Renting versus owning

It’s not as hard as you think to get on the property ladder – and for many people it is a life-changing experience. Are you ready?

It’s probably the biggest purchase you’ve ever considered making, but buying a home doesn’t need to be as daunting as you might think.

Swapping renting for owning, or finally moving out of the family home, comes with its challenges, but it’s worth every bit of scrimping, saving and stressing when you finally open that door to your own property. No rent  rises, no unscrupulous landlords, no more having to tell your parents where you’re going.

On the other hand, you may have to start doing your own laundry. (Swings and roundabouts.)

So here are some crucial considerations – and while there might be a few obstacles to overcome, the result could be the most exciting move you’ve ever made.

Get into the right headspace

For many people, buying their first property is a landmark moment: the end of carefree youth and the start of being, well… a grown-up.

Those who've been living in rented property for a while might be desperate to have somewhere to call their own where the landlord can't raise the rent by 20% or ask them to leave at the end of a tenancy. And living with your parents as an adult takes a very special kind of diplomacy if you’re going to maintain a great relationship with them.

Maybe you’re getting married and want to start off in your own place, or perhaps there’s a baby on the way and you need to settle somewhere for longer than a year or two.

And if not having to put up with someone else's décor and furniture fills your heart with more delight than the thought of a landlord having to shell out to fix the boiler, then you have well and truly tipped the balance in favour of buying your own place.

Sort out your finances

If you were paying rent before then you’ll be used to a chunk of your salary leaving your account each month – and you may even find your mortgage costs less per month than your rent.

If you've been living at home and not paying rent, a mortgage could be a shock to the system. A good way to prepare is to be strict about putting aside a similar amount of money each month for as long as possible before you start looking to buy. If you’re thinking about saving regularly, why not compare our savings accounts to help you find an account that best suits your needs.

If you do have outstanding debts it makes sense to try and pay off as much in advance to minimise your outgoings and improve your credit rating, because any other debts you have, such as a student loan, credit card payments or car payments, will be taken into account by your lender when assessing you for a mortgage.

You’re likely to need a deposit of at least 5% of the property's value. So if you want to buy a £150,000 home you need to save at least £7,500 and borrow the remainder. Remember there are other costs in buying a house you need to consider. Of course, the more you can save, the smaller your monthly payments and the better your rate is likely to be.

Choose a neighbourhood

You probably have a dream home in a dream neighbourhood already, right? A beach house by the sea… A townhouse at the heart of the action… A cool loft apartment in an up-and-coming area… A secluded cottage with roses round the porch…

Well it’s good to know what you’re looking for, but the first step is to check out the typical prices in your area for first-time-buyer properties (it's easy to do this online with websites such as Rightmove and Zoopla) and see if you've saved up enough.

If it looks like you’re going to have to compromise, don’t worry – this can often be a chance to add value to your home, rather than buying somewhere that is already at its peak price. Explore the areas nearby – they might have a fantastic community vibe you didn’t know about, or be in the local council’s plans for regeneration.

Alternatively, be willing to go for a place that’s underpriced because it might need some cosmetic improvements – as long as it’s structurally sound you can put your own stamp on it when you can afford it, and in the meantime just whack a coat of paint onto that 1970s wallpaper.

If it’s still all looking a bit pricey, you could consider local affordable housing options such as Shared Ownership or government initiatives like Help to Buy.

Get ready to take control

Once you’ve bought your home, that’s when it will really sink in: everything is now under your control. Scared? Don’t be. After all the paperwork and chasing up of estate agents and solicitors while you’re buying, this is a breeze – you can work at your own pace, choose your own décor, and pick your own tradesmen.

Sure, once you move in there are likely to be a bunch of domestic and DIY tasks to get the place how you want it – and to fix any niggling issues that you might not have seen when you viewed the property. But it’s best to avoid rushing any non-urgent jobs. Live with it for a bit to decide what your priorities are, and use the time to save up for the work.

There’s a certain amount of ongoing maintenance that may have been previously dealt with by your landlords, so it’s a good idea to put aside some money for this. On average, you can expect to pay between 1-4% of your home's value for maintenance a year, depending on the age of the house. This also helps you keep the value of your house intact.

The secret? Just be methodical about it, do a bit of research online and set up a schedule – you’ll probably find you’re so house proud when you first move in that you have a newfound delight in DIY!

Still keen?

Great – this is going to get exciting! The best place to start is the Halifax Mortgage calculator, which will give you an idea of what your monthly payments could be.

You could lose your home if you don’t keep up your mortgage repayments

Thinking about buying your own home?

Find out about our mortgages for first-time buyers.

First-time buyer guide