First-Time Buyers: Tips for Getting on the Property Ladder

Getting onto the property ladder can seem intimidating for many first-time buyers, especially with UK house prices currently the highest they’ve ever been. However, just because buying your first home is more difficult today than it has been in the past, doesn’t mean it’s impossible and there are several steps you can take to make the process more achievable. In this article, we’ll share our tips for first-time buyers to help you get one foot on the property ladder.

Start Saving (Now!)

One of the biggest things you can do to make your dreams of owning a home a reality is to start saving right now. Take a close look at your personal finances to see if there are areas where you can cut out unnecessary expenses. You can then put this money aside for your deposit instead. Set yourself a monthly savings goal and put these savings into cash ISA.

Improve Your Credit Score 

Before you apply for a mortgage you should check your credit score. This is what lenders will look at when deciding whether or not to approve you for a mortgage and how much they’re prepared to let you borrow.

There are some simple things you can do to boost your score, such as closing down old credit accounts and ensuring that you’re on the electoral roll. If you have significant debts, it may be better to pay these off or reduce them before you start saving for a deposit.

Speak to a Mortgage Advisor 

A mortgage adviser can help you work out your potential budget for a home. Online mortgage calculators can also give you a rough idea. The sooner you find out how much you could borrow to buy a house the better, as this will give you a clearer idea of how much you’ll need to save and what kinds of properties you can consider.

Have a Secure Job 

Mortgage lenders will want to know that your income is as secure as possible. They will consider your employment and how long you’ve been in your current position, with most lenders looking for a minimum of six months.

It isn’t impossible to get a mortgage if you’re self-employed, on a temporary contract or have recently switched jobs but it’s more difficult and will involve needing to prove your income and provide evidence that it’s unlikely to reduce in the near future.

Research Your Location 

Location is key for most buyers but some areas are so popular that homes sell for above their asking price as soon as they go on the market. Knowing how much you can borrow to buy a home will help you when it comes to searching for properties.

Research locations thoroughly and prioritise what’s important to you – do you need to be close to work or family? Do you have – or are you planning to have – kids, and want a choice of good schools, parks and play areas? Do you need good public transport links? Figuring out your must-haves is a great way to narrow your search.

Consider Government Schemes 

The UK government offers several affordable home ownership schemes designed to help first-time buyers get onto the property ladder such as Help to Buy, which reduces your deposit requirement to 5% of the asking price. There’s also Shared Ownership, which enables you to buy a portion of a new-build house (for example, 50%) and pay rent on the remaining share. For people living in council properties, the Right to Buy scheme means that if you’ve been renting your council home for over 3 years, you might be entitled to buy it for a discounted price.

Be Realistic and Patient

Buying your first house is an exciting time but it’s also a time-consuming process. It can take months – or years – to save a deposit and secure a mortgage and several more months to find and buy a property.

Buying a home is also probably the biggest financial commitment you’ll make in your life, so you need to go into the process clear-headed. Be realistic about what you can afford and budget for things to go wrong. You should always get a homebuyer’s survey done before buying a property to save any unpleasant surprises further down the line and don’t let your heart rule your head!

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