Hello everyone! Welcome to this month's Little One's chat where I will be sharing lots of tips and advice for first time buyers. As a nation, we like to own our own property and getting onto the property ladder is often an aspiration for us all. Many European countries have a completely different culture and renting is the way they normally do things, however us Brits generally prefer to own our own bricks and mortar! There are pros and cons to both of course but this chat is focused around helping you aspiring home owners with getting onto the property ladder with the least stress possible.
What I have chosen to do is interview a few of my other home owner friends as it's always good to get a selection of opinions and experiences, rather than just chatting about myself. I thought it would be nice to give some other people a chance to share their perspective as everyone faces different challenges depending on their own circumstances.
Apparently the average age that people buy a property in the UK is around 35-40 years old. I also read an article recently stating that by 2020, first time buyers will need to earn £64,000 in order to get onto the property ladder, according to calculations by Shelter. This is quite shocking to read as that kind of salary is completely out of reach for the majority of us, especially when the average UK salary is currently around £25,000*.
I just want to say, don't be put off. Many people think it's out of reach now but there are many schemes out there to help first time buyers such as the Help To Buy ISA, Help To Buy Scheme and Shared Ownership Scheme. Also... you just need to knuckle down and save save save. Ditch the expensive car that is probably out of your price range and save all that money for a deposit! Two years of saving can give a decent deposit if you are a bit more frugal with your money.
I'd like you to meet three of my close friends; Carly Jones, Laura Davies and Charlotte Goodall. Each have bought their first home within the past few years and have all bought their first property before the age of 30! Well done girls :). I've interviewed them and they will be giving an insight into their experience of being first time buyers.
Carly Jones (28) and Chris Parkes (26) bought an older property in Liverpool in June 2015
Laura Davies (28) and Rich Sharkey (29) bought a new build and moved in, in April this year
Charlotte Goodall (27) and Paul Goodall (28) bought their second property this year, but bought their first home three years ago
Little One's Chat sharing a few friend's experience
Why did you choose to buy your house and what made it stand out to you?
CJ: We chose an older property over a new build and it was mostly down to the features and characteristics of older properties, for example the high ceilings, large reception rooms etc. We also found that pound for pound, we were going to get a lot more for our money with an older property.
LD: It wasn't an easy choice as we both love original features, but we were struggling to find something that offered the space we wanted, for a price we could afford. We viewed a handful of houses we'd seen on right move, and a lot of show homes by different new build developers, and eventually found a house style in an area we were happy with that ticked a lot of the boxes we had (drive, garden, garage, good sized kitchen etc.) so put our name down on a waiting list for an unreleased plot, and were lucky enough to secure it once it was available.
CG: With our first house we were attracted to a very sociable kitchen diner to entertain friends and a modern bathroom and kitchen suite completed to a high spec; perfect when you don't have a lot of spare cash. In short it was good sized and low maintenance, which is great for a first property.
What is the best piece of advice you'd give to a first time buyer?
CJ: Biggest piece of advice for other first time buyers is to definitely research and enlist a reputable mortgage advisor to help with all the paper work and legal matters. It can be really overwhelming trying to keep everything in order and trying to understand the process. Also, some of them will actually take their fee from your mortgage provider so it means the service is free for the buyer!
LD: Do your research and make sure you are 100% certain about the house you are buying. It took us months to make our decision but we were completely invested in the house style we chose, and I think it's really important to love what you are buying (the buying process takes a long time, a lot of paperwork and a lot of handing over of money) so you need to be committed to your choice.
CG: Probably go with your gut, as you will learn from your mistakes and what works for you on your next house! Also, think about your current needs; are you a young couple with lots of friends after a party pad or a family needing lots of space, storage and a generous garden? Think of your top three preferences eg. 3 bedrooms, drive, good neighbourhood, then try and compromise on other things.
What did you find the most challenging, out of the whole process of buying a house?
CJ: The most challenging part of the process for us was the wait! And also having to chase the solicitors for updates. They work completely at their own pace, which can be frustrating when you're wanting to move things along quickly! We found that we would sometimes hear one update from the estate agents and another from the solicitors and would often have to make a few calls to get things straight. But apart from that, we were really lucky in the fact that the whole process, from viewing the property and making an offer, to exchanging contracts and getting our keys, was really easy and stress free - although I know this isn't the case for everyone!
What is the biggest mistake you made in the process of buying a house and what have you learned from it?
LD: I'm not sure if there were any huge mistakes we made along the way, but I guess reserving your plot a week before you are due to go on holiday isn't the best idea. That week was the most stressful week (getting mortgage, solicitor, reservation fee sorted and running through the house and site plans) wasn't easy! I also think we were a bit naive about how long the process takes, and how overwhelming and unprepared you are for it. There isn't really anything out there that prepares you though which is why blogs and friends who have been through the process are amazing resources.
CG: Possibly over paying for a house because it's got your heart but I don't think I’ll ever change! If I want it and can see myself there, I'll pay what I want and can afford and not necessarily what it's worth on paper.
What is your favourite home store and why?
CJ: My favourite home store would have to be IKEA or Homesense. IKEA is perfect for all the basics and essentials you need and Homesense always have amazing, quirky pieces that really help to make your home your own. I also love shopping around in vintage furniture shops and picking up hidden gems that can be upcycled to suit your own style!
LD: My favourite home store for furniture is probably John Lewis, as they have an amazing range of products, they're known for their quality and the delivery is amazing and reliable. For homewares it's a toss up between H&M home and Maison Du Monde. Both offer quirky and trend led homewares at really reasonable prices (although you have to pay for shipping on Maison du Monde so it's worth picking a good few products at once).
CG: It's definitely Home Sense because you don't know what exciting, one off pieces you'll find - I'm there most weekends!
My friend Sarah is an Illustrator who does lovely prints and unique cards. I asked her for a tip on how to pick a picture for your home and what room she would opt for, being a first time buyer herself.
Being a first time buyer myself I know that the kitchen is the heart of the house so I would choose a picture for that area.
I would make the picture unspecific but visually appealing, I know the botanical style is big at the moment and in keeping with a 'fresh healthy vibe' and I think it would be a perfect touch for any kitchen.
Sarah Illustration has also donated her brand new 'Botanical' print for one of my readers to win in my latest competition! Isn't it gorgeous? It's of Sefton Park Palm House.
Please do one of the following to enter the competition:-
- Subscribe to my blog by entering in your e-mail address – click the little follow button on the right of the screen and a box will pop up to enter your e-mail address.
- Follow me on twitter and retweet my competition tweet (pinned tweet) @N_H_Interiors
- Like my Facebook page and share my competition post (pinned post) Little Ones Blog
Feel free to share this blog post but if you want to enter the competition the only way I can measure it is through the posts I have done on FB and Twitter or by subscribing with your e-mail address. Easy peasy!
If you have any questions then please put them in the comments section below and I am free for the next hour tonight, but will be swiftly moving to the telly at 9pm to watch Game of Thrones! I will post the answers on my comments/FB/ Twitter with the hashtag #LittleOnesChat.
This topic is for the whole month of June so feel free to get involved throughout June. I will be announcing the winner of my competition on the last day of June!
Also stay tuned for part two where I will be sharing some saving, planning and interiors advice for first time buyers. Not sure when that will be but will keep you updated on FB/Twitter.