Firstly, I’ll start this by saying the chances of Shaun and I ever getting a mortgage are slim to non-existent. We have savings though not enough to be deposit-sized****. We are long-term renters due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong circumstances.
Which, also, by the way, is fine. We’re fine with this, we have a freedom to move which doesn’t rely on people in a chain, it just relies on deposits and references and Estate Agents getting their shit together*. We also have a nervous start to every year, wondering how much the landlady will increase the rent as she continues with her investment. The investment (our home) which one day will be cashed in, when we’ll have to find somewhere else to live.
It’s a funny way to think. Yet I’m surrounded by people who own houses, we’re the ones who are different. Most of our friends own more than one place to live, be it buying as an investment or just not selling when they’ve met someone else who had a mortgage and renting it out.
Only a fraction of those friends charge their tenants less than the going rate. The ones who do that are the ones I have the most respect. I know owning a property and renting it out is essentially a business, yet when there are minimal costs and the mortgage is half what you’re getting in rent it feels horribly unfair. Keeping things in line with what everyone else is doing feels wrong and just means endless annual increases in rent.
But then that’s housing isn’t it? The gulf between owning somewhere and not (if we wanted to) is so far it’s unreachable. Working on a mortgage calculator, we could get something for around £150,000. There is nothing available apart from a studio flat at £121,000 – not ideal for three people. If we wanted to get a two bedroomed house minimum (we rent a three bedroom) we’d have to move down a zone to Mitcham which means changing schools and areas – to go around a mile or two up the road. That’s London for you.
BUT then you see the names of the Estate Agents who are selling the houses or flats. The horrible ones we have history with who’ve barged into the flat with no notice**, and the ones who messed us around*, I’d never go back to them. Call it cutting my nose off to spite my face but I don’t want to do business with them if they can’t respect you when you’re renting from them. So you rule yourself out of a few more.
So actually maybe it’s better to rent, sit tight, put your fingers in your ears around renewal time, pretend it isn’t happening. Because actually you just end up hating everyone anyway for various reasons.
A house identical to ours went on sale recently. It sold within a week – for £290,000***.
Shaun has talked about us buying a one bedroom flat to rent, to get onto the property ladder to then sell in a few years when there’s some value. Personally I’d hate myself for doing it, I’d want someone living in my property to feel secure and know we weren’t going to sell if we really did take that route into being property owners. It feels wrong buying somewhere that’s too small for us so that one day we’ll be able to afford something and it also something I can’t bring myself to do.
* EA 1 – we agreed a date for moving, set everything in motion, booked everything, and the night before popped into the Estate Agents to get the keys. “Oh, we don’t have anything, you’ll have to come back tomorrow, your agent is on holiday this week” they told us. I may have over egged the hysterical crying wife angle if only to get something done (especially as there were people in there who were thinking about buying a house with them), and once we’d driven back to our old house (an hour away), received a call telling us our keys were now available. It was pretty stressful. Three hours of stressful driving to get the keys. Uh.
** EA 2 – Landlord of the same flat had persuaded us to go direct to him paying our rent and stop paying the other EA, and within six months had decided to sell (funny, that). We agreed 24 hours notice for appointments for viewings which the EA refused to acknowledge and would just turn up and would pressurise the landlord to make us let them in otherwise his flat would never sell. This was around the time my dad was dying so I’d often be at home getting ready to drive to York, and would often find myself getting into the shower just as the Estate Agent was letting themselves (and a potential viewer) into the house to have a nosey. Or we’d have to do the viewing ourselves. We moved out as quickly as we could and found a much lovelier place.
*** doesn’t surprise me. This area is over the road from a good school.
**** we need money in case we need to buy urgent flights to Australia at short notice.