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How to get on the property ladder

To discover how to get on the property ladder you first have to find out what you can afford.


There is no point viewing anything till you know what you realistically can afford. To work out how much you can borrow, a good rule of thumb is 4-5 times your salary. Occasionally you can get 6 times but 4-4.5 is probably a better guideline.

For joint mortgages the same principle applies. Just add the two salaries together then x by 4 etc

Deposit savings, bonuses and outstanding debts will all influence the amount you can borrow. To know for sure, either go to your bank or talk to a mortgage adviser. They shop around for the best deal for you and don’t charge, unless you take out a loan.

How much do I need for a deposit on a property?

For most residential mortgages you need a minimum of 10-20%. The bigger the deposit the better the interest rate. Schemes such as help to buy or the mortgage guarantee scheme accept smaller deposits of 5%. If investing in a Buy to Let, most providers will require a deposit of 25% +


Decide where you want to live

It’s important you research an area before buying any property. 

Things to check before buying:

  • What type of property can you afford – It might be you have to look further out to afford what you want. 
  • Investigate transport links –  It’s worth considering journey times to work and friends. Too long and the property may not be viable.
  • Calculate rental values/ room rents  –  Buy to let purchasers do this when calculating yield but there is no reason you shouldn’t too. It’s good to know what return you would get should you ever consider renting the property out or seek additional income from renting a room, to cover costs.
  • Local amenities. Everyone needs to eat, having access to a supermarket or corner shop for essentials is more important than you think. 
  • Drinking/Dining out – Having a local pub or a restaurant nearby is a good way to ingratiate yourself into the community. 
  • Area crime rate – Question if you will feel safe coming home at night
  • Schools – if you are thinking of having kids or already have them, you will want to know what the local schools are like and catchment areas.
  • Parks – For more built up areas, having a local park nearby can make all the difference.
How long does it take to buy a property?

From when an offer is accepted, buying a property on average takes around 3 months. It can of course be quicker or longer depending on the speed of searches, solicitors and funding. 

What do you need when putting an offer forward to an estate agent?
  • Mortgage agreement in principle
  • Proof of funds
  • Solicitor Details – (You can sign up a solicitor after an offer is accepted but if you want to win a bid or move at speed, it is always best to have one lined up.)

For next steps, please see What happens when an offer is accepted on a property.