How much do I really need to save to buy my first home?
Last updated: 16/02/2023
So you're a first time buyer? Let's work out how much you need for your deposit, and break down the other costs involved in buying your first home.
The biggest cost for a first-time buyer is your deposit. Your deposit it a lump sum you pay upfront towards the cost of your property. Your mortgage is a loan that covers the rest of the total cost, and you’ll make monthly repayments until that loan is paid off.
So how much do you need to save for a deposit? That depends on the cost of the home you’re looking to buy. Most lenders typically ask for a deposit that’s at least 10% of the total cost of the property. However, some lenders do offer mortgage deals that only require a 5% deposit.
Let’s say you want to buy a home costing £225,000. You’d need to save at least £22,500 for a 10% deposit or £11,250 for a 5% deposit. If the property you want to buy is £150,000, then you’d need to save £15,000 for a 10% deposit or £7,500 for a 5% deposit.
Bear in mind that saving more than 10% could give you access to a wider range of cheaper mortgage deals.
You may be charged a tax for buying your first home. This depends on what part of the UK you live in, and how much the property costs.
In England and Northern Ireland, the tax is called stamp duty. But if you buy your first home for less than £425,000 then you don’t need to worry about this charge, as you’ll be exempt from it.
In Wales, home buyers - including first timers - pay a Land Transaction Tax if the property you buy costs more than £225,000.
You can expect to pay some additional fees to your lender on top of your mortgage repayments for things like a booking fee, an arrangement fee, a valuation fee, and an electronic transfer fee. Costs vary from lender to lender and can include:
A valuation fee: which can cost anything from £250. Lenders carry out a valuation to assess the value of the property and make sure the home you’re buying is worth roughly the amount you’re planning to pay for it.
A booking fee: when you apply for your mortgage, which can cost between £99 - £250.
An arrangement fee: a fee your lender can charge to set up your mortgage. These can be £2,000 or more.
Your lender will carry out a valuation to make sure that the property they’re lending you money for is worth what you’re planning to pay for it; but a mortgage valuation is not a survey. It’s up to you to thoroughly check a property before you buy it and to ask lots of questions. You can also pay a professional surveyor to go a step further and discover any other problems in the house that could be costly to repair.
A survey can give you additional information about the state of the property from a professional. If any problems are found, you can always go back to the estate agent and renegotiate your offer. Surveys vary in scope and cost, depending on your property's size, location and value. A basic home condition survey could cost around £380, while a full structural survey can cost over £600. Make sure you understand how homebuyer surveys work so you can choose the best option for you.
If you’re buying in Scotland things are slightly different for you, because the seller must provide you with a Home Report but you may still want to consider paying for your own survey for peace of mind.
A solicitor or conveyancer can help you with the legal work involved in buying a home, such as handling contracts and transferring funds to pay for your property. They will also do local authority searches to check whether there are any local plans or problems, such as a high flood risk.
You’re likely to pay up to £1,500 for a solicitor or conveyancer to help you to buy your property, as well as another £250-£300 for local searches.
There are plenty of other fees to consider at the time of buying your property, moving in and afterwards.
Moving: If you hire a removal firm you can expect to pay between £300-£600.
Council tax: our council tax explainer. breaks down how this works and what you can expect to pay.
Insurance: your lender will require you to take out buildings insurance
Bills: our guide to utilities can help you figure out what you can expect to pay for essentials like electricity, gas, and water
Leaseholders costs: If you buy a leasehold property, you’ll have additional costs. If you’re not sure, brush up on the difference between leasehold and freehold properties.