erstwhile first-time buyer

gockab

Senior Member
Polish
Hi everybody,

"But doing some legwork recently with an erstwhile first-time buyer, I learned the deeper nuances."


Does it mean that he was helping a person who at that time was buying a house for the first time? In this particular fragment there is nothing about buying a house but the whole text is about houses and I wonder whether I can add in my translation that he was buying a house? Maybe it doesn't necessarily mean it.

I tried to be as clear as possible but I know that there may be some problems with understanding my intentions so don't hesitate to ask :)
 
  • wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    'First-time buyer' is a well-established phrase: it means someone making their first step on to the property ladder, by buying their first house. That is financially a different proposition from moving to a larger house at a later stage, when you already own property.
    'Erstwhile' means 'former'. In other words, this person had recently bought his or her first house.
     

    Szkot

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I am puzzled by the use of erstwhile here. It suggests that the buyer had been a first-time buyer before the occasion mentioned in the text (when the legwork took place), and was therefore not a first-time buyer any more. It is an odd way of saying it, if that is what is really meant.
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    I think wandle has a pretty good handle on it in post 2, although it doesn't have to be a "recent" buyer. It obviously means a "former first-time buyer" -- someone who is apparently sharing his or her experience in buying a home for the first time with the person doing the legwork in this exercise.
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    I am puzzled by the use of erstwhile here. It suggests that the buyer had been a first-time buyer before the occasion mentioned in the text (when the legwork took place), and was therefore not a first-time buyer any more. It is an odd way of saying it, if that is what is really meant.
    You're right to be puzzled - it's an abuse of English. The proof: you were puzzled. :)
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    it doesn't have to be a "recent" buyer
    'Erstwhile' does not mean 'recent', but the situation implies it.
    Why seek guidance on the changing house-buying market from someone whose experience is not recent?

    'Erstwhile' is not illogical here. It means 'former'. If we replace 'erstwhile' with 'former' or even 'recent', the sense is clear.
    'Erstwhile' only seems odd because it is a little old-fashioned for the context. It is used presumably by a journalist for the4 sake of variety or to appear stylish.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm puzzled at the general puzzlement. Most people know that buying a house for the first time can seem quite a complicated business. What could be more obviously sensible that asking the advice of someone who has been through the experience already, an erstwhile first-time buyer? Of course anyone who has bought a house, or a house or two, is an estwhile first-time buyer, but I think this writer is particularly interested in stressing the person's experience of first-time buying because it may be easy to forget how puzzling the process can be, and it is important for house buyers to know what to look at and into.
     

    gockab

    Senior Member
    Polish
    You don't know the context so you may feel puzzled. The thing is that the narrator didn't want some erstwhile first-time buyer to help him but the narrator himself was the one that helped.

    Chronologically it looked like that:
    1. The narrator is a first-time buyer and is looking for a house.
    2. The narrator finds a house.
    3. The narrator who has already gained some experience meets PERSON A who hasn't.
    4. PERSON A finds a house with a help of the narrator. - they are doing some legwork together.

    Now PERSON 3 has some experience, but in no. 3, he/she hadn't so at that time was a first-time buyer (erstwhile).

    That makes sense to me.

    I hope you don't mind if we close this thread as there is nothing to add, I guess.
     
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