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First Home Steps campaign in collaboration with Principality Building Society.
For so many of us, getting on the property ladder is one of the biggest obstacles in life.
It’s that milestone that we are desperate to achieve – not only to have our own space, but to know that “this is mine, I earned this!“.
And for a lot of us, it can feel like an impossible dream.
We need big deposits – but we often need to save these deposits whilst already shelling out to run a house; sometimes paying more in rent than you would that prospective mortgage.
For some people, it can take years of hard saving and self-discipline. Other’s might have a little help from family.
But which ever side you fall on, being a first time buyer can still be a stressful and overwhelming but exciting and worthwhile experience.
How First Home Steps Can Help You
Principality Building Society this week have launched their brand new mortgage-saving product First Home Steps.
I’ve downloaded the app to see just how it benefits first time buyers and tackle that obstacle of ‘saving’.
Their aim is to help people prosper in their homes – but obviously to do that, they need to help people actually get on to the property ladder.
And why is this such an obstacle? Well getting the deposit together is one thing.
But also there’s a lot of confusion surrounding the house-buying process and people often forget or simply aren’t aware of the additional costs involved in buying a house.
First Home Steps is here to help you with all of that – not just the stuff that comes after getting your deposit together, but actually helping you to get to that point in the first place.
About the App
‘First Home Steps’ launched earlier this month (March 2020).
The app is designed to:
- help you save for your deposit (tailored to your own personal circumstances)
- provide a checklist of steps for the home buying process
- advise you on managing the inevitable hidden costs associated with buying your first home.
The app is available on iOS and Android and you can get started by visiting the First Home Steps hub here.
You can also follow on social media.
How to Use the App
When you download and install the app it’ll ask you some questions to create your own personalised plan.
The first question will ask you where on your journey you are:
- I’m saving for my deposit
- I’m viewing properties
- I’ve made an offer
You’ll then be asked further questions in more detail to provide an accurate tool to help you achieve your goals.
For example, if you chose ‘saving for my deposit’ it’ll ask:
- Where would you like to buy your home?
- How much will it cost?
- When would you like to buy?
- Details of your income/partners income etc
You can amend and adjust your answers later if you need to.
How the First Home Steps Can Help You Achieve Your Goals
After you’ve installed the app and input your information it’ll tell you whether you’ll hit your timeline goal or if you need to increase your monthly saving amount.
On the ‘Checklist’ tab you’ll have access to a list of tasks you need to complete on your home buying journey, with each section taking you to a page detailing how to complete that checkpoint.
The app has SO MUCH helpful information and I honestly wish it was around when I was buying my first home.
The ‘Knowledge’ tab has even more information with links to expert articles that can answer all your house buying questions – from explaining all the different types of savings accounts, everything you need to know about house hunting, right up to a moving in checklist.
Got a question? The First Home Steps app probably has the answer!
My Home Buying Experience
How We Pulled Our Deposit Together
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you might have caught my post How to Prepare for a Mortgage as a First Time Buyer.
We bought our first home in 2017 with the process beginning at the end of 2016.
Fortunately for us, we planned to purchase a home in one of the cheaper parts of the country.
But even so, all in – it cost us £15,000 to buy our first home.
At the beginning of 2016, we moved in with my husband’s parents rent free for a year to save for our deposit.
We were fortunate that being in this position allowed us to save towards our house, but also our wedding and honeymoon that happened later that year.
I won’t pretend that we didn’t receive any help – my husband was gifted £10,000 by his parents (and of course the year rent free!).
We used £3.5k of this money towards our wedding and the other £6.5k allowed us to put down a 10% deposit on our home instead of a 5%.
And we saved like crazy to pull together the other £8.5k for our house, £4.5k for our wedding and £3k for our honeymoon!
Obstacles We Faced Buying Our First Home
I’m going to be completely honest – we rushed into buying our first home.
We had just got married and made an offer on the first house we viewed.
Our offer was accepted and our mortgage approved while we were at the Airport awaiting our flight to Australia.
We had people back home frantically scanning paperwork for us and I had to communicate with my employer to get a confirmation of what my salary would be.
I’d just changed jobs and wasn’t even permanent at this point. But my employer was very understanding and helped us a lot.
Fortunately it all got sorted and the first major issue we ran into was with our deposit.
My husband’s parents paid the gifted deposit into my bank account in cash – the laws have since changed around this because of anti money laundering regulations (you can no longer deposit cash into another person’s bank account) but at the time it caused a lot of issues because we couldn’t prove where the money had come from.
Luckily for us, my in laws were able to stump up the deposit again to prove that it had come from them (don’t worry, they got their money back!).
Those were really the only snags we hit. But in hindsight all of the issues we encountered could have been prevented.
…And we probably wouldn’t attempt to do something so monumental from the other side of the world either…
Tips for Saving Up a Deposit
So the First Home Steps app can answer all your saving and home-buying questions, but how do you actually pull together the money for a deposit in the first place? Here are my top tips to help you build you first home pot.
Pay Yourself First
Instead of waiting until the end of the month to see what money you have left over and transferring that to savings, pay yourself first!
Set up a standing order to leave your account on payday for a minimum amount you’re happy with saving.
When I was saving for a house I transferred £200 a month straight into my Help to Buy ISA – this ensured I took advantage of the government bonus offered but also that I saved a minimum of £200 each month.
I would then transfer extra money to my savings ad hoc throughout the month.
Cut Your Fixed Expenses
If you’re currently responsible for paying household bills – check that you’re not paying too much.
You could save hundreds each year by switching gas and electric suppliers.
Or maybe you could be paying less for your mobile phone?
Analyse each direct debit and see if you can make a saving.
If you do, set up a standing order to transfer this amount directly to your savings.
You’ll already be used to spending that money, so you won’t notice it but it’ll help your savings to grow more quickly.
Cut Your Variable Spending
Once you’ve tackled your fixed expenses, take a look at your variable spending.
Do you have a takeaway every Saturday? Could you try making your own fakeaway a couple of time a month instead and save the extra you would’ve spent?
How about work lunches? Do you take your own or are you buying every day?
Small changes can add up to big amounts over the course of a month.
Make Extra Money
If you’ve already cut your expenses and you’ll still not saving as much as you’d like, can you make extra money?
Why not sell your old stuff on eBay? Not only will this make you extra money towards your deposit, but it’ll mean less stuff to move!
Need some more ideas? Visit my ‘make money‘ archives for more!
Buying your first home is one of the most exciting times in our lives, but it can also be one of the most stressful.
Take some of the confusion out of buying and get yourself mortgage ready with the First Home Steps app which you can download here.