The journey to home ownership is undoubtedly a daunting one, but compared to popular adrenaline thrills such as bungee jumping or sky-diving, it really is just a walk in the park. Homefocus writer Jeffrey Gritzman takes a look at how scary owning your own home really is.
Bungee jumping…now that takes courage
Young people are funny; it’s amazing how many of them have been back-packing which takes organisation and confidence, or horse riding which takes skill and courage, some have even been bungee jumping where you place your heart in your mouth and keep it there till the bouncing is over. Tell someone you’re thinking about a bungee jump and they’ll likely tell you that they, or a good friend of theirs has done it too. So no big deal then?
But tell someone that you’re thinking about buying a home and you’ll hear that it’s incredibly difficult, perhaps impossible…no arguments! So let’s get buying your first home into perspective. A good start would be to remember that even though home ownership has dropped over the last 10 years, well over 60% of people in England are actually homeowners. So how hard and how courageous can it really be?
Do you really need more courage to buy a home than you do to bungee jump? Of course not, but you do need support and direction from the backroom experts to give you the confidence to see it through. So make sure you pick the right organisations to help you take the leap to home ownership.
You’ll know if you’re ready to become a homeowner because you will have done loads of research. You’ll know what areas you’re prepared to live in. If the transport links are good for work and play. If the shopping, health care and educational outlets are right for you and your family. If your DIY skills are better suited to buying an older property and improving it or buying new and just moving in. You’ll know the sort of price properties fetch in the areas you’re looking in and, very importantly, if you can afford them. You’ll know how much deposit you’ll need, how much mortgage, how much the monthly repayments are and (absolutely key) if you’re likely to get offered that level of mortgage. And, should the deposit or repayments be beyond you, then whether you’re better suited to shared ownership or Help to Buy. You’ll know the differences between shared ownership and Help to Buy, the advantages and disadvantages of both and how they compare to buying in the more traditional way. Finally, you’ll have some money set aside for moving expenses, legal costs, buying the essentials for your new home and ideally, a bit more besides. Conventional wisdom says that home buying is about location, location, location. But realistically, you already know where you will and won’t be prepared to live, so concentrate on research, research, research!
It’s an investment in your future, not an adrenalin rush
Where to start? Read up about shared ownership, ask housing associations who offer it what it means. Ask them too about Help to Buy because quite a number of them offer Help to Buy as well as shared ownership, and ask a developer who advertises Help to Buy (that’s most of the big ones) their views too. Check it through with the Help to Buy Agent for your area and keep asking till you feel sure. Find a mortgage advisor who is happy to spend time with you as a first time buyer and will explain everything as you go through the process. Then find a solicitor who will explain things to you in terms you understand, rather than just repeat legal jargon.
If you do go bungee jumping you’ll find that the experts will spend more time explaining the process and checking you over beforehand than it takes to do the jump itself. Now I’m not expecting you to spend longer researching home ownership than you will spend in your home, but I am saying be patient, the payoff is a lot more than a short term adrenalin rush. The payoff for becoming a home owner is an investment in your own future. It’ll be a place to start climbing the home ownership ladder, to grow equity in your home and a place in the community. It’s a long term plan. And if you decide against buying your own home, then the alternative is to rent long term, because you will have to live somewhere.
So buying a home can be frustrating, time consuming and energy sapping. But scary? Not compared to bungee jumping! You have to be courageous when you take control of big events in your life.
Find out more about affordable home ownership by reading our latest issue here.