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Take control of your next step

Our free guides are here to help you

Wondering how you could make your income go further? Trying to weigh up the pros and cons of moving home or improving where you live now? Or is another money matter on your mind? We’ve put together these video guides to give you hints, tips and handy information so you can make decisions that feel right for you.

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Useful tips for first-time home buyers

Get tips on how to save money for a deposit, ways to get onto the property ladder and more – to help you start your first-time buyer journey.

Watch the video or listen to the podcast1:

Hello everyone. My name is Mo and welcome to the Barclays podcast, dedicated to supporting those people who are looking to buy a home for the first time. Joining me today are my colleagues and experts, Lewis and Adnan, to help guide us through this journey.

 

Hi everyone. We're really hoping that using this you are able to navigate yourself through this amazing first step to owning your own home.

 

First thing to get you thinking today is to ask yourself at what point does the journey to buying a first home begin? That's a really, really great question. So, in every circumstance, buying a property requires having an initial deposit. How big this deposit is could vary depending on circumstance but is more commonly 10% of the entire value of the property. A great starting point would be setting yourself a savings goal to build this. In the UK, there are a range of different savings accounts that could be used to save for a deposit. Some are better than others. 

 

Owning a home will ultimately change your life in a number of ways, with gaining a greater sense of financial security, starting a family, or feeling more responsible, consider the impact buying a home will have on your life. We appreciate that you might already have savings, or your family may have set savings aside for you. However, there is always more you can do to save. That's a great starting point. 

 

So what savings accounts would you say would be useful to look at when saving for a new home? The Lifetime ISA, or LISA, is a suggestion. This is a tax-free way for first-time buyers to save up for a deposit to buy a property. This account must run for at least one year and you can add a maximum of £4,000 each year until you're 50 years old. Each year, the government will add a 25% bonus to your savings, which works out to be a maximum of £1,000. Please note though that Barclays, along with some other banks, do not offer this Lifetime ISA. That's an awesome idea from the government. That will go some way to support you in saving. 

 

Any further advice you can give? Of course, budgeting is a great way to increase your savings faster. It's really important to consider how much money you can save just by cutting out the small stuff that really adds up. If you need any assistance with budgeting or financial planning, we have money mentors scattered around the country in our branches to help you with just that. 

 

So, could you give us some example of budgeting? Eat at home, cut out restaurants and takeaways. Could you cut out non-essentials, such as takeaway coffees or that extra drink down the pub? Sell all your unwanted or non-essential stuff online. You'll be amazed how much you can raise. If you really want to build up your savings fast, then maybe sell your car, cut out holidays, or stop partying. It might sound harsh, but the tougher you are on yourself, the quicker you will save. A wise man once told me, if you don't sacrifice for what you want, what you want becomes the sacrifice. Going all-out means some people can save the 5% deposit needed to buy, using a Help-to-Buy equity loan, within 2 years. For a couple buying a £200,000 property, that means setting aside £400 a month between them. Another really important point. 

 

Which of these options, or combination of approaches, might work best for you? Budgeting and making savings can be difficult. Take a moment to think about where you could cut back, what you are prepared to do to get on the property ladder. One of the things I wanted to go through are the various schemes that are in place. There are a few options to go through. Yes, each one can help people more or less depending on the circumstances, so it's important to reflect on the pros and cons of each before using them. Your mortgage broker or adviser can help you with this decision. 

 

Here are the schemes. Help-to-buy scheme, also called the equity loan, not to be confused with the discontinued Help-to-buy ISA. You save up to a 5% deposit, the government then tops this up to a 25% deposit by loaning you 20% and then the other 75% is a traditional mortgage. This is only available though on new build properties and you don't have to pay any fees on the 20% you borrow from the government for the first 5 years.

 

In London, you can borrow up to 40% towards the deposit. For example, if you buy a £150,000 flat then a 5% deposit of £7,500 would need to be saved, to which the government then adds 20%, which is £30,000, leaving you with a mortgage of £112,500 - that's 75%. Scotland offers a similar shared equity scheme that loans buyer sums of up to 15% of the property's value, while the Welsh scheme is identical to the English one. 

 

Another is the Shared Ownership scheme. A first-time buyer purchases a share in the property of between 25% and 75% and pays rent on the outstanding share, later buying an increasing share as and when they can afford to. Eligibility for this can be found on the government website. 

 

Right-to-buy is next. If you live in a property, rented directly from a local authority, and have been there for at least 3 years, then you may be eligible to buy it at a discount. Find out if you're eligible online on the government's right-to-buy page.

 

Just a final note, although not a scheme, another way of potentially saving money is through looking to buy at auction. Auctions are popular with first-time buyers because sometimes it's possible to snap up a bargain, but it can be risky. You're buying with less knowledge about a property so you'll need to complete a lot more due diligence in preparation before bidding. 

 

Adding to that, another way of buying a first place is with friends. These days, it's not unusual for groups of friends to buy together and there are mortgages available that can make this happen, but please take care to get legal advice from a solicitor who has experience of dealing with joint property ownership, and also speak to a mortgage provider before you enter into any agreement of this kind. Yes, definitely - make sure you seek out the correct advice. 

 

I feel like that's given our listeners a lot to think about. Once again, one of these schemes may be more suitable to you than another, but that's all down to personal circumstances.  

 

Quick-fire question: what would you guys say is cheaper - renting or owning a property? In the long-term, it can be cheaper to own than rent as mortgage payments may be lower than rental costs. Also, the money you pay into your mortgage will become what we would call 'equity', something you can use to pay a deposit on a new house, if you move. This equity could get bigger too as you pay more off of your mortgage but also if the value of your home goes up. It's worth bearing in mind that owning a home can also feel very different to renting. 

 

Absolutely - it can give a greater sense of responsibility and can feel better than paying rent to someone else. There are, however, hidden costs that you should be aware of - for both buying a property and renting. When buying a property, you need to consider Stamp Duty, removals, insurance, ongoing maintenance and many more things, whereas with renting most maintenance is covered by the owner, except when repairs are due to tenant damage and costs will be covered by the rental deposit. Maintenance covered by the landlord can have a huge benefit. 

 

Very good point - I just want to add to that, that on the Barclays website, you can get a rough idea of how much a mortgage will cost a month and how much you can borrow, using our calculators. They're free to use and you don't need to be a Barclays customer to use them. 

 

So, theoretically, you listening to our podcast means that you want to buy your first home. What can I do, right this second, to help myself get a mortgage? There are a number of things you can do such as checking out your credit history is up-to-scratch. This means that you'll be more confident that a lender will offer you a mortgage, once you have a deposit and have made an offer on a property. 

 

Just for our listeners' benefit, could you tell us what a credit history is? Sure - credit referencing agencies work with lenders to assess your credit history and determine your ability to pay back future credit. 

 

How credit referencing works. Lenders assess every loan application, including mortgages, and part of the decision is how likely someone is to repay the loan and make payments on time - for example, how much of a risk they are. Many, including Barclays, use a scoring system and base it partly on information from credit referencing agencies, such as Experian. If you have borrowed money in the past, and paid off the loan on time, then your score is likely to be higher - that is, better - than someone who missed a payment or defaulted on a loan. Interestingly, if you have never borrowed any money, your score will also be relatively low as there is little information to analyse. 

 

Good news for renters now, though. Several companies have started out recently that offer tenants the ability to use the regular rent payments to boost their credit score. 

 

So, how do people improve their credit history? There are specialist credit-building payment cards. By ensuring you are on the electoral roll, reducing your debt levels and ensuring you pay your bills on time are vital. For more tips, head to the Money Advice Service, where you can find articles about improving your credit score. Some companies provide apps to help you review your credit score and suggest ways to improve it.  

 

Amazing - some real insightful stuff here. Right, that's all we've got time for today. Lewis, Adnan and myself would like to say 'Thank you so much for listening'. Don't forget, Barclays is on hand to help you with your next steps. We do also offer free coaching appointments that allow you to work out your personalised budget and help you stay on track. Branch appointments and our website will also be available to help you choose your savings accounts, keep track of your progress and allow you to book yourselves onto our events. 

The Barclays Money Mentors team doesn’t provide specific, individual financial advice. Your individual circumstances can vary and we recommend that you get professional advice if you need it.

Buying your first home – a handy guide

Find out about getting a mortgage, types of mortgage, the application process and more. Plus, learn what order to do things as a first-time buyer.

Watch the video or listen to the podcast1:

This session is designed for people who are ready to make an offer on their property.

 

Saving money for a deposit is no easy feat. So, congratulations for getting this far in your home-buying journey.

 

Obtaining a mortgage is a very serious commitment, with significant financial consequences. It's therefore very important to seek advice, or speak to an adviser, before you obtain the mortgage. One article suggests that the average in the UK is 26 weeks from the start of the house-hunting stage to completion, but also acknowledge that the average can vary wildly. It can take a long time to find the right home for you. 

 

We'll take a few minutes now to run through some of the key things you need to know about a mortgage and what affects your mortgage eligibility. Eligibility means whether or not you will be able to get a mortgage as there are a number of factors that affect this.  

 

Let's have a look at loan-to-value, or LTV. The LTV means the loan as a proportion of the property's value. So, a £200,000 flat bought with a loan of £150,000 is a 75% loan-to-value mortgage, because the loan is 75% of the property's value. Usually, the lower the LTV, the lower the interest rate available. So if you are able to put down a 30% deposit rather than a 20% deposit you can benefit from the lower interest rates as the LTV will be lower. 

 

Interest rates. The interest rate you will pay is the annual interest rate applied to the amount borrowed either on a daily, monthly or annual basis, but commonly on a daily basis. As well as paying interest on the amount borrowed, you will also have to pay back the amount you borrowed from the lender. 

 

Interest only versus repayment mortgages. There are commonly two repayment types available for a mortgage. Other options are available, depending on the lender.

 

One - an interest only mortgage requires you to make regular payments of the interest charge on the amount you borrowed, also called the capital. You will also still be required to pay off the total sum borrowed at the end of the loan, for example, by using money from an investment vehicle or pension.

 

A repayment mortgage is one where you make regular payments of interest charged on the amount you borrowed but you also regularly repay a percentage of the capital or actual amount you borrowed. This method means you repay capital off over the term of the loan rather than a lump sum at the end. You can calculate the likely monthly cost and repayment amount of your mortgage online. Please refer to the Barclays website to find the mortgage calculator. 

 

Application and stress test requirements. When you apply for a mortgage, you will normally be required to demonstrate to the lender that you will be able to afford the repayment of it. The lender will generally require you to explain your regular outgoings and expenses in a lot of detail. In particular, there is a requirement for the lender to stress test your loan as part of the application process. This involves the lender checking to see if you could still afford your repayments in the first 5 years of the loan even if the interest rate applicable to your loan were 3 percentage points higher.

 

Now let's have a look at your credit score. In addition to the lender being required to verify your ability to repay the mortgage as part of the responsible lending, lenders may assess every loan application according to how likely someone is to repay the loan and make payments on time, for example, how much of a risk they are to the lender.  

 

Many use the scoring system and base it partly on the information from credit reference agencies, such as Experian. If you have borrowed money in the past and paid off the loan on time, then your score is likely to be higher and that is better than someone who missed a payment or defaulted on a loan. Interestingly, if you have never borrowed any money, it is likely that your score will also be relatively low, as there is unlikely to be any information about your credit history to analyse.

 

To get the healthiest credit score, you should make sure you're on the electoral roll, reduce your debt levels and make sure you pay your bills on time. For more information about credit scores, you can go to the Barclays website and have a look at the credit scoring page.

 

We have two common types of mortgage options available. The first one is the fixed rate. This means that you agree to pay interest at a rate that is fixed for an agreed period of time - a fixed term usually for between two and ten years. After this time, it moves to a variable or tracker interest rate product, which may go up or down. 

 

It may be possible to, at the end of your fixed term, you will seek to remortgage to another fixed deal rate. The pros for this, is that it enables homeowners to plan their finances with the certainty of a fixed rate and a fixed repayment. The cons of this is if the lender's interest rates go down, yours generally won't and your payment amounts won't change. If you repay more than your scheduled repayments, you may have to pay an early repayment charge. 

 

Now the tracker rate. Under a tracker rate mortgage, the interest rate will rise and fall consistent with another interest rate, likely the Bank of England base rate. This means that the amount of interest payments required to be made may go up or down depending on whether the tracker rate goes up or down. The pros of this is if the rate goes down, your interest payments will decrease. The cons for this is if the rate goes up, your interest payments will go up as well. 

 

Offset mortgage. Offset mortgages are a type of product that let you link your mortgage to your savings. Your savings balance is used to reduce the amount of interest charged on the mortgage. Your savings will be offset against the value of your mortgage and you'll generally only pay interest on your mortgage balance minus your savings balance. Your savings don't actually repay any of your mortgage, they just sit alongside it and save you interest.

 

For example, if you have a £100,000 mortgage and £10,000 in a linked savings account, you would only be charged mortgage interest on £90,000. The pros for this is you may be able to pay less interest on your mortgage provided you hold money in the linked offset account. The cons for this: it requires you to hold money in the offset account for the benefit to be realised. 

 

Once you have your savings in place, you need to make your mortgage application. Getting the following in order beforehand will make the administrative side of things run a lot smoother.

 

Firstly, meet your mortgage adviser and decide which mortgage type you wish to apply for. Then gather all the necessary paperwork, including payslips, work references, bank statements, proof of identification, proof of address for at least 5 years and proof of your deposit. And then write a summary of all your monthly income and outgoings in preparation for the eligibility questionnaire. You can even book a coaching/mentoring session in branch where they'll get a budget summary template to assess your income and outgoings. Before you start house-hunting in earnest, make sure you have: 

 

1) Received a mortgage agreement in principle

2) Agreed a lower and upper budget in the area you want to live in 

3) Registered online and within the branches of estate agents in the targeted area for sales alerts on ideal properties currently on the market

4) Line up a solicitor and a conveyancer as it's important to have them ready to go once the offer is accepted so you don't delay the start of the process. Most people find a solicitor/conveyancer either through recommendations using a national firm which can be found on portals such as reallymoving.com or asking for a quote via comparison websites such as comparethemarket.com. 

 

Sorting this beforehand will ensure that you don't come across anything unexpected further down the line that may hold up your process. There are a couple of things that I just discussed that you may be thinking: 'What are they?', so just to give you a bit of an insight. 

 

The first thing is agreement in principle. So, this will give you an indication of whether a mortgage provider can lend you the amount that you need. Agreement in principle isn't a commitment on either side. The bank isn't guaranteeing that they will lend you the amount of money that you need, as they will need to carry out more detailed credit checks and you are not tied to anything either. 

 

The other word I said earlier was conveyancing. So, conveyancing is the legal process of drawing up a contract between the buyer and the seller of a property prior to purchase, and also carrying out the required checks on the property before the contract is signed. For example, a conveyancer will investigate to see if any major construction work is due to start nearby, such as a new road or a supermarket.  

 

So what you do think is the percentage of the asking price that is achieved in the UK on average? Based on one report, on average, sellers are achieving around 96.7% of their final asking price - a gap of just £10,000 on the current national asking price, though this varies by region, location and property. Are you surprised?

 

So let's have a look at this case study. Odeya is buying his first home at 29 years old and he's found his ideal property, a one-bedroom flat in central Worthing, Sussex for £110,000. He has researched the local market and discovered that, for its location and size, the flat is at the top end of the price band, even though it will need refurbishment.

 

Odeya also looks at Zoopla to discover that the flat has already been reduced in price and has been on the market for nine weeks. The local agent says the sale market in Worthing is slow right now - it's a buyer's market. Odeya offers 10% less than the asking price - £99,000 - but his offer is rejected. The agent says the vendor will want at least £105,000. Nevertheless, Odeya offers £102,500 as his final offer. The vendor, after a week of thinking about it, accepts. This means Odeya got the flat for 93.2% of the asking price. This case study has been resourced from an independent researcher on behalf of Barclays. 

 

Would you feel comfortable negotiating like this? Think about the difference it'll make to your overall budget and the amount you pay for your mortgage. How much difference would it make to your overall moving budget if you paid 95% of the asking price? As a customer, for me, it would make a huge difference because that could cover some other costs that we might have, such as moving costs or conveyancing fees. 

 

So now let's have a look at steps you will likely go through after the offer is accepted. This is assuming that you've already received the agreement in principle from your lender. 

 

Step 1 - inform your solicitor or your conveyancer that the offer has been accepted, so the contract of sale can be drawn up. 

 

Inform your lender or mortgage intermediary that you have made an offer which has been accepted and provide details of the property and other documents and details your lender requests to progress your application beyond the agreement in principle. Once your mortgage application has been submitted to the lender, the lender will instruct a valuation of the property to support their lending decision. 

 

Once your mortgage offer has been issued, check it carefully and ask your solicitor or conveyancer if you are unsure about anything. You should only sign the mortgage deed once you are happy with the mortgage offer and you are ready to proceed. Wait for your solicitor or conveyancer to complete local land search and title deed checks. Title deeds are the legal papers held by the Land Registry about who owns the property and are checked by the buyer's solicitor when purchasing a home to ensure the seller is who they say they are and not a fraudster. 

 

Find a surveyor to complete a more comprehensive homebuyer's survey of the property. This is optional, but highly recommended. A lender's valuation survey will only report on problems that are obvious and easy to spot. A homebuyer's report will pick up in more serious defects that are hidden from view such as damp or woodworm. Tell your lender if you decide to do this. 

 

Get the deposit ready. As a buyer, you will need to send the money to your solicitor or conveyancer before contract can be exchanged. 

 

Review the contract of sale sent to you by your solicitor or conveyancer. This will include details of who is selling and buying the property, its address, any details of building guarantees that come with it, details of the lease, if it's a leasehold property, details of any management fee or service charges in a shared building if you're buying a flat, the agreed sale price and the proposed date of completion. Read it very carefully to ensure that it's clear, which fixtures and fitting are included in the sale price, the contract features the correct and agreed completion date and that the address of the property is accurate and includes the correct postcode. Then, sign the contract.  

 

Once both signed copies have been exchanged between the two solicitors and the deposit is paid, the house sale then completes on the day agreed between the buyer and the seller, usually in a few weeks afterwards.  

 

Arrange for the removal service. You may have personal belongings and furniture which you need to move. If you need a removal van, this will normally require a booking about a month before your move-in date. 

 

Finally, pick up the keys. Congratulations! You will now be a proud homeowner of your first home. 

 

Things may not always progress through the steps as expected. For example, being in a chain means that the person you are buying from may be tied up waiting for their next purchase to exchange before they can progress. This can feel stressful for buyers as it can be unpredictable, so being prepared for unexpected challenges will make this more manageable. For example, ensure your estate agent keeps everyone above and below you in the chain up-to-date about any difficulties as soon as possible. 

 

How do you think you would cope with these unpredictable situations? Can you think of any other things that might not go to plan and how you would deal with them? Whilst you can't control the unexpected, there are things you can do now to make life easier for you in the future. 

 

For example, considering the future sales ability of the property you purchase, if you buy somewhere now that is very unique, or in an awkward location, that makes it more affordable, it may be challenging to sell it in the future. Getting a more thorough survey such as a homebuyer's report, and renegotiating the price if there's a major work required, will reduce the likelihood of unexpected costs and work at a later date. Keep on top of saving and storing all your paperwork related to the purchase, so you have it there for referencing if you want to extend the property, remortgage or sell. 

 

Thank you for listening today. If you have any questions or queries, please feel free to visit our website which is barclays.co.uk. Alternatively, you can always pop into the branch or give us a call. 

Move home or improve it – how to decide?

Take a look at the costs and considerations to help you decide if moving house or making home improvements is right for you – watch our video guide now.

Watch the video or listen to the podcast1:

Hello everyone. My name is Mo and welcome to the Barclays podcast dedicated to supporting those people who are unsure whether to move home or just improve their existing one. 

 

Joining me today are my colleagues and experts, Lewis and Adnan, to guide us through this journey. 

 

Hi everyone. We're really hoping that using this we're able to help you make that often difficult decision of moving or improving. Just to get you thinking, why have you tuned in today? Are you stuck, feeling indecisive? Or are you looking for reassurance on a decision you've already made? Which option are you currently leaning towards? 

 

Those are some good questions. Here are some facts for you too. According to Zoopla, on average, today people move home every 19 years, compared to every 9 years during the 1980s. However, in 2017, 1.2 million homes were sold. Also, Barclays have found that 54% of homeowners choose to improve rather than move.

 

Wow. There are so many practical reasons that affect whether to move or improve, such as support network of family and friends, proximity to schools for your children, commute to work, parking, internet, even things like air quality and a sense of community. Above all, it's such an emotional decision to make. Many memories have mostly likely been made in your current home, with friends and family.

 

Very true. But, at the end of the day, money matters too. Deciding whether to move or not could be massively impacted by this. What should you investigate before making the decision? Things like stamp duty, selling fees, potentially a larger mortgage and legal costs are just a handful of possible implications with moving. These can really add up to a surprising amount, but you also need to weigh up whether the cost of this would be more than the potential work you would do on your existing property. 

 

Definitely, I agree. When improving your existing home, a good starting point would be to get quotes on the work you'd like to do. Things to check out are building costs, planning permission. If it would be a larger project, you could also consider an architect.

 

Some great ideas here, guys. Remember, before making any sort of decision you should always know where you stand financially. You can use local estate agents to see how much your home is currently worth, as well as using websites like Zoopla and other websites - Rightmove is another example - to get an estimated value. 

 

We have a hypothetical scenario for you now. Let's find out the financial and practical choices facing Wes and Emma, as they plan to have another child. If you want to compare these, I would suggest noting down the facts and reflecting on your own thoughts here. 

 

Brilliant. So, Wes and Emma currently live in a 3 bed detached house, valued at £360,000, and they've identified 3 choices through research. Option 1: a larger 4-bedroom house, within a 5-mile radius, would be £420,000. The approximate moving costs would be removals - between £700 to £1000, estate agent's fees to sell their current home - about £5400, plus the requirement to borrow an extra £60,000 - the total being £66,100. Bear in mind, though, that in your scenario, stamp duty may be an extra factor you may need to consider. 

 

Costs of adding a two storey extension to create a fourth bedroom and kitchen extension underneath - between £1,200 and £1,500 per square metre for a single storey. A 5 metre by 5 metre bedroom is likely to cost between £30,000 and £37,500, plus another 50% for the space below, so between £45,000 and £56,250 - more in London and other city centres.

 

The family have a third option: to move 40 miles out of town and into the countryside but near a train station. They both work so would have to commute - one by car, the other by train. Extra costs per year would be around £4,500 but they would get a larger home for about the same price as their current one. 

 

Emma and Wes will consider all 3 elements when making this decision - emotional, financial and practical. Is there an obvious option for them? What would you do in their situation? 

 

Right, so if you're thinking of improving at this point, we've got some facts for you to think about. From our research, we found that the average loft conversion, 2 storey extension and basement conversion would cost around £1,000 to £1,500 per square metre to complete, where single storey conversions and creation of basements can cost more - between £2,000 to £3,000 per square metre. 

 

Despite the cost of this, these renovations can really add to the value of the home - anywhere from five to fifteen percent, in fact. That is impressive. Relatively speaking, a little money spent on a home could potentially go a long way.

 

If you're thinking about moving, when you purchase a new home, the chances are you will need to borrow to buy the next one. So how do you move your mortgage too? If you are taking out a new mortgage for the same size as your current mortgage, you may be able to transfer or port your current mortgage deal to the new property and avoid paying any porting charges. If you're taking a new mortgage which is greater than your current mortgage, you can transfer, or port, your current deal to cover a proportion of the new mortgage, then apply for a new product for the additional amount.  

 

If you are taking out a new mortgage which is smaller than your current mortgage, you can transfer your current deal to the new mortgage. However, there might be a charge for paying off some of your current mortgage early. Alternatively, you could choose to pay the early repayment charge on your current mortgage and choose a new product on the new mortgage. Long-term, this may work out more financially beneficial. 

 

I do just have a question for you. So would early repayment charges on a mortgage prevent someone from moving home? That's a good question. In most cases it wouldn't, but you need to be aware of the charges that may exist if you want to pay off the mortgage within the introductory period or move your mortgage. 

 

Lovely. So, experts, we've compiled some common questions for you to answer. Hopefully you can help. 

 

At what point can you put in a cheeky offer on a house that's not had much interest yet? Well, according to Which.co.uk, on average, it's about 5 to 6 weeks after the property has gone on the market. However, this does not mean that you can't put an offer in at any time. 

 

Is a mortgage valuation survey enough to ensure there's no serious problems with a property? Not necessarily. When a lender completes a valuation survey, they're only checking that the property they are about to lend against is worth the price that's been agreed. A valuer will only report on problems that are obvious and easy to spot. To pick up on more serious defects that are hidden from view, such as damp or woodworm, a further independent survey called a Home Buyer's Report can be carried out. It is important to take time to research a Chartered Surveyor to carry out the report. 

 

So would you say it's a good idea to exchange and complete on the same day? No. A buyer or seller can withdraw right up until exchange of contracts, so exchanging and completing on the same day would leave either side open to an unscrupulous person throwing in a last-minute problem, such as a demand for a higher or lower price, just before exchange. It is your solicitor's duty to guide you through the conveyancing process, so take time to research a reputable law firm for the conveyancing process.

 

That's amazing - and all we have time for today. Lewis, and Adnan, and myself would like to say 'Thank you very much for listening'. Don't forget, Barclays is always on hand to help you with your next steps. We also offer free coaching appointments that allow you to work out personalised budgets for your home projects and potential purchases. Branch appointments and our websites will also be there for further assistance - our Moments page and our mortgage calculators page. Thank you very much, guys. Bye.

Savings

Smart ways to save money – savings tips

Make saving easier with these ideas to help you spend less money and save more. Discover how you could regularly put money aside towards your savings target.

Watch the video or listen to the podcast1:

Hi there. Whether you're saving for your first home, your children's future, or for that rainy day, here we'll walk you through the range of options to help you achieve your goal. 

 

So what are the choices when it comes to saving or investing your money? There are a range of accounts you can look at, starting from instant savings accounts right through to our investment accounts. 

 

But let's start with the instant savings account. This account means you can get access to your savings whenever you want. Then there's a fixed-term account that may require you to lock in your money for a period of time before being able to access it. Depending on the type of accounts, some may offer tiered rates of interest so, the more you save, the more you earn, and if want to save a set amount each month, there are accounts to help you do this also.

 

Now for those who want to take risk to gain a higher return on their money, then there's the Smart Investor. This is a non-advised service, so if you're not sure about investing, it's best to seek independent financial advice, as the value of your investment can fall as well as rise and you may not get back all the money you invested. Tax rules also apply to savings and investments and may change in the future and are dependent on your individual circumstances. 

 

So keeping with tax rules, let's talk personal savings allowance - PSA - and tax. Any interest you earn above your PSA will be subject to tax. It would be your responsibility to ensure that any tax due on interest payments received is paid to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Please note, your PSA applies to the total interest you earn from all your bank accounts, building societies, not just interest from us, with the exception of ISAs which continue to be free from tax for eligible customers. Please also note that tax liability on interest applies in the tax year in which it's paid, which may be different to the tax year or years in which interest has occurred. If you've paid tax on your savings in a previous year and think you shouldn't have, you'll need to complete an R40 claim form. You can visit HM Revenue and Customs for more information.  

 

So now we have an understanding of savings and investments. Let's say you've decided to open an instant savings account. To help save towards your goal, you could set-up a Standing Order with your bank so that a set amount is transferred straight into a savings account on the day after you get paid, or a day of your choice. 

 

Now let's say you decide to open two savings accounts - one being an emergency fund account and the other being an account saving towards that dream home. Well you can split payments so some go towards emergency fund and some go towards saving for the home. 

 

You also have the option to set up a savings jar where you could drop any change from your purse or pocket each week into a jar and it's amazing how much it all adds up. Now if you're looking for further help with your savings goals, why not set a reminder for yourself to check your account balance the day before you get paid, so that you can transfer spare money that's left over from the previous month over into your savings account? 

 

It is so much easier to save money when you have something to look forward to. Writing down your goals and writing why they're important to you is a great motivational drive to help keep you focussed. If you're saving for a deposit to buy your first home, for example, you may write something like this: 'So I've got my own space and I can decorate it exactly how I want it. Checking on your goals every month and seeing how your savings are building is also a great motivational driver. 

 

To boost your savings goals, cut out luxury spends, give your savings a massive boost. Got an expensive mobile phone contract? When it expires, downgrade it to a cheaper alternative, with a modest handset. Try taking a packed lunch to work or Uni, or trading in your premium gym membership for something more basic. If you're a smoker, quit now for the sake of your health and your finances. Add the money you spend on your sacrificed item to your savings pot and you could be well on your way to achieving your goal far sooner. 

 

There's also money to be made in second-hand goods. So don't hang on to clothes, books, DVDs and games you don't need. Search online for apps that allow you to scan barcodes to get an instant price. Some companies even give you pre-paid postage labels for sending in your unwanted stuff and don't forget you can sell items to buyers directly through auction and market-place websites and apps. 

 

Setting some ground rules is a great way to help you curb unnecessary spending. For example, you could set a daily or weekly limit on your spending on nights out or lunches. Maybe taking cash instead of cards when you go out will help you avoid impulsive spending. Other rules to think about are substitute spending on supermarket-own brand groceries for big brands, or setting spending limits for clothes and shoes. Just keep track of your savings you make. This way, you'll start to see how worthwhile your rules are.

 

Now here's a top tip. Set aside £5 from your savings every time you buy something that costs more than £20. This might seem a bit challenging but finding that extra fiver is a good way to get into the habit of making sensible savings as well as making savings fun. An example of this could be buying a slightly cheaper alternative, opting for a cheaper delivery option when buying online, or cutting back on something else that day to complete your challenge for that purpose.  

 

Get into the habit of asking yourself: 'Do I really need this?'. Resist the temptation to upgrade your phone or tablet for the latest model and always be on the lookout for cheaper alternatives. This helps you get into better spending habits and the savings you make will help towards your goals. Also remember that you're doing this for you, so you have to take responsibility for your own spending decisions. 

 

Having said that, there's plenty of help and advice available online and the Money Advice Service is a good place to start, with lots of free independent information about managing money and debt. You can also ask someone you trust to help by sitting down with you on a regular basis to take a look at how your managing your money. Having someone cast a fresh pair of eyes over your plans can reveal things that you hadn't even considered and having that bit of moral support in harder times can really be a big help.  

 

The amount you save each months depends on what you can afford after essential spending. So if you need to spend on something unexpected like a broken home appliance, or your car breaking down, work out how lowering your spending amount can help you absorb the blow. Likewise, if your income goes up, make sure your savings do as well.

 

So let's now look at ISAs and here we'll look at two different types - the cash-only ISA and the investment ISA. A cash-only savings ISA account is based on a fixed or variable rate, whereas an investment ISA, also known as a stocks and shares ISA, is an account that allows you to hold a wide-range of assets including cash, funds, shares, gilts, bonds, exchange traded funds, exchange traded commodities, and investment trusts. Unlike cash ISAs, these can fall in value as well as rise. 

 

Then there's the innovative finance ISAs. This higher-risk option lets you lend your savings out to borrowers through peer-to-peer lending platforms, where interest earned is tax-free. Lifetime ISAs could be a way to help you get on the property ladder for the first time, or contribute towards your retirement savings. Each tax year, all subscriptions made into a Lifetime ISA, up to the maximum of £4,000, will receive a 25% government boost. This is equivalent to a bonus of £1 for every £4 saved. 

 

So there you have it. A walk through some of the saving options you have available to yourself and the ways in which you can achieve your personal saving goals. I really hope you found this useful and thank you for your time.

Budgeting

How to budget – tips for managing your money

Learn more about budgeting, get savings tips and discover how to help improve your credit score. This easy-to-follow video could help you budget better.

Watch the video or listen to the podcast1:

To plan your budget, one of the first things you’ll need to do is work out your take-home income. 

 

Most people know how much they earn, but it’s your take-home pay that you need to think about; that’s the money you receive after tax and other deductions. You can find this on your payslip or through your employer. 

 

If you have any other consistent streams of income, such as rental income or another job, include those too as it'll make your budget much more accurate. 

 

Needs could be bills, debt repayments and other essential living costs, where wants might be things like eating out, holidays and new gadgets. 

 

Needs and wants can overlap, and it’s easy to lose sight of the difference between the two. For instance, we need housing, but we might want a larger home in a more desirable location. We need food but we want to eat at a restaurant. 

 

Have a look through some of your expenses and work out which ones fall into each category. To help, you can ask yourself whether you need it to survive, or whether it’s just something to make your way of living just more enjoyable. 

 

If you need to reduce your spending, the wants are where to start looking for changes that you can make. 

 

Typically, it's good to use some of your earnings to repay any debts that you might have, as well as trying to add to your savings each month. 

 

Most lenders charge interest on any money you borrow from them. This means you repay a larger amount than you borrowed and the longer you take to pay the money back, the higher the amount you'll pay in interest. So in most cases it's best to prioritise paying down debts before saving, particularly the short term, higher cost borrowing such as credit cards and your overdraft. 

 

Savings are great for avoiding the stress of last-minute expenses and becoming a bit more financially comfortable. If possible, try and set some cash aside wherever you can. 

 

There's a popular budgeting rule, called the 50/30/20 rule, where 50% of your income would go towards your needs, such as bills, 30% towards your wants, like holidays, and 20% towards your savings. 

 

While this is a well-known technique, it might not work for you – and that's OK. Your budget should work for you and not the other way round. 

 

Another significant part of budgeting is maintenance. Things change, expenses go up and down all the time, and you might get a new job with a different salary. 

 

It’s important to monitor your spending and you can do this through some mobile banking apps or other budgeting apps that work alongside your bank accounts and they can track your purchases. 

 

If you think there's something that would affect your overall budgeting progress, it's probably worth having another look at what you've worked out and what you need to change. 

 

Get to know your spending triggers. Ask yourself what's going on and when you spend money on things you don't really need. A spending trigger is a feeling or situation that makes it easy for you to break your spending rules. For some people, it can be feeling stressed or bored, while others want to buy things their friends have got. Make a list to help you understand what triggers your impulse to spend. 

 

Track your spending. Every time you buy something you don't need, make a note of what you bought and how much it was. Adding up your purchases can help you see exactly how much you're compulsively spending. 

 

Work out your reasons for buying something. Make a checklist to help you work out whether the something you want is an impulse buy. Why do you need it? Could you get a cheaper alternative if you wait or go somewhere else? How much use will you get out of it? Have you bought things like this before and regretted it later? These simple questions can help you keep your cool when you're faced with a temptation to splurge. 

 

Avoid temptation. Think carefully about which marketing promotions you sign up for. When you buy things online, you'll often be asked to opt in to offers by email, text message, phone or post. The more offers you sign up for, the more you could be tempted to spend. If you want to stop getting offers from a seller, look for the unsubscribe button link in its emails. Be mindful of who you follow on social media. If you keep buying something that an influencer promotes, it might be a good idea to mute their posts. 

 

Get your retail highs another way. Buying stuff to treat yourself makes you feel good. That's why it's called retail therapy. But the thrill soon wears off and it isn't worth the financial hangover. 

 

If you overspend when you go shopping with friends, arrange to meet those friends somewhere else and go shopping another time. Think of simple ways to enjoy your spare time like a DVD at home with your friends, instead of going to the cinema. 

 

Set a realistic budget. Setting a budget can you help you focus on your financial goals and there's plenty of help out there available to guide you through setting a budget. Try the free budget planner calculator from the Money Advice Service, an independent government-sponsored organisation that offers impartial advice. The calculator breaks down income and spending into categories, and asks questions that will help you set a realistic budget. It's a good idea to include some money for treating yourself in your budget too.

 

Get help from a friend. Before you buy something you might not need, call a friend. Explaining why you want to buy something could be good enough to stop you in your tracks. You could also ask them to help you with your budgeting. Getting someone else to take a look at how you manage your money and your spending can help you be more objective and help you stick to your plan. 

 

Get free help from the experts. There's loads of free advice available to help you keep your money in order. The Money Advice Service has tips, calculators and tools to help you control your money and your plans for your future. You'll also find practical help on where to get free advice if you're worried about debt. 

 

If you're married, a tax break means you could be due £900. According to HMRC, if you're married or in a civil partnership, you could be entitled to a tax break called the Marriage Tax Allowance. To qualify, one of you has to be a non-tax payer and the other a basic rate earner, paying 20% income tax. Also, you both must have been born on or after the 6th April 1935. It's worth £238 in this financial year and can be backdated to 2015 if you still met the eligibility criteria at that time, giving you up to £662 extra. Register for the Marriage Tax Allowance.

 

Switch energy tariff with your existing supplier to save up to £200. Worried an energy supplier switch is too much hassle? Call your existing supplier and ask to be put on its cheapest deal. You can save hundreds, research from the moneysavingexpert.com shows. Move from a standard tariff to a more competitive short-term fix with the same supplier and you could save on your bills. Always check to see if there are any tariff exit penalties. Though they're not normally charged for an internal switch, it is something to be cautious of. However, if you're on your supplier's standard rate, you can usually make the biggest saving by using a comparison website to switch to a rival firm. 

 

Do a DIY audit on your bank account. In the hurly-burly of family and work life, it's easy to lose track of every payment going in and out of your bank account. Take some time to run a fine toothcomb over your most recent statements and it's possible that you'll discover a regular Direct Debit or Standing Order that you no longer need. It could be anything from a forgotten insurance renewal, or rollover sports club fee, to an online magazine subscription or charity donation. You can usually end a Direct Debit or Standing Order online or over the phone, but always check if your subscription is in a contract to avoid any cancellation fees or penalties. 

 

Pay £30 to cut a third off your train fares. If you have a family, travel regularly with a friend, you're over 60, or using a Young Person's Railcard, a £30 railcard can reduce train fares by a third for a year. If you're disabled, you can qualify for a Disabled Person's Railcard for the cost of £20. Travel in rush hour may be limited but each card has different rules so check which one works best for you. For families, the Family and Friends Railcard can be used on most tickets, excluding first class, when an adult and at least one child under the age of 16 travel together. The maximum is 4 adults and 4 children. Find the details of all railcards from National Rail. 

 

Costly childcare. See what the government can offer you. What is best for you depends on how much you earn and how much tax you pay and how much you pay for childcare and whether your employer offers them. The Gov.uk website can help you decide. Launched last year, the tax free childcare scheme lets you open a special account to save for the cost of looking after your kids. Check to see whether you qualify. Put 80p in and the state adds 20p. It'll contribute up to £2,000 per child a year, or £4,000 if your child has a disability. The most you can save in the account is £8,000, which means that you can pay for up to £10,000 of childcare per year, each year using the scheme. Sign up for an account. There is an alternative - childcare vouchers, and that allows you to pay for childcare out of your pre-tax income. However, you can't use both. 

 

Shop around. Vow to abandon your broadband and mobile provider and save hundreds of pounds. Whatever your online hobbies - browsing, music, movies or gaming - there are deals galore offering ever more data and faster internet speeds at lower prices. 

 

Get paid when you spend. Grab cashback wherever you can shopping online. In a bid to attract people to their websites, more stores are now happy to pay a slice of cashback to third-parties who help them and this increasingly ends up in the shoppers' pockets. Instead of logging on directly to the company you want to buy from, click through to it via a cashback site and be financially rewarded. You can earn anything from pennies, for small household goods, to nearly £50 for select financial products, such as insurance. Always do your research though, to make sure you're getting the best price first. It's easy to be tempted by a big cashback discount, but the same item could be on sale elsewhere for even less. 

 

It's important to explain that we're not providing financial advice in this article. If you need help getting your household finances in shape, get in touch with an expert. The Financial Conduct Authority provides tips on how to find a qualified, independent financial adviser. 

 

Keeping up-to-date and on schedule with loan and credit card payments will show that you're a reliable person to lend to. This is because regular payments, such as Direct Debits or mobile phone contracts give the credit agencies information about your habits. If you pay them back in full and on time, it proves you’re good at managing your money. You should also make sure you're on the electoral roll. Banks will often check this information to confirm details about you, such as your address, and if they're incorrect or not available, it could make the borrowing process much more difficult.   

 

Amend your credit report. Contact a credit reference agency such as Experian, Callcredit or Equifax to get a copy of your credit report. There's a small charge and you'll need to provide the agency with your full name and the addresses for the past six years. Once you have your report, you should check it thoroughly and identify any mistakes. You can appeal if you find any inaccuracies or have a note added to your file to explain any special circumstances.

 

Increase your credit score. There are things you can do to improve your credit score. First, you should pay off any outstanding debt. Unpaid credit and County Court Judgments, known as CCJs, will remain on your file for 6 years, but once you pay them off, they'll be marked as settled. Second, show that you can use credit sensibly, by using a credit card responsibly and paying it off regularly. If you're refused credit, avoid making multiple applications at once as it can be seen as financial distress. Instead, work to improve your rating before applying for another loan.  

 

Pick the right loan type. Payday loans can be tempting, especially when you're struggling towards the end of the month, but they stay on your credit history for six years and can affect your credit score. Before finding a lender, try and plan ahead with the budgets and plans to avoid borrowing, or get some advice from friends or family if you feel unsure. There are other options, such as overdrafts and standard loans that wouldn't negatively impact your credit score as much as a payday loan would. This is because some lenders view payday loans negatively, believing payday loans customers are less reliable borrowers.  

 

Pre-set your payments. It's always worth ensuring your bill payments are set-up, as even one missed or late payment on bills, particularly ones in the past 12 months, can weaken your credit score and cause charges. Save yourself distress by setting up Standing Orders or Direct Debits for all your bills, so you never miss a payment. You can also change your payment dates so they come straight after payday. Lots of companies offer online accounts and apps so you can easily check your account balances and  statements. 

 

Get rid of unused cards. For some lenders, unused store and credit cards are a big turn-off because you could choose to use all of the credit and then struggle to pay it back later. Lenders like to see that you use financial services on a regular basis, so don't close all your credit accounts, just the ones collecting the most dust. Cutting your card isn't enough, so be sure to get in touch with the company to close your account. 

 

Don't max out your credit card. Just as lenders don't like it when you've got unused cards, they're not keen on you using the full credit limit either. Lenders look at the credit limits available to you, and how much you use, so keeping your credit utilisation low shows lenders that you're in control of your credit and you can manage it sensibly. 

 

Make more than the minimum payment. Although the minimum payment seems like the most attractive and convenient option, it can have a negative impact on your credit score. Minimum payments only lower your balance by a small amount each time, meaning it could take months or even years to reduce your balance. You'll also pay more in interest, so try to clear as much as you can each month to help improve your score. 

 

Register to vote. Not only can you not vote in elections if you're not on the electoral register, you're also unlikely to be offered any credit from lenders. Registering takes just a matter of minutes and, remember, you'll need to re-register if you change address. 

 

Don't sit on debt. It might seem like a good idea to have an emergency or rainy day savings fund but if you've got credit cards or a hefty overdraft, it's smarter to prioritise those over your savings. Having too much debt hurts your credit score, so pay back what you owe before putting money into savings.  

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