On paper, now should be a great time to buy a house.

  • House prices are falling.

In July 2023, the average price dropped for the fourth month in a row (by a further 0.3%). The typical UK home now costs £285,044 on average (compared to £293,992 in August 2022).

  • Wages have increased.

From April to June 2023, official figures show that UK wages hit a new record growth rate of 7.8%. This is the highest regular annual growth rate since comparable records began in 2001.

Yet, despite these positive changes, there’s still one major roadblock holding back potential buyers – soaring mortgage rates.

According to a recent analysis by Halifax, the cost of a typical home is now 6.7 times the UK’s average earnings, down from a peak of 7.3 last summer. However, mortgage costs have simultaneously increased by 22% in a year – from an average of £1,020 to £1,249 per month.

Property itselfmay have become more affordably priced over the last 12 months, but the rising cost of borrowing has cancelled out any benefit. Unfortunately, the cost of buying a house remains at an all-time high – and for many attempting to get on the ladder, it still feels unattainable.

Is there any way to reduce the cost of buying a house?

Today’s property market is certainly a challenge for first-time buyers.

There’s no getting away from the fact that a) houses are still much more expensive than they were pre-pandemic, and b) mortgage interest rates are the highest they’ve been since 2008 (i.e. at the peak of the financial crisis).

That doesn’t mean you should give up, though.

Often, there are simple ways to save money and avoid unnecessary costs. However small those savings may seem, every little helps – and they could be the difference between being able to afford a house this year or having to put your plans on hold.

Here we’ve rounded up a few ideas for you to consider.

5 ways to save money when buying a home

  • Negotiate the purchase price

This is where the biggest potential saving could lie – so don’t be afraid to haggle.

Do your research into the local market and demand for the property. Ensure it’s priced fairly. Check for any defects that could decrease its value. Get quotes for any work that might need doing. Then, always start with a low offer (which you expect to be rejected) and work your way up.

With justifications, it’s not uncommon for sellers to accept 10-25% off their original asking price.

Alternatively, perhaps consider buying a ‘fixer-upper’ or visiting an auction.

Properties that require renovation can sometimes be snapped up at bargain prices. And although you may need to inject extra cash (and extra effort!), specific ‘renovation mortgages’ are available for this purpose – and the overall cost can often be less than you’d pay for a ready-to-move-in home.

  • Shop around for a mortgage

Admittedly, mortgage rates are currently high across the board – but you should still shop around.  

Rates vary (sometimes quite significantly) from one lender to the next, so it can be worth doing your research. Look at quotes from different types of lenders (e.g. a bank, building society, well-known mortgage company, online lender, etc.) and use comparison sites to pinpoint the best deals.

The lower the interest rate you can find, the lower your monthly payments will be.

Also, keep an eye out for mortgage products that don’t come with any upfront fees.

  • Choose your location wisely

House prices differ greatly from one location to the next. It all depends on the cost of living in the area, the local average income, property taxes, supply and demand, plus a range of other factors.

Data from the Halifax House Price Index shows that London is now the most expensive part of the country to buy a home, with a typical mortgage accounting for nearly half (49%) of earnings. By contrast, the North East is the most affordable, with an average house price of £168,240.

If you can’t afford to buy a house in a particular place, why not consider a relocation?

This is much easier post-pandemic, as many employers have continued to allow remote working. By extending the radius of your property search, you could bag a similar property for much less.

  • Improve your credit score

This is another effective way to make homebuying more affordable.

In the eyes of a mortgage lender, borrowers with a high credit score are less of a risk – as they’re more likely to repay their loans. And as such, they’re happy to offer these borrowers lower rates.

Before applying for a mortgage, it can therefore help to build a good credit history.

Try to repay any credit agreements on time and stay within your limits. If you haven’t borrowed before, take a small amount of credit and manage it well. Avoid too many applications, as this could indicate to lenders that you’re struggling for money. And make sure you’re on the electoral register.

  • Find the best value conveyancing solicitor

Choose unwisely and solicitors fees for buying a house can very quickly add up.

It certainly pays to do your research.

Compare quotes from different law firms – but keep in mind, the cheapest conveyancing solicitor isn’t necessarily the best value. To keep expenses to a minimum, and avoid costly delays in the conveyancing process, it’s important to have a solicitor who is professional, proactive and communicative. So be sure to look at online reviews to get a sense of the type of service they offer.

To maintain affordability, it’s also important to instruct a solicitor who charges a fixed fee.

Many firms still work on an hourly basis, with hidden bills and unexpected extra costs thrown in along the way – which is a surefire way to rack up excessive fees that are simply unnecessary.

Here at St Helens Law, we have a team of experienced and knowledgeableconveyancing solicitors, who can guide you step-by-step through the full ‘property buying’ process – ensuring completion is reached with minimal stress, minimal delays and (crucially!) minimal expense.

Thanks to our advanced ‘File View’ system, we keep our clients fully informed throughout the conveyancing process, ensuring the transaction is finalised as quickly as possible.

Plus, we don’t believe in any hidden extras. We understand how difficult the current property market is, particularly for first-time buyers. Which is why, we strive to offer a competitively priced conveyancing service and be as transparent as possible about our legal fees for buying a house.

A bespoke quote can be provided on the same day.

Full details of our fixed conveyancing costs can be found in our residential conveyancing guide. To give you an idea, our fees for a property up to the value of £250,000 currently start from just £500+VAT. And if any unexpected work is required throughout the process, we always discuss the potential extra costs before proceeding. Our goal is to provide the best possible service, at the best possible price.

Contact our affordable conveyancing solicitors today

Buying a house in the UK is an expensive business. Unfortunately, there’s no getting away from that fact – and there’s little anyone can do about the eye-watering mortgage rates currently available. But if you’re pressing ahead with a purchase, and looking for ways to minimise costs, be sure to get in touch.

As one of the best conveyancing solicitors in the area, we’re confident our services will fit your budget. And an initial consultation is available completely free of charge.

So where’s the harm in contacting us and getting a quote? Simply give us a call on 01744 742 360 to speak with a member of the team. Or if you prefer, fill out our online contact form and we’ll respond to your enquiry as soon as possible.