It makes sense to buy a home with a partner. Two lots of savings can reduce the time and cost of buying a property, and for many, it’s the only way they’ll ever own a home.
It's seen as a right of passage, just like marriage or choosing to have children can be. But with the average age of a first time buyer at 32, and the recent Stamp Duty exemption, is it possible couples are rushing in to buying with the wrong person?
Buying a home together is a huge commitment, and changing over the name on a mortgage, or having to sell the property if you can’t afford it alone, can be costly and stressful.
However, it’s the season of love, and whilst you’re feeling all dreamy with your darling, picturing what the garden will look like, or how much shorter your commute will be, we think you should consider these few points:
Have you lived together before?
No, those two weeks on holiday in Malaga don’t count. Have you had to share a space day-to-day, adapting to each other’s schedules, sharing washing up and laundry duties, splitting the bills? Have you got used to each other’s space, noise, habits? Whilst not so long ago it was expected that couples would never have co-habited before marrying and buying a home, in the modern world it’s a big gamble when you don’t know how to share a space. If you’re going straight for buying, take a short term let as a ‘practice run’ whilst you’re looking. It may feel like a waste of money, but you’ll thank us.
Are you on the same page about finances?
If you’re saving away every spare penny for a deposit, and your partner is spending left, right and centre, or worse, drowning in debt, your attempts to buy a property are going to be more difficult. Money is one of the number one stresses on a relationship, and a home is likely to be the biggest purchase you ever make. Talk about money, create a savings plan and make sure you’re both committed to owning a home. Getting a deposit together often requires some sacrifice – you both need to be on board. If one is sacrificing more than the other, resentment will brew. Plan some ‘treats’ in along the way whilst you’re saving, so you don’t feel too hard done by!
Do you want the same sort of property?
If you’re dreaming of a countryside retreat with exposed brick and a large garden, and your partner’s thinking of a city centre modern apartment with glass furnishings, you’re going to have a problem.
Work out what kind of things you both agree on (as well as what your budget is) and focus on location, as that will determine what kind of properties are available. Be aware that if you’re using Help to Buy schemes, only new build properties will apply. Talk clearly about what you both want in a home, and go from there.
Are you willing to compromise?
May as well start now, love is all about compromise. This doesn’t mean giving up your dream home, but just as you need to consider which factors are sticking points with your property searching, consider which ones you’d be willing to compromise on for your partner. If you want a big garden, but they need parking in order to get to work, are you going to say ‘no’ to a property that is otherwise perfect? Find those points that are important to both of you, those that are completely necessary, and the ones that have a little more wiggle room.
Do you have a back up plan?
No one wants to think about what might happen if their relationship ends, but when buying a home, it seems prudent to be aware of the risks. If you break up, would you sell the property and split the money? Are you equally putting into the deposit, and paying the mortgage? Will both your names be on the property? If one of you wanted to take over the mortgage, could you afford to buy the other out and pay the mortgage? These don’t have to be full plans, but having this conversation with your partner will mean you’re both on the same page, and can actually make you feel closer about your shared future.
Planning for the future?
Are you picking a home that you can grow into, with your other half? Assuming you’ve had a chat about the future, you need to pick a property that can provide you with what you need. If you’ve discussed having children, picking a home that is family friendly, or could easily be converted, is a good idea. If one of you wants to work from home, find something with an office space. You’re choosing a property not only for what you want now, but with the potential to accommodate your dreams later in life.
Are you excited?!
Though sometimes the process can feel stressful (and a teensy bit scary!) you should be excited at the thought of buying a home with the person you love! Enjoy the process of looking for homes and visiting properties – spend time talking about what you want and how to get it, and enjoy the time together as you move onto the next stage in your journey. You’ll be decorating before you know it!
5 questions to ask your partner before buying a home together:
- What are the most important things for you buying a home?
- What do you want from our home in the future?
- What can we afford to buy?
- What are you willing to compromise on?
- Why do you want to buy a home now?