Wed 03 Apr 2019

The ultimate guide to get yourself on the property ladder

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Becoming a homeowner is not as tough as you think

With determination and a clear strategy, that first rung of the property ladder is not as high as it might look.

In this modern age of gig workers, zero-hour contracts and less-than-perfect credit ratings, you might think the idea of buying your own home is an impossible dream and you are destined to be renting forever. Yet while the property market might be a more complex beast today than it was 20 years ago, that is because it needs to cater to people living more complex lives.

There are initiatives out there to help keen first-time buyers make a start. Even in the property hotspots of the south east, that first home you’ve been looking wistfully at in the window of one of our many branches throughout Essex could be yours if you follow the right strategy.

Get saving

Setting aside a predetermined amount every month to save up for your deposit and fees needs to be your first step. If you are currently renting and find yourself in a cycle of struggling to meet your monthly expenditures, that might sound like a bad joke, but all it takes is a pragmatic, and perhaps ruthless, reassessment of your outgoings.

Look at every expense and think about what you can do to reduce or eliminate it. For example, the cost of those mid-morning coffees and Friday and Saturday night takeaways can really mount up. Also look at monthly bills for utilities, phone, broadband and so on. Could you make some savings by switching providers?

The money you save here should be immediately allocated to your savings account – chances are you will be surprised at just how much it adds up to.

Be realistic

A first step is just that, and very few first-time buyers end up living in that first home for the rest of their lives. Set a budget for what you can afford and see what possibilities that presents rather than diving into a property search looking for a property that ticks all your “ideal home” boxes. Location, size and number of bedrooms all play a major role in property prices, so be prepared to compromise. It is far easier to climb to the next rung once you are already on the ladder!

Check what help is available

The government comes in for its fair share of criticism, but to give credit where it is due, it has certainly helped first time buyers. It has introduced a few different initiatives over recent years, the most popular of which is the Help to Buy scheme. Here, you receive an equity loan to help you find that all-important deposit. If you can provide five percent, you can get it topped up to 20 percent under the scheme. Note that this only applies to new-build properties.

Get some expert help

The property market can be a daunting place, especially for first time buyers. If you are not an expert, it makes sense to get some impartial advice from somebody who is. A mortgage broker will be able to go through all the options with you and help you firm up your strategy, setting you off on the path to home ownership.

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