As you know, next year is going to be a busy year for us. We had considered moving house, but instead, we’re hoping to take money out of our existing mortgage in order to pay for an extension instead. Which has led to a lot of excitement (and slight dread) in this house.
But getting on the property ladder – it’s a bit like getting on a ladder with missing steps, with sides that have been greased so you can’t quite hold on properly.
It’s not so much proving that you can afford it, so much as coughing up the pennies to put down that all-important deposit.
I was very lucky that my family helped me to get on the property ladder, but I know too well how saving can help you get to that goal much quicker. Here are my tips for saving, and for buying.
Accept support – If your parents are wonderful enough to let you lodge while you save, be proud and grateful of that! So what if you live with your parents, you’re saving up for your new home!
Money Saving Expert is your friend – This site is a gold-mine. My colleague Jez actually introduced me to the budget planner, which is a huge way to be honest with yourself when it comes to what you have coming in and out.
Plan your grocery shops – I do my grocery shopping online now, for several reasons. 1) Because it’s far less stressful and I can do it in my pyjamas. 2) I can update it throughout the week (mine always comes on a Friday or Saturday, and I do it earlier on in the week) and I can keep tabs on what we do or don’t need. 3) It stops impulse purchases and helps me do my meal plans better. 4) Delivery is cheaper than petrol when I pay £6 per month for as many deliveries as I like.
Change energy providers – I know it’s a faff, I hate ringing up too, but if you think you’re being ripped off on your electricity or gas, do something about it! I’m with First Utility, which was rated the cheapest earlier this year. I’m so pleased that I am!
Don’t be lazy – Do you and your partner have multiple accounts of things? Mark and I both had Netflix and Spotify and now we’re looking at getting a Spotify Family Account because it just makes sense. There are lots of ways to cut back on things. And we realised very quickly how much money we were wasting on duplicate or wasted accounts.
What about travel? – Mark and I work in the same place, so we get the train most of the time as it’s quicker. But my goodness it’s more expensive. Even though it takes longer in the car, sometimes he drives in and we find the cheapest car park and walk in. Yes, it’s not as convenient, but it saves us pennies, and I secretly love our morning drive listening to Joe Rogan.
Actually start saving – I know this may sound obvious, but we humans are quick to adapt to our income, so if we don’t make the move to save, we never will. If you have a lot of spare cash for treats – start to save some. It will soon start to tot up, whether it’s a little or a lot.
Buying A House
Work out what you can afford – Mortgage calculators, like this one from TSB, are a God-send as they help you to realise what is realistic and what may be a pipe-dream.
What’s your target? – Once you have a target in mind for your deposit, stick to it. Don’t use that savings account (there are some great ones with interest out there by the way) to dip into when you fancy a treat. You need to be transparent with your other half too. This is your little nest egg!
What do you need – As much as a conservatory or a swanky bathroom may sound amazing, do you need them? Make a list of what you need and these extras can be bonuses along the way. It’s hard to find the house that matches your exact requirements.
Consider area too – Weigh up the size of the house and the area. I could afford a much bigger house elsewhere, but I love the area. I grew up where I live now, and the schools are great and I can see our family growing here. That’s worth more to me than some extra square metres.
Pick a project if you can – As much as a new-build is a breeze to walk into, they come at a cost. My current and past home have both been ‘projects’ and I was able to buy a much bigger house for my money, each time. In fact, the house next door to me is up for sale and it’s expected to go for much higher than I paid for mine, without the added space of a conservatory. This is down to time (I bought mine two years ago) and the level of work that needed doing to the property.
Put in a respectful offer – I actually had to enter a bidding war which took me to my maximum on my current house. The owner decided to stop and go with us as our first offer was more reasonable than those before us who offered £50K less than the asking price! Play fair as it could always win you a good deal.
I hope these tips help. And good luck if you’re buying a house in the New Year. 2015 could be a very exciting one indeed!
*Thank you to TSB for collaborating with me on this post.