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First-Time Buyers' Guide 2018

Free PDF guide for first-time buyers

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Martin and Lesley | Edited by Johanna

Updated August 2018

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If you're a first-time buyer, there are many hurdles before you get a mortgage. It used to be just about getting the best rate. Now it’s about how you can boost your chances of getting accepted too.

Our free, detailed 56-page printed guide takes you through it all, to home in on the cheapest MoneySaving mortgage.

What version would you like?

We're currently printing the 2017 version of the guide, so if you want it quickly, download the pdf. If you still want the printed version, please fill out the form and we'll send you a copy as soon as it becomes available.

Why do we need your details?
Why do we need your details? This is the printed version of the booklet. We need to post it to you. To pay for the printing and distribution, whilst completely editorially independent, the guide is sponsored by London & Country mortgages.

However don't worry, we will not give your name and address to anyone else and you will not receive any further mailings whatsoever from us or London & Country.

If you input your email address, we'll send you our weekly Money Tips email so you don't miss out on MoneySaving tips or mortgage news. If you don't want to sign up, leave the email field blank.

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Why do we need your email?

Originally this was only a free booklet we posted to people. But demand was so powerful, we created a PDF to ensure instant access for everyone. To pay for the printing and distribution, while it's completely editorially independent, the guide is sponsored by London & Country mortgages.

As part of that, the sponsor needs to track how effective it is. But don't worry, we won't give your name and address to anyone else, and you will not receive any mailings whatsoever from us or London & Country. It's purely for tracking purposes.

This guide was last updated in December 2017. We're currently going through it with a fine toothcomb to make sure it's all up to date and correct for this year. In the meantime, the general principles are all the same and will still apply.

Who's it for?

The guide's written for first-time buyers and tells you all you need to know about getting a mortgage on your first home. If you're saving for a deposit, then getting a Help to Buy ISA is a no-brainer for you. Also see our Q&A on Lifetime ISAs - that launched in April 2017, they're aimed at helping under 40s save for their first home or for retirement.

If you've already got a mortgage and want to cut its cost, consolidate debts or change the deal, read the Remortgage Guide instead.

What's in the guide?

If you want a sneak peek before getting the whole thing, here's a quick breakdown and intro for each section of the guide...

  • Chapter 1: Is a mortgage right for me?

    This chapter urges you to think before you act. Is getting a mortgage right for you? Can you really afford it or will you struggle to make each payment? Remember - renting isn't a dirty word. If it's either continuing to save up, or overstretching and having your first home repossessed - it's a no-brainer.

  • Chapter 2: Have you got a big enough deposit?

    In this chapter, we show you why the size of your deposit matters. It affects both how much you can borrow, and what interest rate you can borrow at. Plus, find out if there are any Government mortgage schemes that can help you get on the ladder sooner than you think.

  • Chapter 3: Boost your chances of getting a mortgage

    The days when lenders offered mortgages willy nilly are long gone. To get the best mortgage deal doesn't just need a decent deposit, you now need a good credit score too. Yet there's hope. This chapter shows you how to maximise your chances.

  • Chapter 4: What type of mortgage to choose?

    Do you know your fixed rate from your variable rate? Or whether you should choose repayment or interest-only? This chapter explains what a mortgage is, how it's 'secured' on your home, and lays out the pros and cons of different mortgage types.

  • Chapter 5: Mortgages for the self employed/contractors

    If you're self-employed or a contractor, then getting a mortgage is tough as you need cast-iron proof of what you earn. That's easy for the employed - they have payslips, but it's much tougher if you work for yourself or don't have a permanent contract. We tell you what a lender will want to see before they offer you a mortgage.

  • Chapter 6: Don't forget the fees

    Make sure when you do the sums, you add the full costs of buying a house and mortgaging. You need to consider mortgage fees, survey fees, lawyers' fees and stamp duty for starters. You can try to minimise them, but you can't magic them away. This chapter tells you what to budget for.

  • Chapter 7: How to get a mortgage

    This covers going solo (if you're ultra-confident), the two KEY questions to ask a broker, and how to find a top broker. Chances are that using the right type of broker will be the best bet for most people, as they can whittle down the top deals quickly and offer you an extra layer of protection if things go wrong.

  • Chapter 8: Watch out for the hard sell on...

    To compensate for lower profits on headline mortgage rates, some lenders have upped prices on associated insurance products. This chapter tells you the insurance policies you may face the hard sell on, what you should expect to pay, and how to find the cheapest products.

  • Chapter 9: First-time buyers' quick Q&A

    Will the lender lend on your property? What paperwork will you need to get together? How long should you get your mortgage to run for, and why is the APR useless? This chapter covers the answers to these and more questions you may have about buying your first home.

  • It's the end of the guide, but not the end of the mortgage journey. You'll need to monitor your mortgage, like you would with any financial product. Be on the lookout for good deals, especially if you need to remortgage in a few years.

    But - in the meantime - happy hunting... and why not check out what mortgage rates are currently available to first-time buyers with the MoneySavingExpert Mortgage Best Buys.

How come the guide's free?

The reason we're able to offer this guide for free is because it is sponsored by fees-free mortgage broker London & Country. But don't worry, it has no influence on the content, which purely depends on our view of the best way to get the cheapest mortgage deal you can.

Blue question mark

The guide's written with complete editorial independence and it's purely focused on finding you the best deal. This was something we made sure was in the contract with London & Country.

Having said that, L&C isn't stupid. We've independently listed it as one of the top brokers for several years now (see the Cheap Mortgage Finding guide) so it had a pretty good idea it wouldn't come out too badly.

The reason it sponsors the guide is it gets a one-time chance to include its own message promoting its service. Just to assure you, you won't be sent any follow-up advertising or marketing, or any of that malarkey.

In the trade, this is known as a payment for ‘lead generation' and in this case that means L&C pays for the publishing, and a fee to this site. See more about this site's ethical financial stance.

Are there any more guides?

Yep! As well as all the online guides on this site, there's a selection of special PDF downloads:

The Remortgage Guide

For people who are after a cheap remortgage deal - not for the first time you get one. Get full PDF guide: Remortgage Guide.

Teen Cash Class

A 40-page guide to teach kids AND parents all the essential money lessons. Get full PDF / printed guide: Teen Cash Class

Mental Health & Debt Guide

This is a free 40-page PDF booklet supported by Mind, Rethink, and others. Get the full PDF guide: Mental Health & Debt

We only have a limited supply of printed copies, so please download the PDF version if you're able to.

Get Our Free Money Tips Email!

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes - join the 12m who get it. Don't miss out