We’re first-time buyers and we got £2,000 for free towards our £165,000 first home – how you can too | The Sun

BUYING a house is one of the priciest purchases you'll ever make, but there are ways to get free cash to help you on the way.

Council worker Rebecca Dyche and her partner Samuel, an audio visual engineer, bought their £165,000 home in Staffordshire in March.

The pair, who are both 28, used a government savings scheme to get £1843.97 towards the house for free.

The couple got the cash from the government after opening a Help To Buy ISA in 2020.

The Help To Buy ISA was a savings account that allowed first-time buyers to save for a mortgage deposit and then claim a government bonus when they buy their first home.

For every £200 you save, the government pays a £50 bonus towards the purchase price of a property.


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This particular government scheme closed to new applicants in November 2019, although if you already have an account, you can continue paying into it until November 2029 and claim the bonus until 2030.

There are still other ways house hunters can get free cash.

The Help to Buy Isa has been replaced by the Lifetime Isa, which can be opened by anyone aged 18 to 39.

When you open a Lifetime Isa the government will add 25% to your savings, up to a maximum of £1,000 a year.

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That means if you put in £4,000 a year you'll get a £1,000 free cash bonus to put towards your first home.

Desperate to get on the ladder quicker, Rebecca and Sam stashed away £600 a month into savings.

They split this between the Help to Buy Isa, putting £200 in each month, and the remaining £400 went into a regular savings account.

Meanwhile, haggling down their phone bills and being savvy about their food shopping helped them to make sure they stayed on course with their saving.

We sat down with Rebecca to discuss how the couple went from being savers to homeowners or The Sun's My First Home series.

Tell me about your home

It's a three-bedroom semi-detached house in Staffordshire.

One of the bedrooms acts as my office, as I work from home quite a lot.

There's one master bedroom and a spare room that can be converted into a nursery if we decide to have children.

We also have a garage which Sam uses for his motorbike.

How did you decide on location?

The area was pretty affordable and within our budget.

I work near Wolverhampton and Sam works away a lot, so we needed to be somewhere with good access to the motorway.

It's also just around the corner from my mum's house so I know the area really well and it's nice to be close to family.

How much was it?

Our house was £165,000 and we put down a 5% deposit of £8,250.

The house was originally on the market for £170,000 and we initially put in an offer of £160,000.

The homeowners wanted a quick sale, but they said they couldn't accept our offer.

We were also pretty desperate to move out, so we met in the middle with the offer of £165,000.

We took out a mortgage of £X for 40-years with a five-year fixed rate of 5.54%.

Going for a longer mortgage meant we could make our repayments a bit more manageable.

We pay around £812 a month towards our mortgage.

Sam opened a Help to Buy Isa in 2020 and put away £200 a month into it – the maximum you can put in.

By the time I was ready to buy, he had saved up around £7,375.86 in that account.

The bonus from the Help to Buy Isa was £1,843.97.

How did you save for it?

Sam first started saving in 2020, opening a Help to Buy Isa and putting £200 into that every month.

At the time, I wasn't able to contribute much to saving because I was earning minimum wage working at a convenience store.

In 2021, I got a new job with Staffordshire Council, which was much better paid, and we were able to up our saving efforts.

Sam also got a new job, which his wages increasing from £1,200 to £1,500 a month.

From this, Sam put £200 into the Isa and £600 into a savings account for our deposit.

Meanwhile, I focused my savings efforts on buying furniture for the house and buying things in stages so we didn't have to fork out a big wad of cash at the end.

Sam and I were very lucky because we moved in with his parents and we didn't have to pay any rent.

This meant our only outgoings at the time were our phone bills, car finance, car insurance, Netflix, Amazon Prime and an Xbox Live subscription. This all came to around £500, which we split.

We also looked at reducing some of our bills, including my car finance and our phone bills.

I swapped my Fiat 500 for a less expensive car, reducing my monthly bill by around £170.

We also swapped our phone contracts for pay as you go SIMs, saving us about £50 a month.

To make sure we kept up with our saving, we gave up date nights, nights out with friends and meals out.

It was tricky having to turn down fun activities, but we knew that it was a sacrifice that we needed to make.

After about a year of living with Sam's parents, we started buying our own food as we'd been living there a little longer than we expected.

To save cash, I took out a welcome subscription with Gusto and got 60% off for being a new customer. I then got 25% off my second month.

After this, I signed up to Hello Fresh and managed to got a welcome discount with them on my first month.

I then received an email from from Gusto with an offer of 50% off my next order to entice me back.

This was followed by a similar email and offer from HelloFresh asking me to go back.

I went between the two subscription services for around six months, saving around £720 on the cost of food.

How did you afford to furnish it?

I bought everything in stages so that we we weren't faced with a big extra cost at the end of the process.

We were quite lucky because we got a lot of second-hand pieces for free from family.

Our bed was from Sam's parents and we got a dining table and chairs from his auntie.

All of our kitchen appliances were built in, including the dishwasher, fridge-freezer and washing machine – so we didn't need to fork out for those.

Facebook Marketplace was really useful for finding some good quality, second-hand furniture.

For example, I managed to get a vintage drinks cabinet for £40 that would have been worth around £100 from a vintage shop.

I also trawled B&M for some bargains, and managed to get two shoe racks for £30.

What advice would you give to other first-time buyers?

If you can, stay at home as long as possible because it really helps to reduce your outgoings.

You do have to make sacrifices and miss out on some fun activities, but it is worth it in the end.

Meet with a mortgage broker to determine what you can afford and set yourself a goal to work towards.

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We also spoke to one family that used the snowball method to clear £26,000 worth of debt and buy their first home.

And one savvy saver managed to put half of his wages away while still renting to buy his first home.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected].

You can also join our new Sun Money Facebook group to share stories and tips and engage with the consumer team and other group members.

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