The prosecution: Isobel
I want a garden. Leo says we’d get more for our money without one, and in a cheaper area
My older brother, Leo, and I are buying a house together, but it’s starting to get complicated.
Initially we thought it was a great idea; we’d inherited some money from our grandparents and wanted to invest in something long-term. We both live in London and neither of us can afford to buy alone .
I’m a teacher and Leo is a plumber. With him being self-employed it was a bit harder to find a mortgage, but we managed it. We started looking at two-bedroom properties four months ago, and agreed on an area that would work for us both. But then Leo got it into his head that he wanted to buy somewhere else, where the properties are cheaper.
I wanted a garden, but Leo said we’d get more for our money if we didn’t have one, especially in a cheaper area. I really hate the place he is suggesting, but he won’t listen. He started saying we were “buying above our means”. He’s five years older and can be quite domineering, but this house-buying plan was my idea. I was the one who contacted mortgage brokers and got all the papers ready.
The initial plan was for me to share the property with a flatmate or friend (and for Leo to live elsewhere, but be paid rent to help cover his portion of the mortgage). But Leo now has a girlfriend and is talking about living in the property one day. We’ve agreed to discuss it in five years, but who knows where we’ll be then?
He’s now talking about the “options” we have and says it’s possible that one day he might buy me out. I know Leo wouldn’t let me make any terrible financial decisions, but I don’t want to be bulldozed.
Leo is putting in more of the deposit; I think that’s why he sees himself as the main decision-maker, but that’s not really fair. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all the decisions and wonder if it’s worth it. Especially as things are getting so crazy with the UK mortgage market. Leo needs to let me have more of a say, as I’m the one who will be living in it, and this is one of the biggest decisions of our lives.
The defence: Leo
Mortgage rates are rising so sharply that I reckon it’s smart to go as cheap as possible
Isobel and I want to get serious about our finances, so we thought it would be a good idea to go halves on a property. I still think it’s a good idea; we just seem to have different ideas about what to do.
As I don’t plan to live there, the house is more of an investment opportunity for me at the moment. Isobel thinks that means I shouldn’t have as much of a say as her, but I disagree. I’m five years older and a bit more cautious when it comes to investing, but I’m also putting in £10,000 more of the deposit than her. Technically, that means I should have a larger stake in the property, but I’m fine with just splitting everything down the middle with ownership.
I started out by thinking somewhere bigger with a garden was a good idea, but after looking at the market, I reckon it’s smart to go as cheap as possible. Isobel doesn’t agree because she loves having a garden, but we have to be realistic. Mortgage rates are rising rapidly and we need to make savings wherever possible. Forgoing a garden means we can buy a cheaper property. I appreciate Isobel doing the research in terms of finding a mortgage broker, but I do my bit too. I’m self-employed, which means I’m more flexible with viewings, so I take the reins there. I don’t think I’m too overbearing though.
I have a girlfriend now and Isobel thinks the reason I’m changing my mind is because I want to move into the property with her in the future, but that’s not true. We’re not really there yet. This flat with Isobel is an investment; I’m just cautious about making the wrong decision.
The government has royally screwed over our generation in terms of house ownership. Buying with my sister isn’t ideal, and there might be some problems in the future if one of us wants to sell before the other, but we’ve agreed to review this in five years and see where we are then.
Isobel just needs to listen to my advice and realise that I’m trying to help us both do something that will benefit us in the long run.
The jury of Guardian readers
Should Isobel let her brother decide where they buy?
They both seem unable to communicate effectively, which does not bode well for their ability to manage the basic functions of home ownership. Get on the same page and agree on what you both want out of this before proceeding.Michael, 35
Finding a good deal is important, but so is being happy with your purchase. If Leo was moving in, I suspect he might feel differently. He sees the house as an investment, not Isobel’s home. An agreeable location and a garden may even boost the price.Tanzi, 27
I support Isobel because she will be the one living in the house, so her comfort is more important than his investment. She deserves to live in an area she enjoys, not one that will make her unhappy.Amy, 46
Leo’s approach is reasoned and rational. He is looking at this as investment and making decisions with his head. Isobel begins by saying it started as an investment, but now she’s letting her heart rule her head.Shahed, 41
Isobel is the one who will actually be living in the property, so she has to be happy with it. I also dislike the fact that they had agreed on a certain area and now Leo has moved the goalposts. With London prices, a 10k difference in deposit is so negligible as to be irrelevant.Hannah, 45
Now you can be the judge
In our online poll below, tell us: should Leo decide where they should buy their house?
The poll will close on Thursday 10 November at 10am GMT
Last week’s result
We asked whether Cindy should get rid of her lockdown wormery, as it annoys her partner, Leandra.
62% of you said yes – Cindy is guilty
38% of you said no – Cindy is not guilty
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