Friends Come First: A New Trend in Housing - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Friends Come First: A New Trend in Housing

How would you feel if your partner didn’t want to live with you? You’ve been in a happy relationship for some time, but the light of your life decides they’re not willing to buy a new place with you. Pretty devastating, right?

Sad but true and it’s happening in the UK among young people as a new trend has started to emerge. A report from Furniture Choice has found that young Brits are turning their backs on traditional arrangements and, instead, are preferring to buy properties with their friends rather than with a partner or on their own.

Younger adults appear especially willing to keep their partner out of the equation and buy a property with a friend. 45% of 18‒24-year-olds had thought about buying a home with a friend at one time or another and 50% were considering buying one with them.

‘Is it a money thing?’, you ask. They don’t have the money, but they want their independence and this is the next best thing. They’d rather buy and live with a friend than live alone. 54% and 42%, respectively, stated these as reasons, so if that’s what you’re thinking was behind the trend you’d be half right.

Only half right?

Yes. There were other reasons. Some simply preferred to live with a friend than on their own and wanted to still have the stability of being a homeowner. Trust was another big issue, particularly in the 18‒24 years age group. 1 in 10 (10%) said they’d trust a friend more than a partner when it came to buying a property together. Harsh!

Are you considering doing the same?

Is the prospect of buying with your partner sending a shiver down your spine while the one of buying with a friend is making you think ‘Let’s rock!’? If so, there are a few simple things you need to consider before the two (or more) of you sign on that dotted mortgage agreement line.

Likes and dislikes

The home could become an uncomfortable place to live in if you don’t share the same likes and dislikes or have similar ones. The classic example is of one person being tidy and unable to stand a messy household, and the other being disorderly and not really respecting the home. This can generate a real clash between housemates. To make living with your friends really work, you should observe similar lifestyles, understand each other’s likes and dislikes and, generally, have a strong friendship.

Trust

As noted from the above stats, trust is huge. Trust makes us feel safe around a person and allow us to live or work with them in harmony. If you’re going to live with someone, you’re going to have to trust them. You’ll have to share the mortgage payments, bills and other expenses. Do you trust your friend enough to keep their side of the financial deal? A lack of trust could lead to some real conflict between the two of you.

How you’re going to pay for things

You’re going to need furniture. You’re going to have to decorate the place. You’re going to have to pay the mortgage and the bills together. Some of these things you can discuss once you’ve moved in, but it’s best to be realistic and think about them before you take out that mortgage. Don’t sign anything without at least considering them ― a head full of dreams won’t cover the expenses! Deciding how to pay for everything can be difficult. The next section deals with how you can work things out.

Agreeing about the money

Talking about money is an uncomfortable subject for a lot of people, but it’s something that you’ll need to discuss. Below are a few solutions on how to work things out and how to pay for things such as furniture and bills when you and your mate(s) are in your new home:

Organize your bills as quickly as possible

Just like any other project, it doesn’t make sense to organize how you’re going to pay the bills when you’re already well into the cohabitation. Much better to do this from the outset and avoid communication breakdowns when the bills arrive. This means organizing payments for the utilities, the council tax, the TV license, the internet and, of course, the biggie, the mortgage itself. Hold a meeting. It doesn’t have to be a formal one, just one to discuss how you’ll pay the bills and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Decide the best way to split the bills

There are several ways you can split the bills, but the most straightforward is for each of you to pay certain bills and then hope that the expenses all even themselves out. You won’t be able to pay an exact even amount, so agree on which bills you’ll pay and be willing to pay a little more if necessary. Other options include one person taking care of all the bills and then collecting the money from the other(s), which is risky unless you can be sure the other(s) will pay up or setting up a joint account, which can be handy as long as you can trust your housemate not to take money out for things other than expenses.

Create an agreement

It’s always good to get something down on paper. When moving into your new place, you can discuss different plans for the house, as well as house rules and financial aspects. Once you’ve agreed on things, you can create an agreement ― whether you choose to make it legally binding is up to you, but it doesn’t have to be ― so that everyone knows where they stand. The agreement can help to resolve any disputes that might arise in the future.

Consider financing

Agreeing on the mortgage and bill payments is crucial, but don’t forget these won’t be your only expenses. You’re going to need a whole load of things when you move into your new home, some of which will be more expensive than others. Furniture is one example. Don’t think you have to shell out all the money at once, though, and put yourselves out of pocket until your finances are healthier again. Instead, you can spread the cost over a year and make paying for your furniture much more manageable. Best of all, you don’t have to wait until you’ve paid off the amount before you start getting the use out of the furniture. Many retailers will deliver within a few days of you signing the finance agreement with them.

Set up standing orders and direct debits

We all lead busy lives. We’re in and out of the house, either working or socializing or on holiday. Sometimes you can get so busy it might slip your mind to pay a bill. Setting up a standing order or direct debit means you can pay the recipient automatically and periodically without having to make a regular manual transfer. You can also avoid placing yourself and your housemate in an awkward situation in which an angry service provider is contacting you over an outstanding invoice.

Buying a home with a friend is as unconventional as it is exciting. You might be itching to move in with your BFF, but you should also be practical. They may be a terrific friend and trustworthy, but you must be on the same wavelength and work out all the different details when it comes to paying for the property and taking care of the expenses. Only then can you make it work. If not, the thought of living with your partner might not seem so unappealing after all.


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