How I Became A Homeowner At 24

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Getting on the property ladder can feel impossible. I used to spend hours looking up on anything that told me how to save and what to save for a deposit and to be honest, it just freaked me out and made me panic. Firstly, how on earth do you save for a deposit? What are the actual steps to buying a house and how long does the process take? Trust me, my list could go on!

To even look to get onto the property ladder, you need to make sure you meet certain criteria. Below are a few tips anyone can follow!

1. Get yourself on the electoral roll
Whether you want to vote or not, being on the electoral roll means that as a person, firstly, you exist (on computer systems anyway) so growing your credit is a lot easier. It also means you need a lot less information to prove who you are since you’ve already provided a lot of it.

2. Have a good credit rating
Firstly, no credit is bad credit so you need to have a credit rating. You can easily grow your credit by doing simple things such as getting a mobile phone on contract (in your name), getting a credit card and paying for things like your car insurance by setting up a direct debit.  Personally, I’ve had my phone in my name since I was about 18/19 and I also have a credit card. I would only ever advise getting a credit card if you’re using it when you already have the money waiting, so that you can pay it off straight away. I only ever use my credit card to put petrol in and for my work expenses because I know as soon as I make one splurge, I go over the top and could easily get into debt. This way, I repay the money straight away. Your credit rating is easily ruined by only missing ONE payment so if you know you’re bad with money, DO NOT get a credit card.

3. Have a long standing bank account in your name
This one doesn’t make much sense to me but every little helps! When I was 16, I opened a bank account with RBS. Since then, I have opened other accounts which I have kept up to date in terms of my address but I haven’t closed that one. It turns out that lenders like to see a long lasting relationship of some sorts so even if you don’t use a particular account, keep it open.

4. Know where your money comes from and goes to
At some point, you need to save money if you are to get a house. Money management is the most important thing. The more you know about where your money goes, the easier it is to decide what to cut back on or move around. I have a spreadsheet of my incoming and outgoings. The spreadsheet itself is only an Excel template but it is enough to give you a good overview. It may sound daft but whenever it comes to me needing to save for anything in particular, I know what is available and where I can get the money from. I am normally terrible at saving unless I have something to save for, so I give myself goals. I’m one of those people that will say they’re skint but that comes with varying degrees. If I have something I’m working towards then nothing will make me dip into the savings. If I feel like I may be tempted then I put my money in the Credit Union which is a type of savings account you can’t access online.

5. Have a permanent full time job which you have been in for at least 6 months
Not every lender is so fussed about a job being permanent but the majority of them do look for you to have been in your job at least 6 months because they want to see you can pay your bills and stick to it.

6. Speak to a mortgage broker
This is one of the best things I’ve ever done! One of my colleagues told me to go to speak to someone about all of my different options and she recommended the One Stop Mortgage Shop. My mortgage advisors Johnny & Erin are based in the Belfast branch and they were brilliant. I walked in, wanting to look at my options and walked out knowing I could already start looking. A mortgage advisors job is to know all the options available and how best to get you on the property ladder. They are brilliant with money and really understand government schemes, mortgage offers etc. Best of all, you can choose whether you pay them or they get paid by the mortgage provider so all of your money can go towards your new house!

Without making this blog too long, I think I’ll leave it there for now, but the tips above are tips that are useful for anyone and should hopefully show that it isn’t as impossible as we are led to believe.

Feel free to let me know in the comments below any more you think are important!

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