How to save for your first home

Rising house prices have made buying a first home a challenge for many people, but there are signs that first-time buyers could be on the increase.

A report by UK Finance found that in May 2018, 32,200 new mortgages were completed by first-time buyers - up 8.1% on the same month a year before.

It's possible this increase has been helped by government initiatives to make home ownership more affordable, such as help-to-buy and shared ownership schemes.

The number of people moving house also increased in May 2018, with 31,100 new home mover mortgages being secured.

An additional 36,000 households remortgaged their home, which was an increase of 7.1% on the previous year.

Jackie Bennett, director of mortgages at UK Finance said:

"The mortgage market saw a pre-summer boost, driven by a rise in the number of first-time buyers and strong remortgaging activity.

"However, affordability remains a challenge for some prospective buyers."

According to the research, the average first-time buyer is 30 years old and has a gross household income of £42,000.

Whether or not you fit this demographic, buying a home comes with the same main considerations for most first-time buyers: saving up a deposit and securing a mortgage.

Saving for a deposit

If you've been planning to buy a home, it's likely you're already in the habit of saving.

You'll usually need to save a deposit of at least 5% of a property's value to be approved by a mortgage lender.

However, the deposit needed for cheaper mortgage deals tends to start higher at 25%, rising to 30% or 40% for the best deals.

ISAs can be a useful way to save, and there are a couple of options designed to help people with saving to buy a first home.

Help-to-buy ISA

In a Help-to-Buy ISA, the government will top up your savings by 25%, up to a maximum of £3,000.

These savings can be used for purchases of first homes worth up to £250,000, or £450,000 if the property is in London.

Your first payment into this type of ISA can be up to £1,200, after which you can pay up to £200 a month with the maximum amount you can save capped at £12,000.

The extra 25% is added when it's confirmed the purchase of your property will go ahead.

Lifetime ISA

The lifetime ISA can similarly be used to buy a first home, but it can also be used to supplement your retirement income once you're 60 or over.

These can be opened by people under 40 years old, who can then keep saving in the account until the age of 50.

Every year, you can save up to a limit of £4,000 in a lifetime ISA and receive a government top-up of 25%.

The savings can be used to buy a first home costing up to £450,000.

However, if your savings are not used to buy a first home or to supplement retirement income, you'll be charged a 25% exit fee on the whole amount.

Securing a mortgage

Your deposit is the key factor in securing a mortgage, but it's not the only thing you'll need to think about.

To gain a mortgage lender's approval, you'll need to have a good credit score and be able to pass an affordability assessment.

It's also worth considering the current relationship between interest rates and inflation, and how that will affect your mortgage.

Get in touch to discuss saving for your first home.