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7 tips for stepping onto the property ladder

Mar 27, 2018
7 tips for stepping onto the property ladder

If you’re thinking about buying a house for the first time, it’s worth getting as much advice as possible before taking the plunge and stepping onto the property ladder.

To save you the legwork, we’ve put together our top tips to get you started.
a couple with a keyring on the keys to their first home

1. Come up with a savings plan

The first rule of buying a house for the first time is quite simply ‘save, save, save’. Tighten the bootstraps, make a budget and plan to save as big a deposit you can. It’s not always the case but it’s likely that the bigger the deposit you have, the better your mortgage rate will be. If you’re not sure how much you need to save, you should look at online mortgage calculators. Money Saving Expert has eight calculators which will give you a feel for how big a deposit you actually need.

2. Explore your mortgage options

There are countless different mortgages available for first time buyers, so make sure you explore your options fully before taking the plunge. A New Homes Mortgage Adviser (NHMA) will be able to assist if you are buying a new build but, whether you’re self-employed, opting for a parent-assisted mortgage or buying with your partner, make sure you do your research to find the best rate for you. Getting a ‘mortgage in principle’ before you make an offer on a property confirms that a lender has agreed to lend you a certain amount. To do this, a lender will run a credit check and take some basic information from you, before giving you confirmation in the form of a certificate or statement.

3. Find a good cash ISA

Saving for a deposit is difficult at the best of times, so it’s well worth finding a cash ISA that will help you along with good interest rates. First time buyers can also opt for the Help to Buy ISA, which allows you to get a bonus of up to £3000 from the government, depending on how much you manage to save.

4. Factor in all costs

As a first time buyer, you may not be aware off all the costs involved with buying a house. From removal costs to solicitor fees, it’s well worth drawing up a detailed budget so you don’t end up overspending, and crippling your finances in the process.

5. Avoid stamp duty

The first time buyers are exempt from paying Stamp Duty on homes up to the value of £300,000. This is a great step for people looking to get onto the property ladder, so make sure you take advantage by looking for homes beneath the threshold.

6. Clean up your credit score

Banks and mortgage lenders take lots of different aspects into account before offering you a mortgage, including your credit rating. If you have a particularly poor score, there may be some ‘easy wins’ to boost your rating - such as getting onto the electoral roll or addressing incorrect defaults - so get familiar with your own credit rating and take action to improve it. You can check your credit rating for free with one of the three major credit agencies: EquifaxExperian and Callcredit. The score they provide is based on the information kept about you which is built up over time.

7. Get practical advice from people who’ve been there before

From your parents to your closest friends, make sure you get all the practical advice you can get from people you trust. And, if anyone offers to help you out with moving, packing or redecorating, be sure to take them up on it!