READY TO BUY OR CONTENT TO RENT?

RUSHING TO BUY? THEN READ ON…

There’s a new buzz phrase beginning to gather momentum in the property market.

It may be nothing new in Germany or France – or, indeed, on much of the rest of the continent either – but “content to rent” is certainly an unfamiliar concept in a country where property ownership is not so much as aspiration as an expectation.

Since many of us were kids we’ve been led to believe, when we were grown up and had a family, we would be living in a house of our own. Mortgaged to the hilt maybe – but it would still be ours. There may have been a cat or a dog involved too and, of course, a reasonable family saloon on the drive as well. How big the house was and what sort of car we chose was how we made statements about how our lives were going… but it’s not quite the same story now. Today, things are beginning to change.

With property prices spiralling and wages struggling to keep pace, the 20 and even 30 Somethings who never got around to buying are finding property ownership out of reach – at least without the help of the Bank of Mum and Dad. The two-bed starter home has become the territory of the buy-to-let investor or the “downsizers” – both with more capital behind them and therefore able to meet asking prices which, even just a decade ago, would have seemed incredible.

So, although Government initiatives and generous lending terms have given some first-time buyers a leg up onto the property ladder, a recent report claimed half of those currently renting property held little hope of ever owning a home.

It’s hardly surprising then that the next step would be a move towards “content to rent” or that we would begin to hear that young, upwardly mobile types – those who might have been dubbed yuppies in the ‘80s – are now purporting to enjoy the flexibility of life as a tenant and not being “tied down” to a property and therefore an area. It’s suddenly all about flexibility and mobility in a brave new world.

Whether this is just putting a gloss on things or whether it’s the media playing politics, giving the Government breathing space while it tries to come up with a coherent housing strategy is anyone’s guess. However, what hasn’t changed is that property is – and will probably continue to be – a decent investment.

If you can find a way to buy your own home – despite everything the Brexit doomsayers might have been saying – there’s still every chance it will continue to appreciate in value over the next ten years and that an investment today will pay dividends in the long run.

Having said that, we would also counsel caution. We would never urge anyone to buy in haste or to stretch their finances just to get on the property ladder, only to find even a modest rise in interest rates puts them at risk of defaulting on a mortgage. But, even if you’re a “content to rent”, if you see a property you like or that you can see potential in – and if it’s within your budget – we’d say it’s still a no-brainer. Buy now and we very much doubt you’ll regret it.

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