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.

First time buyer? This is why you need to start a Lifetime ISA

Lifetime ISA logo

If saving for your own house seems like an impossible dream, help is at hand from the government which you need to know about, says Homefocus editor Victoria Galligan

In November 2019 the Help to Buy ISA was replaced by the Lifetime ISA, which can help first time buyers put away up to £4,000 a year and receive a 25% government bonus. 

Although it’s only just replaced the Help to Buy ISA, the Lifetime ISA has been available from April 2017 so many people have been taking advantage of this pretty generous offer from the government for a while now. But is it the right way for you to save for your first home?

Here, Homefocus has put together a guide to show how the Lifetime ISA can help you get onto the property ladder sooner than you thought…

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 a mortgage while in student loan debt

How to get a mortgage while in student loan debt

Most mortgage lenders will ask about your student loan status, although a debt won’t automatically lead to a black mark against your application. Despite the obstacles, with hard work and patience you’ll still be able to reach your homeownership goals.

Residential People have years of experience working to connect people with property, and they revolutionised the way people search for properties. Here, they discuss how to get a mortgage while in student loan debt. ​

Top Tips For A Stress-Free Move For Pets In Bedfordshire

Helen & Darren with their puppy after a stress-free move

David Wilson Homes has teamed up with the UK’s leading animal charity the RSPCA to provide pet owners with advice on a stress-free move for their animals.

Jason Hearn, Sales Director at David Wilson Homes South Midlands, said: “Moving to a new home can be a worrying experience for pets, who often get overlooked during this busy time. 

“We want our customers’ moves to be as stress-free as possible, and that includes keeping their pets happy! That’s why we’ve teamed up with the RSPCA to ensure a happy move all round.”

The RSPCA, which has a branch in Bedfordshire, is encouraging buyers to plan in advance and minimise the impact on pets.

What you need to know about service charges

Service charges logo

One of the benefits of becoming a leasehold property owner is the fact that most of the upkeep and maintenance of the communal areas, the main structure and the exterior of your home will be arranged by its freehold owner and undertaken by professionals. This takes the pressure off you and allows you more time to yourself.

If you’re considering purchasing a leasehold property, you may be aware of the service charges that are often applicable to this type of residence. 

These are amounts that you pay to the freeholder of your home for a variety of reasons – chiefly to do with its upkeep and insurance cover. 

So what are the types of service charge that may be applied, and why are they necessary? 

Homebuyers Reminded Of Benefits Of Help To Buy

Help to Buy homes at David Wilson Homes development

Leading developer David Wilson Homes reminds Bedfordshire buyers of the benefits of Help to Buy and Forces Help to Buy schemes at its Marston Fields development in Marston Moretaine.

The Government-backed Help to Buy scheme is open to both first-time buyers and existing homeowners on properties up to the value of £600,000. The scheme helps you to buy a home with an equity loan of up to 20% of the full price of the property and just a 5% deposit. You won't have to pay any interest charges on this loan for the first five years.

The scheme is set to change in April 2021 and the new incentive will be exclusively for first-time buyers. This also includes regional property price caps to ensure the scheme reaches people who need it most. 

Make The First Move With These Handy Homebuying Tips

A typical street scene - Make The First Move With These Handy Homebuying Tips


First time buyers are being encouraged to take a step onto the property ladder at Barratt and David Wilson Homes’ popular Clipstone Park development in Leighton Buzzard.

Situated on Leighton Road, the development offers a selection of three, four and five bedroom homes perfect for those looking to purchase their first property. 

For those looking to make a move sooner rather than later, the leading developer has revealed a list of handy tips to assist buyers in the process of buying a home.

What Boris's tax reforms could mean for first time buyers

Paresh Raja, CEO of Market Financial Solutions, advises first time buyers on the current political climate and how it affects those trying to get onto the property ladder…

Paresh Raja, CEO of Market Financial Solutions, advises first time buyers on the political climate and how it could affect those trying to get onto the property ladder…

With Britain’s departure from the European Union looming, political attention is largely centred around Brexit and Boris Johnson’s ability to pass a withdrawal agreement before October 31. However, negotiating Brexit is not the only major challenge confronting the new Prime Minister. The NHS is in need of a spending boost and the financial markets need assurance after what has been a confused period of uncertainty. 

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.