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Where is it cheaper to buy than rent?

A third of homes for sale are cheaper to buy than rent, with the average first-time buyer saving £93 a month on a mortgage instead of renting.

Words by: Izabella Lubowiecka

Senior Property Researcher

A third of homes (150,000) currently for sale can be bought with a mortgage and monthly repayments that cost less than the average rent in the same area, according to our latest research. 

The average monthly UK rent is currently £93 per month (8%) more expensive than the average mortgage repayment for a first time buyer (FTB) - an improvement since last summer, when mortgage rates were 1% higher and it was cheaper to rent than buy.

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First time buyers should look to urban areas for affordable homes

While some regions have more affordable homes for first time buyers than others, urban areas are the best locations to find homes that are cheaper to rent.

Oadby and Wigston, a suburb of Leicester, has the largest proportion of for-sale homes (82%) with remortgage repayments lower than the local market rent.

Ipswich in Suffolk comes second (80%) and North West Leicestershire (78%) comes third.

The majority of homes for sale in Manchester (62%), Newcastle (68%), Southampton (62%) and Sheffield (51%) are also cheaper to buy than rent, thanks to an abundance of flats - the most common property type in these cities.

This is welcome news for renters who may prefer to buy locally.

Over 40% of homes in the north and Scotland are cheaper to buy than rent 

First-time buyers can find 150,000 homes (34% of the total listed) where average monthly mortgage repayments are lower than rents, assuming a 20% deposit.

The North West, North East and Scotland that have the highest proportion of these homes. 

Over two-fifths of homes for sale in the North East (48%), Scotland (46%) and North West (44%) are cheaper to buy than rent with the monthly difference between the cost of renting and buying in these areas ranging between £240 and £425.

However, the availability of affordable homes is at the highest risk of falling in these regions as house price inflation has recovered earlier than in the southern regions of England. 

It’s a different story for first time buyers in the south of England and the Midlands, which have a lower share of homes listed for sale that are cheaper to buy than rent.

Just a quarter (27%) of homes in the South West and a third (33%) of homes in the East Midlands have mortgage repayments lower than local rents, largely down to higher home prices in these regions, meaning that borrowing costs remain much higher. 

Two in five homes listed for sale in London are cheaper per month than renting

London also has a relatively high proportion of homes for sale where mortgage repayments are lower than rents: two in every five homes listed on Zoopla would work out cheaper to buy than to rent.

This is because the gap between rental inflation and house price inflation has been greatest in London over recent years: rents are up by 26.6%, while house prices have increased by only 8.9% over the past five years. 

Low price growth and higher rents ultimately means greater options for first-time buyers, although rents remain high in the capital.

Nine out of 10 homes that are cheaper to buy than rent in London are flats, which typically come with a lower price tag.

This is due to a larger difference between typical FTB monthly mortgage payments and monthly rent payments of £470 in inner London and £170 in outer London. 

This is not just the case for London too - potential homeowners keen to secure a mortgage with payments below local rents should look to flats with two in three flats currently available for less than local rent in their respective markets. 

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*Zoopla analysed over 550,000 homes for sale and compared the monthly mortgage repayments for a first-time buyer purchasing with a 20% deposit (ONS’s national average), using a 30-year mortgage term at a mortgage rate of 4.6% to the average rent in the same local authority.

** We track the difference between average rents and what first-time buyers using Zoopla are looking to pay for their first home. For this analysis, we assume a first-time buyer has a 20% deposit, the average according to the ONS, and buys with a mortgage on a 30-year term at an average mortgage rate (BoE).

We try to make sure that the information here is accurate at the time of publishing. But the property market moves fast and some information may now be out of date. Zoopla Property Group accepts no responsibility or liability for any decisions you make based on the information provided.