Advice on buying your own property

Buying your own home is a big purchase. There are several things you need to consider and understand before starting the process. These factors are explained below in the usual order you will need to consider them.

Saving for a deposit

The deposit amount is based on the price of the property you are looking to purchase. The minimum deposit required is 5% although saving more than 5% will give you access to a wider range of mortgages available on the market and a lower interest rate.

For example, if you want to buy a home costing £200,000, you’ll need to save at least £10,000 which is a 5% deposit. Once you know how much you need to save, you should think about where you want to save your deposit and how much interest you will earn.

You may wish to consider opening a Lifetime ISA (LISA). There is a maximum amount you can put into the LISA each year along with a maximum boost on your savings. If you are a first-time buyer and meet the LISA criteria, you could receive a 25% boost on your savings. Find out more about LISAs on the Money Helper website.

What is a mortgage?

A mortgage is a loan taken out to buy a property with a term of approximately 25 years. The term can be shorter or longer depending on your circumstances. The loan is secured against the value of your home until you pay your mortgage off.

Finding a mortgage

You can apply direct to a bank or building society, or you may choose to use an independent mortgage advisor who can help you find a mortgage. The lender will provide you with a mortgage in principle estimating how much they are prepared to lend to you. A mortgage in principle is also known as a decision in principle.

Affordability is assessed by your lender

The maximum lenders usually allow you to borrow is four and a half times your annual income. Lenders will conduct an affordability assessment where your income and outgoings are assessed to ensure you can afford the monthly repayments even if interest rates rise or your circumstances change. Use the mortgage affordability calculator on the Money Helper website to calculate an estimate of the amount you can afford to borrow.

The lender will also conduct a credit check with a credit reference agency. Find out more about how to check your credit score and how to improve your credit score on the Money Helper website.

Viewing properties

Properties available for purchase are advertised on Rightmove and Zoopla. Viewings are arranged, usually through the advertised estate agent and once you have found a property you like and can afford, you can make an offer.

Solicitor and survey

Once you have sourced a property and your offer has been accepted, you will need to find a solicitor or conveyancer to handle the legal work around the purchase of your home. You need to have a survey on the property conducted by a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyor company which will value the property and check for any problems. Further information about different types of surveys can be found on the Money Helper website.

Exchange of contracts

After the survey, you will finalise your mortgage with your lender. If there are no problems you and the seller will then be ready for your solicitors to exchange contracts, committing you to your purchase. This is when you will need to have buildings insurance in place to cover the structure of your home.


Upon completion, the property is officially yours. Your solicitor will register the transfer of ownership with the Land Registry. At this stage you will need to pay your solicitor’s bill and stamp duty.

Other costs of purchasing your own home

Apart from your monthly mortgage payments, there are others costs when buying a property. These include:

  • survey costs and fees for a valuation of the property
  • solicitor or conveyancer fees (this often includes extra costs, such as search and Land Registry fees)
  • mortgage arrangement fees
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax
  • buildings insurance
  • removal and moving in costs
  • initial furnishing and decorating costs
  • the cost of running and maintaining your home, including council tax, utility bills and content insurance
Stamp Duty Land Tax

Stamp Duty Land Tax must be paid if you buy a property over a certain price. Stamp duty is paid upon completion of your property purchase. The amount of tax will vary depending on the purchase price of your property. To calculate your Stamp Duty Land Tax use the calculator on the GOV.UK website

Further information about Stamp Duty Land Tax can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Further information

Contact details

If you have an enquiry about any low cost home ownership opportunities, email the Housing Strategy Team

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