COULD YOU SKIP A STARTER HOME?

Skipping a rung of the property ladder could help save you cash in the long run.

When you think about taking your first step on the property ladder, you probably imagine a 2 up 2 down terrace or an apartment – a typical starter home. The kind of place you’ll maybe live in for a few years before selling up and moving on.

But, as it becomes harder to get onto those first rungs of the property ladder – the average age of a first time buyer is now 31 – are first time buyers’ needs changing, and would it make sense for some to skip the starter home stage and go straight for a bigger house with room to grow into?

You may have to pay more upfront, in terms of a bigger deposit and higher stamp duty, but you could also save some cash in the long-run if you don’t have to pick up the cost of moving twice, which can add up to thousands.

Here are a few questions to help you decide if skipping a starter home is the best move for you.

What’s the market like in your area?

The area you’re looking to buy in will have a huge impact on whether it makes sense to skip a rung of the property ladder. Is there a big price difference between 2 and 3 bed houses? It’s also worth considering how fast the market moves – how easy would it be to sell your starter home when you’re ready to make the next step and would you expect it to have gone up in value? It’s impossible to answer these questions for certain but a local estate agent should be able to help you get a better overall picture.

How easy would it be to save a bigger deposit?

One of the biggest stumbling blocks when it comes to skipping a rung of the property ladder is having to save up a bigger deposit. Compare the size of deposit you’d need for both a starter home and a slightly bigger property. How long would it take you to save up the difference - is it worth hanging on just a bit longer to build up the extra funds?

Could you take on a project?

A great way to get a bigger house than you’d normally be able to afford is to take on a project, especially if you’d be happy doing some of the work yourself to keep costs down. But remember, you may have to live with the house that’s not exactly as you want it while the work is ongoing.

Can you compromise?

If a 2-bed is your limit in the area you’re hunting in, can you compromise and see if you could get more for your money elsewhere? Looking slightly further afield could bring a 3-bed semi into your budget. But remember, if you’re thinking about a house you can grow into you may want to consider things like transport links and local schools carefully.

What help is available?

Making use of available Government schemes could help you afford a bigger property than you would be able to on your own. Under the Help to Buy scheme you only need a 5% deposit and a 75% mortgage to buy a newly-built home, with the Government lending you the other 20% (provided qualifying criteria and restrictions are met).