First time buyers – should you buy or continue renting?

publication date: Jun 16, 2009
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

As a first time buyer if we were in your shoes we’d be really confused as to what is happening in the market at the moment! No-one is really helping you to understand whether you should stay put or buy your first home.

So, here are three things you need to know which will help you to understand whether you continue living at home, renting or take the plunge and buy your first home:-

Top Tip 1: Completely ignore the news headlines on the property market!
What’s happening in the area you are looking to buy is rarely the same as national averages quoted in industry press releases. So if Halifax or Nationwide say house prices are going up by 2% nationally, for you they could be still going down or have increased even more!

Top Tip 2: It’s the time you intend to stay in the property that determines whether you should buy or not.
At the moment no-one is quite sure whether the property market is recovering from last year’s lows or whether we are having a ‘blip’ in the market and it will then fall further.

So if you want to buy, but only stay in a property for a few years, it’s probably not worth the risk. However, if you find a home you want to stay in for the next five years and can negotiate hard and ride out any more falls, then it’s worth it if you find the property the want at a price you can afford.

We believe that the banking crisis has been contained and at the moment, companies seem to be surviving, bar the odd few such as LDV. What we don’t know though is how much more unemployment there will be. If we peak in the summer, then the housing market will continue to stay stable, however if there are more redundancies through to Xmas and beyond, we could be in for a deep recession, so prices may fall a bit further, especially in areas affected heavily by rises in unemployment.

Top Tip 3:  It also depends on your own personal circumstances
We are in tricky times at the moment, so if you can answer all these questions positively, then it’s worth considering buying now, if you can’t it’s better to rent – but make sure you only tie yourself in to a six month contract (or 12 month with a six month break clause).

Questions to ask yourself:-
1. Are you planning to stay in the property for five or more years?
2. Is yours (and your partners) job secure?
3. Do you have to buy now? If not why not wait until November/December when we will know if we are coming out of recession or in for a rough ride. You’ll also get better deals buying around Xmas.
4. What back up plan can you create if you buy and things go wrong? You might get sick or split from your partner. Would renting the property out cover your mortgage costs? Could you rent out a room or two to help?
5. What’s happening in your local market at the moment? Find out if it’s still in the doldrums or if it’s starting to recover. Read How to Spot the Bottom of the Housing Market in your area


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