What can first time buyers expect to get for their money?


It’s no secret that getting on the first rung of the property ladder can be an extremely difficult task, with many first time buyers struggling to meet the high costs involved with purchasing their first home.

According to Rightmove first time buyers can now expect to pay an average of £169,414 to get their foot on the ladder – that’s an increase of 7.6 per cent on last year’s figures. A recent report by The Independenlondon flats 2t also revealed that unaffordable housing is forcing first time buyers out of the home towns they’ve grown up in and love.

So, what can first time buyers expect to get for their money?

London living

Reports claim that those hoping to buy in the notoriously expensive London need to be earning a whopping £77,000 a year to afford the capital’s average house price of £384,856. However, if the national average of £169,414 is more in your price range, you’re likely to be looking at a one bedroom flat in north London or The Isle of Dogs. The sizes may be “bijou” but many would argue that the lack of space is a small price to pay for the opportunity to live so close to the big city and all it has to offer.

A quiet lifeisle of wight
If you enjoy the open air, a slow pace of living and love the sea, perhaps a house across the Solent may be of interest?  You can buy a spacious three bed semi  in the more rural/coastal parts of the Isle of Wight, offering outside space and with a beach never more than 20 minutes away. You can expect to get a lot more for your money than if you buy around the nearby commuter belt of the south east.

 Go up north
Moving further up north to Cumbria, you could enjoy a three bedroom detached property in areas such as Wigton or Windermere. Prices generally are lower in the north with many areas such as Leeds in Yorkshire or the suburbs of Newcastle offering semi-detached or terraced properties with a garden for the average asking price. However, you may find that prices begin to rise the closer you get to the city centre – notably in the larger cities such as Leeds, where you could possibly purchase a two bedroom apartment for the same price as a house several miles down the road.

 How are you finding prices in your area? Do you plan on buying closer to home, or do you have to look elsewhere for something more affordable?

Image Credit: GeographGeograph

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Clearing out your new home
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Clearing out your new home

Whether you’re on the verge of moving, or you’ve arrived at your new home to find your posessions won’t all fit in your new cupboards, the upheaval of relocating can be the perfect catylist for a good old clearout. Clutter accumulates over the years, and in the process of moving, you’re likely to stumble across a world of hidden treasures and ‘tat’, making it the perfect time to have a declutter.

1. Clothing

No matter how many new items of clothing we buy, it always seems to be the case that old clothes are stored away. Whilst they might come in handy once in a blue moon when you to paint, for the most part, they’re just taking up unnecessary space. Whilst it might seem rash to throw away old items immediately, it saves them from handing in the back of wardrobes unnoticed. If they aren’t going to be worn, now is the time to get rid, and use your home move as a chance to really build up your wardrobe using items you actually will wear.

2. Odd-jobs drawer

We’re all guilty of this, and all houses have them; whether it is brimming with a collection of jumbled keys for old lost padlocks, that old phone charger for a Nokia 3310, or an assortment of local takeaway menus. The majority of the items in the ‘junk’ draw can be thrown away, and although it is handy to have a place to store keys and pens and other small items, make sure that everything you keep in there is usable.

3. Documents

Old bank statements, receipts and bills often carry an air of importance, meaning we feel they require storing on the off chance they’re needed for admin purposes. However, with online banking now commonplace, many of us don’t even need the hard copy statement delivering to us anymore. Whilst some documents are required for the purposes of tax for a number of years, it’s likely that most documentation can be shredded prior to your move. Don’t simply throw them in the bin, as documents containing bank details, or even your name and address need to be destroyed.

4. Spare bedding or towels

Living in a home, you’ll often replace items such as bedding and towels, however even though we buy in new items, it is often the case that we hoard to old ones rather than binning them. It’s likely that you have your best bedding in use most of the time, with a spare sat in a cupboard that is used from time to time. This is all you really need, and if you’ve got a third and fourth string set packed away on the off chance they’re needed then you need to have a clear out. Before the big move, ask yourself, when are you intending on using it? If you can’t envisage them being used in the next 6 months they ought to be left behind.

5. Outdated Technology

Whilst retro might be cool, and there are cases (like vinyl records) where an outdated technology enjoys somewhat of a renaissance, the chances of VHS videos, Gameboys and old PlayStation games becoming popular again are relatively slim. In many households, old electronics are thrown up into the loft and once out of sight, will probably remain up there until you move. With wires and chargers everywhere, your best bet it to throw them away, as the chances of their value increasing are relatively slim.

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An easy breakdown of the home buying process

An easy breakdown of the home buying process

The house buying process can be a complicated and hugely time consuming process. If you’re juggling it with your full time jobs and family commitments, it’s not hard to see why people begin to feel the stress. Whilst we can’t lighten the workload for you, we can give you a helping hand when it comes to understanding the whole process. If the strain of starting the home moving process is starting to feel like a burden, here is our simplification of the home buying process.

Get prepared

House buying is a big life decision, so it’s important that you don’t head into the process without doing a reasonable amount of research. Getting an understanding and background knowledge will be a big aid, and make the process of home buying much more straight forward. As with most things, having a greater understanding will allow you to make a more informed decision further down the line.

Find your mortgage

A crucial factor when buying a home is to ensure you get a mortgage that is well suited to your financial situation. Again, this will involve copious amounts of research and homework. If you’re unsure what types of mortgage are out there, it’s worth looking into, and getting the facts straight in your head before going out into the market.

Place your offer

Once you’ve got your mortgage lined up, viewed homes and are now ready to proceed, it’s time to put in an offer on what you want to be your new home. If you’re a first time buyer, you’ll have less constraints, as you won’t have an existing home up for sale slowing you down. Usually, you’ll put your offer in through your estate agent, as they will help your deal go through as smoothly as possible.

Source your solicitor

Now for the legal aspects, you’ll need to get yourself sorted with a solicitor, in order to handle the paperwork surrounding your impending move. It’s important that the finer details of your move are scrutinised ahead of signing your papers, so having a trusted solicitor on your side is an important addition.

Get it surveyed

Another crucial step is to ensure that you arrange for a survey of your new property to be carried out, to make sure that your new home has been thoroughly checked over and is valued at the price you’re paying. There are a number of different surveys and reports which can be carried out, from the cheaper condition report to the most comprehensive option of a structural survey.

Exchange contracts

Once your solicitor and surveyor are happy, it’s time to sign the contract and move ahead with the purchase. It’s at this point you’ll have to start the expenditure, as you’ll usually have to lay down 10% of the total price as a deposit. It’s important to know that once you put down the deposit, you’re committed to the sale, meaning that if circumstances change any you need to pull out of the deal, you’ll likely lose your deposit.

Finalise it

Upon completion, the property finally becomes yours. It’s time for you to get your keys and the deed to your first home. The completion of your purchase means you’ll now have bills to pay; the 90% of your home which you’re yet to pay for is transferred from your mortgage lender to your legal representative, and then on to the seller’s representative.

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Garden preparations for spring

Garden preparations for spring

Summer is almost upon us (or at least it feels that way after the few weeks of nice weather we’ve just enjoyed) and although we can’t always guarantee undisturbed weekends of sunshine, it’s worth ensuring your garden is ready for those summer hot spells. Barbecues and a drinks make for the perfect weekend entertainment, especially when hosting guests. If you plan on playing the perfect garden part host over the coming weekends and for the rest of the summer, here are our top tips on making sure you’re all set.

Blast it clean

Over the winter, dirt, mould and grime become embedded into your pavements, patios and areas of decking. When the summer arrives however, you want your ourdoor areas to look spotless. Whilst giving the floor a good scrub might seem laborious, you can save a lot of time and effort with a pressure washer. Karcher offer a range of great options when it comes to pressure washing, so make sure you take a look and invest in something that can be used year after year. Blast away at the dirt and leave your surfaces looking as good as new, and ready to show off to your party guests.

Upgrade the grill

Summer and spending time in the garden just wouldn’t be the same without a good old barbecue of burgers, sausages chicken and whatever other meat you want to take on. If you’re planning a summer of outdoor dinner parties and hosting, you don’t want the embarrassment of bringing out the disposables to cook. A barbecue is an investment, and if chosen wisely, can be utilised for years. Whether you’re a fan of the genuine built structure charcoal article, or something portable and gas powered, make sure you have the tools to get the job done when cooking for a large number.

Set the right tone with furniture

Garden furniture differs greatly to indoor furniture, that goes without saying. More hard wearing and expected to survive the summer elements for months on end, durability is just as important as aesthetics with outdoor furniture. When it comes to patio tables, make an informed choice to ensure it fits in with the other aesthetics of your garden. Some gardens look more at home with a wooden table and chairs, whilst others enjoy the modern feel of something made from metal and glass.

Light it up

When the sun sets and the evening hits, it shouldn’t signify a definitive end to your time outdoors. As darkness drops, it might seem logical to shift the party indoors, however if you get your outdoor lighting right, you can light up your hosting area and keep the party going outside for as long as the warmth lingers. Along with the primary purpose of allowing you to see gathering areas and people, more decorative lighting, such as Candles and lights can draw the gaze to unexpected places and create a magical atmosphere in your garden. If you have an area of the garden you’re particularly proud of, such as a flowered bed or DIY pergola, lighting is a great way to drive attention to the spot. Another innovative use of decorative lighting is through using tiki torches around the perimeter of your garden, they’re exotic and whilst they don’t provide a huge amount of light, they do add a real ambiance to the area.


What are your favourite summer garden additions? If you have any particular favourites you wheel out when entertaining outdoors, we’d love to hear them. Drop a comment below with your tips and advice!

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Simple steps for decorating your bedroom on a budget

Simple steps for decorating your bedroom on a budget

Moving into your first home is an exciting time. Independence, freedom, the sense of accomplishment. It’s your own space to decorate and get exactly to your liking. Decorating your house for the first time can be daunting task and expensive, so you’ll want to take things one room at a time. To kick things off, we’ll begin with the bedroom and provide our top three tips to keeping within a budget.

Choosing a colour scheme

If, as is the case with many people, you think visually then you may want to start planning on a mood board. This process will help you organise your thoughts so you don’t get overwhelmed. You can physically create this on a cork board using magazine clippings etc. or you can join the modern world and achieve the same effect online for free. With social sites such as Pinterest and Instagram, you can build up a virtual mood board with infinite space and resources.

Colour is everything; you can empty your bank account to make your bedroom look right, but get the colours wrong and you may as well be burning that cash. Make it easy on yourself and use the 3,5,7 rule; this is just a general rule of thumb for placing accessories, artwork and furniture into groups of 3,5 or 7. You can follow this rule when choosing your colours. Begin by choosing your accent colour. Then based on your accent colour, pick two colours that coordinate with it, for example, a forest green accent colour is complemented by baby blue and off white. There are a number of websites you can turn to for colour matching such as Adobe’s Kuler. The benefit of using a colour wheel is that you know the colours are going to complement one another. By choosing colours at random you run the risk of them clashing and later in down the line, so when you begin buying items for your room they won’t work and you’ll have second thoughts.

Choosing a theme

Don’t let the term theme restrict you; a theme could be a style or particular feel you like and want to translate in your room. Your theme should reflect your personality because when it’s all finished you’re the one who should feel comfortable. Your theme doesn’t have to be something loud and garish, and could just be subtle in nature, such as keeping the room light and airy. Similar to having a colour scheme, having a theme will help you be selective with spending money. Visualise your room and keep asking yourself if things fit? Also keep in mind symmetry; you want your room to have balance to it. If you have a lamp on one side of your bed, opt for the same lamp on the other side as well.

The details

The final touches to your bedroom are the clever part, there are so many tricks to save money and it won’t affect the quality or style of your bedroom. The use of wall decals is an inexpensive way to give your room character. Adding cushions is possibly the cheapest way to round off you room, but don’t go too crazy. As a rule, pillows and cushions shouldn’t take up more than half of the bed. Mix it up with different sizes and shapes. If your sticking to the 3,5,7 rule try and employ a level of organisation in the way you display your items to keep it neat and tidy.

It’s all about what you want out of your bedroom, but make sure you don’t skimp on research and planning, as is important that you don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. It’s your room, your space and your choice so have fun with it, and when it’s all finished enjoy it.

This article was kindly provided exclusively to First Home News by Shelly Dawson. Shelly has worked in the home decorating industry for over ten years and loves to write helpful advice articles in her spare time. 

Image used under creative commons courtesy of jinkazamah.


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New homes: The houseboat of the future

New homes: The houseboat of the future

We all know now notoriously difficult it can prove to take that first step on the property ladder. But sometimes, amongst all the house shopping, it can be nice to have a bit of a dream, and imagine the situation if we were able to ‘splash out’ – literally in this case, on something luxurious.


It might not sound like the dream to many, but this unique, state of the art, UK manufactured home gives you the scenery of a waterside property, without having to give up any of your favourite the solar-powered Water Nest 100, which has recently featured in the news isn’t your ordinary house boat.


The solar-powered Water Nest can be placed on any lake or river and is completely powered by solar energy.

Developed in our very own nation by EcoFloLife in London, it has been designed by Italian architect Giancarlo Zema and is nothing like the houseboats we’ve come to expect before. Big enough in size to accommodate a small family, it boasts two bedrooms and a number of extremely plush other multi-purpose rooms, the likes of which you’d expect to see in a standard house. Rather than being a boat with added room for accommodation, this truly is a house that floats on water.


With the largest model boasting 1,076 square feet of floor space plus additional balconies, for homeowners to relax on and take in the views from the waterside balconies. We’re sold.

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Money tips for beginners

Money tips for beginners

If you’re taking the first steps in the home buying process, finance is one area in which you’ll be needing some guidance. When it comes to money management, we’re no experts – that’s what your bank or financial advisor is for; however what we are capable of doing is pointing you in the right direction – we know just how confusing it can be to get reliable facts and figures. As a first time home buyer, there’s probably no current aspect of your life as important as money. We know that the home buying process is a costly one, and even once you finally secure your dream place, you’re likely to still have jobs to do that will place you under further financial strain. If you’re struggling to wrap your head around finances and just want some tips on keeping your money safe, we’ve got you covered with some basic advice.

Online banking

In the modern day, we all live a hectic life. Gone are the days when you’d need to take a trip to your local branch to check your balance. Nowadays, for the most part, customers like to be able to control their finances at the touch of a button. Most banks now offer services online, however some are easier to navigate than others. Before you jump into your decision, check out the online banking services offered by banks, along with their smartphone apps – as that’s likely to be the quickest way you’ll have of keeping on top of finances.

If you prefer to conduct your banking over the counter at your local branch, then you need to make sure you have regular access. It’s all well and good selecting a bank and opening a current account online, but if you encounter problems and need to speak to someone face to face, you need to make sure you aren’t required to trek miles out of your way.

Check out your bank account features

If you’re just after a standard current account with no frills, then you’ve got hundreds of options to chose from; however many accounts offer at the very least, bonuses and perks to assist your financial situation. It could be something as simple as an interest free overdraft (which not all accounts have) to something more lucrative, like cash back on supermarket and petrol station purchases. If you’re coming off the back of a big house purchase, money won’t be flowing as freely as you’d hope, so an interest free overdraft, just to be utilised whilst money is tight could be a godsend. Shop around and view the overdrafts on offer at different banks and see which best suits your needs

Get the best deal

In an age where there are more different account options than ever before, many banks are now looking to lure you in with deals. Make sure you check out what offers0 you can get before opening an account. Things like cashback accounts now offer to pay you money back on purchases such as groceries and petrol, and other banks even offer you cash to switch to one of their accounts. Make sure you shop around, and take advantage of the deals on offer.

Graduate benefits

If you’re still a student, or are a recent graduate, then there are special accounts still available for you which offer things like overdrafts and freebies. The Young Persons Railcard has always been a popular sweetener for banks when it comes to luring in custom, and things like restaurant discount cards and gadget insurance are also available at banks, as a means of saving you money.

Compare your options

Once you’ve weighed up options and garnered what benefits and drawbacks all the different accounts have, head to a comparison site to compare your options for one last time.

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Clever home additions to give your rooms the wow factor

Clever home additions to give your rooms the wow factor

Searching for some inspiration on ways you can liven up your home? If you’re wanting to make a striking difference to your house, without undertaking large-scale renovations, here are some of our favourite home additions and inventive ways to add a ‘wow’ to your home.


Make use of the space under your stairs

Under stair storage

Image: quora.com
Stray away from the conventional and make the most of the underside of your staircase. It looks cool whilst also allowing you to utilise space for storage.


Use the space around your skirting boards

skirting board


Image: familyhandyman.com

Another area of the home we simply overlook, however this is a space that is perfect if you’re looking for extra storage.


Make shower cleaning easier


Image: blogs.cotemaison.fr
Especially if you plan on redecorating your shower area – making a wet room, or walk-in shower is ideal and prevents you having to keep glass sparkling clean.


Creative in the kitchen?

Image: myhomelookbook.com
If you fancy yourself as a bit of a whiz in the kitchen, make your chef time efficient. Install island storage perfect for the items you need when you’re cooking, as it will cut down on preparation when gathering your ingredients. Keeping important foods close at hand will prevent you having to dash around.


Get inventive with your kids room


Image: houzz.com
Small homes and limited rooms can make it tough to provide your children in a bedroom they can get excited about. However, a small room doesn’t have to mean dull and cramped. Get inventive with space, and take on one of these impressive bunk bed room designs.


Make your fireplace a feature


Image: myhomelookbook.com

It doesn’t have to be as striking as the image shows, but a homely, timeless fireplace can be a real focal point to your room.


Fire pit


Image: ACM Design Architects
While it’s a bit early in the year to be planning your summer, make sure that your patio is ready for those long summer nights in the warmth.


Main image CC licence via commons.wikimedia.org

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Top tips for moving in winter

Top tips for moving in winter

Moving home at any point of the year can be a stressful time, however moving over the coming months, as we move towards winter, can throw up a range of tougher problems.

Organisation when moving is key, however winter weather conditions can wreak havoc with any pre-made plans. If you’re planning to move in the heart of winter, removal vans can struggle to cope with the icy roads and conditions. If it’s through the late autumn period, you’ll likely have heavy downpours of rain to contend with, and even if it does stay dry on the day of the move, you may have to work through gusting winds, which may cause potential issues when moving furniture.

Back-up plan

If the weather is against you on moving day, make sure you have a backup plan organised, just in case. Removal vans can find it hard to transport heavy loads if there are heavily flooded or snowy roads to navigate. The last thing you want to do is get stranded mid-move, especially if you’re in the middle of a lengthy journey. Make sure you plan well ahead and are able to deal with every eventuality, should the worst strike.

Get your car serviced.

Ahead of the impending move, make sure that your car is running well and has been recently checked over or serviced. This is especially important if you’re travelling a long distance to your new home. The last thing you want to happen is for your journey to be interrupted by a breakdown, leaving you stranded between homes in the cold weather.

Dress warm and have extra clothes in the car

It’s highly likely that, in preparation for your move,  you’re going to be packing  plenty in advance. When it comes to packing your clothes, make sure you leave enough unpacked to cover every eventuality, come moving day.

Set off early

The winter weather and early nights mean that the sooner you can get out on the road, the better. No one wants to be arriving at their final destination late at night, with the dark evenings and cold weather to contend with; so ensuring you’re well organised early in the day is essential.

Take supplies

You might have a well organised plan, with your belongings being transported ahead of you. Make sure that in your car, as you follow in tow, you have all the supplies you need, from maps and navigation systems (in case you get lost), to snacks and food if you’re taking a particularly long journey. Keep all your important documents in a file and ensure it’s in your vehicle, should it be required at any point during the move.

Make sure you have heating and lights.

Ensure that once you arrive at your new home, you have the basics up and running. The cold and dark nature of winter means your new home is unlikely to seem welcoming upon arrival, however having a prior recce and ensuring that your new home has both heating and lights ready for your arrival will help you to immediately settle in.

Quieter season

Despite having to deal with the weather, moving in winter does have positives. The winter season might not seem like an ideal time to be up-heaving your life, but the season does also have a few benefits, as the market is fairly quiet and the reduction in demand can lead to financial savings.

Be friendly with your movers

For the duration of day, the tough aspects of your move will be handled by your removal men; meaning it’s important you keep them on your side. Treat them as an extension to your family for the day, as their help and assistance will make your move much easier. From making coffees in the cold to keep them warm, to offering them food and relief in your new home upon arrival, it’s likely that the more generously you treat them, the happier they will be to carry out all the little tasks that make a move niggly.

Have you experienced a winter move before? If so, we want to hear from you! Make sure you comment below with your top tips, and pieces of advice.

Image credit: Commons image sourced from en.wikipedia.org

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Packing your possessions with care

Packing your possessions with care

Whilst you’ll undoubtedly be excited about your new home and impending move, there are plenty of preparations and bits of hard work you’ll need to carry out in advance of your big move. Packing up all your valued possessions when moving somewhere new can be a daunting task, and the last thing you’ll want upon arrival at the new place is a disaster zone of broken and smashed possessions. Although jumping straight in and cracking on with the job might seem like the quickest option, it’s not the wisest option if it results in an assortment of crumpled boxed and smashed possessions.


  • Before jumping in at the deep end and turning the process into a total disaster, it is vital you begin by taking precautionary steps to help ease the process as a whole; you’ll reap the rewards at a later stage.
  • Gather all the materials and supplies you need before you start, from the obvious such as boxes, tape, furniture covers, dust sheets, to the less obvious, like a tape measure to help you really plan your pack. Make sure you have everything you need before beginning the packing process. It’s a real momentum killer to get half way through the chore, only to then realise you need to rush out for more supplies.
  • It’s important to ensure all furniture is given a thorough clean before putting into storage or the removal truck, it saves a job at the other end. The last thing you want is for all the dust and dirt of your old home to be traipsed into the new place.
  • Some wooden furniture will need treating to avoid being damaged en-route. Make sure leather goods and other damage prone items are well secured and protected. Wooden and leather items are pricey, expensive numbers, so you should take every precaution possible to avoid any damage.
  • For glass objects, best practice is to cover with newspaper, drape it with bubble wrap and duct tape it, repeat this numerous times for added protection.
  • Start a log of all the possessions you’re packing. It helps should anything go wrong, and also allows you to know exactly what is still to be unloaded on the other end.
  • With items that are disassembled, you may be left with small screws, put all small objects in a bag along with manuals to make sure you don’t misplace items you need upon unloading.
  • Label up your boxes and belongings which you’ll struggle to identify when it comes to unloading.

Packing tips

  • With important objects that you’ll need immediately when unpacking, start a designated box for them. Make sure you know where the box is packed and is easily accessible, so you can have quick access at your new home.
  • Make sure all fragile or breakable objects are securely wrapped and have plenty of padding to ensure they’re secure for transport. The last thing you need is your favourite vase arriving in pieces.

If you’re looking to escape and plan for that perfect first home, check out the website of the official First Home News sponsor, Keepmoat. The national housing company operates a first time buyer scheme, which builds on the Government’s First Buy scheme, enabling thousands of first time buyers to purchase a new home since it was launched in 2011. Keepmoat has helped customers buy hundreds of new homes under First Buy at a number of its new housing developments across the country, so if you’re searching the market, check out their offerings.

Have you recently moved and were required to hone your packing skills? We all know it can be a tough job, so let us know your best nuggets of help and advice in the comments below…

Photo Credit: Betsssssy via Compfight cc

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