Not my words, ladies and gentlemen, the words of Sarah Beeny (and what refreshing words they are too).
We interviewed Sarah last month while she was busy launching her new site Tepilo and she had some interesting views on the UK’s attitude towards renting vs buying. In a nation obsessed with property ownership (see ‘10 Reasons to Ignore House Price Statistics‘) it might do us some good to occasionally consider the alternatives.
Here’s what Sarah had to say on renting:
Matt – Do you think as a nation we’re overly obsessed with the idea of home ownership?
Sarah Beeny – Definitely, renting’s great! If you look at other countries everyone’s really happy to rent. I think we are a bit obsessed, it’s fine if you can afford it and want to do it but bear in mind that people don’t actually look at the figures realistically. The reality is that if you buy a property on an interest only mortgage and you’re just paying the interest off, in 25 years time you still owe the cost of the property and effectively you’re renting it from the bank. But the disadvantage of that is that it’s you that spends your weekends in DIY stores and its you that has to fix the boiler or replace it and you have to re-decorate and mend the roof . The great advantage of renting is that if you don’t like it any more you can just move out and go somewhere else. It’s very flexible, you can live in a much nicer property if you rent than if you own.
So if you buy under an interest only mortgage you’re basically renting under another name?
Exactly. It’s renting under a different name but with the additional costs of having to maintain it as well. It’s a bit of a no-brainer really.
Would you hope that the UK’s attitude towards property ownership would have changed by the time your children get to the age where they’ll be thinking of buying?
If my children grow up and are happy renting I would encourage them to rent. I’m not going to be saying ‘you’re completely useless unless you manage to own your own property’. As long as they’re happy in what they’re doing if they rent all their lives that’s pretty cool. What they’re doing on a day-to-day basis is more important to me, rather than owning or not owning a property. I think it’s slightly irrelevant.