The average monthly costs associated with buying a three bedroom house stood at £621 in December 2012; £120 (or 16%) lower than the typical monthly rent of £741 paid on the same property type. 1 Over the course of a year, this is equivalent to a saving of £1,440.
The gap between the costs of buying and renting has widened by £21 per month over the past year. At the end of 2011, the monthly costs associated with home buying was £99 (14%) lower than renting. Over the past year, buying costs have risen by 1%, while the cost of renting has increased by 4%.
Buying a house is more affordable than renting in all 12 UK regions. Buying is most affordable compared to renting in London with the typical homebuyer paying 15% (£193) a month less than the average renter (£1,101 against £1,294). In Yorkshire and the Humber there is virtually little difference, with average monthly buying costs just £1 lower than average monthly rental costs (£482 against £483).
Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, commented:
“The sharp decline in home buying costs over the past few years, combined with a significant increase in rents, has greatly improved the financial attractiveness of buying a home. This shift has contributed to the increase in the numbers of house purchases, which reached a five year high in 2012.
Despite this pick-up, home buying levels remains well below the levels at the height of the market. Today, concerns over job security and raising a deposit are the main obstacles to people buying their own home. However, it is worth noting that once homebuyers are on the first rung of the ladder, their monthly costs are notably lower.”
Buying has been cheaper than renting since 2009 with buying becoming increasingly less expensive over the past three years. In contrast, in 2008 average home buying costs (£935) were 30% (or £217) higher than the average monthly rent paid (£719).
The substantial improvement in the affordability of buying relative to renting since 2008 is largely due to a 34% decline in home buying costs over the past four years. The majority of this fall occurred in 2009 due to a drop in both house prices and mortgage rates.
The average monthly cost of renting has risen by 14% (£89) over the past three years from £652 in December 2009 to £741 in December 2012.
Home purchase at its highest level for five years but remains well below peak
The lower costs of buying compared with renting are likely to have contributed to the 6% increase in the number of house sales in 2012. Nonetheless, whilst sales last year were the highest in the past five years, the total (932,000) was still 42% lower than in 2007 (1,619,000).
Concerns over job security and raising a deposit are key obstacles to purchase
According to the latest Halifax housing confidence survey6, more than half the respondents highlighted concerns about job security (58%) and the challenges in raising a deposit (55%) as the main barriers to buying a home,