Business

Property Diaries: How I Bought My First Home

Is it harder to buy your first home as a single woman? 80% of women from our recent survey would argue yes. The Stack takes a closer look in the third installment of our property column

By HannahRoseConnolly

19 July 2021
W

hen it comes to buying your first home, the process can easily become overwhelming. Women often feel they face mountains between them and the much anticipated handing over of the key moment. Yet, whilst the climb may be a steep one, most would testify there is one hell of a view when you reach the top.

The difficulties of this process are further perpetuated by a sense of preferential bias shown towards married, hetrosexual couples, despite female singletons emerging as the leading power in the first time market. Over 60% of single mortgage owners - taken from our pool of Stack members - shared with us that their experiences of the buying process were negative and 80% felt that being single had disadvantaged them.

“As recently as the 1970s, most unmarried women were required by banks to provide male guarantors to see mortgages approved or even considered.”

It is worth considering how historical obstacles have stood in the way of women, setting the foundations of the restrictive internal structuring at banks that still impede prospective buyers today. It was in the 1880s that women were legally allowed to inherit property in their own right.

It would then be a further 20 years before female family members could protect themselves and their homes from passing on to male heirs and it wouldn’t be until the next century that women could borrow money in order to purchase property. Even as recently as the 1970s, most unmarried women were required by banks to provide male guarantors to see mortgages approved or even considered.

Though progress has been made, the ramifications of these biased foundations of the home owning process towards women continues to this day, establishing a rhetoric of a system that actively shows historic and contemporary preference towards men.

“Last week, at our IRL Power and Networks all-day event, members of our Stack community discussed their experiences of being excluded from property discussions”

It is worth noting, married women also feel the effects as well as singletons. Antiquated formalities and policies see many default communications only addressing the ‘Mr’ of the partnership within correspondence. Last week, at our IRL Power and Networks all-day event, members of our Stack community discussed their experiences of being excluded from property discussions - stating how they were frozen out of communications altogether despite taking the primary role in proceedings.

“Don't be afraid to negotiate harder on the things that need attention and money spending on them”

The Advice Seeker

Age when bought first home: 29

Industry: Theatre

Annual Salary: £28k

House Price: £185k

Deposit provided by: Self

Post Code: EN4, Barnet

Solo mortgage?: Yes

Bank that approved the mortgage: Santander

Having saved up for her own deposit over a span of seven years, The Advice Seeker has an income of £28,000 and paid £185,000 for her first maisonette home in Barnet, London. Though she did feel there was a negative bias shown towards singletons looking to get a footing on the property ladder, her support network helped her navigate the system: “I had a trustworthy team around me, and support from my family when going through the process” she said. The Advice Seeker was granted a mortgage from Santander with a term of 25 years.

Though, she did share some words of advice when it comes to buying, “negotiate harder on the things that need attention and money spending on them” - noting this can be all important when it comes to smoothing out the process.

“A lot of people act like it is impossible"

The Smart Saver

Age when bought first home: 26

Industry: Film Industry

Annual Salary: £90,000

House Price: £480,000

Post Code: 90047, LA

Solo mortgage?: Yes

Bank that approved the mortgage: Boston Private

It was US-based bank Boston Private that provided The Smart Saver with her solo mortgage on a salary of £90,000 per year whilst working in the film industry in the States. To save towards her deposit The Smart Saver lived with her parents for two years to raise the necessary funds for her first home in LA which cost £480,000.

In terms of the process she described it as “mostly confusing” and that “a lot of people act like it is impossible and the way they make you jump through hoops it actually is.” But after achieving the ‘impossible’, The Smart Saver “loves it,” and feels she has made her first real steps towards having actual assets and wealth.

“By the time I bought my flat, which cost £245,000, I had basically no criteria left, I just wanted somewhere with four walls”

The Lesson Learner

Age when bought first home: 26

Industry: Nonprofit & IT

Annual Salary: £50,000

House Price: £245,000

Post Code: E15, Stratford.

Solo mortgage?: Yes

Bank that approved the mortgage: Barclays

It took The Lesson Learner five years to save up for her first home working for nonprofits and IT sectors with an annual salary of £50,000 at age 26. She has finally found some stability after experiencing the difficulties of house hunting in one of east London’s busiest locations, Stratford.

“By the time I bought my flat, which cost £245,000, I had basically no criteria left, I just wanted somewhere with four walls”, The Lesson Learner has some words of advice for any first time buyers out there, “buy sooner and with a shorter wish list,”.

She found that too many specific criterias could hinder searches and success when it comes to seeking property in desirable locations. She also wishes she had “fixed her credit score more aggressively”. Her mortgage provider was Barclays, borrowing a total of £225,00 with mortgage terms of 25 years.

"I really wanted to own a property and this is the reason why I left London so I could afford it”

The City Swapper

Age when bought first home: 25

Industry: Marketing

Annual Salary: £25,000

House Price: £95,000

Post Code: G31 3DB, Glasgow.

Solo mortgage?: Yes

Bank that approved the mortgage: Natwest

When The City Swapper started looking to buy her first property she took the decision to move out of the capital in exchange for Glasgow. With London homes being worth around 129% more than the average home in some parts of the UK, it is a popular decision amongst some first time buyers like The City Swapper.

Working in the marketing industry with an annual income of £25,000, her mortgage was approved by Natwest. The mortgage lender agreed to a 4x multiple of her salary and her first property was an apartment that cost £95,000. In settling into her new home The City Swapper feels “secure. I really wanted to own a property and this is the reason why I left London so I could afford it”.

Become a member to support our journalism and get more from The Stack World.

The Short Stack

Buying a property can be daunting, but as solo women buyers the rewards often outweigh the negatives.

By HannahRoseConnolly

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