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Friday, 18 November 2016

Tips on how to buy your first house on the cheap(er)

Okay, so here's that blog I promised about how I bought my house!


Step 1: ask your bank about Help to Buy. We just missed it, but it's where you get free money from the government to help you buy your first home, no strings attached. Have a meeting in person and figure out the most efficient way to save money for your deposit. It's cheaper and easier to buy a house with someone else- doesn't have to be a romantic partner, can just be a friend, or several friends.
Step 2: You can get a free mortgage broker at London and County (they take their fee from whichever bank they hook you up with). Our broker was called Scott Jackson, and he was absolutely excellent- just sorted it all out for us, completely for free and with no strings attached. His number is 01912 693606, call him!

Boats, Park Homes, Static Caravans, Log Cabins etc

I looked into a range of alternatives to a traditional home but it felt as though the system here in the UK is more or less set up to prevent people living in a truly alternative way. It is difficult and expensive to get a mortgage on a boat or caravan/ park home, and even if you can afford to buy one outright, they get less and less valuable as time goes by, like a car would- not more and more valuable, like a house or flat should. And even when you have bought your boat or caravan, you still have to pay rent to "park" it somewhere at all times, to the tune of thousands of pounds a year. This wasn't the right choice for me.

Estate Agents

Estate agents are not legally obliged to tell the truth either verbally or in any of their literature, e.g. the brochure you get when you view a house, or the description on RightMove- so you can pretty much ignore anything they say. You are not their client; the seller is, so that's who they care about. The only person you can really trust is your lawyer (hopefully).


It sends a chill down my spine to think that I ever for a moment considered doing my own conveyancing in order to save money! I was like, well I've not bought a house before, but I've bought stuff before... you just pick the one you want and hand over the money, right?

DO NOT DO YOUR OWN CONVEYANCING unless you are qualified! It is way, way, way more complex than it looks, and on top of that, you need a genuine understanding and practical experience and of how it all works as a whole, and then the ability to think outside of the legal box to be a good lawyer. I would recommend making Juliette Scarfe at Carbon Law your first point of contact, as she was excellent with us, even though she is in London and we are in Somerset. We lost so much time and money on disingenuous sellers until we reached out to her, and she got it all sorted for us very promptly and cleanly.

Moving In

The less you have to move, the cheaper it will be, so have a brutal clear-out and donate unwanted items- even quite scruffy clothes and shoes can be donated into clothing banks if they are still functional. Anything with resale value can go on eBay or Depop.

Have a poke around on Groupon for cheap services, like this moving service. If you can't afford a man in a van, just hire a van and drive it yourself :) ZipVan might be a possibility.

Supermarkets throw away hundreds of big boxes every day, so if you go in and ask for some, they'll be happy to let you take away as many as you can carry.

We didn't really have any furniture when we moved in because we'd always lived in fully furnished accommodation. I got an original Deco dressing table with mirror on eBay for £25, and winged Chesterfield chairs for next to nothing- all I had to do was pick them up. Freecycle is also worth checking out for items that are literally free if you are willing to collect them. Sign up for groups in rich areas- I saw numerous nearly-new Miel cookers given away where I used to live in North London just because their owners wanted a new one in a different colour. Furniture and accessories can be painted to match a room, which is often cheaper than trying to buy everything in the right colour, and tools for redecorating can be rented rather than bought.

There is of course tons and tons of detailed information about this complex process online, but these little pointers come from my personal experience as a first-time buyer, and not a desire to try and sell anything ;) If you think you know someone who might be interested in this info, please share this blog using the Facebook link below.

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