Our story begins in Lincoln University, two students that bonded over a mutual love for Dragon Ball Z, Mario Kart and Wii boxing. As you can tell, we didn’t have many friends. We graduated in 2016 and began working together as an Advertising Creative team in London.
Ola was born in London so he returned home to live with his parents and save lots of money. Cullen was born in Devon so he took a plunge into London life and started paying for rent and living in mouse infested dwellings. We were both earning £25K and just like every other wide-eyed millennial we had dreams of buying a home, those were individual (pipe) dreams…considering our wages weren’t going up and London’s property prices we’re rocketing.
Those dreams became more realistic when we started freelancing together. We both doubled our earnings over the course of a year, and we saved it in CHUNKS. Despite the sharp increase we still had no chance of buying somewhere habitable individually, so we started discussing the idea of joining forces. It made perfect sense to us at the time and buying a home with a friend is becoming a lot more common today.
We’d lived with each other before and hadn’t killed each other, the mortgage, bills and renovation costs would be cut down the middle and best of all we could walk to work together. But before we got ahead of ourselves, we took steps to protect ourselves from ourselves...
Being transparent about money with friends is quite hard but essential if you’re thinking of buying a house together. For us it was fairly simple, we both have the same job and we earn the same money. The only difference was Cullen was renting at the time and Ola was living with his mum so he could save a little more.
We both shared our credit scores Link opens in a new window and laid out exactly what we had in savings and decided we were in a position to split everything down the middle 50/50 - making sure we’d both have half of the funds for the bills, council tax and renovation costs without either of us feeling overly stretched.
To this day we still split everything down the middle from a can of paint to a packet of custard creams, the only difference being it’s easier now as we have a joint bank account Link opens in a new window.
Joint tenants vs tenants in common
When we started looking at houses, we didn’t fully understand the difference between joint tenants and tenants in common so here’s a quick breakdown. When buying a property with someone you’re asked to decide how you want to share the ownership.
Option one is ‘joint tenants’, this means each of you has ownership of the whole property. If one of you dies, the property is automatically passed onto the other(s).
Option two is ‘tenants in common’ where each of you have equal rights to the whole property, but each owns a specific percentage of it. If one of you dies under this arrangement the share they owned would not automatically go to the other(s) but instead be passed on to whoever inherited it in the deceased will. T.I.C tends to be more useful for business partners and friends for this reason and because it’s easier to split the ownership into different shares if you’re putting in different amounts of money.
We opted for joint tenants which in reality wasn’t the right move for us, we both want our halves of the house to be passed on to family but, luckily for us it is possible to change this agreement.
Something that really helped us was our future vision. We imagined as many scenarios as possible that could happen while living together from a simple disagreement to one of us kicking the bucket - as morbid as it sounds. Now we sit comfortably with a custard cream in hand in full confidence that we can deal with any unexpected surprises.
We don’t plan to live in this house together forever so we took an extra step by making a five-year fixed plan to match our five-year fixed mortgage, past that point we have a joint exit strategy that would involve us both leaving, remortgaging and turning the property into a rental where we split the income 50/50.
But in some unforeseen circumstance where one of us needs to leave we’ve agreed to follow the same plan but just exit early together, there’d be penalties to pay for leaving our fixed mortgage early but that’s the simplest process that works for us. In both scenarios, we’re still friends and business partners. But if we weren’t - which is supremely unlikely we’d just sell the house and split everything down the middle.
Signing the dotted lines
Plans and visions can only take you so far, the next step is to make everything legally binding so you can be sure if everything hits the fan you don’t end up with a Mufasa and Scar situation. We formed a contract that covered each of our shares in the property and our financial contributions. We also put specific procedures in place should there ever be disputes or disagreements between us - unlikely, but better to be safe than sorry!
For us this process was super simple, as we said before we split EVERYTHING down the middle 50/50 so in the event of moving out, we’d split the profits or items 50/50. For things like a TV which we can’t cut down the middle we’d do one of two things; (a) leave it in the house as a furnished item for future tenants to use. (b) work out the current value by comparing it to second hand sale prices, and from there we can buy each other out or sell the item and split the earnings.
Living in serenity
You won’t believe us if we told you, but we never argue…we’ve lived together through each lockdown, we work together every day from morning to night and to top it off we’ve even started our TikTok channel, Bricks and Disorder Link opens in a new window together! We’re friends and business partners.
For us knowing that we can communicate how we’re feeling in a space where our egos are off the table is very important. When we have disagreements, we work together to try and fix the situation rather than going against each other to win over the other person. We do have some house rules in place, like no shoes upstairs. We also have no locks on our bedroom doors, so we have a rule to not enter someone else's room without their permission. We also made a PowerPoint presentation of how we want the house to be run, but we’re not super strict with how we enforce it. It’s more like we’re aware of the space we live in and we try to make sure nobody feels hard done by in terms of how much they’re contributing to it.
Many people we know thought buying a house with a friend was risky business but for us it has been the complete opposite. In short, we think buying a house with a friend is a great idea, as long as they’re the right friend.
From the home screen to your first home – the Virgin Money Home Buying Coach app helps guide you through the journey of buying your first home.
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