We’re pretty sure you’ll agree with us when we say that buying a house is different to any other kind of purchase. For one thing, you can’t pop into the supermarket for one on your way home from work, and they aren’t available on Amazon Prime.
Rather, before you can even begin the process of buying a house, there are a whole manner of practical and financial considerations to get in order. This is true whether you’re a first-time buyer counting your pennies or a seasoned investor with pots of cash.
Despite the importance of these considerations, they’re far from all you should consider. Buying a house is an inherently emotional purchase that will have a huge effect on your life (and how satisfied you feel about it!) for many years to come.
Despite this, it’s common for those who give advice to would-be buyers to warn them not to fall ‘victim’ to their emotions. (Truth be told, we’re not sure adoration of original floor tiles could do you any serious harm). Instead, the generally accepted advice seems to be to focus on the quality of the investment and the possible resale value.
Well. We’ve got a thing or two to say about that.
The idea of home ownership as an investment
There was a particularly big drive towards the idea of home ownership as an investment in the 1990s. The media fed us all the idea of making money on our homes… in order for us to have the wherewithal to sell up and move to a bigger one. Though some people certainly made a lot of money on this basis, we think it’s fair to say that most have simply found themselves saddled with bigger mortgages.
When you buy a property, you’re making one of the biggest purchases of your life. The average cost of buying a house in the UK is £235,000, which is far from small change in anyone’s perspective.
Not only are you likely going to be spending more than you’ve ever spent on anything before, there’s also – great news! – a fair element of risk involved. There’s absolutely no guarantee that the value of the property will rise during the time you own it. And if that wasn’t depressing enough, there’s also the risk you may discover expensive problems that will need to be addressed at your own expense.
Should you consider your home as an investment?
If you’re buying a house to be your home, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to think of it as an investment. You won’t be actively bringing in any income from it (unless you plan to charge your spouse or your children rent, which is probably a subject for a whole other blog post). Even if you’ve bought in a desirable area where prices are on the up, you’d only benefit from the equity this would create in your home if and when you came to sell it.
It’s also worth remembering that the purchase price isn’t the only money you’ll have to spend on your home while you live there. There will also be the not-at-all-inexpensive matters of insuring it, heating it and maintaining it. And that’s before you even entertain the idea of improving or decorating it.
Ultimately, the primary purpose of buying a house is not going to be a money-making exercise. Rather, the primary purpose is altogether simpler; you want to live in it.
Allow us to get philosophical for a moment. Your home is the shelter you provide for your family. It’s the place you’ll come to at the end of each day for warmth, comfort and general protection from the elements. It’s where you’ll all your stuff. It’s where you’ll socialise with friends and family. It’s where you’ll sleep and eat and do all the other basic facets of human living.
What we’re trying to get at here is that a home is something altogether more valuable than a monetary investment.
Why emotion very much has a place in property purchases
One of the dangers of thinking of your home as an investment is that you base your decisions on that rather than on what works for you and your family.
Though it is important to take into account sensible factors such as nearby schools, sufficient space, the condition of the boiler and whether or not the roof is about to blow off… it’s also vastly important to choose a home you genuinely feel a connection with.
Some people buy a home and plan to live there for the rest of their lives. Others will be thinking on a shorter-term basis. There are obviously different considerations to keep in mind depending on which of these two camps you fall into. However, even if you plan to be somewhere for only two or three years, that’s a long time to be living somewhere you don’t feel anything for. It’s also important to consider Plan B. Your circumstances or priorities might change and it’s not uncommon for the two-year house to turn into a twenty-year house. Would you be prepared for that?!
We believe you should make your home your own, hang what any ‘future buyers’ might think. If you want to crash a shark sculpture into your roofor paint every single wall purple, why should you stop yourself on the basis of what other people might want?
Make sure your home is what you want
When you walk into your future home on your first viewing, let yourself contemplate how it affects you emotionally. There will be plenty of time on a second or third viewing to make sure your non-negotiable check list has all been met.
Before you get caught up in budget and location and the condition of the bathroom, ask yourself how the place feels. Is it somewhere you think you will feel happy and content? Will you be able to make it reflect your style? Does it have the right atmosphere for your family?
Emotion is a huge factor in buying the ideal house. Don’t let yourself be swept away by a potentially good investment if it just doesn’t feel right.
Have you fallen in love with a house? We’re always on hand to fawn over property with you, though we can’t promise we won’t mention any of those practical considerations (if nothing else, we’re particularly partial to discussing the results of the drainage survey).