The media regularly features the plight of first-time buyers looking to get on the housing ladder, but it can be difficult for those already on it to move to the next rung, especially if they need a more expensive property, for example to have more space for children. Even downsizers can struggle to find a property which suits their needs and makes it worth the cost and upheaval of moving. If you’re already on the property ladder and considering a move, here are three points you might want to think about.
Assess your current property first
If you’re moving to get more space then take a look and see if you could make more effective use of the space you are already in. For example, if you’re in a one-bedroom flat and want to have children, then you could consider turning the living room into a bedroom at night for yourselves and using the bedroom for your children. Even if they are different genders, they can share while they are young. Then you could look again at your options for moving when one or both is at school age and your work options perhaps open up a bit more.
Similarly if you are moving to find a property which is more suitable for ageing occupants, have a look at your existing property and see if it could reasonably be adapted to suit your current and future mobility needs.
If you then decide that staying put really isn’t an option for you, then assess your property again, but this time from a buyer’s perspective (it may help to bring in a fresh pair of eyes here) and see if there’s anything you can inexpensively do to increase its attractiveness and therefore maximise its sales price. Now is unlikely to be the time to spend money on major renovations such as new kitchens and bathrooms, but some cosmetic upgrades could be a financially-astute option.
Consider the option of selling and renting
Families with children may prefer to own rather than buy due to the stability it can offer, however, it’s worth remembering that good landlords generally value good tenants and will want to keep them happy if they possibly can. One perceived drawback to renting is that landlords can raise rents after the initial contract is up. This is true, but unless you have a fixed-rate mortgage deal, lenders can also put up interest rates any time the Bank of England raises the base rate. In short, while renting may not be the ideal option for families, it is an option and could be worth considering. Older people looking to downsize might prefer renting as it means that maintenance becomes the landlord’s responsibility, or they may wish to use it as a way to try out new areas before committing to a purchase.
Reassess your expectations
Areas with popular schools and good transport links tend to carry a price premium over those which don’t. While it’s understandable that parents will want to get their children into schools with solid track records, it’s always worth taking some time to weigh up the relative advantages of paying this housing premium to get access to a state school with a good track record, versus moving somewhere more affordable and using some of the money you save to pay for private tutoring as, when and if your children need it. Similarly, it may also be worth sounding out your employer to see how open they are to flexible working, which could open up your housing options considerably. For example, you may not mind having a horrendous commute three days a week if you can work from home the other two.