Many of our unoccupied property insurance clients are eager to sell but are finding it difficult in a market with a shortage of first time buyers. The days of 95% mortgages are long gone and most first timers now have to save £20,000 or even more as the deposit on quite a modest home.

Suppose a group of friends want to pool their resources and buy a house jointly? At the moment it is difficult to find lenders willing to go along with the idea but housing minister Grant Shapps is hoping to encourage more banks and building societies to offer “mates mortgages”. He thinks it could prove to be a very useful way of helping younger people take their first step on the housing ladder.

Sharing a home is difficult at the best of times but what happens if the mates fall out over things like maintenance and repairs? People thinking about going in for this type of arrangement will have to chose their mates very carefully and take good advice.