We got £2,400 FREE to put towards £154,000 first home – how you can too | The Sun

BUYING a house is one of the priciest purchases you'll make, but there are ways to get freebies, as first-time buyers Dylan Heath and Katie Connor found out.

Content marketing manager Dylan and children's nurse Katie, both 22, bought their £154,000 home in Oldham in October last year – but they used a government savings scheme to get £2,400 fee.

The couple got £2,400 in free cash from the government after opening a Help To Buy ISA in 2019.

The Help To Buy ISA is a savings account that allowed first-time buyers to save for a mortgage deposit and then claim a government bonus when they buy their first home.

For every £200 you save, the government pays a £50 bonus towards the purchase price of a property.

This particular government scheme closed in November 2019, although if you already have an account, you can continue paying into it until November 2029 and claim the bonus until 2030.


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There are other ways house hunters can get free cash too.

The Help to Buy Isa has been replaced by the Lifetime Isa, which can be opened by anyone aged 18 to 39.

When you open a Lifetime Isa the government will add 25% to your savings, up to a maximum of £1,000 a year.

That means if you put in £4,000 a year you'll get a £1,000 free cash bonus to put towards your first home.

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Desperate to get on the ladder quicker, Katie juggled a number of part-time jobs alongside long shifts at her local hospital, where she trained as a student nurse.

Working as a care assistant, as well as at her local chippy and teaching maths and English lessons meant she pulled in up to £800 extra a month.

Meanwhile, Dylan postponed his driving lessons to help him stash away a third of his salary each month to raise money for the deposit.

We sat down with Dylan to discuss how the couple went from savers to homeowners for The Sun’s My First Home series.

Tell me about your home

It's a two-bedroom terraced house in Oldham.

We have a bathroom upstairs, and a separate kitchen, dining room and living room downstairs.

We don't have a driveway, but we do have separate front and back gardens.

It's a perfect starter home for us and our Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Terry.

Why did you pick the location?

We knew we wanted to stay close to our families, who both live nearby.

I work in the city centre and Katie works at the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, and the area has great transport links.

It's just the perfect location for us.

How much did you pay for it?

We paid £154,000 for the house, and put down a 10% deposit at £15,400.

Halifax is our mortgage provider, and we took out a 35-year loan of £139,595 at fixed rate of 2.8% for five years.

Our repayments are £525 a month – which is crazy, as it works out cheaper than renting.

We both opened a Help To Buy ISA in 2019, and each put away around £200 a month – the maximum you can put in.

By the time we were ready to buy, we had saved up more than £4,000 each in these accounts.

The bonus from the Help To Buy Isa was around £1,200 each – so £2,400 in total.

How did you save up for it?

Around two and a halfyears ago, we really started to ramp up our savings efforts.

As young people who weren't on amazing wages, we knew it would take us a while to get our savings together.

When I first started saving, my wage was around £1,000 a month because I was an apprentice.

Katie's wage was around £800 a month from taking up part time jobs while she was studying nursing at university.

She tutored English and Maths to school children when she could, took shifts as a care assistant and started doing between two and three shifts a week at a chippy.

Working in the chippy pulled in between £200 and £300 a month, and she got roughly £500 a month from tutoring and working as a care assistant.

This would vary depending on how many shifts she could fit in around studying.

Katie knew she had to earn money outside of her university placements because student nurses aren't paid for their work.

I was saving about a third of my wages every month, stashing away between £500 and £600.

If I was going on holiday, or if I had an event I was going to, I'd transfer over a little less though – I never left myself short, I always made sure I had a comfortable amount to live on.

But I did put off having driving lessons because I knew it would take money away from the deposit.

I set up a standing order to go straight out of my bank account and into my savings account each month, so I would never actually see the money.

As a way to build my credit score, I took out a credit card in my late teens – spending on it little and often, and paying it off in full each month.

Taking out a phone contract and making sure it was paid on time also helped to build my credit score.

I think doing those little things from a young age helped to show that we are both responsible borrowers.

Credit cards can be a sensible way to manage your spending, but experts always advise you clear the balance in full each month.

We decided quite early on that we weren't going to rent and that we would stay living separately, with our parents, so we could save and buy.

We paid around £300 a month in board, which was a lot cheaper than rent.

How have you afforded to furnish it?

We saved a little more than we'd need for a deposit toaccount for buying furniture for the house.

When we got to our deposit amount, we knew it wasn't the end of our saving journey.

We wanted the house to feel like it was ours, so we just continued on the same saving pattern as we had before.

It was worth it because now the house feels like it is truly ours, because we didn't scrimp on second-hand or cheaper items that we didn't actually want.

What's your advice to other first-time buyers?

Just stay calm – it's a long process and you can't rush it.

If you do rush, you'll probably end up with a house that you aren't in love with.

Take it slow and make sure you have a plan for your saving.

This will help you to know when it's time to start booking in viewings and meetings with a mortgage broker.

Having targets and a plan will also help you to stay disciplined.

Here's how one couple bought their first home after being rejected for a mortgage due to a poor credit score.

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