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We bought a house together as friends to get on the property ladder

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Cullen Farleigh and Olamide Soyemi bought a house together in East London (Image: Supplied)

Just before the pandemic, 29-year-old Cullen Farleigh and Olamide Soyemi were faced with a choice.

They could either continue to rent in London and pay a premium for doing so, or they could pool their money together to get on the property ladder.

They took a risk and went with the latter. After doing the calculations, they realised that their joint income and savings were enough to buy them a house – and they ended up with a three-bedroom property in East London sooner than they expected.

‘We didn’t really have any other option. We were interested in property, but we never really took it seriously because we knew how ridiculous the house prices were,’ Cullen tells Metro.co.uk, adding that they managed to buy a property very quickly which wasn’t ‘super planned,’ but was a ‘surprise.’

Cullen and Olamide had to do a lot of DIY on their property (Image: Supplied)

The pair had met and subsequently lived together at university in 2015, so they knew that it was likely to be a housemate match.

‘We couldn’t afford a house individually,’ Ola says. ‘We could trust each other as friends, and we knew that would be a good investment to make long-term.’

‘The classic things that people thought of why you shouldn’t buy with a friend didn’t really make a lot of sense to us, like you could fall out, but if you’re in a friendship where you can actually trust the person then who better to have as an investment with?’

Their Victorian property has two bathrooms, three bedrooms (one of which they use as an office), a kitchen and another smaller bathroom.

Originally on the market for £450,000, they put down £45,000 plus fees as a deposit and rinsed all of their savings, so much so that they didn’t have much left over to renovate it.

‘When we first bought it, it was hard to love anything about it because we paid more than we wanted to for it and then we realised it was kind of falling apart, so we spent a very long time ripping it apart and fixing crumbling walls. Doing all this DIY stuff that we didn’t anticipate and didn’t have the money for,’ Cullen adds.

In fact, they didn’t have a living room until they designed one last year, which they documented on their property TikTok, @bricks.and.disorder, which now has 26.4 million likes and 1 million followers.

Having to solve all the issues they had was a ‘make or break’ moment, but it undoubtedly brought them closer together.

‘Our whole page is about inspiring people to get into property and get into DIY and show that we went into it with no knowledge, and it’s become everything we do. We definitely encourage other people to do that if they have the right friendships,’ Cullen shares.

It’s little surprise that friends are now teaming up to buy together. Between 2013 and 2021, home ownership amongst young people had risen from 8% in 2013 to just over 12% in 2021 – but young people in 2021 were still half as likely to own their own home than young people had been 30 years earlier.

Likewise, one survey by insurance agency JW Surety Bonds found that 13% of 1,004 respondents said they have purchased a home with a non-romantic partner, whilst a further 48% would consider it.

And according to data from Share To Buy, 76% of people feel that buying as a single person is unattainable on the market in 2024, whilst 45% of people have less than £10,000 saved towards a deposit.

As such, Cullen and Olamide aren’t the only friends that have joined the property ladder together.

Steph and Kristina bought a house together in 2020 (Image: Supplied)

Steph Douglass and Kristina Modares decided to buy a house in Austin, Texas after they realised it wasn’t possible for them to buy alone. If they waited to buy individually, it would have taken them much longer, so in 2020, they decided to realise their dream.

With a lake view and plenty of outdoor and indoor space for hosting, they did a complete renovation, even installing a pool. All in all, the home cost $475,000.

Inspired by their experience and motivated to spread the word, Steph and Kristina set up Open House Austin to teach others how to buy through co-partnering – whether with a friend, family member or colleague. Their company offers lots of free resources, as well as a mini course.

‘We decided to buy together as friends because it wasn’t possible to buy on our own and we saw it as an incredible opportunity to improve our lifestyles as well as make a great investment,’ the pair, 35 and 34 respectively, tell Metro.co.uk.

‘We are also business partners, so this provided and great opportunity to use the property across all areas of our lives.

The pair also set up a business, Open House Austin (Image: Supplied)

‘We also knew that the area was growing and we loved the proximity to the city. While we couldn’t have done it on our own, we pool our resources, our buying power, our time and our talent/experience to make it an exceptional investment financially and lifestyle-wise.’

In fact, like Cullen and Olamide, buying together has brought them closer as friends, allowing them to strengthen their ‘communication, compromise and compassion.’

‘We are absolutely better people for having worked together on this project,’ they share.

‘Our friendship and our business relationship are stronger, and we have a great house to share with family and friends.’

It’s not just friends who are breaking convention and buying together, but siblings, too.

Rob Burley, 46, felt priced out of the housing market as a single person, and so decided to buy with his sister in Sheffield.

Rob and his sister feel lucky to have each other (Image: Supplied)

‘I never imagined I’d be buying with my sister, but the housing crisis left me with no other real option as a single buyer,’ Rob tells Metro.co.uk.

Rob and his sister have always been close, so the more and more they thought about buying together, the more sense it made.

‘We realised we could pool our savings for a down payment on a small place. Did we have reservations? Of course! I value my space, and she can be a neat freak. But we sat down and had some open conversations about expectations,’ Rob adds.

‘Now, we split everything 50/50 from the mortgage to the groceries. And tackling fix-it projects together has honestly been fun.

‘I realise co-buying isn’t for everyone, but during these wild times, it was our ticket to achieving a shared dream. We don’t plan on living together forever, but for now, we feel lucky to have each other.’

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