Six top tips to help first-time buyers get on the property ladder

This year is expected to be a particularly uncertain one for the housing market, which may be making first-time buyers feel somewhat nervous. However, research from Yorkshire Building Society suggests the number of first-time buyers getting on the property ladder with a mortgage in the last year, was at its highest level since 2006. Across the UK, 367,038 first-time buyers secured mortgages in 2018, up from 362,800 in 2017.

Aspiring owners must not forget costs associated with buying a home, such as removal firms. Photograph: PA

There are also steps first-time buyers could take which may boost their chances of bagging a property. Here are Post Office Money’s seven top tips for getting on the ladder.

Set a savings goal

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First-time buyers spend an average of four years adjusting their lifestyle to save for their starter home, according to a survey of people who recently got on the property ladder. So setting a savings target early is important to keeping you focused and on track.

Factor in moving costs

Aspiring owners must not forget costs associated with buying a home, such as removal firms, estate agent fees and surveyors. It’s important to consider these costs in advance and save little and often.

Take time to talk

Parents are playing an increasingly important role helping many first-time buyers on to the property ladder, loaning on average £24,347, according to Post Office Money. But of the one in six first-time buyers funding their home purchase from a parental loan, 87 per cent have no proper agreement in place. Therefore, it’s important everyone involved is clear about the nature of their agreement, so that everyone’s expectations are aligned. This includes making it clear whether the money is a gift or a loan that needs to be paid back.

Calculate how much you can afford to borrow

Once your savings pot is up and running, consider using an online affordability calculator to get an idea of how much you’ll be able to borrow based on your income and outgoings. Although this should be used as a guide, the information will help you focus on properties that are within your price range.

Know the (credit) score

Before getting a mortgage, you will be credit checked, so now’s the time to check your own credit report and ensure all the information it contains is accurate and up-to-date. A good credit score can be the deciding factor in not only getting approved for a mortgage, but also the rate you are offered. Plan now to start paying down any outstanding debt, be sure not to miss any agreed payments on utility bills or mobile phone bills, and try to make more than the minimum repayment in the six months before your mortgage application.

Research hotspots

You may have your heart set on a popular area – but so will many other buyers. On average, new buyers will end up moving 5.2 miles away from where they originally intended. Consider widening the net to make your budget go further, so you can buy more bricks and mortar for your money.

You could also try searching in up-and-coming areas, which may become future property hotspots, rather than places where property prices have already increased by a lot.