Despite friends in the pub arguing about what’s happening in the property market, prospective first-time buyer Isaac Williams is keen to stop renting and buy his first home…
Nobody really knows what the housing market is doing, do they? For every expert (Dave at the pub) saying: ‘Buy now, cash in later,’ there’s another urging caution: ‘Wait for prices to stabilise, then make your move.’
While I don’t really have a clue either way, the basic arguments make sense. The ‘buy now’ crowd argue this is a seller’s market. Covid has driven a much higher demand, as people (me included) want to get out of cramped rental properties and into anywhere with a bit more space to accommodate working from home. Increased demand equals increased prices, and with no immediate sign of slowing down, the argument goes, make the investment now before prices climb even further.
In the other camp, the ‘hold outers’ say the current boom is unsustainable, there simply aren’t enough houses to go round and, sooner rather than later, demand and prices will drop. Which makes sense. The thing is, we don’t want to wait.
Not to be all ‘woe is us’ (lots of people are dealing with a hell of a lot worse) but having lived and worked in a tiny flat for two years, it’s the right time for us to find somewhere with a bit more space. I know so much about my partner’s company – because we work three feet from each other – that I should really be on the payroll. Whether it’s the optimum time to buy, from a financial perspective, is hard to know, but that feels secondary to maintaining our sanity.
Ticking the boxes
There’s also the fact that we’re in a position to buy now – and buy somewhere that ticks most of our boxes. An eight-bedroom mansion in Hampstead Heath might be out of the question, but we should at least be able to afford a place with a small amount of outdoor space and an extra room to work from. My partner also wants a fireplace, and I’d like wood flooring, but those are optional extras. The point is, at the moment we can afford somewhere we quite like; if we wait too much longer, we might well be priced out of it.
Of course, I say ‘afford’ in the loosest possible sense. We have just enough for a deposit, just enough for the annoying extras (stamp duty, solicitors, etc.), and just enough for the actual mortgage. Sure, we’re going to be emptying our bank accounts and committing to 30+ years of monthly payments, but that extra 10sq ft is going to be so worth it…
In all seriousness, hopefully, the buy now camp is proved right, and we can sell for a bit of a profit in four or five years’ time. Because while we’re in our late 20s, and not ready to join the exodus from London just yet, when kids come into the equation we might well want to up sticks and move somewhere a bit quieter. Somewhere hundreds of thousands of pounds can get you more than a ground-floor flat. Maybe even somewhere you can’t taste the pollution. A man can dream.