MENTAL health nurse Dami Roachford got a second job and cut her spending on takeaways and going out in half to help buy her £255,000 first home.
Dami, 26, also cut down on holidays to save as much money as she could while saving for her £29,000 deposit.
She took on extra shifts as a mental health nurse at a separate agency, working gruelling six day weeks in order to be able to take out a bigger mortgage to get the house she wanted.
It pushed her earnings up to £50,000 a year, allowing her to buy a three-bed terrace house in Essex with a mortgage of £226,000.
Lenders typically give mortgages of up to four and half times your salary.
Without the extra income she wouldn't have been able borrow as much from the bank – and she would've missed out on her dream property.
Like many first-time buyers, Dami lived with her parents in Southwark, London to help save up for her deposit – but she still paid rent.
She paid a reduced rate of £500 a month and this did helped her boost her savings.
Her parents also gave her £2,000, which helped her reach her savings goal earlier.
Dami finished renovating her home in December last year – we sat down for a chat and snooped around her home for The Sun’s My First Home series.
Tell me about your house
It’s a three-bed mid-terrace house in Essex – and it’s required a lot of renovation work.
There’s one bathroom, which needed replumbing and I’ve put in a new shower.
I’ve also replaced the kitchen, putting in new units, and I have a separate living room.
There’s a front and back garden, which I’m planning on doing up – although I did manage to drain the pond that was there before. I’m going to cover it up.
It’s taken 10 months for me to do the renovation works and I finally moved in over December last year after buying the property earlier that year in February.
How did you decide on the location?
I wasn’t fussed about location.
The biggest thing for me was getting on the property ladder – so as long as the price was right and I found a home I really wanted, location didn’t really matter so much.
However, it still took me a year to find the right house for me.
Luckily it’s just a 30 minute drive away from my family.
How much did you pay for it?
I paid £255,000 for my house, and took out a 35-year mortgage at £226,000 at a fixed rate for two years.
I put down a deposit of £29,000 (roughly 12%) for it.
My family also gave me £2,000 which I was really grateful for – I put it straight towards my deposit.
My mortgage repayments are £750 a month, but I also took out a £25,000 loan to pay for the renovation works.
That means I’m paying £500 a month on my loan repayments.
Although that’s a lot of money, I knew I needed money quick to get the works underway – else I’d be wasting money on buying a house I couldn’t live in.
All together I’m paying £1,250 a month on these debts – but that’s still works out as the same amount of money I’d be spending on rent per month in London for my own flat.
Were there any complications buying the house?
I first spotted my house on Rightmove in October 2019 – but when I spoke to a mortgage broker about a loan, I was told that I didn’t have the finances to buy it.
My broker said that I could only get a mortgage worth £200,000 – which was £60,000 lower than the asking price for the house.
But instead of finding something else, I was determined to get more cash to make it work.
I had already taken on a second job as a nurse the month before to boost my income, so I took on as many shifts as I could handle to get more money.
In total, I was working 12-hour shifts six days a week after I took on a second job – and I was getting an extra £1,500 per month.
After I built up three months’ worth of receipts proving I had boosted my income, my broker was able to find me a lender who agreed to lend me £226,000.
Alongside the £29,000 deposit I had saved, I was able to put in an offer for the house at £255,000 – which was accepted in January 2020.
However, as I was buying my house from a business, the deal was classed as a corporate sale.
Therefore, there was a clause in my contract that said that I had to exchange in 28 days – and that the house wouldn’t be taken off the market even when the offer was accepted.
I spent all month worrying about whether anyone was going to put in a higher offer than me and the house would slip through my fingers.
Plus, I had spent £550 on surveys and fees already on the house – but I made sure to take out an insurance policy that covered me for these costs if the sale fell through.
It was hard to keep working and keep motivated to work super long hours too – I was working six days a week for a house I didn’t know whether I could definitely get.
What’s a corporate sale?
IF you’re buying your house from a business, it’s classed as a corporate sale.
It means you could be buying your house from:
- a lender selling a property that has been repossessed
- a new-build company which has taken a part exchange against a new house
- a quick sale company
- a company which was letting the property and now wants to sell it
According to Quilter mortgage expert Karen Noye, it's typical that you have to exchange in 28 days for these sorts of properties.
She adds that the house you're buying will also usually stay on the market until exchange date.
She said: "The 28 days is more of a target than a deadline but it is important to check the contract as with some contracts, reservation fees or other fees can be lost if that deadline is not met."
So while it means that you'll be able to bag your home quicker, be warned that you could lose the money you've already spent on the property – such as forking out for surveys and fees.
But luckily I managed to stay focused and no one trumped my offer – I exchanged 28 days later.
How did you save for it?
It took me nearly three years to save for my house – I started tucking away money in 2016, when I qualified as a mental health nurse, but really ramped this up in 2019.
When I was a student, I used to budget everything – and I carried this habit over even when I finished my studies.
I started my savings from scratch after I graduated, putting £500 every month into my savings account.
By the end of 2018, I had £15,000 saved up – and that’s when I started to seriously start thinking about buying a house.
I decided to tuck as much as I possibly could away over 2019.
Before that, I was going on three holidays a year, at £1,000 a trip.
But in 2019, I went on just one holiday – saving myself £2,000.
I also drastically cut back the amount I was spending on takeaways and going out in half.
Each month I could be easily spending £200 a month on eating and going out – but I cut this down to £80 by cooking my own meals and only going out once a month.
My second job obviously helped bulk up my savings considerably, but living with my parents helped me cut down on rent.
I would pay £500 a month towards rent and bills – which is much lower than what you would be paying to live in Southwark normally.
How have you managed to afford furnishing it?
I’m buying furniture in phases.
My main focus was getting the house up to scratch first – getting it looking pretty could wait.
I’ve bought essential items of furniture, but I’m spreading the cost out of buying the less necessary bits, like drawers and mirrors.
What’s your advice to other first time buyers?
It was super nerve-wracking wondering whether I was going to be gazumped because the house hadn’t been taken off the market.
I was also really stressed handling and managing all the renovation works myself.
It’s really important to have a good support system around you.
Although I did it by all myself, I would say it’s very important to do your research and see whether taking on a project is the right decision for you.
It requires a lot of time and extra money – so make sure to do your maths and see if it’s something you can afford to do.
Once I bought my house, I wanted to pass on what I had learned to other people – especially younger buyers like myself.
So I set up an Instagram account to post about how I became a homeowner and documented my renovation.
If you have a vision or a goal of what your first home will be, it really helps to keep motivated.
It will make whatever sacrifices you have to make a lot easier.
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