How I bought £174k first home by using an investment Lifetime Isa and holidaying in the UK

USING an investment Lifetime Isa for his savings and giving up holidays abroad helped Alistair Clamp buy his first home aged 21.

The financial adviser paid £174,000 for his one-bed Southampton flat in April last year with a £8,700 deposit.

Solent News

Alistair bought his first home in April last year using the Help to Buy equity loan[/caption]

He saved the cash in three years, tucking money aside after bagging a job as a trainee financial adviser earning £17,000 a year aged 18.

After a year of putting money aside, Alistair opened a stocks and shares Lifetime Isa (LISA), which allowed him to invest his cash and boost his savings – something you can’t do with a Help to Buy Isa.

Over the two years, he made an extra £350 on his savings on top of the 25 per cent annual government bonus that the LISA offers.

That meant after saving £4,000 in the first year and £3,000 in the second, he got £1,750 extra towards his first home.

The modest profit was more than what he would have earned in interest in a Help to Buy Isa, and help him cover the costs of the legal fees.

Solent News

The one-bed flat in Southampton is near to where he works[/caption]

To increase his salary, Alistair, who’s now 22, decided to take his exams to qualify as a financial adviser because he knew the job comes with a greater pay packet.

He dedicated evenings and weekends to studying, which made him cut back on his social life allowing him to boost his savings.

Paying £200 a month to live with his parents kept his living costs low and he limited himself to spending £200 on seeing friends every month.

Are you a first-time buyer who want to share tips on how you did it? Email us at or call 0207 78 24516. Don’t forget to join the Sun Money’s first-time buyer Facebook group for the latest tips on buying your first home.

In the three years of saving, he didn’t holiday abroad and instead opted for short mini-breaks in the UK to save cash.

By the time it came to move into his one-bed flat, Alistair had gained his qualification and was earning £28,000 a year. This is increased the amount he could borrow.

He also used a £34,800 Help to Buy equity loan to get him on the property ladder and took out a mortgage for the remaining £130,500.

We sat down with Alistair for the My First Home series.

What is your home like?

I live in a new build block of flats in Southampton, near to the marina.

Solent News

Alistair only looked at buying new build properties as he wanted to use a Help to Buy loan[/caption]

There’s a double bedroom, a bathroom and an open plan kitchen and living room.

The flat has a Juliette balcony but there is a communal roof terrace I can use when the weather gets hotter.

Buying somewhere was always something I’d dreamed of, and I’d rather own my own place if I could help it.

I’d rather not have to rent and worry about a landlord selling or you coming to the end of your lease.

How much did you pay for the flat?

I bought the flat for £174,000 in April this year. It was on the market for £179,000 but I’d done my research and knew that in December 2018, when I made the offer on the flat, the market was slow.

I haggled them down and negotiated a discount on legal fees too if I went with the solicitor that they’d recommended.

They also threw in £1,000 Ikea voucher which I used to furnish the property.

I used the Help to Buy loan to make my mortgage smaller.

Without it, I don’t think I would have been able to borrow enough to purchase the flat, or I would have had to save for another few years to come up with a bigger deposit.

Solent News

Alistair haggled £5,000 off the asking price and bought it for £174,000[/caption]

Solent News

The financial adviser was given a £1,000 voucher for Ikea to furnish his flat[/caption]

I also only needed a minimum 5 per cent deposit to qualify for the scheme, whereas as a single first-time buyer, I would have needed at least a 10 per cent deposit to buy without it.

I put down £8,700 for the deposit, which was equal to the value of five per cent of the whole flat.

The Help to Buy loan was for 20 per cent worth £34,800 and my mortgage is £130,500.

I took it out over 35 years to lower the monthly payments. I’m currently fixed-into a deal for two years at a rate of 1.64 per cent.

It means my monthly repayments are about £410.

I know that I could have got an even lower rate if it’d fixed-in to a longer deal but I think five years is a bit of a long commitment and I don’t know how long I’ll live here for.

Have you got a plan to repay the Help to Buy loan?

I’m not too worried about it at the moment as it’s interest-free for five years.

Solent News

The flat has one bathroom and a Juliette balcony[/caption]

I got a pay rise shortly after I moved in so I’m saving about £5,000 a year, which I could use to help pay it off before the interest-free period is up.

My other option is to see if I can add it onto the mortgage when I come to renew and keep my savings. I’ll decide closer to the time.

How did you save enough for the deposit?

I’ve been saving to buy my own place even since I finished school and got a full-time job aged 18.

In three years, I saved a bit more than the deposit and kept some to help cover the rest of the moving costs.

What help is out there for first-time buyers?

GETTING on the property ladder can feel like a daunting task but there are schemes out there to help first-time buyers have their own home.

Help to Buy Isa – It’s a tax-free savings account where for every £200 you save, the Government will add an extra £50. But there’s a maximum limit of £3,000 which is paid to your solicitor when you move.

Help to Buy equity loan – The Government will lend you up to 20 per cent of the home’s value – or 40 per cent in London – after you’ve put down a five per cent deposit. The loan is on top of a normal mortgage but it can only be used to buy a new build property. You can no longer open a new account, but existing account holders have until December 1 2030 to claim the bonus.

Lifetime Isa – This is another Government scheme that gives anyone aged 18 to 39 the chance to save tax-free and get a bonus of up to £32,000 towards their first home. You can save up to £4,000 a year and the Government will add 25 per cent on top.

Shared ownership – Co-owning with a housing association means you can buy a part of the property and pay rent on the remaining amount. You can buy anything from 25 to 75 per cent of the property but you’re restricted to specific ones.

“First dibs” in London – London Mayor Sadiq Khan is working on a scheme that will restrict sales of all new-build homes in the capital up to £350,000 to UK buyers for three months before any overseas marketing can take place.

Starter Home Initiative – A Government scheme that will see 200,000 new-build homes in England sold to first-time buyers with a 20 per cent discount by 2020. To receive updates on the progress of these homes you can register your interest on the Starter Homes website.

I didn’t go to uni but instead got a job as a trainee financial adviser on £17,000 a year, which wasn’t enough money to buy anywhere.

I knew that I needed to increase my income if I wanted to be taken seriously for a mortgage so I decided to get qualified.

I’d spend evenings and weekends studying for the exams, which really ate into my social life. I guess that helped me cut back on my spending though too.

I had to take six exams over three years and every time I passed one I got a pay rise.

I qualified in February last year so by the time it came to getting a mortgage, my salary had increased to £28,000 a year. This meant I could borrow more.

For the first 18months that I started saving, I put aside £200 a month but it wasn’t until I turned 20 that I seriously began saving to buy somewhere. By this point, I’d saved £2,000 and I upped my monthly payments to £400.

I lived with my parents paying them £200 a month to cover bills, which is obviously much cheaper compared to renting somewhere.

Solent News

The kitchen opens up into the living room in the flat[/caption]

Solent News

Alistair has lived in the flat for eight months now[/caption]

Solent News

Alistair put down a 5 per cent deposit worth £8,700 for the flat[/caption]

I kept my £25 a month gym membership and Spotify subscription but budgeted myself to £200 a month for socialising.

I mean to be fair, I’m not a massive drinker so I’d offer to drive, which cost me less.

But it did mean that rather than going for dinner with my friends, I might them afterwards for a drink instead

I also didn’t go on holiday abroad at all while I saved and instead went on road trips in the UK to places like Cornwall or Wales.

I found it hard to pace myself on the tight budget that I’d set. I’d easily spend £60 on an event just after payday but then I’d find that I’d have to limit myself for the rest of the month.

It was so much easier when I automated my payments. For example, I sent up a standing order on payday for my savings to go straight into my LISA so I couldn’t spend it.

Solent News

Alistair bought his home aged 21 after three years of saving[/caption]

I also traded in my old car and bought an electric car so that I didn’t have to pay for petrol. It was a Nissan Leaf and my friends totally took the mick out of me because it was so naff.

I didn’t really save much by doing this as before I was spending about £240 a month on fuel but the finance deal for the Nissan cost the same.

But it helped me manage my money as I knew exactly how much it would cost me every month because it didn’t cost me anything to charge it, whereas petrol would always vary.

Why did you choose the Lifetime Isa over the Help to Buy Isa?

The Help to Buy Isa limits you to saving just £200 a month and you don’t get the bonus until completion so you can’t use it for the deposit.

The LISA lets you save up to £4,000 a year and you get the bonus paid at the end of every year, so you can earn interest on that bit too. I got two tax years out of mine.

The LISA also lets you invest, unlike the Help to Buy so I could make some extra money on it.

Solent News

Alistair was only offered a £50,000 mortgage from the bank who holds his current account[/caption]

Did you have trouble getting a mortgage being a first-time buyer?

At first I talked to my bank who I’d been with for years to see what I could borrow. They offered me just £50,000 which was no way near enough.

I was shocked but my dad, who’s a mortgage broker, said that some lenders aren’t keen on lending to first-time buyers and advised me to look elsewhere.

I was lucky that he didn’t charge me, but I would definitely recommend getting one if you can afford it as it totally took the stress out of it.

How did you decide on location?

I grew up in Ringwood, which is about 25 minutes away and I work in Southampton.

Solent News

Alistair kept his gym membership and Spotify subscription while he saved[/caption]

I know that I wanted to use the Help to Buy scheme so I’d have to look at new build developments.

I did look at some off-plan in Bournemouth but it was really hard to visualise what it was going to look like so I ended up looking in Southampton where I worked.

How did it feel when you finally moved in?

Completing is very exciting – especially when you’ve spent the previous few months waiting for all of the paperwork to go through.

It’s an amazing feeling knowing that you own something and that all of the hard work paid off.

I’ve learned so much about the house-buying process – it’s so complicated and not something they teach you about at school.

Now, me and my friends are planning on starting a YouTube channel to help other first-time buyers.