With property prices at an all-time high and aspiring homeowners typically required to pay an upfront deposit of 20%, it’s hardly surprising that most Londoners feel trapped in the renting cycle. So is it wishful thinking to still aspire towards taking getting on the property ladder?
We have worked with property expert Benno Spencer, founder of Raffle House, who has crunched the numbers to see how long it would actually take the average Londoner to save for a deposit in the capital. Let’s take a look…!
The average London property now comes with a price tag of £485,830. That’s a lot of dosh for (typically) a smallish flat. For a property of that price, you’d need to stump up a deposit of £97,000.
According to ONS data, the average London salary is £39,476. After tax, this leaves you with just over £30,000 of take home pay, or about £2,500 per month (less if you’re paying off any debts such as a student loan or contributing significantly to your pension.)
Total living expenses for the average Londoner total £1,400 per month. That includes the money you drop on rent each month, plus those pesky commuting costs and, you know, food and the like.
So if you’re mega-good with money and essentially save every penny that you don’t spend on shelter, bills, food, travel and sustenance, you could scrimp together around £1,000 a month every month in savings.
But that’s not taking into account any additional life costs, such as holidays, vehicle costs, gifts, spotify or netflix subscriptions, hobbies, avocado toast, clothes, beauty products, shoes; the list goes on. So let’s knock another £500 off that £1,000 saving to be realistic.
That means it will take 14 years for the average London on a very decent salary of nearly £40,000 a year to save up enough for a deposit. And in that time, property prices will likely have gone up, moving the goalposts even further away.
And the real kicker is that during that time, you’ll have been forking out an average of £865 per month on rent (based on the average rent of a two bedroom property at £1,730). So whilst you’re waiting 14 years for your deposit to accrue, you’ll have spent around £145,000 on renting.
Unless you’re lucky enough to be a higher than average earner, have other means to secure your deposit, or have found the one landlord in London charging a fair rental rate, these stats are a depressingly, horribly real reminder of how unfair the system is.
But there are some alternatives for those who, at this point, have their heads in their hands. If you’re not up for waiting for 14 years, check out some of these different routes onto the property ladder:
If you’ve got some cash saved up, auctions can be a great way of making it go further; homes under the hammer can often provide you with rare deals on properties with tons of potential (great if you fancy a fixer upper). To participate in an auction, you simply need your driving license, solicitor details and an acceptable means of paying the deposit (cheque, credit/debit card, banker’s draft, etc.) to hand.
Property market disruptors are starting a trend of offering the chance to win a property by answering a simple trivia question and entering a ‘house raffle’. You buy tickets to enter the prize draw and a winner is randomly selected at the end of the contest. Currently, Raffle House is giving players the chance to win a £650,000 flat in Brixton for £5.
Instead of purchasing the property in full, you buy a share worth between 25-75% of its total value, paying a deposit on this share. The remaining share is owned by a housing association, local authority or independent landlord, where you’ll pay rent to your landlord and mortgage on the share you own. You can buy a bigger share in the property at any time, decreasing your rent and increasing your ownership and once you reach 75% ownership, you’ll no longer need to pay rent on the remaining share.
Rent to Buy
These homes are typically new builds, offered to the market by a housing association or local authority with subsidised rent; you’ll rent the property at approximately 20% below the market rate for up to five years (time period varies by property) giving you time to save for a deposit on the property at a later date. You’re able to buy the property at any point along your contract.