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First time buyers could be nearly £700 per year better off

By 25 August 2015 Home

As crazy as it sounds, it can actually be cheaper to own your own home than rent. New research just released by the Halifax has shown that for first time buyers owning a property is £670 cheaper per year than renting. So not only are you lining your landlord’s pockets you’re emptying your own.

The research has found that a first time buyer purchasing a three bedroom house in the UK is paying out on average £666 per month. In contrast, the rent on a similar property would be 8% more at £722 per month. For many of us stuck renting, for now at least, this could be quite depressing. The bright side is that if you’re currently saving hard for a deposit, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Once you get into your new home, you might actually be better off. That £700 could buy a nice little holiday or perhaps a new sofa.

If, like me, you have a few years before you’ll have a house deposit in place, you might share my concerns that with rising house prices you’re never going to have enough to buy the property that you want. The number of first time buyer house sales has decreased over the last few months, although there are still more people climbing onto the first rung of the property ladder than this time last year. Figures from the Housing Market Report state that in July 2015 first time buyers accounted for 23% of all sales, compared with 24% in June and 29% in May. However, in July 2014, only 20% of sales were made to first time buyers.

Mark Hayward, National Association of Estate Agents managing director, is alarmed that the number of sales made to first time buyers is falling. “With reports of house prices increasing and expectations of rising in the future, first time buyers will continue to be pushed out of the market,” he added.

Not the most encouraging of remarks, however I don’t think I’ll ever be put off from buying a house. I know that being secure in your own home relies on you being able to keep up the mortgage payments but I don’t feel happy with the idea of bringing up children in a rented property that the landlord can literally just turf you out of whenever they feel like it.

In a world of increasing property prices and increasing numbers of people having to remain in rented accommodation, I really wish someone would look at assured shorthold tenancies and do something to make the tenant feel more secure. During the run up to the general election, the Labour party talked about introducing secure 3 year tenancies as standard. This pledge alone almost made me vote for them.

Plus, I like the idea of owning my own home and not having to pay rent when I get old. I can’t imagine there’s going to be a state pension by the time we get to retirement age and having to continue to pay rent each month could be really stressful and potentially impossible for many.

For those of you already paying a mortgage, how do you find it compares to your previous monthly rent? Or perhaps you’re looking at mortgages at the moment. How do your monthly repayments stack up? Let us know in the comments below.

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4 simple ways to inject colour into your rented home

By 24 April 2015 Home

We’re really lucky in that our landlord is happy for us to decorate our house. So although we rent, we’ve painted walls, put up shelves and hung pictures. I know plenty of people on the other hand who’re not even supposed to put blu tack on the walls.

When you’ve got a bland magnolia space how do you make it homely and inject a bit of personality?

1- Rugs

A large rug can cover a huge expanse of floor and make a tremendous difference to a room. Our Hampen rug from Ikea is massive and takes up the entire space between our sofas and covers a multitude of sins. Why landlords put beige carpets in I’ll never know. At just £40 this rug was an absolute steal and I couldn’t recommend it enough. Putting it down made the room feel so much more homely and cosy.

2 – Cushions

What is it with girls and scatter cushions? My husband usually ends up chucking the cushions on the floor but as I write this I’m leaning on about five. I do like a good cushion and you can pick them up for just a few quid in shops such as Primark and Asda. This is one of my favourite cushions, I bought it in Asda for £7 just after we came back from holiday in Scotland. Highland Cow cushion Choose cushions with a colour in common for a coordinated look, or just go mad buying any you like for an eclectic style.

3 – Fairy lights

When I was at uni I put multi coloured fairy lights up for Christmas and never took them down again until I moved out of halls. They were fun and were awesome mood lighting for chilling out watching a film. Lights are definitely making a come back and they are a cheap and easy way to inject some colour into your home. Whether you drape them over your bedstead or hang them on a door frame using a little blu tack or washi tape, they look cute and homely. Fairy lights on door frame There are lots of battery operated fairy lights available, particularly in Primark, for not a lot of money at all. Just beware of their battery draining capabilities. We got some colour change lights from Primark and they drain AAs in less than a day.

4 – Washi tape

If you don’t know what washi tape is, you’re missing out. It’s basically colourful and perhaps printed masking tape. You can use it in a multitude of ways and it’s said not to damage walls. This means you can use it to stick photos and prints to walls, pretty up shelf edges, create cool shapes and whatever else your imagination can conjure up.

For all the washi tape ideas, visit Pinterest. There are some pretty awesome things you can do with this unassuming paper tape and the best thing is, you can remove it from the walls and your landlord will never know.

Renting ladies, what have you done to add a splash of colour into your home? Leave a comment below.

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What the Budget 2015 means for first time buyers

By 23 March 2015 Home, Money

Last Wednesday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered what could be his last Budget. This is when the government sets out its intended spending and tax initiatives for the coming year. This year, alongside the usual tax increases and cuts, George Osborne announced Help to Buy ISAs.

The Help to Buy ISA offers a bonus for those saving up to buy their first home. It’s a type of cash ISA specially designed to reward first time buyers with a 25% bonus. If you’re not sure what a cash ISA is, read What is a cash ISA and should I have one?

With this new ISA, which will be available through bank and building societies from autumn 2015, for every £200 you save the government will give you an additional £50. Individuals over 16 can open a Help to Buy ISA. You can take your savings out whenever you like but the bonus is only paid when you buy your home. The maximum bonus payable is £3,000. This means that if you save £12,000, you’ll end up with £15,000. It’s not often you get something for free!

Help to Buy ISA facts

  • You’ll be able to open an account at any time during the 4 year period starting this autumn
  • If you’re saving as a couple, both of you can open a Help to Buy ISA, so you can each benefit from the max. £3,000 bonus.
  • There’s no minimum amount you have to pay in each month, but you’re only allowed to pay in up to £200 per month per ISA
  • You can open the account and immediately pay in £1,000 if you wish
  • The bonus is going to be available when buying a house for up to £250,000 outside London and up to £450,000 in London.

The new ISA has been welcomed by some and scoffed at by others. One criticism is that £15,000 wouldn’t be enough for a 10% deposit in most parts of the UK. However, most people aren’t able to buy a property alone so two people together could save £24,000 over 5 years and that would be turned into £30,000. Of course, this still might not be enough to buy in London.

Team the Help to Buy ISA with the proposed starter homes, and it should become easier for first time buyers over the next few years. As a girl who’s determined to buy a house in the next 4 years anything that’s going to help this happen is music to my ears.

What do you think of the Help to Buy ISA? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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What’s the deal with starter homes?

By 16 March 2015 Home

Last month, the Prime Minister announced that 200,000 starter homes would be built to help young people onto the property ladder. But what the hell is a starter home and what’s it got to do with me you ask? Well, don’t get your knickers in a twist, I’m about to explain.

The Starter Homes scheme is a government initiative to a) increase the number of houses being built in Britain and b) to help more people buy their first home. The Tories do seem pretty obsessed with people buying houses which I suppose reflects society. I think it’s pretty much hard-wired into British people that homeownership is a necessity, whereas in other European countries they are much more content to rent forever. Perhaps they don’t have assured shorthold tenancies which give them hardly any security in their homes.

“Hardworking young people want to plan for the future and enjoy the security of being able to own their own home. I want to help them do just that.” – Prime Minister David Cameron

How will the Starter Home scheme work?

Well there are limited details available at the moment but basically the government is loosening planning requirements to allow developers to build on brownfield land and save on costs usually incurred by having to provide affordable housing (i.e. social housing and shared ownership). As the house builders will save money, they’ll be able to discount the homes they build by at least 20%.

Starter homes will only be available to first time buyers under the age of 40. Also, there’ll be a cap on the value of the home of up to £250,000 outside London and £450,000 inside London. You’ll still need to raise a deposit and get a mortgage but the discount should help you to find a more affordable home.

If you want to sell up within 5 years, you’ll need to offer the discount to the buyer, which basically means you have to repay the 20% saving you made. So this scheme isn’t for you if you think you’ll want to move on pretty quickly.

I’m interested! When can I buy a starter home?

Firstly, you have to get in the queue behind me! The government has said that building could start within months, which is suitably vague bearing in mind we could have another political party in government in May. David Cameron’s pledge is to build 200,000 discounted homes by 2020, which is fantastic news if you’re hoping to buy a house in the next 5 years. So far, more than 30 house builders have said they support the plans.

You can actually sign up and register to you interest on the New Homes website.

Are the homes cheaper because they’re crap?

Apparently not. A so-called Design Panel has been put together including some world class architects who have suggested some designs for the house builders to consider for their starter home developments. The image used above (copyright Farrells) is one of these designs.

The idea behind the starter homes is to build attractive, well-proportioned and high quality homes that ‘meet the demands of modern life’. Although I’m not sure what that last statement is supposed to mean.

Is this just pre-General Election bollocks?

Both the Financial Times and the Guardian have suggested that the announcement is the Prime Minister’s attempt to “woo” voters. The problem is that there is going to be a General Election on 7th May and the Conservative / Lib Dem coalition could be out. Who knows what the government is going to look like come 8th May. Will it be red, blue, yellow, green or, God help us, purple?

If the Tories don’t win, or become part of another coalition, the starter home scheme might not go ahead, which would be a real shame. I really don’t know who’s best to vote for this year, but I hope whoever wins will be on the first time buyer’s side when it comes to housing.

Do you think it’s right that we seem to be obsessed with buying houses in this country? Should we learn to love renting? Tell me in the comments, I’d love to hear what you think.

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What home can £170k buy you around the UK?

By 23 February 2015 Home

As someone who wants to get on the property ladder within the next four years, I’ve already started to look at mortgages and house prices. We don’t want to have to stay in our rented house for longer than we have to because it’s not where we want to raise a family.

For many people, the idea of renting for too long is so off-putting because you’re paying someone else’s mortgage. And, the monthly rent is often more than a mortgage repayment, which is pretty sickening really. According to a recent article on Zoopla, on average it’s 9%, or £62, cheaper per month to live in your own home rather than as a tenant.

The Guardian has reported that the average price of a home purchased by a first-time buyer is £171,870, and the average deposit raised by a first-time buyer is £29,218. That is a lot of money. It’s not surprising that the average age of people buying their first home is 30 years old, however I can’t imagine ever saving up that sort of sum.

So, as the average first-time home costs around £170k, I thought I’d have a hunt around Zoopla to see what your money can get you around the country. There are other property websites, such as Rightmove but I just happened to pick this one this time.

Dining room in 1930s semi in Dover

Three bed 1930s semi in Dover, Kent

Guide Price £170, 000 to £180, 000

This nice-sized home features two reception rooms, conservatory, kitchen, three bedrooms, and family bathroom. It also boasts front and rear gardens, although no parking.

1 bed flat in Brighton

One bedroom flat in Brighton, West Sussex


This rather small flat has a lounge, separate kitchen, double bedroom and bathroom. But it’s within a stone’s throw of all the sights and sounds of Brighton.

Taunton 3 bed semi

Modern three bed semi in Taunton, Somerset

Offers over £169,950

One of my personal favourites, this contemporary home has a lounge/diner, kitchen, downstairs loo, three bedrooms, family bathroom, back garden, garage and parking. This would be an ideal first home within commuting distance of both Exeter and Bristol.

Detached house in Grantham

Mock Tudor three bed detached with garage in Grantham, Lincolnshire

Offers in region of £170,000

Now talk about getting some bang for your buck. In Grantham, £170k buys you an entrance porch, hall, cloakroom, lounge/diner, conservatory, kitchen, utility room, three bedrooms with en-suite to the master and a bathroom. Now I’ve no idea what the job market is like in Lincolnshire but the price of this house suggests its not awesome. Tell me in the comments if I’m wrong. I’ll be moving!

The Cube apartment Birmingham

Funky 1 bed apartment in The Cube, Birmingham


This is the cool one! If you’re looking for city centre living with your significant other, or alone, this flat is pretty awesome. It was the showhome in The Cube development. You get open plan living, a bedroom and a bathroom. I love it!

4 bed terrace in Sunderland

Stunning four bed terrace in Sunderland


As terraced houses go this one is gorgeous. It’s packed full of original features and comprises two reception rooms and kitchen on the ground floor, three bedroom and family bathroom on first floor and a loft conversion with the master bedroom and en-suite shower room.

Merchant City flat Glasgow

2 bed flat, Merchant City, Glasgow

Offers over £155,000

This flat is ideal if you want open plan living close to the bustle of Glasgow. With a living/dining/kitchen, balcony, two bedrooms, and two bathrooms you could be very happy living here. That living space would be fab for parties!

Houseboat St Katharine Dock London

One bed houseboat, St Katharine Dock, London


This one’s definitely the wild card. Not exactly your average home but you can’t get much closer to the action than this. Moored in beautiful St Katharine Dock just around the corner from Tower Bridge, this houseboat could be the ideal way to find a home in central London. You only get a living room, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom (or should we say a head?) but I think the deck and the stunning setting might just make up for it. Don’t forget the annual £11,184 mooring fees though!

What would £170,000 buy around your way? How does this compare to your possible first home budget? Let us know in the comments!

For interiors inspiration – check out the chaperthirty <3 homes Pinterest board.

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