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First step onto property ladder needs careful planning

Jill Smyth

With Northern Ireland's property market showing signs of recovery, some first-time buyers may be thinking about their first steps on the property ladder.

Buying a home is one of the biggest financial commitments most people will ever make and can be one of the most exciting. To take account of the extra costs associated with buying a house, a bit of forward planning can go a long way in making the process less stressful.

Doing your research and making a list of your expenses at the start will help - here are a few to get you started.

Saving for your deposit:

Getting a deposit together for your first home is one of the first things you need to think about, so start saving. Cutting spending and making some small lifestyle changes can help - if you stop buying a daily coffee or weekly take away you could free up cash. Opening a savings account is next - work out how much you can afford to save each month and set up a standing order from your current account - you are less likely to spend it.


A survey is one of the most important things you need to pay for. Peace of mind that your dream home is worth the money outweighs the costs.

Apart from the basic mortgage valuation that your mortgage provider will insist on, there are two other main types of survey. The first is a homebuyer's report, normally costing around £300-£400, to highlight any urgent repairs needed. If you are buying an older or quirkier property you should consider a full structural survey. These are much more detailed and can cost up to £1,000, but will highlight any major issues with the property.

Home insurance:

It's a good idea to get insurance quotes. Many people leave this until they have exchanged contracts but this is too late. You need to factor these costs in from the outset. Streets that are side-by-side, but in different postcodes, might have different premiums. Get a range of quotes from different providers. Look at the small print and find out the excess you'll have to pay to offset any claim.

Moving in costs:

Moving personal belongings into your new property is the first step in making it a home. Removal firms can be expensive but there are lots of alternatives depending on the scale of the move. Hiring a 'man with a van' could be an option but make sure that they are insured before you give them responsibility for your possessions.

You should also set money aside for simple things like light bulbs and cleaning products and connection charges for your electric, telephone, gas or broadband. Thinking about these things in advance can help make moving home a much more relaxed experience.

MoneySense is a free, independent programme by Ulster Bank for schools and parents covering topics including banking, borrowing, budgeting and running a small business. Find out more ways to make your cash work harder in Jill Smyth's column next week

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