The housing market is a volatile one at present, to say the least. Property values are on the decline after some years of unprecedented growth, but mortgage rates were quick in rising to meet them late on in 2022. Meanwhile, the rental market has boomed as demand increased for leased property. But what are the full distinctions between the two, and what should you do as someone looking for a home?
Renting is, of course, the act of becoming a tenant in someone else’s property. As per the specifics of your tenancy agreement with them, you pay a monthly rent in exchange for exclusive rights to living in their property.
One of the better reasons to lean into renting for the medium term is the freedom and agility it gives you or your household. Tenancies come in all shapes and sizes, and tenancy agreements are easily left – especially after the initial fixed term has passed, and your control becomes a rolling one. This means you can adapt to lifestyle changes with few hurdles.
But renting also makes for little in the way of long-term security. Even though landlords can have a hard time evicting you, they can still do it with surprising speed when legally allowed. Paying rent also contributes nothing to your own asset portfolio, and cannot typically be used towards your credit score. This is to say nothing of the nightmare landlords that can hold vital repairs over your head with little recourse.
Buying a property enables you to own it outright, giving you not only a place to live but also an asset with value. What this means for you will be explored shortly, but first – the process of buying a home is not as simple as approaching a seller with cash in hand. The high value of property tends to require buyers to save up a percentage of said value as a deposit, and approach banking institutions for a mortgage to advance payment for the house on their behalf.
Essentially, buying is an expensive process and one that requires a significant cushion of money to follow through with. This makes it necessary for you to start saving as much as you can, as early as you can, in order to compete with other sellers on the market.
Owning a home is practically its own reward. You are granted unique stability in owning your home, with no risk of being unceremoniously ejected at short notice by a landlord. You also have a much clearer idea of how much your home will cost each month, as mortgage repayments can be fixed for certain periods. Your home will also appreciate in value over time, representing significant returns on a safe investment.
If anything goes wrong with your home, you are the one responsible for fixing it. This can be a good thing, owing to your control over the pace at which things are fixed – but it can also represent significant emergency expenditure, which would be someone else’s responsibility in a rental property.
Mortgage rates, which are largely and historically cheaper than paying rent, are currently quite high. They are showing little sign of cooling much more than they already have, since a spike in interest rates in late 2022.