SINGLE dad Brandon Woodhouse sacrificed time with his kids to work seven days a week to help get on the property ladder.
He also sold unwanted clutter around his home, including a kayak, a dumbbell set and old clothes and shoes, to help raise the cash.
The self-employed house builder, 47, had been saving for two and a half years when the coronavirus crisis struck, stalling his hopes of buying a house.
Brandon, who has a 18-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter, had initially been told by a mortgage advisor that a 5% deposit of £9,000 would be enough to get a £175,000 mortgage.
But when Covid-19 locked down the country his bank raised the goalposts to 10%, and the builder suddenly found himself without work due to the pandemic.
When lockdown restrictions later eased, Brandon was dealt another blow as the estimated mortgage repayments had now risen to an unaffordable amount.
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But by working seven days a week for three months this year, selling dozens of household items on Facebook and continuing to live frugally, Brandon scraped the 15% deposit together.
In October, Brandon finally received the keys to his £175,000 two bedroom semi-detached house in Desborough, Northamptonshire.
We caught up with Brandon for HOAR’s My First Home series as he prepared to move into his new home.
Tell me about your home
It was built 15 years ago and is in good condition. It was all carpeted and they left me the blinds.
It is over three floors but the ground floor is just stairs up to the house as there is an archway underneath to the parking at the back.
The first floor is an open plan living room dining room which is a decent size.
There is a small fitted kitchen which has a cooker and hob and a toilet on the same floor. This is painted bright pink so I am planning to redecorate it.
Then on the top floor there are two double bedrooms, one with an ensuite with a shower, and then a tiled family bathroom with a bath.
It has a small courtyard garden covered with slabs and a garage.
How much did you pay for it?
I paid £175,000 for the house, putting down a 15% deposit of £26,250.
I took out a five year fixed rate mortgage at around 2% interest. Since I am 47 and you can typically only take a mortgage out until you are 70, it is a 22 year mortgage.
Why did you decide to buy a property?
When I split up from my wife several years ago I was living in her house, so she kept it. I have rented ever since.
Three years ago I split up from my then girlfriend and I realised that I needed to buy somewhere.
Rent is dead money. I got to the stage of thinking “if I don’t do it this year, I never will”.
I realised it would only get more and more expensive because of my age. I would have to pay off a mortgage by the time I was 70 so I had just over 20 years to do it.
How did you save for the deposit?
I had been putting money aside for two and a half years, about £400 a month from my earnings.
At the start of the year I was told I could get a 5% deposit mortgage so I only needed £9,000 plus fees and I’d got that plus a bit on top. I had £12,000 by January this year.
Just as covid hit the UK I tried to get a mortgage with a 5% deposit thinking it would be nice to have money in the bank as I didn’t know what was happening with coronavirus.
But my mortgage advisor said I now needed 10% because the majority of 5% mortgages had been removed by the banks.
The monthly payments were going to be £730 which is similar to what I paid in rent.
When we went into lockdown I had no work. I panicked and took out a £5,000 personal loan just to be on the safe side in case I needed it.
I didn’t want to touch my savings because I wanted everything for my deposit.
During lockdown I wasn’t spending any money apart from rent and bills and I made my food last a long time. I was saving leftovers for the next meals and not buying anything.
I then got the self-employment grant from the government and got the full amount of £7,500 across three months. By the end of lockdown I had a 10% deposit of £18,000.
Then the price of the mortgage went up to £810 a month which over five years would mean paying £9,000 in interest alone.
So I decided I needed to get a 15% deposit together to get the monthly payments down.
As soon as lockdown ended I was working weekends and evenings to get the £26,250 deposit and £1,500 for fees.
By that point I had found the house which was £175,000, just below the maximum amount I could borrow. I needed about £9,000 extra to get to 15%.
Working an extra weekend meant I would earn £400 after tax and I would be making an extra £150 from working a few evenings during the week.
I only worked every other week for seven days as I have my daughter come and stay for the weekend every other weekend, but on several occasions I had to work on a Saturday which was heartbreaking.
I miss my daughter loads and seeing her on weekends is the highlight of my week, but my son would take her out for the day.
I would make them a picnic and they would go off for a walk while I went to work.
That was probably the hardest part of it. Leaving for work at 6.30am in the morning and not getting in till 8.30pm some days would have its toll on me too.
I also sold everything that wasn’t nailed down. I literally went through every cupboard and drawer in my house.
I sold a classic iPod for £100, a kayak, a dumbbell set, shoes, clothes, jewellery, toys and books.
I sold them through local Facebook buy and sell groups. My biggest sale was my Watt bike, I got £900 for that. I made £2,000 selling things which covered my conveyancing fees.
Selling bits and bobs on Facebook was actually quite fun and it’s surprising how much stuff you accumulate over the years you don’t actually need and even more surprising at what people will actually buy.
I’ve now got the added bonus that there wasn’t as much stuff to pack and take with me.
I got the mortgage literally within a few pounds and I now have absolutely nothing in my savings.
Did you have any problems with the mortgage?
Because I hadn’t been in work for so many months due to lockdown the bank was a bit worried about lending me the money.
When my mortgage application went through I had only been back at work for a week. I had to produce bank statements to show I was being paid again so that delayed the process for two weeks.