The hidden cost of house buying - your relationship?

Article date: 7 September 2004

Everyone knows that first time buyers don’t have an easyride - but new research reveals getting on the property ladder canseriously damage your relationship as well as your wallet.

First time buyers aren’t accounting for all the financialand emotional costs of buying a property – leaving them outof pocket and unhappy in their new home, according to a study fromNorwich Union.

Norwich Union’s ‘Moving Apart’ study revealsthat almost 100,000 first time buyers have experienced relationshipproblems with their partner thanks to the emotional stress ofbuying a home.*

Those polled say lack of planning and money worries were arecipe for disharmony, with nine in 10 (88%) admitting theyunderestimated the cost of moving home and a quarter going overbudget, to the tune of £10,000 on average.

According to 70% of the nation’s estate agents – whowere also questioned as part of the ‘Moving Apart’study – first-time buyers often struggle to cope with thehuge emotional rollercoaster of moving home.

And seven in 10 (69%) say it doesn’t help that thesepeople are often confused or ill informed about what’sinvolved in the process.

The research from Norwich Union, which has devised a‘first home’ package, to make life easier for firsttime buyers, also reveals that lack of communication betweenpartners can create problems.

The research also revealed:

  • Almost half (47%) of all first-time buyers found getting onthe property ladder a bewildering and confusing experience
  • Over a third (34%) of estate agents think first-time buyersdon’t share the same ideas about what they’re lookingfor in a property
  • One in five (19%) homeowners admit they felt compromised ontheir choice of home because of their partner

According to relationship counsellor Denise Knowles from Relate,the UK’s largest relationship support organisation, theresearch highlights the need for open communication betweencouples.

"House buying is a stressful enough business at the best oftimes, but it can be even more so for those couples who are makingtheir first long-term financial and emotional commitment by gettinga property together.

"On top of having to come to terms with a new life ofcohabitation and what that entails, they’re also trying tomuddle through the complicated process of buying a home, and it canbe make or break for some couples."

She’s teamed up with Norwich Union to produce 10relationship-saving tips for people buying a home together,including the need for communication and compromise to avoidresentment and disagreements building up.

Adds Liz Kennett, spokesperson from Norwich Union: "We know thathouse-buying can be extra stressful for those embarking on theproperty ladder for the first time. That’s why we offer firsttime buyers a package combining home building and contentsinsurance, and a host of useful offers, discounts and services. Itaims to make life a little bit easier during the first months ofhome owning."

For more details on the first time buyers’ package –which includes ‘low start’ contents sum insured option,a fixed price for two years and a number of money-saving offersfrom leading home suppliers – customers should contactNorwich Union Direct on 0800 888 222


* The 2003 Survey of Mortgage Lenders states that there were348,000 first time buyers in 2003. Our research confirmed that 24%of first time buyers said that the emotional stress of buying ahome damaged their relationships. 24% of 348,000 = 83,520

Norwich Union commissioned Brand & Issues to conductresearch amongst 250 estate agents across the UK. The insurer alsocommissioned YouGov to research 884 adults who had bought theirfirst home in the past three years.

Media contact
Charlotte Speedy, Matt Buchanan orCharlotte Ruddlesdin at QBO Bell Pottinger on 020 7861 2424
Liz Kennett at Norwich Union on 01603 688 263 or 07801 901 666

Editor’s Notes

  • Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer with a market shareof around 14 per cent. With a focus on insurance for individualsand small businesses, Norwich Union insures:
    • one in five households
    • one in seven motor vehicles
    • more than 800,000 businesses
  • Norwich Union’s news releases and a selection of imagesare available on the Aviva internet press centre
  • An ISDN facility is available for studio quality broadcast -call the press office on 01603 683820


  • Relate’s Couples Workshop is for couples who are settingup home for the first time. It equips them with the relationshipskills they can use to cope with the stress and changes theyexperience. For more details couples should call 0800 093 5711 orvisit:

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