How to Hack Your Way to Home Ownership - Guest blog

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When it comes to getting onto the property ladder, young people in the UK are hard-done-by. And it doesn’t help that the home buying process is often a very complex and stressful experience. But there are tricks and tools out there that can give you a helping hand - you just need to know where to find them.

FirstHomeCoach, an app that guides first-time buyers through every step of the home buying journey, gives us the lowdown on five simple hacks that can get you a little closer to owning your own home.

1. Check Your Credit Score

Your Credit Score is a crucial part to the home buying process. A good score is your key to securing a mortgage. But according to a report from the new Money Advice Service, 2 out of 3 people haven’t checked theirs in the last five years!

Checking your Credit Report gives you a detailed overview of your credit history (including credit cards, previous loans and store credit). If it’s not in ship-shape, it could affect your ability to borrow money. The main agencies that offer these reports are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

If you find your credit score not looking as lovely as you thought, there are steps you can take to improve it! A few include: registering to vote, cancelling unused credit cards or building your credit score with rent payments.

2. Get a LISA

To buy a home you might be aware that you need a hefty lump of money for the deposit. There are also costs that tend to get forgotten like legal fees, stamp duty and insurance. So it should come as no surprise that you need to get your savings going.

One hack that’s on offer to prospective first-time buyers is to open a Lifetime ISA (LISA). This is a tax-free savings account that gives UK residents, between the ages of 18 and 39, a chance to boost their savings. You can put in up to £4,000 each tax year until you turn 50, with the government adding a monthly bonus of 25% to the amount saved. For example, if someone opened an account at 18 and put in the full amount every year until they were 50, they would get £32,000 for free from the government!

There are some restrictions on withdrawing the money, so make sure you read all the small print. But we reckon it’s worth opening one even if you decide to hold off putting a chunk of money in it for now.

3. Get a Side Hustle

According to lender Sunny, some 7.5 million britons earn on average £360 a month each – on top of their main salary - from a side business. All this requires is a little bit of creativity, some spare time and good old perseverance.

If you find you do have some capacity, then a side gig can be a fun way to get some extra cash. For example, on a spare weekend you could be earning money by hosting an experience on AirBnB. This could be as simple as giving a short tour of the hipster coffee shops in your local area.

From selling home-made scented candles on Etsy to getting paid to test out apps when you’re on the go, or even renting out your camera equipment when you don’t need it, the possibilities are endless.

4. Use Apps to Help You

There are a loads of apps that can give you a better overview of you finances, help you save and track your progress.

● Squirrel is an app that divides up your salary keeping your ‘savings’ safe and putting your ‘bills money’ aside until they are due.

● Cleo is an AI assistant that also tracks where your money goes and gives you a clear breakdown of what you’ve spent.

● Monzo’s ‘Coin Jar’ feature lets you build savings by rounding up your purchase to the nearest pound and automatically adds the difference to the coin jar - so you can save without really noticing!

● Moneyhub is great at helping you understand where all your money is and what you are spending it on.

● And of course, there’s FirstHomeCoach which allows you to play with different home buying scenarios so you can work out when you’ll be able to buy and how much you need to save.

5. Get to Know the Secrets

The most important hack is to investigate everything you need to do to buy a home. The more you know, the better prepared you will be to make the right decisions. A good way to start is by:

Familiarising yourself with each step - You can speed up this learning phase by having a look at the Knowledge base on FirstHomeCoach. This collection of short articles will help answer a lot of your questions.

Speaking to recent first-time buyers - Something all first-time buyers have in common is they’ve all never bought a house before. To some extent, everyone goes in blind and that can lead to a lot of headaches and unforeseen obstacles. Speaking to friends, family or reading about other recent first-time buyer’s experiences might give you a nugget of wisdom you never knew you needed!

The home buying journey can be long and arduous, but these hacks are here to help you make the process that little bit easier! The most important thing is to do it all in your own time. For more help and guidance visit FirstHomeCoach.co.uk or get in touch with us on social media.

Written by our partner: First Home Coach