Why you should (and shouldn’t!) buy property

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Jennie came to me to help her decide whether to buy a house (or not!). Now ten years into her career she was in a position, with some help from her parents, to buy a house. The problem was that she wasn’t sure that was really what she wanted.

All the conflicting advice she was receiving was preventing her from getting clarity on the potential financial implications of buying, or not buying, a house.

Her parents had offered to help, although she would still have to pay them back, and the mortgage payments were also going to be higher than her rent so affordability post purchase was another thing to consider.

After modelling various different scenarios, and numerous calls and emails, she did end up buying the house.

Although she wasn’t sure initially, in the end she decided that she did in fact want a home.

The advice she received about when to buy meant she started second guessing herself and without even realising, started viewing buying a house only as an investment decision.

She ended up opting for a half repayment, half interest only mortgage with a fixed rate for two years so as to ease the transition. The plan was then to remortgage at the end of the fixed rate period to a full repayment mortgage.

This enabled her to buy the house and continue to save each month towards her goals beyond the house.

Now, here’s why you should buy a house…

You want a home

The biggest reason to buy a house is because you want a place to call your own. It’s quite simple but people often get caught up with other considerations and start worrying about factors outside of their control.

If you’re keen to put roots down somewhere, go for it! When you buy a new house you can give it your own personal stamp. That could be the furniture, a new kitchen perhaps or even a pet. While renting it’s really difficult to do any of those things. A lot of the time you don’t have much of a say as to what happens to and with the property.

Climbing the ladder

Another big reason is that you want to start climbing the property ladder and the best way to do that is to get a foot on it.

Whether you see the property as a stepping stone to your next house, or view it as your ‘forever home’, if you want to be on the property ladder, you need to take that first step.

Stability

At some point in life most people will want to settle down. You want to invest in a neighbourhood, in a community, and see yourself building your life in that area.

There might be a particular school or other things nearby which are important to you. Buying a house is a big decision, it’s a real commitment which should give you a sense of stability and security.

Finally, why you shouldn’t buy...

You can’t afford it

This might sound silly but that’s probably because my take on whether or not someone can afford to buy a house is different to yours. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is draining all of their savings to buy a house.

When buying, or moving house, there are lots of unexpected and hidden costs that people miss. Even if they have been budgeted for, draining all your savings means you have no emergency fund.

If something happens shortly after purchasing then you’re in a sticky situation. I had a case before where a couple had done exactly this, they had drained all their savings to buy a house and taken on a large mortgage. Then they suddenly found out they were going to have a baby which was 3 years earlier than planned. Buying the house meant that they were going to have to cut their spending by more than half to build up enough money to cope with the costs of the child in early years.

You see the property solely as an investment

You’ve got a pot of money and want to put it to work. You’ve heard of, and even know a number of people who have done very well from buying and selling property and want to get in on the action.

What you rarely hear of are the situations where it hasn’t gone so well. Who wants to tell people how they lost money?

When it comes to investing you want to split the risk by investing in different asset classes across different geographies. Investing in a property is the complete opposite to a diversified portfolio.

Buying a property is like buying a share in one particular company. Rather than spreading the risk, you lock up everything you have in one property in one area.

It can work, but it’s not a safe way to invest.

Flexibility

Buying a property doesn’t just comprise of putting down a deposit, there are other costs involved. If you keep moving house then you’re going to keep incurring these costs. Do that every couple of years and you’ll start racking up quite the bill!

If you want to be flexible and able to adapt to changing life plans then continuing to rent makes more sense. It may be hard when others around you are buying houses but remember that everyone’s plan is different.