It’s no secret that Britain has a housing problem. To put it simply, there is more demand than there is supply, meaning that we need more houses in order to help meet the ever-expanding market of hopeful buyers. Part of meeting this demand is building more properties that are ‘buy to rent’.
This sector is set to grow 30% compared to last year, according to the British Property Federation. An example of this growth can be seen through the start of January to the end of March. In 2017, a total of 90,761 houses were built during this timeframe. This year, the number has jumped to 117,893 across the same period.
While you might think this would be universally hailed as good news, that isn’t the case for everyone. In this country, we have an unusually negative view of renting compared to our European counterparts.
So, why is it that we seem to have such a downer on renting when many of our neighbours – Germany being a prime example – have a completely different perspective? Well, there’s lots of different theories on this: one being that it’s embedded into our culture that home ownership is just the natural order of things. We’re expected to go to school, get a job and buy a home. They do say, after all, that an Englishman’s home is his castle.
However, the situation in this country has changed and home ownership is looking to become less common, with renting taking its place. The alternative to these ‘build to rent’ schemes is simply less homes and higher prices all round.
Perhaps then, it’s a fear of change that fuels this negativity, but there’s really no need for it. In countries where renting has been the norm for generations, it’s easy to see that there are plenty of benefits to renting over buying: hence, the much more positive attitude towards renting throughout Europe.
The benefits over buying
One of these benefits is a greater flexibility. As a letting agent in Leeds, we know just how vital a variety of options are when it comes to houses for let. From house shares to sole occupancy, and busy city centres to somewhere more rural, everyone’s idea of their perfect property is different.
More houses being built to rent means more options, just as renting instead of buying gives you more peace of mind should you ever need to move around in the short term. Renting gives you a shorter commitment and more renting options means more choices to find somewhere that is ideal for your needs. When it comes to flexibility, you can’t ask for much more.
This shorter commitment is hugely beneficial to many of us, as just as the housing market has changed, so have our working lives. Few people now have jobs for life as once was the case, with most people moving around several times during their lifetime now.
This means that it’s very likely that, for one reason or another, you’ll need to move at some point in the future. And with selling properties being notoriously difficult, buying as opposed to renting can make this process considerably more difficult and significantly more stressful. When you consider that most people underestimate the running costs of a house and an unpredictable housing market, renting is not often just the practical choice, it is the financially wise choice as well.
To put it simply, renting might not be right for everyone. For some people, buying might be the right option, depending on their personal circumstance. However, it is the right thing for a lot of people, offering a number of benefits for a wide range of different circumstances.
With that in mind, it’s important that we open our minds to the positives about renting and view these new developments with great positivity because buy or rent, more houses mean less demand and more space for everyone.