As a couple, you may have been able to afford your dream home, or at least one bigger than you could have bought as a single person, so you may be looking for a smaller, cheaper home.
As a result, you may need to adjust your requirements and expectations, although you may be happy with a smaller property that’s easier to manage, and is more affordable.
Yet it’s vital to find the right home for you. So, while searching to buy can be a tiring process, try to avoid buying a property because you’re exhausted or desperate to settle, which may particularly be the case if you’ve gone through a gruelling divorce.
Write a list of your property priorities, for example, do you want a bit of outside space, or to be in a particular location? You should also make a note of the things you might be prepared to compromise on, such as traffic noise or forgoing a garden if it gets you more internal space.
If you can’t find a home you want to buy, it’s wise to take a break, or even rent for a bit until your divorce is finalised, say, and you’re really ready to focus on the next stage. There will always be new properties coming onto the market, and buying is a long term commitment that you want to get right.
Check out our article on 11 Common Mistakes Homebuyers Make (and how to avoid them) for some tips.
Here are some considerations:
Location: Staying in the area you know can be comforting, particularly if you have friends and family around, or you may find you want to move away for a new start. But before doing so, consider whether it’s important to be close to schools, shops, and transport, and avoid making hasty decisions. If you buy in a new area, you might want to think about renting first to make sure you like it.
Size: Whether you buy a house or flat will depend on whether you have children with you, and the amount of maintenance you are prepared to undertake. If you don’t have children living with you, for example, you may be happy with a flat, but read the maintenance agreement carefully and check for restrictions on pets if you have any. Another option is an apartment in a big converted house, which may have shared communal areas and facilities to make meeting other friends and neighbours easier after a break up.
Leasehold or freehold: If you’re moving from a family home, you may have been used to living in a freehold property, so you essentially own the property and the land it’s built on until you come to sell. However, if you’re buying a leasehold property (and many flats are leasehold) you own it for a particular period of time, which is the length of the lease.
Do your homework before buying a leasehold property, as it’s vital to check the charges you face, such as ground rent, service charges and admin fees. These can rack up over the years, and prove a nasty shock if you’re not used to paying them.
Learn more about the potential pitfalls of buying a leasehold property in our article Buying leasehold property: How to avoid the pitfalls.
Saleability: Don’t rush into a decision because you need to move. Buying a property should be a carefully thought out process, and one which includes thinking into the future – for when you might want to sell it. You want a property that will appeal to buyers, rather than a home that may be a struggle to sell, for whatever reason. So, think about noise, neighbours, parking options, and how long the property has been on the market.