The latest Halifax Buying vs. Renting Review has found that the gap between the cost of buying and renting is down 59%, its lowest in nine years.
In 2017, buyers were saving an average £900 a year compared to renters but the latest figures show this saving is down to £366. Housing costs, including a mortgage on a three-bed home in the UK, were £729 a month in December 2018, compared to the average monthly rent of £759 for the same property type.
Regionally, buyers are better off than renters in Wales with annual savings of over £2000 (14%) where by in Northern Ireland mortgage payers are saving 7% less than their Welsh counterparts at £382 annually.
New buy-to-let mortgages have slowed down and first-time buyers are now driving the number of house purchases with a mortgage. The number of first-time buyers in 2018 hit 370,000 while the number of mortgages for buy-to-let house purchase at the same time fell for the fourth year to 66,400, according to UK Finance figures.
Remortgages, however, have been rising showing the effects of recent changes impacting landlords including an additional charge on stamp duty for new buy-to-lets and the removal of mortgage interest tax relief.
Russell Galley, managing director of Halifax, said: “The gap between buying and renting is narrowing, primarily driven by reduced first time buyer prices deposits in some regions and continuing house price growth, meaning buyers are paying more on their mortgages.
“With more products available for borrowers, these factors combined have pushed up the price of buying quicker than the price of renting. Meanwhile, the cost of rent, household maintenance and average deposits have remained broadly flat.”