Part 1: I’m a first-time buyer, get me out of here

Adulting level 10: A guide to transitioning from tenant to homeowner without having a melt down

So, you’re fed up of renting with your couch potato of a flat mate and reckon it’s about time you took those first tentative steps towards the housing ladder? Although there are some seriously exciting times ahead, navigating this frantic paper-trail of mortgage rates, deposits and unexpected fees can produce pulling-out-your-hair-levels of stress. But before you start Googling obscure German hair thickening shampoo brands, read our handy guide to securing your starter home. It all begins with the stuff that makes the world go round: money.

Have you got the dough, though? 

As a first time buyer, if you’re not lucky enough to have a bulging piggy bank, wealthy parents or generous family members, you’ll need to look elsewhere for funding. As well as the mortgage, you’ll need to factor in mortgage fees, surveyor’s and solicitor’s fees, stamp duty*, search fees, Land Registry fees, house insurance, a delivery van, and that’s before you’ve even thought about your soft furnishings. Use a mortgage calculator tool to see how much you’re likely to be shelling out each month, think long and hard about whether you can afford it and then line up an appointment with an independent financial advisor or your bank to discuss your borrowing options. 

How to up your chances of securing a mortgage 

Aim for an XL deposit

To secure a mortgage, you’ll need a minimum 5% deposit. However, it’s worth scraping together a robust looking deposit if you can. Money Saving Expert has these words of wisdom: “The golden rule is quite simple. The bigger the deposit, the better the interest rate, the lower your monthly repayments, the cheaper the mortgage.” If you have managed to save up a deposit, you’ll save yourself a lot of upset by securing a ‘mortgage in principle’. This certificate means you can be realistic about your budget while reassuring sellers and estate agents you’re serious about the move (just remember it’s not an official offer).

Sort your credit rating 

Maxing out multiple credit cards isn’t going to put you in any lenders good books (withdrawing cash on a credit card is a big nono), but neither will having no credit score at all. In an ideal world, you’ll disassociate yourself from joint accounts with ex partners or friends, never dip into an overdraft, definitely never have opened a payday loan and you’ll have a credit card you rarely use and pay off in full each month. If this doesn’t sound like you, it might be time to rein in the impulse purchases. Use legit credit reference agencies Equifax, Experian and TransUnion to check the damage.

Make sure you’re registered to vote

Being on the electoral role could improve your credit rating as it’s an easy way for lenders to confirm your name, address and residential history. Not being on one slows down this process and in addition, means you don’t get to vote for the least worst politician come election time.

Slam down an extra £100 

Apparently putting down an extra 0.1% on the deposit makes you look more attractive in the lender’s eyes. So scrimp, save, borrow and beg. That extra £100 could be the only thing standing between you and your dream home.

What first time buyer schemes are out there? 

“First dibs”

In some rare good housing news for the Capital, Mayor Sadiq Khan is offering Londoners ‘first dibs’ on new-build properties (worth up to £350,000) for three months before overseas buyers can get a look in. Local Londoners with jobs here will also get priority for a month. 

Help to Buy ISAs 

This tax-free savings account earns holders interest of up to 2.58% and the government tops up this amount by 25% when you use it for a mortgage deposit. There are a few catches – the max limit is £3,000 and you can’t spend it on buy-to-lets or London properties that exceed the £450,000 mark. Better hurry though, the government is closing this scheme on 30 November 2019. 

Lifetime ISA

Just like the ISA, a LISA gets you that tasty 25% government bonus. So long as you’re over 18 but under 40, you can put away up to £4,000 a year and the max bonus is £33,000 (although the rules could change). 

Shared ownership 

If renting hasn’t left you feeling jaded, you might want to consider this scheme which lets you buy a share of a property (usually between 24% and 75%) and pay rent on the rest. This shrinks the deposit needed because you only need a mortgage for the bit you’re buying.  

Help to Buy

Managed to cobble together a 5% deposit? The government will top up your funds with an interest-free loan of up to 40% of the cost of a new-build home in London. However, the scheme has recently come under fire for failing to make homes more affordable. But from April 2021, the scheme will be open to first-time buyers only. 


Like anything involving suits and signatures, there will be jargon, lots of it. Here’s a quick look at some commonly confused terms.

LTV: The wad of cash you borrow (in comparison to the deposit) is known as the loan to value (LTV). So, a 10% deposit will require a mortgage of 90% LTV. 

Stamp duty: A tax you have to pay when purchasing a property costing more than a set amount, unless you’ve opted for shared ownership, where stamp duty no longer applies. From March 2019, you have to pay this tax within 14 days of completion (ie after signing the contracts and you have the keys). No pressure. 

Leasehold: This is when your right to live in a building is legit but you don’t own the bricks or the ground it sits on. This can leave first-time buyers in a sticky situation as this lady discovered. 

Freehold: As sole owner of the building and the land it sits on, you’ll avoid costly add ons such as ground rent, service charges and permission fees.

Conveyancing: This is the bit where the legal title of a house is transferred from one person to another.

How can an agent help first time buyers?

From helping you arrange a mortgage to pointing you in the direction of a decent solicitor, working with an agent such as Davies&Davies can lower your stress levels while ensuring the process is as smooth as possible. But sussing out how to get your hands on a mortgage is just the start. Next up, we discuss how to pick your perfect pad and all that entails-keep your eyes peeled.  

If you want to know more about your options or have questions any about how to jump on that property ladder – we’re here to help! – Lettings Manager (contact for lettings and property management) – Sales Manager (contact for sales, new homes and chartered surveying)

020 7272 0986
Davies & Davies Estate Agents, 85 Stroud Green Road, London, N4 3EG

Article by Kyra Hanson at Barefaced Studios
Photography by Odera Okoye at Barefaced Studios

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Opening Hours & Information During The COVID-19 Outbreak

We’ve closed our shop doors for now, although two of the company directors are currently in the office to meet contractors and to deal with any emergencies. The rest of our team are now operating remotely. We will do everything we can to help you during the COVID-19 outbreak but please bare in mind that we too are operating under unfamiliar territory. Please be patient and please be kind.

Help Support Our Local Community

In an effort to help support our local community during this strange, scary time, we’ve collected locals tips, updates and precautions being taken by and for local people and businesses across Finsbury Park and Stroud Green during this ‘don’t panic!’ pandemic. This article provides you with information on local businesses, help available locally and how you can help others by buying from small independent businesses, joining local initiatives and donating to local charities.

Buy to Let Landlords: Reasons to be cheerful in the 2020 apocalypse

While the year may have begun on literal fire and under threat of World War III, there are some advantages to the year 2020 for you buy to let landlords at least. Yes, we know how to keep things light at the end of the world.

Freeholders & Leaseholders are you ready? 

Let’s find out some more about Freehold. This particular contender, for example, pays no annual ground rent charges and doesn’t rely on a separate freeholder to maintain their building. Nifty. Freeholder has sole responsibility for the maintenance of their building and the land so happens to be somewhat of a green fingered warrior.

Don’t get caught out: new landlord safety regulations are to be enforced

The government has updated its regulations, meaning all new private tenancies will require an electrical safety certificate (EICR) from the 1st July 2020. This affects most landlords, who can face hefty fines for not complying.

Getting the self employed on the property ladder

So you became a freelancer and now believe you’re doomed to be a forever-renter? Started up your own company and can’t seem to catch a break, never mind credit? We’re here to retrain your brain, and your financial outlook. It’s time to turn that frown upside down mortgage-lusters, because we’ve got all the ways to get on the property ladder when you’re self employed.

Our fun, or at least useful, self-assessment guide for Landlords

We know, sorting out your tax affairs is a potent mix of fear and tedium, but it’s also entirely necessary. Particularly so if you are a landlord in need of a self-assessment. I know what you’re thinking, but we can get to your intimate health checks later… We’re talking about your tax return, divided here into small manageable chunks of boringness. Fun police assemble! 

What can a property management company bring to the table?

Single handedly managing a property portfolio can be enough to bring on an early onset of greys. As well as screening tenants, chasing rent and sorting repairs, there’s a tonne of admin and legal stuff you need to keep on top of. Enlisting the help of a lettings agent means you get to bump up the ‘I love my job’ moments while minimising the stressful ones. 

The more you know: find out your rights as a tenant

We know how important it is to know your rights as a tenant; whether you’re currently facing a tenancy issue, or simply want to avoid any renting related concerns in the future.   

Porch stories: Is your property Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian?

“Gotta love a Georgian townhouse, eh?” you shout, slapping the brick entranceway and attempting a stride towards your friend’s promise of housewarming nibbles inside. “It’s actually Victorian” mumbles your friend, squeezing along the narrow hallway to take your coat. The next thirty minutes you eat your way through their salmon puffs and your words. 

Part 2: How to stop renting and start nesting, a First-Time Buyers Guide 

Mortgage in the bag? Give yourself a pat on the back, you’ve officially entered the adulting world of variable rates, credit scores and laughable curtain prices. Now it’s onto what is arguably the fun bit. Choosing your home sweet home. Here’s what you need to consider when it comes to securing your dream abode. 

Part 1: I’m a first-time buyer, get me out of here

By the time you’ve finished reading you’ll have stamp duty sussed and will be well on your way to retiring your renting days. So, before you start Googling obscure German hair thickening shampoo brands, read our handy guide to securing your starter home. It all begins with the stuff that makes the world go round: money.

Landlords: How to not Kill Anyone or end up in Jail

There’s a lot more to letting out a property than just handing over the keys. As your local property nerds, we’ve compiled a list of everything you need to know to make the process of renting out your property as easy and stress-free as possible. 

To sell or not to sell, that is the question…

We’ve looked at the pros and cons of each decision to help you begin with this exciting new chapter in your life. Every situation is unique and we know the importance of this decision, so Davies and Davies are are here to help you make the right choice.

What can you get for £400,000 in North London?

We don’t think you should have to compromise on space and style to save money in your new home search. At Davies and Davies we have a wealth of affordable properties boasting private gardens, Victorian architecture and original fireplaces all nestled comfortably in the heart of leafy and buzzing North London.

Home Automation – How to Bring Your Home Into The 21st Century

Upgrading your home isn’t just about not wanting to appear out of touch when your neighbours pop round. Smart tech can put you in control of your bills, reduce your property’s environmental footprint and provide a talking point at dull dinner parties.

How to make your property work for the planet and your pocket

With many of us switching up our shopping habits to include more ethical choices, adopting a sustainable mindset could just be the selling point your property needs. But it’s ‘gonna take more than a few LED light bulbs to create that green dream. From upping your recycling game to investing in smart tech, here are eight ways you can shrink your home’s environmental footprint while increasing your profitability.

Davies & Davies voted the 7th Best Estate Agent in the UK

We’re pleased as punch to announce we’ve been awarded “Gold Exceptional” (the highest score you can get) in both sales & lettings, ranked 7th Best Estate Agent in the UK, by the Best Estate Agent Guide awards 2019.

Taking the inside out: making the most of your outside space

If you’re lucky enough to have access to outside space, you may be itching to make the most of it now the weather is finally beginning to turn. Perhaps you can plant that herb garden you’ve been meaning to cultivate and really transform your basil pesto once and for all!

The Tenant Fees Ban Explained

Our comprehensive but jargon free guide to the new tenant fees ban. As of June 1st 2019, letting fees for renters will be banned and tenancy deposits will be capped for all tenancies signed after this date.

Women who Run North London: Alina from Davies & Davies

For the final piece in our series, today we’re spotlighting our very own Alina, who has been with D&D for the last 11 years. After starting out as a bookkeeper for the company, she has worked her way up through the business to become one of the two female directors at Davies & Davies. 

Women who Run North London: Esther at Crisis

Everything you see when you step into Crisis has been tailored to Esther’s design and created with help from the charity’s volunteers. There’s a story behind it all- from the coffee bag dress in the window, to the coffee stained wooden units themselves.

Women who Run North London: Claire from Barefaced Studios

The culture that Claire has created at Barefaced: of collaboration, attention to detail, and client care, is evident the moment you step through Barefaced’s doors. Though the agency’s reach stretches worldwide, they have deep roots within the local area, and know it inside out (especially anywhere serving food).

Women who Run North London: Yvonne from Aquarius Beauty

Yvonne, and her sister, Sharon, are well and truly “Finsbury Parkers”. The salon is right at the heart of Finsbury Park, and with the trio of Aquarius Hair, Aquarius Beauty, and Mento, the family own this corner of Stroud Green Road.


Get In Touch


020 7272 0986


Finsbury Park Office,

85 Stroud Green Road,

London, N4 3EG

Opening Times

Mon – Thurs 0845 – 1815
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Sat 1000 – 1600
Sun: Appointments by Request


Closing from 1:00pm on Friday 20th December and will re-open at 08:30am on Thursday 2nd January.

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