the next five years will be the less glamorous districts - putting the South and East in the frame. Gritty areas that could benefit include Ladywell, Streatham and Catford in the south, and Leytonstone, Forest Gate and Walthamstow in the east.

Cambridge could also perform well. It has already had house prices lifted by the growth of tech companies to the north of the city, and the arrival of pharmaceutical headquarters will help push prices up further.

In 2016 a new rail service from the city to the science park will keep prices rising, and beyond the opportunities presented by the local economy, Cambridge is also part of the 'outer commute' area of London, which Savills expects to shoot up in value over the next five years.


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