This is a collaborative post.
Getting on the housing ladder these days is tough. Back in the early 2000s, it seemed easier. You could self-certify for a mortgage through a broker and that’s exactly what I did. As a first time buyer, I purchased a relatively large, detached house in a nice area. If Instagram had been around then, you’d have seen a strong young woman doing well for herself. But things are not always as they seem.
I moved into my first home on my 23rd birthday. On the same day, I was accepted into a job that wasn’t due to start for six months. This gave me the incentive to quit the job I was in, which I hated. So I was single, unemployed and completely skint. Everything I owned was transported from my mum’s house to mine in one carload. Eventually, kind friends and relatives turned up with their second hand furniture. I’ve still got some of it.
Financially, it was a difficult time. The house wasn’t perfect, it needed quite a bit of work. But I was 23, so other things seemed more important. I found a temporary job the following week, and stuck at it until I got a start date for my ‘proper job’. At that point, the reality of starting a ‘career’ hit home. And with six weeks to go, I booked flights to Los Angeles, New Zealand and Australia. I came home with a few hours to spare before work started. Tanned, happy and completely skint.
A long term home
I never really thought of my first home as somewhere I’d stay long term. I’d bought it because I knew I’d get planning permission to put another house in the garden and make some money on it. But, despite selling a building plot with planning permission, I’ve always struggled financially since over stretching myself on the mortgage.
Fifteen years on, I’m still here. Now with a family in tow, and still with work to do on the house. The area is lovely and I feel lucky to have got a foot on the housing ladder. But soon, it will be time to move on. Over the next couple of years, we’ll be doing the house up and getting it ready to sell. We’re by no means in a strong financial position, but I’m a lot more savvy about these things than I used to be.
I know that when I remortgaged a couple of years after buying this house, I was probably mis-sold my mortgage by a broker. It was interest only, self-certified and definitely not affordable. Thankfully, it’s now easy to make mortgage claims against the company that mis-sold them. Even if that company is no longer trading.
Finding our forever home
If I’m able to reclaim on my mis-sold mortgage, I’ll be putting the money towards our next home. We want to move closer to the girls’ school and realistically, we could probably move now. But I know we need to wait, do up our house and ensure that we don’t overstretch ourselves again. And I want this to be our last move, to our forever home.
The past 15 years since buying my house have been difficult. I’ve been in debt, living hand to mouth and worrying about paying the bills. I never want to be in that position again, but most of all, I want to make sure that the girls never have to live like this.
In my mind, our forever home has plenty of space for now, but more importantly enough space for the future. Because getting on the housing ladder seems to be increasingly difficult. I’d love to buy somewhere with room to build a small annex. Somewhere for the girls to live in their own space while they save up for their own home without getting into debt. We’ll never be in a position to buy a house for them, but if we can help them to avoid debt in some other way, we’ll make sure we do it.