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Renting or Buying? The Debate Goes On…

by Alison Feemantle

It’s a seemingly never ending question and one which has been in the news once again this week as the property website Zoopla claim that there has been a recent, significant move back towards a buying preference.

Zoopla’s Nicholas Leeming states,

“For those lucky enough to be in a position to get a mortgage, there may never have been a better time to buy.”

Leeming goes on to qualify his statement by stating that the issue for many prospective buyers is the difficulty in obtaining a mortgage in the first instance. It appears that this problem is a major factor in the number of people who accept renting as their only option.

Back in September 2011, Leeming claimed that renting was cheaper in only three towns in Britain: Bournemouth, Plymouth and Swansea.

“With house prices down, low interest rates and sky high demand in the private rental sector, buying has never been a better option for those able to secure a mortgage,” Leeming said at the time.

Returning to the question of buying versus renting, there are other, obvious reasons why a purchase is more attractive to UK buyers. In the private sector, the concept of ‘renting for life’ is rare, and while this option may be readily available in other countries, in the UK, it’s virtually non-existent.

This question of security is therefore a major factor but if restrictions on mortgage lending prove to be too much of a barrier, what can prospective purchasers do?

A popular way to get that first foot on the property ladder has been to buy a property in need of ‘modernisation’. This can, of course, be a risky investment as the term can cover such a wide breadth of properties in all states of disrepair.

However, for anyone happy to take on such a property, this can represent a cheap initial investment and a new website has been launched with the sole intention of helping buyers find exactly the right house for renovation. takes all such properties from the websites of the nation’s estate agents and lists them on one central portal. There are naturally going to be developers crawling all over the new site but Julian Bryson, co-founder of believes that first time buyers are healthily represented among the early enquiries.

“End-users have different aspirations to developers,” Bryson said.” They want to live in a home that they can truly make their own, and who actively seek a “project”. “There’s definitely an element of that in our buyers, and they’re very creative and design-led.”

Buying a house in need of modernisation should be considered extremely carefully but for those struggling to get on the ladder it is an option nevertheless.

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