Secure your own house for £8050!


A few weeks ago someone challenged me to stop writing about investment properties (never!), and explain how someone was meant to afford their own place in the current market. Challenge accepted!

It can be easy to imagine that for the average person, home ownership is a distant and impossible dream. Headlines are full of messages about the rise in average home values, and the difficulty of saving for a deposit when you are renting. These stories are indeed true – but why would you want to be average when you can be exceptional? Remember that newspapers are often very London-focused in their coverage, and other areas of the UK can throw up some real bargains, even today.

You can make this a reality; but only if you are sufficiently motivated. It’s not easy, but it is both possible and worth it.

Since my office has recently moved into sales, I’ve been researching a way to get more people on the housing ladder. Where most people see problems, I can suggest some solutions - many of which I used myself when I was saving for my first place, and which I still use today.

Problem 1: Homes are far too expensive for me to consider.

A quick look on the major property portals in the Nottingham area threw up homes for as little as £60,000. You need to be realistic – you’re not going to be buying Buckingham Palace, but nor do you have to expect slum living. As long as the shell of the building is in good condition (walls, roof, electrical wiring and plumbing), you’d be amazed what a little DIY can achieve. (Just ask Mrs Property-Word about the state of our house when we moved in!). But £60,000 will buy you a 1 bed flat to call your own. Having never been inside, I cannot be sure of it’s condition, but even if you throw in another £5,000 for some renovation, that’s still a £65,000 budget. Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) doesn’t need to be paid on residential purchases below £125,000, so there’s no cost there. Add some legal fees and the cost of searches, plus £50 to hire a van and move your own stuff, and you’re basically all set.

Problem 2: £65,050 – you must be joking! I still don’t have that kind of cash!

Me neither – wouldn’t that be nice! So how do you raise that kind of sum? Some lenders will lend for as little as 5% deposit – so you need to save £3000, plus the fees for legal work and moving. Let’s be pessimistic and say you are really going to need to do £5000 of work on that flat, so your savings now need to total £8,050. Still a lot, but much less than £65,050 – so we are getting somewhere!

Problem 3: I still can’t save that kind of deposit on my salary!

The Internet is absolutely awash with people who will help you to cut costs. It’s one of the Internet’s most redeeming features. I couldn’t possibly list it all here, but I would definitely recommend reading the advice and forums at moneysavingexpert.com. They have guides on everything: reducing your energy bills, improving your credit rating (important forward planning for that mortgage application), cut price bank accounts, refunds on duff services or gear and ways to cut your existing debt. Many other sources of info are also available – and the potential savings are massive.

Problem 4: I still need to make more savings to reach my goal.

I did warn you that this was going to take some serious motivation… So here it comes. Imagine a typical weekday. You get up, take the bus to work, and pickup a coffee from the café nearby. At lunchtime you buy yourself a ‘meal deal’ from a high street chemist, and take the bus home again at the end of the day. You relax by watching one of the many TV channels you may subscribe to on Sky or Netflix etc. Once a fortnight you treat yourself to a takeaway, and you go to the gym twice a week because this makes you feel guilty.

No doubt some of this applies to you, and some doesn’t, but bear with me. It isn’t exactly caviar and champagne lifestyle, is it? Let’s look at what that fairly reasonable routine might cost you – and why it be keeping you from that deposit after all…

So if we assume you did everything listed my way, the potential savings are £322.50 every month! That would mean saving your £8050 required in 25 months – just over 2 years from now. Even if I use a more reasonable assumption, and say that you are only half of my assumptions apply to you, then you could still have that deposit 4 years from now… So look at your own life, and ask yourself – could I give up a few simple luxuries to get what I want in the long run? Do I really need this, or could I manage without? If you really, really need to watch the big sports matches, why not cancel the TV package and go to the pub? As long as you stick to a one-pint rule you’ll still save a fortune! The alternatives here might sound drastic to some, but they don’t have to make you miserable. Cycling to work is a great way not only to free you from travel costs, but mean you don’t need to make time for those gym visits either. An oven pizza from the supermarket can be just as good as a takeaway – in fact you can now buy the exact same pizza from some manufacturers, and it will be ready in 15 mins instead of waiting 40 for the delivery… I’m a massive caffeine addict (it helps with late-night blogging), and I promise you that if you get a travel mug and some top-notch coffee grounds from the supermarket, the taste will beat anything you buy on the high street for a fraction of the cost. Cycling to work isn't an option for me, but I do all these other things even now, and it saves me a fortune.

Mortgages

Mortgages are a big topic, but as a very rough guide, you would need to borrow £61,750 from a lender to buy the example property above. At 2.5% over a 30 year repayment term, you'd be paying back £244 per month

How much cheaper than renting does that sound?

Alternatives:

If you have taken a good look at your budget by now, and you still cannot see where you’re going to make the required savings, then there are two more tricks up my sleeve:

  1. Shared Ownership Schemes
    1. These mean that you don’t need to raise funds to buy outright. Instead, you buy a part of the property in the normal way, and pay rent of the other part of the value. It's a big topic, whihc I can't cover here in detail, but look here for more information: https://www.helptobuy.gov.uk/shared-ownership/
  2. Key Worker Housing
    1. In certain expensive areas, support is available to those working in valuable but less well paid roles, such as nurses, teachers and social workers. This is how the government tries to make sure that critical services to the community can be provided in areas where the average prices would otherwise make it impossible to live nearby. If you are in one of these professions, it is worth asking your colleagues or union representatives if they know about available schemes in your area.

As I said right at the start, buying your own home is not easy, but I hope this has given you some ideas on where to start. The power of everyday savings on simple things you may not have considered, can quickly add up in the long run! I’ve used Nottingham as an example city here because home values vary widely from the very cheap to the very, very expensive. Your area may be different, but just to show that it can still be done; here are some other bargain entry-level properties* in cities you may not think you could afford:

  • Cardiff £50,000
  • Birmingham £50,000
  • Newcastle £50,000
  • Liverpool £50,000
  • Swindon £60,000
  • Manchester £88,500
  • Edinburgh, £90,000

*These are all real properties, non-shared ownership, available for sale at the time of writing, not made up examples.

Nothing worthwhile is ever easy, but just think how happy you will be to feel like you can truly call this place your own. You don't have to wait until you can afford your dream home - compromise a little here and there and you could be happy in a place of your own soon. Being a homeowner is a rewarding experience, and it’s no wonder so many aspire to it.  

So do you still want that latte?

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