It’s hard to tell when the idea of the property ladder that homeowners have the climb as a proof of their worthiness comes from. It has become one of those things that have always existed. For many first-time buyers, the property ladder is a myth they hope to discover one day in the distant future. Economically speaking the concept that homeowners have to constantly move to the next level to remain relevant is a direct derivative of our society of consumption. If you don’t buy, you stop existing in a capitalist state. As such, homeowners who don’t plan to step further up on the imaginary ladder might also lose the social approval they’ve gained through the purchase of the property. However, from a practical perspective, it is difficult to predict where the property ladder stops. Does a home buyer have to always buy the next best house at the risk of never settling down just in an effort to remain economically and socially relevant? The mind rebels against the very idea of a never-ending ladder.
But, more importantly, it’s becoming essential to reconsider our definition of the property ladder. As we perceive it, the real estate business should be, in many ways, similar to your favourite simulation games. The more you play, the more skills you accumulate, and the stronger your character becomes. As such, the sooner you join the property ladder and climb it, the more wealth you can accumulate, and the more relevant you become socially and financially. Except that in the real world, the largest properties are not always the wealthiest. We’ve all heard about supersized manor houses that are derelict, for instance. This would imply that the property ladder doesn’t continue forever. In reality, the question you want to ask yourself when it comes to real estate is whether climbing the metaphorical ladder is still the main priority in 2019.
What’s the point of upsizing?
Is bigger always synonymous with better? More often than not, homeowners don’t pause to wonder about their real needs. Buying a bigger home has become an implicit social expectation that every homeowner gets to feel. Achieving debt freedom by paying off your mortgage is the top financial priority of most home buyers. However, it doesn’t stop them from debating whether they should upsize. Unfortunately, it can be tricky to take a step back and consider the temptation of buying bigger objectively. Indeed, the expected life improvement of a new property could well end up in a financial disaster. Bigger means more expensive, in terms of tax, maintenance, energy and utility costs, and overall stress. When there is no need for more space, the question is, ultimately, why should you impose a financial burden on your household instead of remaining in your current home?
You just need to find the right property once
While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with realising that the first home you bought may not be suitable anymore for your family or that the cost of repair and renovation works significantly exceed the actual value of the property, it is in the interest of homeowners to get things right from the start. Indeed, you don’t want to be looking for homes for sale every few years when you can invest your time and money into creating the home of your dreams with your current property. Unfortunately, the property ladder principle implies that, as a house buyer, you never get the chance to turn a house into a home sweet home. Each property becomes only a stepping stone to the next one. Aside from the lack of financial stability, there’s a significant emotional burden to consider as you become someone who’s never able to settle down.
Your choice of location is a semi-life commitment
As an active real estate connoisseur – which is indubitably a level of knowledge and expertise you’re going to achieve if you’re in the process of researching the market to purchase – you understand that many factors come into account to define the ideal property. The features of the house play a significant role in the decision-making process. However, homebuyers should be prepared to accept that each property requires a commitment to its location. Indeed, the area affects not only the value of your home but also your day-to-day life. Indeed, the network of cities and facilities available can influence your career progression, your health, and your overall social integration. As a prospective buyer, the question you should ask yourself is not only whether you can afford the property, but also whether you want to live here. Once you’ve found a spot of the world that supports your personal development, why should you move for the sake of buying bigger?
You don’t want bigger; you want greener
Bigger is ultimately not the priority anymore. Greener, however, as activists such as Greta Thunberg are reminding us, should be your goal. If you are considering changing homes, environmentally friendly properties need to be your first and only option. Indeed, we’ve reached a point of no return for climate change. Reducing your carbon footprint begins at home, and therefore, the choice of an eco-home is a no-brainer. Sustainable properties combine natural materials, efficient source of heating and insulation solutions, and renewable energy. In terms of investments, green homes require carefully selected materials and technologies, which makes them in comparison more expensive than other houses. However, it’s an investment in the future of the planet. How much do you value life?
But your home is only the beginning of the green journey
Admittedly, green living encompasses a lot more than choosing a home that reduces your carbon emissions. You also need, as a homeowner, to be ready to embrace an eco-friendly lifestyle that creates significant improvements. There is no point in buying green properties when you are not willing to put the work into making the most of their sustainable features. Simple choices such as opting for eco-friendly technology rather than more affordable gadgets with higher energy-efficiency ratings can already make a noticeable difference. Additionally, recent reports have demonstrated that a plant-based diet could save up to 8 million lives by 2050 and reduce carbon footprint by two-thirds. Now, the question is whether you’re ready to jump on the green wagon rather than climbing the property ladder.
Ultimately, you won’t be able to afford climbing the property ladder
We are counting weeks before Brexit. Unless the Parliament has a say, it seems that the Uk is heading towards a no-deal Brexit that is guaranteed to make Britain poorer over several years. Indeed, as the future relationship with the Eu is going to be affected – as far as we can tell –, even in the best-case scenario, the GDP would decline by over 1.5%. For future home buyers, the consequences on real estate investors are going to be dramatic. The property ladder is soon going to become an impossible dream to achieve.
The property ladder effect is killing communities
In a typical property ladder scenario, homeowners move in and focus their attention on home improvement projects. Skip forward a few years, and they are ready to sell and move out to buy another property. In a capitalist vision of real estates, there is no room for local communities to grow and bloom. Neighbours don’t get to know each other. More importantly, households are not interested in meeting each other or supporting their local businesses and activities. In the long term, it’s easy to see how the risk of loneliness and depression in small communities is increasing. The property ladder mindset enforces social isolation.
In conclusion, it’s time to move away from the outdated property ladder investment strategy to introduce meaningful and socially empowering real estate policies. Buying green, living green, and building togetherness are the new strategies to inject financial stability and sustainability to our cities.