What are my housing options?

Buying your own home is a way to invest and accumulate wealth for your future.

It gives you the freedom to create the home that you want with the added security that it is your home.

Consider the different pros and cons below.

  • Buying a home is an investment for your future which can increase over time
  • It provides greater security than renting
  • It is likely that your mortgage costs will be more stable than rising rent costs
  • You have the freedom to make it your home without the need to ask a landlord’s permission to make any changes
  • Once you pay off your mortgage you will own your home outright.
  • Homeownership is a long term financial commitment
  • It is likely you will have up-front costs which means you need to start thinking about buying a home early to help you save
  • There can be some additional costs in comparison to renting such as rates and building insurance
  • Changes in interest rates mean that your mortgage payments can go up as well as down, depending on the type of mortgage product you have
  • When you are a home owner you are responsible for all of the maintenance and repair of your home
  • Owning your home means you have less flexibility to move around as freely as you can with renting

If you are thinking about buying your own home there are several ways to do this. Consider the different routes to home ownership below and find out what works best for you.


This is when you rent a home from a private landlord.

Rent is usually charged at the market rate and it is likely that your landlord will require a rental deposit. You will have to sign a Tenancy Agreement and keep to the conditions of that agreement.

Your landlord must protect your rental deposit in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. You should also check that your landlord is registered with the Landlord Registration Scheme.

Consider the different pros and cons below.

  • Renting provides greater flexibility to move around if you need to, for example if you need to be close to your job
  • Your landlord is usually responsible for the bigger maintenance and repair the property requires
  • Renting can be less secure than owning your home
  • When you pay rent you will not be building any equity for your future
  • Sometimes there can be restrictions on what you can do to your home meaning you have less freedom

Social housing in Northern Ireland is provided by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Housing Associations.

Homes are allocated based on need using the Common Housing Selection Scheme. You will be awarded points based on your personal circumstances and placed on the housing waiting list.

There are also supported housing schemes for the over 50s, sometimes called sheltered housing. These homes are usually flats and bungalows for older people or people with disabilities.

Consider the different pros and cons below.

  • You will have a secure home if you remain a social housing tenant
  • Rent is relatively stable and increases with inflation
  • If you are a tenant for 5 years you will have the option to purchase your home through the Right to Buy (House Sales) scheme
  • If you are on the housing waiting list, it could be a while before you are offered a home

If social housing best meets your circumstances, you can find out more at:


Routes to Home Ownership

You can buy your home by obtaining a mortgage from a bank or building society.

Normally you will require a 5-10% deposit of the purchase price and a mortgage for the remaining amount.

You can apply for a mortgage at your bank or building society or via a financial advisor.

Shared ownership is an affordable route to home ownership. You buy a share of your home that you can afford using a mortgage and pay rent on the rest. At any time you can buy more of your home until you own it all.

It helps aspiring home owners who:

  • may be on a lower income,
  • can’t access a full mortgage, or
  • don't have a sufficient deposit.

Providers of shared ownership:

If you have been a Housing Executive or Housing Association tenant for at least 5 years you may buy all or part of your home using Right to Buy. This is also known as the House Sales Scheme.

If you have been a tenant for a minimum of 5 years you can receive a discount to help you buy your home.

For more information please visit the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.


Rent to Own is an alternative route to home ownership. It helps those who would like to own their home, but aren't quite in the position to do so yet.

You can rent a new build property for up to 3 years and then, once your circumstances change, you will have the opportunity to buy your home.

You can find out more at Co-Ownership.

Taking the next step?

If you are thinking about buying your home, either now or in the future, the next step is to consider your finances.

Financing your move