Sunday 4 September 2022

Getting on the Property Ladder - What You Need to Know

Making that first step onto the property ladder is one of the hardest, even more so in our current financial climate. But for many (myself included) it is one we all want to make. The security of owning your own home and not throwing money away into rented property you will never end up owning are some of the biggest reasons many want to buy. There are of course lots of different reasons people want to get onto the ladder, and a range of ways this can happen too (there is help out there it's just finding it). As getting onto the buying our first home is something me and my husband are currently trying to do (and have therefore done lots of research) I thought I would share with you what I have found so far in case it might help others. 

Start saving for a deposit

One of the most important things to be doing as soon as you decide you may want to buy, is to start saving for a deposit. Most mortgages will require at least a 10% deposit (although there are schemes that will allow 5%, more about that below). If you have a lower income you will need an even higher deposit to offset the amount you can borrow so the earlier you start to save, the better chance you will have. 

If you are on a lower income the government have a "help to save" scheme which you can apply for which can help boost your savings by 50p for every £1 you save. This means that on savings of £2400 you could earn a bonus of £1200 over 4 years (with payments being made every 2 years). You can check your eligibility for the help to save scheme here

Research your mortgage options

Once you have some savings in place for a deposit the next step is looking at your actual mortgage options, how much you might potentially need to save, what you might potentially be able to borrow and whether there are any government schemes that might be able to help you. 

When you approach a mortgage advisor they will be looking at how much you earn, your lifestyle such as number or dependents, your age, job etc as well as any debts you might have and of course your credit score. All of these (and more) will have an effect on how much a lender can lend you with the majority offering between 4 and 5 times your salary (or combined salary if applying with a partner) minus and debts and outgoings you might have. Based on this many lenders can then offer you something called a "mortgage in principal" which will give you a rough idea of how much they could lend you. Whilst this isn't a guarantee as to what you can borrow, it gives you a good idea as to the sort of mortgage you could get and therefore the price range on which you can look for potential houses in. 

As mentioned above there are also government schemes that may be able to help you take that first step on the ladder, the most notable being the "help to buy" scheme which gives you the chance to buy with a 5% deposit. There is also the shared ownership scheme which essentially allows you to buy a home under "shared ownership" meaning you buy a percentage of the home (usually between 25% and 75%) with the remainder of the property you don't own yet usually being owned by a housing association that you then pay rent on. However you can then choose to buy back more percentage over time. 

Don't get caught out by hidden costs 

You've built up your savings and have a sizeable deposit, found a home within your mortgage limit and think everything will run smoothly, only to be hit by extra fee's you were expecting! It can feel awful and obviously any unexpected costs can delay or put a halt to your plans which is why it is so important to ensure you know exactly what costs you might encounter along the way. 

One cost to consider is stamp duty which is a tax you will pay when buying a home in England or Northern Ireland. Whilst currently if you are a first time buyer you won't pay stamp duty on anything under £300,000 but with house prices rising its something worth keeping in mind. 

There are also other fees to consider such as mortgage arrangement fees (£1000 upwards), solicitors fees (on average around £2000 but can be a lot more), surveys (often around £500 - £1500 depending on number of factors) or at a minimum a home buyers report, any costs for repairs once you do move and of course the moving costs (anywhere from £200 upwards) themselves. 

Once you start the purchase you may choose to you an online conveyancing solicitor to oversee the sale and ensure everything runs smoothly. It can be an extra cost but people often find they offer peace of mind as well as a quicker, smoother sale without to must stress to them. 

Be prepared for set backs and delays

Buying your first home is such an exciting time and people are often super excited to get into their new home as quickly as possible. As new buyers people often assume this will be a quick process as there is no "chain" but that isn't always true as the people you are buying from could have a chain their end which could cause delays and set backs even if you are ready and free to move yourself. This is worth considering if you rent somewhere, if you give your notice period, where will you stay if the move gets delayed? Have you factored in the extra costs a delay might incur? 

As frustrating as it can be at the time just remember that you will soon be in your new home, even if there is a slight delay. 

Getting your foot onto the property ladder for the first time can sometimes feel impossible, especially given the current climate and rising home costs. But it is important to remember that buying a home is a big goal and will take time, don't get to down hearted if it takes a little longer than expected. Keep saving, research all your options when it comes to what help you can get and don't be afraid to get advice from different lenders and mortgage advisors. There are even advisors out there who specifically help those less likely to be able to get onto the property ladder so don't give up hope! 

Are you currently trying to buy your first home or do you have any tips for those who are? Let me know in the comments below. 



  1. It is a very long time since I first go on the property ladder, saving as much for the deposit as you can and legal fees are very important. Research the area as well making sure you move to somewhere that works well for you

  2. There are so many costs when it comes to moving it's always a good idea to have some extra money on hand for those things you may not have considered. But some great tips x