Research from Halifax has revealed that, apart from two regions in the north of England and in Wales, as a whole it is now cheaper to buy property than to rent in all other parts of the UK.
In fact, based on figures compiled in June of each year, 2013 was the third summer in a row that buying was cheaper – indicating that the statistics are not an anomaly, but part of a longer-term trend.
The average cost of mortgage payments for a home anywhere in the UK is now £672 per month, whereas renting costs £745 per month on average – a 10% or £73 difference.
Although that gap has closed slightly, from 11% in the previous year, it seems well established, and likely to remain in place in the years to come.
However, there are some regional variations to take into account, which make it an even better idea to buy in some parts of the UK than in others.
Northern Ireland has the lowest buying costs of all, and the greatest difference between buying and renting.
At an average of £369 per month in mortgage payments, but £415 to rent, that’s an 11% gulf of £47 per month, perhaps because of the housing bubble in the area which has created substantial volatility in prices.
For a slightly more stable property market, you may want to look to England, Scotland and Wales – but Wales is one of the only two areas (along with Yorkshire and the Humber) where it is still cheaper to rent.
North-West England is perhaps the best bet of all, particularly for first-time buyers, as the monthly cost of buying is the lowest of any of the buyer-friendly regions, with the exception of Northern Ireland.
Average monthly mortgage payments in the North-West are just £520, compared with an average of £529 to rent, representing a modest £9 per month or 2% advantage for buyers.
There are specialist law firms with a regional presence who can help you to understand the local market, so you can approach them to find out more about buying at the best price in a particular area.
Things to remember
As always, it is important to remember that the asking price of a property is not the only cost you will encounter when buying, so make sure that the long-term monthly benefits will more than offset the one-off outlay associated with buying.
You may have to pay mortgage arrangement fees, solicitors’ conveyancing costs and surveyors’ fees, but all of these will gradually be repaid in real terms by your lower monthly outgoings.
Of course, when you own a house – and especially if you have a repayment mortgage, rather than an interest-only mortgage – you also begin to develop capital in the property, which means you are not only potentially paying less on a month-by-month basis, but are also gaining an asset with high intrinsic value of its own.