The desire to own a home is something that seems deeply embedded within British culture.
Perhaps it’s the old adage that an Englishman’s home is his castle, or simply that many of our older relatives own homes and it seems like the natural order of things, particularly in the north.
We’re an estate agents in Leeds (born and bred), and we know how powerful this idea can be.
You grow up, go to school, get a job and buy a home.
However, perhaps because it’s such a common expectation, we never really ask ourselves whether it’s the right thing for ourselves as an individual.
It’s certainly not this way all around the world. In fact, in many countries – especially in progressive European countries such as Germany – renting is the norm and aspirations of home ownerships are not taken as being so important.
Of course, whether or not you want to buy entirely depends on your specific situation.
Maybe you’re someone who is certain they’ll never want to move and your lifelong ambition is to leave a property for your children. In that case, buying might be the smart option.
However, not only is that not necessarily the case for everyone, but it’s also unlikely to be true for the majority of people. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the reasons why buying might not be right for you.
1. It’s likely you’ll move at some point and it costs more than you think
The days of people staying in the same job for their whole lives are, for most people, long gone. For these people, buying may be a financially unwise aspiration.
According to a study by Stirling University, the decision to buy only becomes worthwhile after a decade of home ownership, with most people underestimating the financial benefits of renting.
This includes not having to worry about additional often forgotten costs, such as essential maintenance and insurance.
If you think back to all the years you’ve rented, assuming that is the case, on how many occasions have there been some maintenance issue you’ve had to have fixed? It’s likely quite a few. A broken boiler here, an unexpected leak there.
All those expenses add up to more than you would expect, meaning that home ownership, for many people, may actually leave them worse off.
2. It will mean you’re less flexible
Let’s say you do plan on staying in your home for longer than ten years, maybe much longer: well, the problem with plans is that life sometimes gets in the way.
Often, with the best of intentions, you simply don’t know what life is going to throw at you.
As a letting agents in Leeds, we’re one of the flexible cities in terms of property variety in the country, and that change can come at any time, as can your property needs.
Perhaps you’re offered an amazing chance to advance your career in a location you did not anticipate and then suddenly your lovely new home has become a burden that you cannot afford to leave.
To put it simply, owning a home can ground you to one place and although that may seem fine at the time, it can prevent you from taking advantage of opportunities in the future, which brings us onto our next point.
3. It can be harder to sell your house than you realise
Most people don’t realise just how complicated selling a home actually is.
Depending on circumstance, you may even end up in a situation where you’re forced to sell for much less than you’d like to in order to be able to move on with your life.
This can often take years and many people find that, by the time things are all said and done, they’re left with a lot of stress and very little to show for it financially. Part of this is because…
4. The housing market is unpredictable
Remember that time after the millennium when it just seemed as though house prices were going to go up and up forever?
Well, we now know that when it comes to the housing market, things aren’t always as they seem.
To put it simply, most of us aren’t economic experts, and predicting with any serious degree of accuracy the direction of both the economy and the housing market has proved time and time again to be a fool’s errand.
And the worst part of it is that you’re at the mercy of forces beyond your control. Ultimately, the major issue with home ownership is summed up in our final point.
5. It can leave you worse off when change hits
This is one of the most common issues when it comes to buying a home.
We touched on how property ownership can prevent you from taking advantages of opportunities: now we’re going to look at the other side of the coin.
Unfortunately, sudden changes in our financial situations can happen, for example if you lose your job or your relationship ends, meaning your household has to survive on just one income instead of two.
If this is the case, finding an affordable and suitable property to rent is far easier and less of a burden than the financial and legal consequences caused by being unable to meet mortgage payments.
No one likes to think about these kinds of things and very few of us see changes coming on the horizon.
However, the truth is that very few people are able to predict what their future holds, whether it be their personal finances, the economy or positive career advancements.
And if these do occur over the course of the next ten years or so, then renting is almost always the better choice.