On average, we move home seven times before reaching and settling in our dream home.
For most people, the first home is special: as a personal milestone in life, and simply by virtue of being the first.
In practical terms, the first property purchase is also the most important. As your first step on the ladder, it will have a disproportionate effect on your future trajectory. Done right, you could significantly accelerate the journey to the dream home, and vice versa.
The considerations when buying a first home are therefore unique. Most people outgrow their first home very quickly, through marriage or birth, and move on to the second – usually bigger – home.
Here are the top 3 things that you need to take into consideration when buying your first home, in order of priority:
3. Buy a property that fits around your commute
When moving to a new home, most parts of one’s lifestyle can easily adapt to the new surroundings: for example, exercising outdoors in the nearby park rather than going to the gym.
However, work routines are less flexible, and there are few habits that are more frequent than commuting to and from work. And it all adds up very quickly: an hour’s increase in commuting times means a loss of 22 full days of free time a year, and can have a large negative impact on quality of life and productivity.
Therefore pay special attention to your daily commute when choosing your first home: don’t let anything get in the way of you earning and saving up to move to the second home.
2. Think twice before sharing
Sharing a property purchase with friends is a bad idea, period. Even if we ignore the tensions of living together, there is a very high probability that the friendship will be put under severe pressure with no benefit to anyone.
Be aware that it is almost impossible to sell part of a property. No estate agent will want to take it on: not only do they need to find someone who wants to buy part of a property, that someone must also be happy to inherit strangers as their housemates and part-owners.
That means all the owners of the property have to agree to sell at the same time. Given that people moves through life at different paces, it is likely that the stars will not align and one party will be put under pressure to make a major decision that does not work for their circumstances.
A common outcome is that one party will end up buying out the rest. It is generally not a pleasant experience going against your close friends in a zero-sum negotiation involving hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Overall, the transition from first to second home will likely be delayed for all parties who are sharing. If you want to buy your first home together with your friends, be neighbours and not housemates.
1. Buy with the sale in mind
Getting stuck on the first rung is not a good feeling.
This is what stuck feels like: your property has been on the market for months, since you found your perfect second home and decided to put your current one on the market. Your estate agent is rapidly losing interest, and pressures you constantly to drop your asking price (which you have done already, twice) but it does not attract any more viewings. Although you have successfully escaped the rent trap, your ascent up the housing ladder has been delayed indefinitely.
Buying your first home as if it were your dream home is the easiest way to get stuck. The key difference: the dream home is something you never want to sell. The first home is a property you want to sell in a few years once you’ve outgrown it.
Therefore buy your first home with the sale in mind. Questions to ask:
- Is the property in a growth area?
- How long does it take for properties to shift in this area?
- Which type of properties (e.g. houses or flats) are more liquid?
- Is there a growing trend of young people moving to the area (who would be the buyers for my property when selling in a few years’ time)?
The good news: you are in good hands
At District 34, we do the homework obsessively so you don’t have to. Through our advanced data technologies, we help our members to buy their ideal first homes: within easy commute to their workplace and within budget (no need to share), in high-growth areas that are seeing inward migration of young people (read about how we do it.) We are with you every step of the way – as your property managers, we are also on hand to help you sell the properties when you are ready to move on.