How to plan buying your first home

If you believe what you read in the papers, you'd think that it's impossible to get a foot on the housing ladder in 2011. But, while it's certainly true that high levels of youth unemployment, spiralling debt and widespread wage freezes have put home ownership out of reach for many people, there are still plenty of first time buyers making their way in ‘Austerity Britain'.

If you're thinking about buying a house, then budgeting for it is something you should give plenty of time and thought to. Here are a few ways you can help yourself prepare for the huge financial commitment of buying a house and keep those money worries at bay.

Allow for the worst

The advice on how much money you need to have saved up in your current account to cope with the immediate costs of buying a house vary quite widely. The process of making that first house purchase can, in many instances, be quite long and drawn out. You may well incur unexpected costs; for example, even if you've had a prospective house purchase surveyed at your own expense, the purchase may still fall through and you'll lose the money you spent on the survey. As a rough guideline then, £1,200 might well be enough to cover your solicitor's costs, the cost of a survey and any other administrative costs. But, if you are to allow for the worst, you might want to have £1,500 to £2,000 stashed away, just in case luck's really not on your side.

Mortgage advisor

Not everyone needs a mortgage advisor to help them buy a house. Plenty of people have enough knowledge to pick a mortgage product and hash out a good price without professional help. Going solo in this instance can be a big money-saver when buying a house. However, if you don't feel confident then getting professional advice could ensure that you don't end up with the wrong mortgage for you. If your family has its own solicitor who has been reliable over the years, then turning to them may ensure you a better service and better value for money than going to an unknown. If you don't know of any solicitors, ask around among your friends or try asking people online for recommendations.

Look out for bargains

Once your house move has gone through, keep an eye on sites like Gumtree and Ebay for great deals on furniture – you can save thousands by going for second hand rather than buying brand new stuff!

Don't scrimp on insurance

There are various ways you can cut costs when buying a house, but insurance isn't one of them. Buildings and home contents insurance are both hugely important, given that you'll be moving into a house you don't know very well, invariably in a new area. Should anything go wrong with the house or its contents during those first few months of your time there, the last thing you're going to want is a huge bill.

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