The property market in the UK is still shaky – after what initially seemed like a recovery a couple of years ago prices in the usual property hotspots have seen falls in recent months. And there are still parts of the UK which never even experienced the recovery and are still suffering the effects of the long drawn out recession that is supposedly over now. The recovery in those areas could be a long time coming.
But whether you are buying in the more buoyant south-east or anywhere else in the country one of the best ways to afford your first home is to find a place that needs some TLC and get it at a low price. Many homes are reasonably priced simply because they have dated décor but have no other problems. These are the ones to go for because re-decorating is relatively straightforward and relatively cheap; at least compared to re-wiring or new central heating or new windows.
Buying a home that doesn’t present well means you can get it for a good price and make improvements to bring it up to date without spending too much. The chances are your first home may be small but it will be the first step on the property ladder and, anyway, small homes can be very cosy and bijou.
But before you start house-hunting you need to know how much you can afford because there is no point looking around at desirable homes just to find they are all out of your reach financially. So take a look at your savings now or how much you could realistically save in the next 6 months to a year then talk to a bank or other lender about your chances of securing a mortgage. Remember that borrowing money now is all about how affordable the debt would be to you. It is no longer possible simply to work on multiples of your salary.
As affordability checks by banks and other lenders have become more stringent so it has become harder and harder for first time buyers to raise a big enough home loan to buy even the smallest apartment in some areas. Some of the options that people are reverting to include:
- Moving in with parents for a year to save more money
- Moving to a cheaper location
- Borrowing money from parents
- Using no credit check loans to raise money for the deposit
Sometimes parents will act as the guarantor on a guarantor loan to help raise the deposit when they cannot or are unwilling to lend the cash to their offspring. This way they help reduce the risk in the eyes of the lender but the young person buying the home is responsible for making the loan repayments. For those determined to get on the housing ladder there are always options but they often require tough decisions such as taking on a large amount of debt that could affect your lifestyle or moving to a new area away from family and friends.
In the end it is a very personal decision whether owning your own home is worth these sacrifices. It will depend on your personal situation, including relationships and career development. Those young people who are at the start of a career that could lead them to much higher incomes within a few years may be more willing to take the risk of borrowing a lot now, knowing the strain of the debt will ease significantly in the relatively near future.
Whatever you decide to do with regard to buying your first home the best bit of advice I was ever given was that you will know when a property feels right so don’t ever buy somewhere if you find that you are persuading yourself it will be OK.