Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions most of us will ever make. And
because it’s not something we do every day, the home-buying process can be daunting for
both first-time buyers and existing homeowners alike. Poor decisions could cost you thousands of pounds and good decisions save you similar sums.
If buying a home is right for you (whether you’re a first-time buyer or you’re moving home),
it’ll be easier and less stressful if you follow a sensible process.
In a series of 5 guides we set out all what you need to know and do to help you on this
Part 1 - Four things to consider about buying a house
Part 2 - 12 things to consider in choosing a home
Part 3 - 3 steps to financing your home
Part 4 - How to negotiate the purchase of your new home
Part 5 - The mechanics of buying your new home
Buying a home - Part 3: 3 Steps to financing your home purchase
This articles covers:
GET YOUR DEPOSIT TOGETHER & WORK OUT WHAT YOU CAN BORROW
This section is for first-time buyers who need to get a deposit together. If you’re an existing
homeowner looking to move but have little or no equity in your current property, you’ll need
to find a new deposit too. You won’t be able to access the special ‘bonus’ ISAs for saving –
but if you’re buying a property jointly with someone else and they are first time buyers, they
can save through these bonus ISA plans (more info below).
The importance of your deposit
In general terms, the bigger your deposit, the less risk you pose to mortgage lenders, so,
you’ll be able to access a wider range of mortgages and lower interest rates.
Having a deposit of 10% of your home’s purchase price could give you access to a much
lower interest rate than if you only have a 5% deposit. And that difference is worth checking
with your mortgage provider.
You could side-step the need for a larger deposit by using the Government’s Help to Buy:
Equity Loan scheme. But there are risks as well as benefits with that scheme that we outline
in this blog. So, look carefully before leaping into it.
Build a deposit with a 25% free bonus
Whether you’re saving on your own or with help from your family, it could be worth saving
your deposit money in one of the two special ISA savings products outlined below:
Help to Buy or Lifetime ISA
Both of these products will give you a free 25% (government) bonus on your savings when
you buy your first home.
The Lifetime ISA allows you to save more – and therefore enjoy more free government
bonus. You just need to be aware that there’s a c.6% penalty on your funds if you need to
access your money early – and not for a house purchase.
Because of this government-imposed penalty feature, very few banks or building societies
offer this product and the interest rates on them are not always the best. Your capital go up
and down in value if you invest in stocks and shares, rather than cash.
The Help to Buy ISA has a lower limit on what you can pay in. But it offers penalty-free
access to your money for any reason and there’s a wider choice of these products on the
market. So, they tend to offer slightly better interest rates. You can learn more about both of
these products here.
Cutting out wasteful spending
If you’re saving on your own – or with a partner – for your deposit, the task can seem
daunting at first. But if you can find just £6.60 per day (the price of two take-away coffees)
you could save £200 per month.
If you can afford to save more than that amount, you might want to consider the Lifetime ISA
And, with a modest amount of interest paid on your account plus the free government bonus
of 25%, you could look forward to having a deposit fund of £16,000 over 5 years (Or £32,000
if you’re saving with a partner).
Work out how much you can borrow
Unless you have the cash (or equity* in your current home) to buy your new home outright,
you’ll need to know how much you can borrow on a mortgage before you go looking for your
home. Estate agents are unlikely to let you view properties unless they know that you have
the capacity to buy.
* Your equity in your property is the excess, if any, of your home’s value above any
outstanding mortgage or other loans.
The amount you can borrow will depend on various factors including:
Use an online calculator like this to get an initial estimate of how much you could borrow.
And then search online and seek advice from an independent mortgage broker to
understand your mortgage options.
A good mortgage broker should be able to find the best mortgage terms for your personal
situation and obtain competitive terms for any associated buildings, life and health insurance
policies you’ll need alongside.
Find out more about the insurances you might need and the best way to buy them here.
Habito provides mortgage advice from the whole market. You could also consider the HomeOwners Alliance which offers all sorts of home-buying guidance for a modest fee.
Your aim at this stage is to find the best terms (for your situation) on a mortgage that you
could comfortably afford. And then, to obtain a Decision in Principle (DIP) (or Agreement in
Principle (AIP) or Lending Certificate) to confirm the amount you can borrow. This is what you’ll need to show to estate agents.
More details on mortgage affordability can be found here.
CONSIDER THE GOVERNMENT HELP SCHEMES
The government schemes that aim to help people buy their own home include:
Help to Buy: Equity Loans - Taking a closer look
The benefits of this scheme
The risks with this scheme
FACTOR IN YOUR OTHER COSTS OF HOME BUYING
On top of your mortgage deposit, you’ll need money for the other costs of buying your home
This list only covers the big, upfront costs. You can find a more complete list here.
Try to cover these expenses with your savings (rather than adding them to your mortgage),
but if you don’t have the funds for all of them upfront, aim to overpay your mortgage in the
early years to avoid long-term interest costs on them.
In the next blog in this series we explain how to negotiate the purchase of the home you
want to buy, click here to read.
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