Getting a foot onto the property ladder is one of the best things you can do in your adult life. Instead of wasting money on rent each month, you’re paying towards something that you’ll eventually own in full. In fact, aside from finding our deposit, we spend less money on our mortgage than we did on rent! You improve your financial stability, and have something of real value to pass down to your children.
Unlike renting, when you own a home, you can make changes to it so that it fits your tastes and lifestyle- whether it’s extending, moving walls, upgrading fixtures and more. But getting onto the property ladder, least of all to buy a home that you’d consider your ‘dream home’ can still be tricky. We’ve done two fixer-upper houses now and are finally somewhere we can see ourselves staying so there is hope. There are some ways to going about it, here are some to consider!
Renovate a run down property
Run down properties are usually taken on by rich developers. They refurbish them and bring them up to standard, and then sell for a massive profit. However, you can definitely buy a fixer upper for your own home and it can make a lot of sense to do so. Auction properties tend to be worse for wear, and require significant work, but because of this you can get them at rock bottom prices. You can then renovate as you go, even if it takes you a number of years to get it how you want it, you’ve added huge value to the home.
When you buy a house that’s move-in ready, you’ve unknowingly paid a huge premium for this. While it can be a stress living on a building site, you can customise the home to make it exactly how you want it. Just make sure you’re prepared for the bits you might have to live without. For example, how usable is the kitchen? Is the bathroom functional? It’s a different kettle of fish living in a building site with children than it is without but perfectly doable. You can live in a better location and have a better house overall once it’s all finished, but you do have to compromise by spending time and effort getting it up to standard. Don’t overlook a fixer upper as a way to achieve your dream home.
If you are going to buy an auction property or one that need significant work then always be sure to read the legal pack. Have a survey done so you know exactly what needs to be done, that way you can be sure you’re not overspending. You’ll want to go into thing with your eyes wide open, the last thing you want is to make the purchase and realise there were lots of costly and stressful unforeseen problems. Anything from structural problems to subsidence, pests, asbestos and Japanese Knotweed can all cost a fortune to put right, so make sure you’re clued up. Most auction properties will require all new windows and doors, a full electrical refit and some changes in the internal layout so you can price all of this up beforehand. Once these main jobs are done, the rest of the home can be renovated gradually, as and when you can afford it.
If you’re pitching in and removing things like old plasterboard, old kitchen cabinets and getting rid of scrap and rubble yourself then there’s money to be saved here. There are plenty of money saving hacks that can help you to decorate the place and make it look nice once the main work has been done. Painting all of the walls with value white paint for example won’t cost much, but will make everywhere look so bright and airy. It’s one of the first things we did in our first house and means you can start to get a feel for the new blank canvas that you own. You can upcycle old pieces of wooden furniture with paint and new hardware, and even kitchen cabinets too. There’s lots you can do to renovate an old home and transform it into a dream home on a budget.
Utilise government schemes
During and after the recession, young adults weren’t in a good position to buy a home. The banks didn’t want to lend money, people were losing their jobs and it was generally a bad time for those wanting to get a foot onto the property ladder. However, the economic climate has gradually improved in recent years, and buying a home is no longer out of reach for many. Not only has it become easier to secure a mortgage again, but there are lots of government schemes that can help first time buyers. Equity Loan schemes are available to first-time buyers and existing homeowners who want to buy a ‘new build’ house. Under this scheme, you can borrow 20% of the purchase price interest-free for the first five years as long as you have at least a 5% deposit. This is much more affordable than the 10% plus deposit that mortgage lenders were previously demanding. A new policy which came in to effect in November 2017 means that first-time buyers spending £300,000 or less on a property purchase didn’t have to pay stamp duty too. This saved the average first time buyer thousands, and again meant that actually affording somewhere was in reach.
A recovering economic climate has also meant more houses are actually being built too, giving people more choice. Whether you’re after an affordable penthouse, a new build house or a glamorous apartment, it’s easier to find what you’re looking for, and then be able to take steps to buy it. Check what kind of schemes there are out there, and what kind of help you’d be entitled to. If you’ve previously overlooked the idea of buying a house because you think you can’t afford it, it’s well worth looking again.
Move to a new area
Many of us have solid roots in the place where we live. Our work is there, our children’s schools, our friends and family. However, these roots aren’t unbreakable, and actually, moving somewhere new could be a fresh start for everyone. Not to mention that you can utilise lower property prices if you’re prepared to be flexible and move. If you’re currently in a city then moving further out could mean you get more for your money. If you’ve always dreamed of moving abroad, there are places in the world which would allow you to buy an incredible property for a fraction of what you’d pay back here. Even jobs and schooling aren’t a huge issue with moving overseas these days, since it’s perfectly possible to earn a living working online which can be done from anywhere in the world. Homeschooling too can be done online, so your kids can have access to great education even if the place you want to live doesn’t have the best schools. Moving to a new location isn’t an option for everyone, but if it’s something you’d been planning on doing anyway then getting a better home out of it could be a huge bonus. Do your research into property prices and see if there’s a location that suits you and your family.
When most of us picture the home of our dreams, we dream up images of huge mansions with lots of rooms, acres of gardens, outbuildings, triple garages and so much more. And sure, those things would all be nice (and might be exactly what you’d go for if you won the lottery) however, realistically you don’t need all of that. If you don’t want to move away from the city, or the place you want to live has high house prices then your dream home could well be a standard sized property. As long as you have enough room for everything you need and each of your family members, then you don’t need lots of land and spare bedrooms!
Downsizing to a smaller home can mean you get more quality for your money, and can afford a much more luxurious place. Maybe you’re an empty nester and downsizing would make sense anyway, or perhaps you know that you don’t want any more children and don’t need extra space to accommodate a growing family. Perhaps you’re happy to declutter and simplify your life to be able to live in a smaller yet better home. Either way, it’s certainly an option and a way you can afford to live in the kind of place that you want. If you’re moving in or around a major city from elsewhere then you will more than likely need to downsize to afford the kind of property that you want.
If you love the convenience of living in (or near) a city, then you tend to have to give up space and go with smaller properties. If you love the fresh air of the countryside, properties are usually much bigger but you can be a good drive away from any amenities. Decide how much you value space, and how much you value convenience to help you decide where you should live. There’s usually some compromise to be made (unless you have an unlimited amount of money) so while this is your dream home, it’s still worth being realistic. Get it right and it will be worth every scrap of effort, what could be better than owning a place that you can’t wait to return back to each day? Somewhere you can make happy memories and genuinely enjoy spending time in.
Have you already bought your dream home? How did you go about acquiring it?