Buying your first home

Buying a house or apartment as a first time buyer


lovemoney staff

Mortgages and Home

lovemoney staff
Updated on 10 January 2022

Buying a house or apartment as a first time buyer

Everything you need to know about getting on the property ladder, from saving to mortgages to moving in.

Who is this guide for?

Sick of renting? Planning to move in with your partner? Just want to put your own paint on the walls?

There are many reasons to want to buy your own place, so if you feel like any of them resonate, this guide is for you - whether you're already looking at properties or plan to buy in a couple of years.

Even if you're not sure you can afford to buy, read on: there are several Government schemes to help you get on the ladder, as well as ways your parents can help you with the cost.

Buying can take months – even years – so let's get started.

Finding your new home

The first part of buying a home is undoubtedly the most fun.

Call up your local real estate agents and have a look on Rightmove and Zoopla and get an idea of your budget, which largely depends on the mortgage you can get.

Also, take a look at our articles on things to look out for when inspecting a property and the difference between freehold and leasehold.

For a more detailed look, here are dedicated pieces on the leasehold and freehold fine print nasties to look out for.

Can you afford to buy?

Don't be put off buying a home because you think you can't get a mortgage. There are mortgages out there to suit a wide range of incomes and deposits or even no deposit at all.

Plus see how your parents can help you get on the property ladder, without giving up their savings.

Click here for our guide to mortgages and deposits.

Don't forget about these costs

Getting enough money to buy doesn't just mean the mortgage deposit. If only.

You'll need cash upfront for a whole range of services - from surveys to Stamp Duty - so it's vital you take these costs into consideration.

We've put together an article on the extra costs you'll face when buying.

The Help to Buy scheme

Help to Buy greatly expands what properties you can afford.

The Government will loan you 20% of the money, or 40% in London, on properties up to £600,000. You will also still be eligible for a mortgage.

What's even better is you won't be asked to make any repayments for the first five years, giving homeowners a chance to settle in.

This scheme is definitely not for everyone, there are limitations on what properties are on offer and you a plan for paying interest repayments once they kick in.

Read more about how it works, whether you’re eligible and how to pay it off here

Buying with siblings or friends

If you’re prepared to live with friends or siblings, a mortgage could save you both money on renting and it can set you up financially for when, or if, you do settle down.

You'll also be able to combine your deposit savings to get a far larger mortgage then you would by yourself.

There is no difference to a mortgage broker if you are buying as a couple or friends and you’ll be given the same choice of mortgages.

Click here for our guide on how to buy your first home with siblings or friends

Shared ownership schemes

If you have enough of a deposit for a mortgage, yet it's not quite enough for a house in the region you were hoping for, a shared ownership scheme might be for you.

These little-known Government schemes mean buyers can purchase 25-75% of the property and will have a lower mortgage.

The downside is you also have to pay rent to a local authority that owns the other portion and they take a percentage of the rent when you move out.

Read more about shared ownership schemes, what they are and how to apply here

Rent to Buy and Right to Buy

These two Government schemes help tenants of council housing or the housing association to purchase the property they are currently living in. 

They are greatly helpful for those struggling to save for a deposit while finding the money to pay their own rent.

In Rent to Buy, rent is offered for cheaper and the tenant is allowed to buy their house in stages. With Right to Buy the tenant is given a discount on the asking price of the property they live in.

Click here to find out more about Rent to Buy and Right to Buy and how to apply.

Buying in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

If you're buying your first home in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, the process is a little bit different to in England.

Firstly, where Northern Ireland and England have Stamp Duty on properties, Scotland and Wales have Land & Building transaction tax.

Secondly, in Scotland, solicitors take the lead instead of estate agents. Also, make yourself informed about the different government help schemes available in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Read more about buying your first home in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland here.

Where to get a mortgage

Once you've decided you've saved enough money to get to the stage of applying for a mortgage, there can be a lot of confusion actually deciding which bankers, brokers and comparison sites are best.

Going to a bank at first may seem like the obvious option, however, you could save money if you are willing to talk to a mortgage broker.

Head this way for more advice on how and where to get a mortgage as a first-time buyer.

From getting a mortgage to moving in

Got the mortgage sorted? Congratulations! 

Unfortunately, you're not quite done yet. Buying a home involves dealing with sellers, solicitors and irritating delays - including some problems that could send you back to square one.

Read our guide on the steps involved in buying and how to speed it up. 

Once you've moved in

The final days of buying a home can be fun but stressful: picking up the keys, packing furniture and persuading friends and family to help you move.

All worth it of course for that glorious moment of opening your own front door.

Just don't forget you're now saddled with a mortgage and bills, the costs of which can be terrifying.

We've come up with a couple of simple ideas to help you make ends meet once you've moved in.

Are you a first-time buyer, or just bought your first property? Is there anything we haven't explained, or do you have any tips to share? Please give us your feedback in the comments below.