With brothers and sisters, it’s often complicated. They’re the only people in the world who can truly relate to the way you grew up and get how your childhood shaped who you are now. They’re often also the people who can get to your insecurities faster than Dina Asher-Smith can smash out a 100 metre sprint.
In the current market (the average age of a first time buyer in the UK is 31 years old and increases to 33 in London) a lot of us are thinking of different ways to live in the sort of place we want to. We’re settling down later, are more open about what our future looks like and accept that we might have to imagine a different set-up to the one our parents had at our age.
If you’re over house shares with seven other people and the inevitable passive-aggressive wars about who bought the last carton of milk - and straight-up can’t afford to live alone - then moving in with your sibling(s) might be a good shout - especially if you’re looking to buy.
“First-time buyers are having to get creative and use new ways to get on to the property ladder,” explains Evelyn Cotter, founder and CEO of Seven Career Coaching, a millennial life and career coaching company.
“If you can get entrepreneurial, the win is pretty big - and instead of paying off someone else’s mortgage, you can make an investment in your future.”
Buying a first home with a sibling is a modern route to being a homeowner - and with the right safeguards in place, it’s a win-win.
How well the arrangement will work depends on the strength of your relationship. Make sure you’re both aware of the good, bad and ugly sides of each other - even the strongest of bonds can be broken by bad bathroom habits.
“There’s going to be natural ups and downs in any sibling relationship, and if there’s existing issues between you, naturally, it will exacerbate those and bring those out. So go into it with your eyes open from the very start,’ says Evelyn.
“If you have similar lifestyles, friends and values, buying a place together is a great idea that lets you create a real home with someone you love and value.”
Still, problems can arise. Evelyn advises drawing up two contracts: one, a legally binding document around ownership and what happens if one of you wants to sell up before the other, then a non-legal version, where you set out some parameters around the way you want to live.
“Boundaries are key,” Evelyn says. “Set out your expectations and the ground rules and be really clear about things like having friends or boyfriends/girlfriends, parties and noise.”
A simple contract to agree the terms of the new home ownership relationship is key before signing a mortgage contract. Like any contract, work out and agree your exit strategy options, such as what if one of you loses a job, or is promoted to another area? Map it all out, so nothing will be a surprise and the agreements have been made at the outset, not in the emotion of something unexpected and unplanned for.
Most importantly, you mustn’t let any previous historic behavioural traits between you impact on your homeownership relationship vibe. If you always fall out over whose turn it is to buy the next round of drinks, agree the utility bill splits now.
“If this is your chance to get on the property ladder, then you’re going to have to confront any parts of yourself that want to regress to child mode because they will sabotage this opportunity and make it potentially toxic,” says Evelyn.
“Weigh up what you have to compromise, both internal and external then make a clear decision. With a healthy, happy, supportive sibling base this situation could be an ideal solution, having that history, care and emotion for each other makes a house feel like a home.” Plus, your parents are likely to be chuffed that they can stay with both of you, at the same time.
If you love the idea of moving in with the person you share the most DNA with on this earth, but don’t have the funds for a deposit, then another strong shout is to explore a Post Office Family Link™ mortgage, provided by Bank of Ireland UK. With this, a close family member (usually a parent or step parent) could help by letting you borrow the money needed for a 10% deposit against their home, just so long as that property is mortgage-free. You would then take a 90% LTV (loan to value) mortgage against the property you’re looking to buy.
The great news is, the deposit is interest-free and paid back over five years, while the mortgage repayments (subject to interest) are made over a term that suits you – up to a whole 35 years. Your assistor (as your parents or close relative become in this instance) must seek independent legal advice, about the move. The sums look like this: say you’re after a £200,000 house, which requires a 10% deposit. A mortgage of £20,000 is taken out against your relative’s house – which becomes your deposit. You then borrow the outstanding £180,000 for the rest of the cost.
Making sense to you? Bring the idea on up at your next sibling meet-up. This could be the route to home bliss that you’ve been waiting for.
How to make it work
- Be aware of how to make the situation go smoothly. If they’ve always been messy and you’re a clean freak, work out how that’s going to pan out.
- Organise a weekly cleaner to diffuse potential trickiness.
- Work out times when one can have a night in alone watching re-runs of their favourite show, or have their friends or a date round while you’re out.
- Respect one another’s space. If you spent your childhood sharing a room and raiding each other’s wardrobes, understand that your sibling probably isn’t going to appreciate it if you pull similar antics these days.