First-time buyer: 'Here's how I bought my first home at 19'

05 October 2019 | 0 Comments

This resourceful millennial got her foot on the property ladder before she turned 20 thanks to shared ownership.

Megan Stafford was not like most 19 years olds. While many teens are counting down the days to payday or waiting for their next student loan to come in, Megan is a proud homeowner.

According to research from the Yorkshire Building Society, the average age of first-time buyers in the UK now stands at 31, making Megan's achievement even more impressive. So how did the forward-thinking teen afford her own place?

READ MORE: How to buy a home in less than five years

After leaving college, Megan began an apprenticeship at estate agents Royston & Lund, which gave her vital insight into the home-buying process.

One of the options she became aware of was shared ownership, a government-backed scheme that enables buyers to purchase a share of a property (from 25% to 75%) while renting the rest of the house at a reduced rate.

First-time buyer: 'I bought my first house at 19'Megan now works as a sales negotiator at Royston & Lund 

The scheme is fairly similar to the normal process of buying a house, with the exception of being able to offer up a much smaller deposit. Over time, homeowners can purchase a larger stake in their property, reducing their rent payments.

It's important that prospective buyers consider their outgoing costs and weigh up what they can realistically afford when it comes to the deposit, rent and monthly mortgage repayments. Remember to factor in maintenance charges for communal areas too.

Megan says: “I think the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme is much more widely advertised than shared ownership.

"One of the things that put me off as a young first-time buyer was that I thought I would need to put down a large deposit when actually I found out I could put down as little as 5%.

"If more people knew how much money they could save through buying instead of renting, I think it would encourage them to explore this option.”

Raising the deposit

A 5% deposit might seem a lot more achievable than the UK average of 16%, but Megan and her partner still had to make compromises to raise the amount.

The pair were lucky that they were able to live with their parents as they saved – one of the benefits of buying so young.

Even with no rent to pay, they still had to commit to cutting back on non-essential items to afford the deposit to buy a share of a £180,000 two-bed townhouse.

First-time buyer: I bought my first house at 19
Cost-cutting was key to raising their deposit. Image: Saravoot Leng-Iam/Shutterstock

The couple now owns over 35% percent of their house and will be able to buy more of the property as and when they can afford it through a process known as 'staircasing'.

Megan says: "Being aware of how much you want to save from the beginning really helps you stay on track and knowing you’ll be buying a house is a great incentive.

"If we hadn’t found out about shared ownership, we would still be living with family and struggling to save for a large deposit.”

Asking for help

When it came to navigating her way through the home-buying process, Megan turned to family, friends and colleagues for guidance. She recommends other aspiring homeowners do their research and inform themselves about the ownership options and schemes out there.

“My advice for young first-time buyers would be to ask estate agents, financial advisors and solicitors as many questions as possible and make sure you shop around before you buy.”

READ MORE: First-time buyers: 17 costs you need to budget for

Featured image: Royston & Lund


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