Posted on 2nd March 2013

Property Price Scales Take a Tip in the Purchasing Direction

Martin Williamson, Head of Residential PropertyYou dont have to cast your mind back that far to the property boom times, just over five years ago, to remember when the property market looked very different. Getting on that first rung of the property ladder seemed like an elusive dream for most first-time buyers, meaning that renting was the most realistic way of flying the nest.

Fast forward to todays brave new world, with house prices 34% lower than in 2008 and the scales have tipped almost completely in the opposite direction. For the first time in recent memory, it is now cheaper to buy a property than rent one. Figures released by Halifax show that nationally the average total of mortgage repayments, repairs and home insurance is 16% less than the cost of renting a property.

As would be expected, the percentage is not as large in the North East, with the region seeing a 6% or £27 a month difference, in real terms.

On the face of it, the figures can be seen as a positive for the housing market, and with property purchases reaching a five year peak in 2012 you would be forgiven for thinking that that was the case. However, the 2012 sales figures are still 42% lower than five years ago, and with the economy on the verge of a triple dip recession, there is little likelihood that they will increase anytime soon.

Lack of job security in todays fragile economy and the high cost of a deposit, typically over £27,000 for a first time buyers, are the main reasons cited for not buying a property. But taking advantages of the current situation is not completely out of reach. Several schemes have emerged over recent years to encourage people to buy properties rather than rent.

The Governments FirstBuy scheme is aimed at stimulating both the property market by providing a 20% equity loan to eligible applicants. £280million has been put aside for the scheme which also has the added appeal of a staircase opportunity after a year. This offers the homeowner the opportunity to purchase a minimum of 10% to a maximum 100% of value of the property.

The HomeBuy scheme is another Government-backed initiative that is a very popular way of buying for people who are currently renting from a housing association. Others include shared ownership and NewBuy, which is the Government backed mortgage indemnity scheme that aims to help people with smaller deposits buy a new build home.

Taking the leap on to the property ladder at the current time may be difficult, but once you are there, it may well be the best move youve ever made, as well as helping to trim your household costs in the short to medium term.