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I knew I’d have to get my hands dirty if I wanted to get on the property ladder…

Getting on the property ladder isn’t easy for most people. But for first time buyer Louise, not only did she save for nearly a decade to buy her first home; she also took on the daunting task of a project to enable her to buy in the area of her choice.

Louise is a primary school teacher in Carshalton, and saved for nearly eight years in order to buy her first property. Aged just 21, Louise set herself a property budget of around £200,000-£220,000 and started putting away as much money as she could towards her deposit.

She explains, “I made the decision to continue living with my parents so I could put aside as much money as possible. Saving wasn’t easy by any means; I had to be really disciplined. Each month, as soon as I got paid, I would transfer £200 to my Help to Buy ISA and a further £800 to my personal savings account. It was a huge commitment every month, but it was worth it when I look at what it’s enabled me to do. I also think it’s made the transition to living on my own and managing my household expenditure a lot easier, as my monthly outgoings are in a similar region, when I take into account mortgage repayments, utility bills, service charge and food bills.”

About her decision to buy a property that required a lot of work, instead of a new build property, Louise comments, “I knew I wanted to stay in Carshalton if possible, as I grew up here and it’s a lovely town, all my family and friends are close by as well as my job. But because we’re so close to London it does mean property is expensive, so I spent a lot of time looking at the property market to see what I wanted and whether I’d be able to afford it. The reality for me, so that I could stay local was a one bed flat, and even then I thought the chances of me finding what I wanted within my price range were fairly slim.”

Having taken advice from Mortgage Advice Bureau last year, Louise realised that although the £30,000 she had managed to save towards her deposit was a sizeable sum, she was still not in a position to afford to buy the kind of property she wanted. So she decided to keep saving.

She continues, “A year later and with an extra £16,000 in my pocket I went back to see my adviser this March. The larger deposit, combined with a small increase in my annual salary meant that I could afford to buy a property worth around £220,000. It was an amazing feeling but whilst this is a considerable budget for most first time buyers, living so close to London still meant I had to shop around to find the right property. I started looking in January and went to see a lot of flats over a two to three month period. I realised that in order to stay within my budget, I’d be better off finding something that was a bit of a ‘fixer upper’. Although it would mean taking on a project, it meant that I’d end up with a property that I could add value to, as well as enabling me to buy in an area that would otherwise be out of my price range.”

“I eventually found a one bedroom ground floor flat in a really lovely block. It was by far the most tired looking that I’d seen and had been rented out for a long while. To be honest it was pretty grimy inside, which I think had put a lot of other buyers off. It needed loads of cosmetic work doing as well as a full re-wire and a new boiler, but I could really see the value for money that it offered and I knew that if I wanted to get on the property ladder I had to be prepared to get my hands dirty and do some work. So I put an offer in straight away.”

“I have several friends who’ve decided to move out of the area to enable them to buy the property they want and I know that I could have taken an easier route to buying my first home. I also looked at other alternatives such as the Help to Buy schemes and Shared Ownership options with local authorities, but this felt the right way for me.

Although it’s taken a little longer than originally planned, I was over the moon when I finally picked up the keys and the flat was mine – it made all the saving and hard work over the years worthwhile.

Because we play by the book we want to tell you that…

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.
There may be a fee for mortgage advice. The actual amount you pay will depend upon your circumstances.
The fee is up to 1% but a typical fee is 0.3% of the amount borrowed.

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