New research by the Halifax says it’s now much cheaper to buy than rent. Renting is typically 16% higher than the cost of paying a mortgage, insurance and repairs on an equivalent property.

How have we got to this situation? Well the cost of buying a house has dropped 34% since 2008, while from 2009 the cost of renting has risen 19%.  You can thank falling house prices and mortgage rates, in part, for the growing gap.

It seems people are catching on. The volume of house sales reached a five year peak in 2012 but is still 42% below the pre-credit crunch level.  This might be what was expected but the trend is still encouraging.

Of course there are still concerns about the direction of house prices mid-term and actually getting a mortgage offer isn’t always plain sailing if you’re self-employed or a contractor.  But for many, it seems it’s worth persisting to get a foot on the housing ladder.

The Halifax research is of course couched in terms of averages.  The real picture varies round the country but typically today buying makes more financial sense.

Of course, taking responsibility for a mortgage (or rent) when your income isn’t fixed – as is the experience of most contractors – carries risks. The same is true if you are self-employed.  It’s also true in both cases if you’re unable to work, you immediately lose income.

There are ways, however, to protect your income. Taking out payment protection insurance may immediately spring to mind. But it’s important you realise this only protects your mortgage payment – not your total income. But comparison income protection policies protect around two-thirds of your income. The logic behind such policies is that they safeguard your lifestyle should you be unable to work. They also have advantages over critical illness cover and other health based policies which have narrower definitions of illness.

In the context of the current discussion income protection cover will pay your mortgage if you’re unable to work.  Our policies cover the full range of conditions that can cause ill-health whether acute or chronic, mental or physical. You won’t find that range of cover with any other type of policy.