Have you been squirrelling away your savings and furnishing your (imaginary) home with all of your favourite things? If so, you’re in the same boat as pretty much every other first-time buyer in the UK! But (as you’re no doubt beginning to realise) getting on the property market isn’t as straightforward as finding a house you like and filling in a form at the bank…

Here’s a brief overview of everything you need to know, complete with helpful links and resources to give you a deeper understanding of what you’re signing up for.

Types of property

The UK property market has a lot to offer a first-time buyer. Whether you’re leaning towards the idea of a characterful cottage in the countryside or a modern flat in the city, you won’t be short of options.

However, you might find it easier to secure a mortgage or take advantage of a  help to buy scheme for new houses on a suburban estate. New builds (rather than older homes) tend to be available with help to buy schemes, and many shared ownership schemes are available on modern properties as opposed to older ones.

How to get your funds together
While Barclays is offering a 100% mortgage, the overwhelming majority of lenders will expect you to put down a deposit. Generally, you’ll need to save anywhere from 5% to 20% of the purchase price of the property, though the bigger your deposit, the better the deal you’ll be able to secure.

You should consider taking advantage of shared ownership schemes, help to buy schemes and the government’s Help to Buy ISA. It’s also very common for first-time buyers to get on to the property ladder with help from family members, so it might also be worth talking to your parents or grandparents to see if there’s a chance of a gift or a loan.

Looking beyond the mortgage

It’s not just the cost of the mortgage that you’ll need to manage. For one thing, you’ll need to decide whether your other financial commitments are well-aligned with buying a property, taking into consideration any lingering student loans, personal debts and lifestyle expenses.

Secondly, you’ll need to make sure that you have funds to support the other costs of buying a home. Typically, these include a mortgage arrangement and valuation fee, stamp duty fees, solicitor’s fees, survey costs, removal costs, insurance costs and decorating costs.

Finally, running a home is expensive, and you’ll need to be comfortable with the fact that you’ll be responsible for repairs and maintenance, as well as regular expenses such as utility bills, council tax and TV/Wi-Fi packages. A mortgage provider will help you to ‘stress test’ your finances to check you can handle owning a property, but you’ll well advised to do your own calculations first and give yourself an opportunity to adjust your income and outgoings accordingly.

If you’d like a really in depth guide to the property market, consider contacting the Citizens Advice Service for impartial advice. There’s a wealth of information available on Google and on television too, so get swotting if you want to be in with a chance of securing the property of your dreams. Good luck!