To buy or not to buy: things to consider when delaying a property purchase

Ben Thompson, Deputy CEO at Mortgage Advice Bureau offers his insight and outlines a few of the things to consider when deciding to pause or delay buying a home.

Related topics:  Finance,  Property
Property | Reporter
15th March 2024
Question property 955
"If you’ve delayed your homebuying plans, or are still waiting to see how the market pans out, now is the time for action"
- Ben Thompson - Mortgage Advice Bureau

Judging exactly when to take the plunge and buy a property can be difficult. Waiting for your dream home, external factors, or a change in circumstances are just some of the things that can impact whether you press ahead or put the brakes on.

Ben Thompson, Deputy CEO, Mortgage Advice Bureau, said: “Some prospective homeowners have had their plans thrown up into the air over the last 18 months. Higher interest rates, record levels of inflation, and a resultant cost-of-living crisis have all had a significant impact on people’s finances and ability to get a mortgage. This has been coupled with elements of fear and uncertainty for some buyers over how quickly things can change.

“Our research found two in three (65%) prospective buyers made changes to their homebuying plans, with 15% delaying plans altogether. Whilst it’s been an uncertain time, the mortgage market is seeing normality return, with a positive start to the year. Competitive rates are available on the market, and this means plans can get back on track.

“If you’ve delayed your homebuying plans, or are still waiting to see how the market pans out, now is the time for action. It can take some time to find the perfect property, so speak to an expert adviser who’ll be able to discuss your options and affordability, ensuring you’re mortgage-ready for when the time is right.”

To help, Ben highlights a few considerations to keep in mind when deciding whether to delay buying.

Avoid trying to time the market

Delaying buying in the hope that the prices will drop and mortgage rates will fall further could lead to you missing out on your perfect property. It’s nearly impossible to try and time the property market at the perfect sweet spot.

Mortgage rates have fallen to a new normal, and while there might be some changes to the base rate later in the year if the experience of the last few years is anything to go by, it’s hard to predict what will happen. If you’re in a position to buy a property you like, go for it.

You’re buying a home - not just an investment

Buying a home is a huge financial decision, perhaps the biggest one we’re likely to make in our lifetime. You must remember that you’re buying your home for yourself. It’s much more than an investment that will rise and fall in value.

Consider the cost of delaying

Waiting to buy a house in the belief that the housing market could be in a better place in future is a common concern for potential buyers. While it’s easy to consider the savings you might make by the market dropping slightly, many prospective buyers forget the cost of delaying. Rental payments are often forgotten, so if you’re considering delaying, weigh up the costs alongside the potential savings you could make. You’ll often be surprised!

Get mortgage ready

Money worries are one of the biggest causes of stress when buying a home, and any delays or hold-ups can mean extra costs. Be as prepared as you can by getting your mortgage in principle organised. This means you’ll know exactly how much your mortgage lender will loan to you, without needing a full credit check.

Doing so offers you greater security and a clearer understanding of what you can afford, minimising the risk of your mortgage being rejected when you do come to buy. By speaking to a mortgage adviser, they’ll be able to discuss your options and affordability, helping you to get mortgage-ready.

Make sure all your ducks are in a row

Even if you’ve decided to delay buying, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be ahead of the game. Get your ducks in a row to get mortgage-ready now for when that perfect property comes along.

Getting your credit score in the best shape, having a mortgage in principle, an understanding of any government or lender support packages available and affordability checks in place will ensure that everything is ready, so you can kickstart your homebuying journey when you want to.

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