Welcome to Home Truths, the tell-all series where homeowners and renters spill the beans on what really goes on behind the scenes when buying, moving or renting a property.
Moving story at a glance
Ages: 38 and 36
Job: Maths teacher and solicitor
Salary: £45,000 and £80,000
House cost: £600,000
Deposit paid: £50,000
Money spent on renovations: £20,000
Mortgage payments: £2,000 a month split 50:50
Mortgage interest rate: 2%
Income from renting rooms: £500 to £1000
Why did you buy a property with a friend?
I’m a maths teacher at a North London comprehensive and, although I earn a decent wage, I wouldn’t have been able to get on the property ladder alone. I’m single and, although my best mate has a girlfriend now, he was also single for a long time.
We’d been housemates in a shared rental for ages so we knew we could live together and still get on. He’s a conveyancer so he knows about property and he came up with the idea of buying together, rather than continuing to rent long-term.
He earns a lot more than I do, which means we could borrow a lot more for the mortgage by pooling resources than I would ever have been able to. That led us to buy a house rather than a flat, as more space for less money than we were paying in rent seemed like a no brainer.
What’s your home like?
It’s a 1930s terraced house with big bay windows at the front. It feels really spacious as there are two large reception rooms downstairs and an eat-in kitchen at the back leading out to a garden.
Upstairs there are three bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor, and two smaller bedrooms and a toilet/ shower room on the top floor. Plus one of those smaller upstairs rooms has a kitchenette built in.
The electrics were dodgy and there was damp, so we had to get the place totally replastered before we moved in. Now all the walls are clean and white but a bit boring to be honest. It looks a bit like student digs, because all of our furniture is mismatched and there isn’t enough of it yet.
The garden is a concrete jungle; old paving stones with weeds growing between them. We need to sort it out, but neither of us has volunteered yet.
When did you move in?
December 2019. We feel very fortunate with the timing because we’d been renting in a high rise in Hackney, so suddenly having ample living space and a garden (even if it’s a tip) was a real eye-opener. Especially in those first weeks of lockdown when I was trying to plan lessons from home and only teaching part-time, while my best mate was working from home.
It’s well-connected and it’s still got enough of an up-and-coming vibe that it feels like a good investment. We could have bought a flat or something in nearby Crouch End, but it just seemed like a bad idea to spend all that money on somewhere smaller.
In Harringay we can get into town on the Overground easily, there are buses to the places we like to go (like the pub!), and I have a bike which I use to get to work. There are also a few decent coffee places if you know where to look.
How did you make your new home work financially?
I’d managed to save £25,000 for a deposit. We wanted to go into this as equal partners, so even though my mate probably could have put more in, we put in 50:50 for the deposit and have done the same for all the expenses.
I feel a bit bad, because his salary meant we could get a bigger mortgage, but I still pay exactly half the costs. I guess it’s just a quirk of the system that were I to do this alone I wouldn’t have a chance in hell of borrowing the amount of money I have done, even though I paid more in rent each month than we do on the mortgage.
It was a bit of a shock when we realised the whole place needed rewiring, replastering and damp proofing, so I had to “find” that extra £10,000 with help from the bank of mum and dad. Because we were doing the work on the walls, we put a new but very basic kitchen in, too.
The great thing about having all the extra space is that we can take lodgers. Sometimes one or more of our friends will rent the rooms at the top.
We don’t charge them the going rate, as they’re our mates, but we can make up to £1000 a month, which we discount off our mortgage costs each month.
It’s a bit complicated to keep track of but being a maths teacher, I like a spreadsheet.
How easy was it to get a mortgage?
Pretty straightforward. The complicated bit was the contract because we’re not your typical pair of purchasers and the legal stuff really is (understandably I suppose) geared up to cater for married couples.
We took out a Tenants in Common trust deed, which basically protects our individual contributions to the house should one of us die. That means the share we each own won’t automatically pass to the other owner, but can be passed to our next of kin.
Because my pal is a solicitor, it all felt pretty straightforward and when we come to sell we’re going to simply split everything 50:50 as we have all along.
That I didn’t buy a home sooner. The amount I must’ve spent on rent in my adult life is astronomical.