MOST first-time buyers have to make sacrifices when it comes to saving for a deposit – and for Jay Macklin that meant selling his dream car.
The mechanical engineer flogged his six-year-old Audi TTS for £13,000 six months after he bought it so that he and his wife Sarah, 24, could get their foot on the property ladder.
© Andrew Price Sarah and Jay Macklin bought their first home in January 2017
Two years on, the couple say it was totally worth it to buy their £145,000 three-bed semi-detached house outside Chester by the time Sarah turned 22.
It took more than just selling the car for the pair to get the funds together for a 10 per cent deposit and enough to cover legal fees, which worked out at £17,000 in total.
They both opened Help To Buy Isas which they paid £200 into each every month, as well as giving up eating out, shopping for new clothes and going to the cinema to help save an extra £400 a month between them.
But Sarah, who works in marketing, and Jay, 25, couldn’t celebrate becoming homeowners straightaway, as the dated decor was in desperate need of doing up.
© Andrew Price The couple have completely refurbished the inside of the house and plan to work on the driveway and garden in the summer
The couple spent the next six months and another £10,000 renovating the property, doing most of the work themselves in a bid to cut back on costs.
They also managed to save more than £24,000 kitting out their home by shopping for secondhand goods on eBay and Facebook marketplace – including £19,000 on an entire kitchen.
Now, Sarah blogs her money saving tips on DreamOfHome, while Jay drives a van and hopes to buy a sports car again in the future. We spoke to Sarah for My First Home.
Tells us about your house. What’s it like?
We live in a three-bed semi-detached house just outside of Chester – we bought it two years ago and we absolutely love it.
It has two double bedrooms and a small, single room which I’ve turned into a home office for when I work from home.
© Andrew Price Jay owned his Audi TTS for just six months before he had to sell it
© Andrew Price The couple took down walls inside to make the living area open plan
We’ve got our own driveway and a tiny garden. They’re not great at the moment as we’re planning on renovating them in the summer.
We’ve also got a double garage so there’s plenty of storage space.
The house was in a desperate need of modernisation when we bought it and we’ve turned the downstairs into a nice open place space.
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You go through the porch to the front door, and then you’ve got the living room and then an open plan kitchen and diner.
The whole process sounds like it cost you a lot. How much are we talking?
The house was on the market for £165,000 but we managed to knock them down to £145,000.
We didn’t bother looking at any new-build properties as we knew we wanted our home done to our specific tastes.
© Andrew Price Sarah managed to save £175 on a coffee table from Oak Furniture land by buying secondhand
© Andrew Price Sarah and Jay spent another £10,000 renovating the house
Our budget was £170,000 but we knew that an older house would be cheaper which would give us more money to spend on doing it up.
We put down a 10 per cent deposit which was £14,500 plus another £2,500 on stamp duty, legal fees and getting the surveys done.
After we got the keys, we then spent another £10,000 doing it up to how we wanted it – £7,000 of that was left over savings and we stuck the last £3,000 on a credit card which we’re now paying off every month.
So I guess, all in we spent £27,000 but we didn’t have all of that money when we made the offer as we continued to save while we did the work.
We took out a 35 year mortgage and locked in to a five-year deal at 1.5 per cent.
What help is out there for first-time buyers?GETTING on the property ladder can feel like a daunting task but there are schemes out there to help first-time buyers have their own home.Help to Buy Isa – It’s a tax-free savings account where for every £200 you save, the Government will add an extra £50. But there’s a maximum limit of £3,000 which is paid to your solicitor when you move.
Help to Buy equity loan – The Government will lend you up to 20 per cent of the home’s value – or 40 per cent in London – after you’ve put down a five per cent deposit. The loan is on top of a normal mortgage but it can only be used to buy a new build property.
Lifetime Isa – This is another Government scheme that gives anyone aged 18 to 39 the chance to save tax-free and get a bonus of up to £32,000 towards their first home. You can save up to £4,000 a year and the Government will add 25 per cent on top.
Shared ownership – Co-owning with a housing association means you can buy a part of the property and pay rent on the remaining amount. You can buy anything from 25 to 75 per cent of the property but you’re restricted to specific ones.
“First dibs” in London – London Mayor Sadiq Khan is working on a scheme that will restrict sales of all new-build homes in the capital up to £350,000 to UK buyers for three months before any overseas marketing can take place.
Starter Home Initiative – A Government scheme that will see 200,000 new-build homes in England sold to first-time buyers with a 20 per cent discount by 2020. To receive updates on the progress of these homes you can register your interest on the Starter Homes website.
Be honest, was it hard saving for the deposit?
We decided that we’d buy a house shortly after we go engaged in 2016 and basically didn’t have a life over the year that we were saving.
Between us we tried to save between £500 and £600 every month.
We both opened Help to Buy Isas and put the maximum £200 each in every month – the Government top up really helped when it came to all of the legal fees and things.
Not that we paid to do loads of things before, but we hardly went out for meals, stopped shopping for new clothes and didn’t go to the cinema or anything like that.
© Andrew Price Jay and Sarah have lived in their home for two years now
Sarah Macklin The kitchen was dated before Jay and Sarah bought and fitted a new one
© Andrew Price The pair bought a £20,000 kitchen secondhand on eBay for £850
We limited ourselves to eating out only a few times a month or getting the odd takeaway here and there.
If we did do anything together then it was for free like going for a walk.
Jay also had to sell his car which he absolutely loved. He’d bought his white Audi TTS from his step-dad six months before but he knew he couldn’t keep it if we were looking to buy somewhere.
It went through petrol so fast as well so it wasn’t cheap to run. He sold it for £13,000 which was a huge chunk of our deposit.
He was gutted at the time but he knew it was worth it in the long-run.
Now he’s driving a van which isn’t exactly his dream but it’s been super useful getting materials about.
One day he hopes to buy an old sports car and do it up himself.
Sarah Macklin The bathroom was lined with cladding before the couple fitted a new one
© Andrew Price They also saved £3,000 on a new bathroom suite
We also lived at home with out parents which helped loads. I was fortunate that my parents didn’t charge me rent but Jay paid £200 a month for his keep.How did you decide on location?
Both of our families live in Chester but we just couldn’t afford to buy there.
Our money might have stretched to a one bed flat there but we found we could get more for our money if we moved out.
It was actually the first house we looked at – even though we went to see four more.
© Andrew Price All in all, they reckon they have saved more than £24,000 by shopping secondhand furniture
I’d say it took us a month to find the right area and then I found our house in September and made an offer in October.
It’s near the motorway which means it’s easy for us both to get to work and it’s on the Wirral.Did the house need much work?
Yes. It did not look good when we bought it.
It had the original 70s kitchen which was falling apart, and there were pink carpets, green wallpaper and wood cladding everywhere.
We did all of the work ourselves apart from the electrics and the plastering which we got a professional to do, but because he was a family friend he gave us a discount.
© Andrew Price They did the work on the house themselves so that they could save more cash
© Andrew Price Even after they finished the work, Sarah and Jay saved for another nine months for their wedding in April last year
And because Jay’s an engineer, he’s hands on so he watched a lot of YouTube videos and learned how to fit a kitchen and put up stud walls.
On one of the walls we found that a doorway had been covered up with chipboard and wallpaper and it wasn’t in a good shape so we had to take it down and put up a stud wall.
Would you recommend doing the work yourself?
Yes because it saved us so much money but it was a lot of work and looking back I don’t know how we did it.
We would spend every evening and weekend at the house, working on it until 10pm at night. We’d be there four at least 10 hours a day on weekends.
Sarah’s tips on how to bag a bargain for your home:SARAH and Jay managed to save more than £24,000 on kitting out their home. From shopping secondhand to keeping an eye out on the sales, these are there top bargains:
£20,000 kitchen for £850, saving £19,150.
We bought this secondhand on eBay. It included the built-in fridge and freezer, the Belfast sink, solid granite worktops, and the range cooker which was only 2 years old and barely used. We did have to take it down ourselves.
£4,500 bathroom for £1,500, saving £3,000.
Wickes winter sale at 60 per cent off. We then used my brother’s staff discount too so it came in at £1,500.
£225 Oak Furniture Land coffee table for £50, saving £175 from Facebook Marketplace
£500 sideboard for £100, saving £400 from eBay.
£230 John Lewis desk and office chair, £90, saving £140 from Facebook Marketplace.
We’d only planned for it to take two months and it ended up taking six, so even though we bought it in January we didn’t officially move in until July.
We were also continuing to save while we did the work which was hard too because had to use a lot of it to buy materials for the house.
As soon as the money was tucked away, you had to take it out again to buy something else. It was exhausting.
How did you afford to furnish the place after paying to renovate?
Of course, we’d both been living with our parents so we had absolutely nothing, not even any plates or cutlery.
But I’m really good at finding a bargain and we bought all of our stuff secondhand.
I reckon we saved more than £24,000 in total by shopping on eBay, Facebook Marketplace and keeping an eye out on the sales.
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Our best bargain was on a £20,000 kitchen which we bought off a lady on eBay for £850. She sold it to us so cheap because we said we’d come and take it all out ourselves.
We also bought a £4,500 bathroom for £3,000 which was in the 60 per cent off sale plus we used my brother’s staff discount.
We managed to save £175 on an Oak Furniture Land coffee table by shopping on Facebook Marketplace and £400 on a sideboard from eBay.Do you think you’ll stay there for long?
I think we’ll be here for a while. We got married in April last year and are locked into our mortgage for another three years so we’ll be here until then.
We’ve still got some work to do on it too so I can’t see us leaving just yet.
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