Nine money-saving tips for first-time homebuyers as mortgage approvals soar

The number of mortgage approvals made to home buyers jumped in March to the highest level since September 2022, according to new Bank of England figures. In an indication of property sales to come, mortgage approvals for house purchases across the UK rose from 60,500 in February to 61,300 in March.

It was the highest total since more than 65,300 mortgages for house purchase got the green light in September 2022. Approvals for remortgaging decreased from 37,700 to 34,200 over the same period, according to the Bank of England’s Money and Credit report.

However, while buying your first home is thrilling, property expert Alex Hall at Dendo Design warns it can be easy to make expensive mistakes when designing your new space and shares some of the most common errors new homeowners tend to make.

The interior designer said: “Careful planning and avoiding these common pitfalls can help you design a stylish, functional first home without overspending. Take your time, and create a space that truly fits your lifestyle and budget. Enjoy the journey and learn from the process to create a home you’ll love.”

Ignoring the floor plan

First-time buyers often fall in love with a property without considering how the layout fits their needs. Before buying furniture, measure your rooms and sketch a layout. You can use apps to get a clearer picture of how things will look. Consider multifunctional furniture to make the most of the available space.

Overspending on trendy décor

Many people overspend on the latest trends, which can quickly go out of style. Instead, invest in timeless basics like neutral sofas or dining tables. Add trendy accents like cushions or wall art that are easy to switch out. Bargain hunting in secondhand shops can also help you find stylish yet affordable pieces.

Underestimating renovation costs

Renovation expenses are often underestimated, leading to unfinished projects and financial issues. To avoid this, always get multiple quotes and set aside an extra 15-20% to cover surprises. Learn to handle simple DIY tasks like painting or landscaping through online tutorials, which can help you save on labour costs.

Forgetting storage solutions

A lack of storage planning can result in clutter and frustration. Clever storage solutions like built-in shelves, under-bed drawers, or ottomans with compartments can keep your space tidy. Affordable modular storage from IKEA or similar retailers can be tailored to your specific needs.

Neglecting lighting

Inadequate lighting is another common oversight, resulting in dim or overly harsh interiors. Aim for a mix of ambient (general), task (focused), and accent (decorative) lighting. Use floor lamps, LED strips, and pendant lights to brighten your space and create a welcoming atmosphere.

Overdoing open plan designs

Open-plan layouts can sometimes result in a lack of privacy. If you like the idea of open spaces, consider adding sliding doors, bookcases, or screens to separate areas without compromising the open feel.

Overdecorating walls

Walls filled with too many decorations can make a room feel cramped. Instead, opt for a single feature wall or a carefully curated gallery of photos and artwork to create an impactful yet uncluttered look.

Ignoring energy efficiency

Not considering energy efficiency can lead to higher utility bills. Improve your home’s insulation, switch to energy-efficient appliances and LED bulbs, and install a smart thermostat. Sealing windows and doors can also minimise heat loss, helping you save on heating costs.

Rushing to furnish

Some first-time homebuyers try to fully furnish their home right away, which can lead to overspending or rushed choices. Instead, start with the essentials and live in the space for a few weeks before deciding what else you need. Explore charity shops and online marketplaces for quality pieces at a lower cost.

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About the Author: Rayne Chancer