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{06/09/2012}   Contemplating buying a house

Having lived in more than 20 rented flats/houses, I have recently found myself taking a more serious peak at buying options and what I could get for the little money I could hope to get a mortgage for.  I am now thinking about all the pros and cons of home ownership versus renting.  I am more in favour of renting than I ever have been but I have just found a flat for sale that I actually really like and being as it’s in Folkestone, it’s sort of affordable.

However, one of the great things about renting is that you don’t need to set aside a what-if fund for emergency plumbing, repairs, etc.  This, I believe, is how I have afforded to go on holidays and travels fairly often.  It also means I don’t have to be the one responsible for letting in builders, boiler people, decorators etc, as the maintenance of the property is the responsibility of the owner.  This is a huge plus, particularly as I’m self-employed and to wait in for such people would require an unpaid day off work.

On the other hand, if you have your own property, letting in builders is great if it means you’re doing decorating or making changes to your home that you have chosen to have.  But I go back to the expense thing and that’s why I usually rent places that I don’t feel a pressing need to freshen up or change!  But I do like the idea of doing out your home exactly how you want it.  So long as you do actually get on and make the changes rather than, as I’m prone to do, faffing and dithering.

Also, a huge bug bear of mine is carpets.  I hate old, grubby and/or stained carpets.  My current flat at least has good quality, neutral-coloured carpets but there are stains all over them and I hate that.  I don’t wear shoes anywhere I live and I have tables and mats for drinks.  In other words, I make a real effort to minimise stains on carpets.  I have no idea what or how all the stains on my carpets came from but they bother me immensely.  I want brand new, plush carpets, the quality, design and colour of my choosing.

I used to rent furnished flats but I got fed up with skanky furniture so I now have my own mis-matched furniture.  However, to move into a bought property would mean I’d most likely have to buy a cooker (five or six rings, yes, please), white goods and, something I’ve always wanted, a separate stand-up shower.  It’s been a long time since I’ve rented somewhere with a stand up shower.  I am so over bath showers!

I used an online mortgage checker thing on a £150,000 mortgage at a rate of 5% interest over 25 years.  People always tell me how much money I’m throwing away by renting.  But over the 25 year loan period, I would have paid £113,000 in interest.  Ouch.  Plus all the insurance, moving costs, any service charges, repairs, kitchen appliances … it’s certainly not a drastically cheaper option, plus the monthly repayments on that would be £877, which is way more than I pay in rent.  Another ouch.  I always had in mind that I’m ok about renting as long as I can afford to rent somewhere nicer than I could afford to buy.  Up to now, that’s about right and I have lived in some really cool places, from a three-storey house situated right on the beach to a two-storey flat with a wall of window and a swimming pool right outside my door.

Plus, maybe the biggest repellent is the thought of being a lot more tied to where you live.  I do hate moving so much but I do like living in different areas and changing my environment.  I think it’s outrageous you can’t spend at least a couple of nights test-living in your potential home purchase.  Some of the flats I’ve moved into seemed nice on viewings but on moving in I discovered all kinds of issues.  So moved out again after six months or a year.  However, as I have endured DJs living both above and below (fortunately not at the same time!), I am adamant that I would try to ascertain the hobbies or job of people living in the same building or block.  I don’t think I’m quite ready for a detached house, that seems far too grown up, though a garden would be lovely.

I have no definitive conclusions to draw, there are pros and cons to both, but somebody pointed out that if I don’t have a mortgage by the age of 40, as most mortgages are on a 25-year payment plan, I will find it more difficult to get one.  This bothers me.  But at least I have a few years to get my head around the idea and it would be really nice to move somewhere and not wonder when the next move will be!

 

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