To buy or not to buy?

To buy or not to buy?

For the past century British people have been obsessed with owning their own homes, but it hasn’t always been that way. Denhan Guaranteed Rent explains- “Home ownership is still a relatively new idea. In 1918 property ownership was a luxury reserved for only the most wealthy and elite members of society, while 77% of people rented from private landlords. The post war boom led to new aspirations and opportunities, and by 1970 there was an even 50/50 split between tenants and homeowners”.

Then Margaret Thatcher’s controversial 1979 Right to Buy scheme opened up the mortgage market to thousands of aspirational people who never previously imagined they would never be anything more than social housing tenants. Suddenly the nation was obsessed with buying property and private renters were the poor relations.

So why are we so obsessed? There’s something secure and comforting about shutting the door to your own home, knowing it’s yours for as long as you want it (as long as you can keep up the repayments). Many tenants speak of never really feeling quite settled, knowing that at any time the landlord could come along and put their home up for sale, literally pulling the rug up from under their feet.

Then there are the regular inspections to think about- most landlords and agents perform quarterly inspections to check everything is in working order and that the home is being well looked after. Of course it’s their right to do so, but the regular scrutiny still instils a sense of anxiety into even the most laid back tenant. The whole process can be a stressful reminder your home isn’t ever really your own, you can’t paint the walls any colour you like, and the only future you’re saving for is someone else’s.

But despite the negatives renting is becoming more and more popular, particularly in London- even though more the vast majority, it’s a necessity rather than a choice. LDG estate agents agrees – “With the property ladder becoming increasingly difficult to get one foot on, let alone climb, a huge number of Londoners are recognising the benefits of renting and even finding themselves with more money left over when compared to mortgage holders.”

And it’s not just London where rental comes up as the most economic option- Cambridge, Aberdeen, Brighton and Bournemouth are just a few of the cities where homeowners are paying more to live in their homes.  Add that to the fact that tenants don’t have to worry about costs like replacing boilers, safety checks and general wear and tear and you could even say that renting is a clear winner.

Best Gapp concludes, “Rental many never give that sense of security that you find from signing that piece of paper that says you own your own home, but we’re no longer a nation that’s obsessed with home ownership and renting has its own positives.”

There are clear pros and cons associated with both renting and buying, but renting certainly doesn’t come with the stigma that it did in the 90s and early 00s.

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