First time buyers

It can be particularly tough trying to get on the property ladder if you're a first time buyer. This page contains some practical hints and tips to help you on your way.

Things to think about

There is so much in the news these days about rising house prices and it might seem as if you can't afford to buy anywhere decent. However, you might be surprised. Buying a first home is a big step and it's a huge commitment. However, there are several ways that you can find something to suit you and that you can afford:

  • Area - look in different areas and be open-minded. If you've got your heart set on one particular area or town it might seem that there's no point looking elsewhere. But if you can't afford a place in that area, you might be able to find something more affordable nearby.

  • Price - be realistic about what you can afford. Our section on paying for a home can tell you more about budgeting and mortgages.

  • Co-ownership - think about buying a place with someone else such as your friend or a partner. There are pros and cons of doing this and you'll have to be really sure of what you're doing before you go down this road. On the other hand, it could be the helping hand you need to buy your first place and cut your costs.

  • Financial help - get some help from your parents or someone else who is a bit more financially stable than you are. It might be possible to get a guarantor for your mortgage. This won't be suitable for everybody and it's important that you understand all the implications of going down this route. However, it might be the helping hand you need when you're starting out. Make sure you discuss all your options with a qualified independent financial adviser (IFA) before you make any decision

  • Shared ownership - If you can't find something suitable that you can afford, you could think about going for a shared ownership property. This won't be suitable for everyone but it could be an option for you, depending on your circumstances. You might be eligible for one of the Shared Equity schemes.

  • Other options - weigh up all your options. Buying a home isn't the only way of getting your own place. For more information, have a look at the section called 'need more help?' at the bottom of this page.

How to save for a deposit

There are lots of things you can do to save cash, including:

  • Spending diary - keep a diary of what you're spending. It doesn't have to be detailed - just a note of the date, how much you spent and what you spent it on. This might sound boring but you'll be surprised when you see how much cash you're throwing away on stuff you don't need.

  • Old direct debits - check your bank statement and cancel any direct debits you don't need any more. For example, that gym membership you never use or the subscription to that magazine you never have time to read.

  • Packed lunch - take your own sandwiches to work. You can save around a thousand pounds a year by taking your own lunch in every day.

  • Cappuccino or latte - if you're partial to a coffee in the morning, make it at work rather than buying it from a shop. You can save around £60 a month this way!

  • Savings account - set up a savings account. If possible, make it one that you can't touch for a wee while so that you're not tempted to take out the money for a holiday or something else. There are lots of different savings accounts out there and some are better than other. Get advice from an IFA before you make your choice.

  • Extra work - if you've got any spare time, think about getting a part-time job. That way, you can earn money instead of spending it. It could be something temporary just to help boost your income. Make sure you don't overdo it though.

  • Achievable targets - set small targets for yourself. Rather than thinking 'I'll never be able to save up a few grand to get my own place' tell yourself that you'll save up a few hundred every six months, for example. You'll be surprised how quickly your money stacks up.

  • Be realistic - when you're saving for your own place it's easy to put all your energies into it. But remember that you need to have enough money to live on. Don't pour all your spare cash into savings or a mortgage. Make sure you've still got enough left over to enjoy yourself with. After all, there's no point living in your own pad if you can't do anything else when you're in it!

If you need housing advice, contact us for free.

Last updated: 5 April 2016

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England