First-time buyers are being urged to head north for the best return on their investment, as house prices continue to climb.But is a house an investment? It may be - my former home in London and now the one in Edinburgh turned out to be good purchases and I am very pleased to have paid off the mortgage and now live without debt or rent. But a house is primarily a consumer good - it's for living in. It isn't necessarily true that buying a house will always turn out to be an "investment", as Merryn Somerset Webb explains here:
In my building in Paddington, west London, I figure it is now about £5,000 a year cheaper to rent a two-bedroom apartment than to buy one (assuming you do so with a 90% interest-only mortgage) despite the fact that asking prices in the building are already down 20 odd per cent from their highs a year ago.I think that's correct. Rent the house and put the £5K in gold, silver, oil, water or uranium. Avoid snakes.
So why on earth would you buy one? It’s a very expensive way to put yourself “on the ladder”. If you rent instead, you can save your £5,000 a year and put it towards buying a flat when prices have fallen another 20% (which they will).