Expert Advice

Ask the experts! A financial consultant gives advice on shared ownership mortgage lending, which has always been supported by a small group of lenders who understand and specialise in helping housing association candidates to become homeowners. Over the last seven years, lender understanding has increased and shared ownership is now viewed as the third best way, sitting alongside 100% ownership and renting.

Exploring Help to Buy and Shared Ownership schemes

Photo of new home example of available on shared ownership scheme or help to buy schemes in UK

Have you ever heard the words “shared ownership”, or “Help to Buy” but always wondered exactly what people were talking about?

The world of affordable home ownership might seem like a complex one, particularly for first-time buyers, but here at HomeFocus we strive to cut through the jargon and tell you exactly what you need to know.

Thanks to the sky-high prices of homes and houses nationwide, people right across the country are being priced out of the open market, and add that to the extortionate cost of renting, it’s no wonder that people are struggling to get a foot on the property ladder.

However, there are affordable home ownership schemes in place to help you buy your own home - and the key word there is affordable.

How to get the best mortgage you can

Hand holding out money for a mortgage

Lee Rhodes is a mortgage and insurance advisor and the founder of Rhodes Advisory. With over 13 years of experience in financial services, he has this year helped clients raise over £7m in mortgages.

Getting on the property ladder isn’t easy these days, especially for first time buyers with fairly small deposits or those who do not have any or much equity built up in property that can be used
as a deposit for an onward purchase. The good news is that the Government is keen on stimulating the housing market and wants to help people get that foot onto or up the ladder.

Which Home Buying Schemes Are Available?

Key in the door of a new home

Are you looking to buy a new home and don't know where to start? Don't worry, we've got you covered! Here at Home Focus we've made things easy for you. Check out all the home buying schemes below that could be avaliable to you! 

Help to Buy Equity Loan

You own 100% of your property, but only have to cover a percentage of the initial cost with your mortgage and deposit. You can defer the rest for a while as it’s covered by an equity loan. There’s nothing to pay on the equity loan for a few years, and the scheme you choose will determine whether you pay any interest after this and when you have to pay the loan back.

Shared ownership

Tenant Fees Act Could Harm More Than It Helps...

Daniel Craig talks about Tenant Fees

A NEW ACT which comes into force on 1 June could end up hurting the people it is supposed to help, warns a leading property management consultant. The Tenant Fees Act stops landlords from charging more than five weeks’ rent as a deposit, banning letting fees and disallowing charges for damages without providing evidence of costs.

But while on the surface it seems like an extra layer of protection for tenants, it could end up costing them more money.

Daniel Gibson, an experienced property management consultant who runs Daniel Craig Residential based in Newcastle, said the changes will mean more costs passed on to landlords, who are likely to increase rents to mitigate their potential losses.

5 ways to clean painted walls

A woman cleaning painted walls

When planning to give your house a thorough spring spruce up, there are some areas that are more straightforward than others to clean as we keep on top of them regularly - but what about surfaces like your painted walls? Walls gather dust and grime over the years, and they’re not something we tend to freshen up on a regular basis (well, most of us anyway).

Try cleaning your painted walls using these 5 tactics from Airtasker:

Here are a few things to consider before you start though…

Don’t forget to dust off any excess dirt before starting. You can do this using a simple duster for those areas you can reach, and a broom with a rag over its bristles for any high areas.

Ready, Steady, Grow! Bring Spring To Your Garden!

Ready, Steady, Grow! Bring Spring To Your Garden! David Wilson Homes development Bishop's Hill in Warwickshire

With the end of the colder months in sight and spring fast approaching Homebuilder David Wilson Homes’ has collaborated with the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI), to provide a wealth of useful tips that are sure to help Warwickshire homeowners tidy up their garden in no time. 

During the winter it can be hard to feel motivated to tend to your garden, but spring is the perfect time to give your green spaces a little TLC in readiness for the warmer weather. 

Steve Barton, Senior Sales Manager at David Wilson Homes Mercia, said: “The idea of gardening can seem like a bit of a chore, especially if you’re a busy family short on time.

Get Mortgage-Fit With Barratt Homes Tips For First Time Buyers

Get Mortgage-Fit With Barratt Homes Tips For First Time Buyers

Purchasing your first home is an exciting time for many and with plenty of options out there to help you apply for your mortgage, leading developer Barratt Homes has revealed a few handy tips to put Essex buyers on the right track.

Househunters looking to buy for the first time may find it difficult to know where to start when it comes to understanding the homebuying process, but with the leading developer’s tips for first time buyers, they’ll be mortgage-fit in no time. 

Barratt Homes is offering tips for first timers to get in the best financial shape ahead of it releasing its apartments at Gilden Park.

Top boiler tips for new homeowners

boiler on blue background

So, you’ve just moved into your new home and you’ve got everything set up to make it as cosy as possible, including your central heating. But, do you know what to do if your boiler breaks down? Luckily, Beckie Hatton from Home Appliance Care has given us her top boiler tips for new homeowners.

Our boilers are one of the most important elements in our homes, but we don’t often think about them until they break down. I’ll be sharing my best advice when it comes to boilers, including servicing, care and maintenance, so you can keep your new home warm no matter what the weather throws at us 

Keep it clear

Get off to a great start when buying off plan with David Wilson Homes

Get off to a great start when buying off plan with David Wilson Homes

Bedfordshire homebuyers looking to purchase a new property should consider buying off plan, as leading developer David Wilson Homes has revealed the benefits of using this method for a range of buyers.

This means purchasing a property before it’s reached building completion, sometimes before construction has even started.

With many benefits including getting the pick of the plots by reserving early and the ability to personalise the property down to the finishing touches, buyers are more in control of their home.

Whether house hunters are purchasing their first home or are simply looking to upsize, the developer’s guide reveals how an off plan property can suit whatever vision buyers have for their dream home.

Top tips to make a move easy

Top tips to make a move easy

Although it’s an exciting step towards living in your dream home, the process of moving house can sometimes feel like a demanding experience. However, from the moment you make the decision to sell your property, to the day of the move itself, if you manage the process well then it can feel like a fond farewell to your old home, rather than a drawn-out process.

Here, Tonia Tyler, sales director at Redrow Homes South Midlands, discusses how to make your move as smooth as possible. 

The Sell 

Seven helpful water tips for when you move into your first home

Two people stood in a water flood

Results from the industry-specialist Water Regulation Advisory Scheme‘s (WRAS) recent survey highlighted that many young people aged 18-24 have a lack of plumbing knowledge which could spell disaster when faced with an emergency problem at home. The report revealed that “82% of 18-24-year-olds don’t think to ask where the main stopcock is when moving into a new home”, vital information needed in order to switch off the mains water supply in the event of a leak or burst pipe.

Packing and unpacking hacks for first time home owners

Couple packing boxes for new home

Moving home can be both exciting and stressful, especially for first time movers. Keeping on top of packing is essential when moving and then there’s making sure that there’s enough storage at the new place for all the items that need unpacking…

Space-saving expert, Simon Glanville offers his advice top tips for a stress-free moving experience:

De-clutter – de-cluttering before you start packing will ensure that all unnecessary items are disposed of, arriving to your new home organised and clutter-free will make unpacking much easier. 

Pack wisely – use vacuum packs for clothes, duvets and pillows; sucking the air out helps fit more than double into the same size container which means less boxes to transport.

Follow TV property expert’s advice on future-proofing your new home purchase

Clive Holland advises on choosing a new home

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of buying a new home, but choose carefully – you may still live there for years to come and it’s important that your home stands the test of time for your family…

OK, so you fancy buying a spanking new build or maybe you already have? Possibly, you’ve sold an older property and made the switch or you are first time buyers that have taken advantage of the government’s Help to Buy scheme? It’s a brilliant option that helps give you a leg-up onto the property ladder. You can find plenty of details online, via mortgage brokers and house builders etc, of course you can source great information via this very magazine and associated website too.  

It's love at first sight for home buyers

Anna and Nathan, with their baby, went on many a house viewing  but fell in love at first sight with a Countryside home

With one in two UK homeowners partaking in just one house viewing before making an offer, home builder Countryside has teamed up with relationship expert, John Donlon, to uncover just what makes us lead with our hearts when it comes to buying a new home.

According to a recent survey by Countryside, it took just one house viewing for 53%* of homeowners before purchasing their home, describing the experience as ‘love at first sight’. An additional 25% stated that only a second house viewing was needed before making a final decision. 

How To Deal With Difficult Neighbours

How To Deal With Difficult Neighbours

Tom Christie, Associate Solicitor at Slater Heelis LLP discusses how to deal with difficult neighbours and what legal rights homeowners and tenants have.

Experiencing problems with a nuisance neighbour can often leave homeowners and tenants angry and stressed. Whether it’s a noise disturbance, anti-social behaviour or piles of dumped rubbish many people don’t know to resolve the dispute. 

The most important thing when dealing with difficult neighbours is not to let the problem become entrenched. Speak to your neighbour to discuss the problem and see if you can reach a mutually agreed solution. 

Keep an audit trail

Mortgages made easy with Help to Buy experts

Helen Pierson - The Mortgage Bureau

Getting a mortgage for the first time can be quite a daunting process – but not if you have the right advice and support. Here, Helen Pierson from The Mortgage Bureau answers some of the questions you might have about borrowing to buy your first home…

Is there a minimum income which you need to buy a home on Help to Buy?

There’s no minimum – you just need to make sure that what you earn gets you the mortgage you’ll need in order to buy. Generally this is 75% of the property value, so if the sale price is £150,000 you would need a mortgage of £112,500. Most lenders will calculate what you can borrow by multiplying your income by 4.5 – after deducting any loans and credit card balances.

Top reasons for a delay in the conveyancing process

Top reasons for a delay in the conveyancing process

By Sara Hughes, Team Leader in the Conveyancing Department at national law firm Stephensons.

The conveyancing process can be delayed for a number of reasons which are often out of the control of your solicitor, mortgage lender or estate agent. Below are the top reasons for delay that are regularly seen by our residential conveyancing team and what you can do to minimise, or where possible, avoid any delays in the process.

Evidencing where your money and/or a gifted deposit has come from

3 things to check before buying a home

3 things to check before buying a home

Moving home marks an important step in someone’s life, whether it’s to upsize to cater for a growing family or to relocate for an exciting job opportunity. However, the moving process is renowned for being one of life’s biggest stresses. In fact, a recent study shows one in seven homebuyers said the property they bought was left in a poor condition when they moved in.

Matt Poll, CEO at Neos, the UK’s first smart home insurance provider, shares his checklist of things to look out for before buying a home.

Getting to grips with the buying process

Getting to grips with the buying process

Buying your first home will probably be one of the biggest financial commitments you will ever make, but also one of the most rewarding and exciting. 

For many first-timers, the homebuying process will often by unclear and confusing. Award-winning house builder, Cavanna Homes, share their top tips on the buying process from reserving your first new home, to arranging your mortgage and exchanging contracts. 

Step one

Before you make any decision or start browsing homes for sale, the first stage is to work out how much you can borrow from the bank and how much deposit you will require. Then you will need to agree the mortgage in principle. 

Looking to buy your first home through a housing scheme?

Looking to buy your first home through a housing scheme

By Melanie Mihill, Mortgage Consultant, Ipswich Building Society

There’s no shortage of media coverage around the problems faced by first time buyers. Taking the first step on the housing ladder can seem like an impossible task to some, which is why in the last ten years the government has introduced a series of low-cost home buying schemes, such as shared ownership and the Affordable Homes Programme 2016-21 aims to increase the supply of shared ownership and other affordable homes by March 2021.

Increasing property value second tier to boosting home comforts

Increasing property value second tier to boosting home comforts

The majority (65%) of British homeowners are more interested to spend their cash creating homes they really want to live in. Just over one in ten (12%) in comparison say increasing their home’s value is their top priority. 

To build on their ‘homely’ touches, nearly three quarters of homeowners (73%) said they revamp their homes at least once a year, with a ninth (11%) refreshing their rooms and gardens at least four times annually. 

The research comes from loans specialist Norton Finance as part of a new campaign to discover attitudes towards home improvements this summer.

Sold! The Smell That Will Sell Your Home!

Sold! The Smell That Will Sell Your Home!

FOR BRITS looking to sell their home, new research has revealed the smell which could make their house more desirable to potential buyers.

A survey of 1,015 UK adults carried out by leading household appliances retailer,, revealed a staggering 86% of those surveyed said the smell of a house could be the difference between putting in an offer or not.

When quizzed on the scents which would be a welcome surprise when viewing a property, 35% of Brits said the smell of fresh bread baking would be a selling point.