It’s fair to say the housing market has been sluggish in the past couple of years since the 2016 EU referendum.
And while Chelmsford has generally held up well against the national picture, with transactions down 5% over the past 12 months and average prices 3.1% up on the previous year, there has certainly been some hand-sitting in the local housing market.
But we’re now going to the General Election polls for the fourth time since 2010, after MPs this week voted in favour of a vote on December 12.
What that will mean for the housing market is obviously unclear at this stage.
But given how Brexit uncertainty has held back many buyers and sellers from making a move, anything that could break the political deadlock should be viewed as a positive step.
All of which could open the doors for first-time buyers in Chelmsford – or at least those able to save the substantial deposit required to buy a home in 2019.
So, if the market suddenly springs into life in 2020, not to mention if Boris Johnson’s hint at stamp duty reform comes to fruition (assuming the Conservatives are still the governing party, of course), you’ll need to be in a solid financial place as a first-time buyer.
But what can you do to ensure you are? Here are some of our top tips for saving that crucial deposit…
How to save a house deposit
We’re under no illusions at Martin & Co Chelmsford how tough it can be to save a deposit as a first-time buyer.
As we outlined earlier in this piece, prices are still rising in Chelmsford, meaning the amounts of money required for a deposit are rising with them.
As a first-time buyer, you’ll need at least 5% of a purchase property’s value as a minimum and even with that amount, the lenders and mortgage rates you’ll have to choose from will be limited.
To have a wider choice of lenders and rates, 10% is really where you need to be.
And it can be done. There are options…
1. Start saving
Okay, it sounds obvious, but the only way to save a deposit is by saving.
But the point we’re making here is many people struggle to save, even if they have the money coming in to do so.
Switching from spending to saving can be a tough mindset to get into and dedication is required.
2. Factor in other costs
As a first-time buyer, there’s a strong chance you’ll be exempt from paying stamp duty – which will save you a huge amount of money.
Unless your maiden property purchase is above £300,000, you’ll pay no stamp duty as a first-timer, but there are other costs to consider when saving your deposit.
Make sure you factor in moving costs and solicitor’s fees, plus a healthy sum to kit out your new place with all the furnishings you need.
Adding this into your saving plan from the off is far better than simply factoring in the deposit amount itself and will put you in a stronger position when you actually come to start your property search.
3. Think about where your savings will go
Once you start your quest to save, you’ll need to decide where you are going to keep your deposit funds.
Leaving them in your current account means the temptation will always be there to spend – and that’s not good.
Set up a savings account where you can’t make withdrawals if you’re looking to save quickly and move quickly.
If you’re looking to save your deposit over a longer period of time, you could consider a cash ISA, which will give you tax free interest but do have a cap on how much you pay into them.
4. Draw up a savings plan
Consistency is key when it comes to saving.
Many first-time buyers adopt an irregular approach to saving, putting away one sum one month, another sum the next month and then nothing the month after that.
By drawing up a savings plan and budget, you can ensure you save a regular amount every month, which will help you see your target deposit amount getting closer every month.
Be realistic about how much you can save each month and still meet your obligations – as well as having a life!
Set yourself a time target for reaching your deposit goal and that will enable you to work out how much you need to save each month to get there.
5. Keep on top of your costs
While it’s important you meet your obligations, whether that’s rent, car finance, mobile phone costs or ensuring you have enough money left each month for food, drink, bills and some fun, keeping a firm grip on your additional spending is crucial.
While it sounds boring, drawing up a spreadsheet of your monthly budget can really help you keep track of your spending and stay on target to reach your deposit goals.
6. Cut out luxuries
How much do you spend on shop-bought coffee every month?
How much do you spend on a sandwich and drink for lunch when at the office?
Take a look at your bank statements and highlight monthly outgoings like this – we guarantee you’ll be surprised (and possibly shocked) how much you spend on ‘little things’.
Cutting out things like this can make a huge difference to how much you can save each month towards your deposit.
And is taking a flash of coffee and a homemade sandwich to work really that bad?
7. Sell stuff you don’t use
Even if you’re in rented accommodation, we bet you have stuff in the loft or under the stairs that you don’t use any more.
Swapping gathering dust for gathering additional savings can really help kickstart your deposit saving quest, so take a look around and see what you can sell.
Places like Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace are great for bagging quick sales and quick money.
Plus, you’ll have less stuff to move when you buy your dream first home!
If you’re looking to buy your first home in Chelmsford, speak to the team at Martin & Co, or pop into our branch on Duke Street.