GETTING on the property ladder is no easy task, especially in picturesque Cornwall, but 23-year-old Jess Keast was determined to own her own place before she turned 25.
Gymnastics coach Jess fought off fierce competition from holiday home hunters to buy a £200,000 two-bedroom house in Penzance, with her partner Jack Lorys, 28 in December 2022.
Jess and Jack bought their first home in 2022
The two-bedroom terrace home was on the market for £190,000
The couple saved £20,000 for a deposit over nearly four years
The pair were living with their respective parents when they decided to get serious about saving at the start of 2020, putting in place a target goal of £20,000.
Between them, they managed to tuck away between £500 and £1,000 every month to build up the sum needed to get their own digs.
But saving the lofty sum was just half the battle to ownership.
When looking for homes they faced a race to get offers in before wealthy out of towners searching for second homes beat them to the punch.
We sat down with Jess to discuss how she became a homeowner for HOAR’s My First Home series.
Tell me about your home
It’s a two-bedroom mid-terrace in Penzance, Cornwall.
One is a double bedroom and the other is a bit smaller, which gives us plenty of space for the two of us – plus our miniature dachshund puppy.
There is also a little patio area out the back and the property comes with a parking space for one car.
How did you decide on the location?
We wanted to stay in Penzance because of our jobs – we both work at a gymnastics club in the town.
We were used to travelling just five minutes to get to work and didn’t want that journey time to increase, especially because petrol prices are a bigger cost.
After we had saved enough to buy a home we were then looking for another six or seven months to find the house we wanted.
Down here there are a lot of second homes which makes it tough. We would see one or two-bedroom places that were way above budget.
We viewed one property and put in an offer £10,000 above asking price and then found out someone from upcountry had already offered £50,000 more so we didn’t get it.
After we viewed our home, the estate agent advised us that we would need to put in an offer that day or it will be gone.
We decided to offer £200,000, which was at the top end of our budget. We got a call that evening to say it had been accepted – it was all very fast.
The home is three miles from work and around six or seven miles from our parents – it’s nice they are still close by.
How much was it?
The asking price was £190,000 but we went in £10,000 above, and the higher offer of £200,000 was accepted.
We saved a deposit of £20,000 and met with a mortgage broker.
We had expected to get a mortgage for £160,000 so we were happy when they managed to get us a loan offer for £180,000.
We decided to take a five-year fixed at 3.7%, which works out as £786 a month in repayments.
How did you save for it?
We were saving for a total of almost four years but got a plan in place at the start of 2020.
I’ve always been quite good at saving but we then set strict limits on our spending.
We both live with our parents and were lucky that we didn’t have much to pay for much while living at home, so we could save more of our wages.
However, we cut back pretty much everything and were only really paying for essentials.
We weren’t getting any other help with our deposit so needed to put as much away as possible.
We had the odd meal out during that time but it wasn’t a monthly thing – saving took top priority.
The money went straight into an instant access savings account that paid a small amount of interest. When we had saved larger sums of £5,000 I transferred the money into a second account that paid 2.5% – this was an easy access account but you couldn’t transfer online so meant we couldn’t casually transfer money out.
Little by little, the amount grew.
We went on one holiday last year but we only managed to do that because it was a rebooked holiday that was cancelled in 2020 due to Covid. That’s the only way we were able to go away while we were saving.
How did you afford to furnish it?
We moved in just before Christmas so rather than the normal presents our family got us gifts for the house.
Jack’s family bought us a fridge as a Christmas present and my family bought a washing machine.
We already had a wardrobe, bed and TV so they came with us.
Everything else we are just slowly building up.
We got a free sofa from Facebook marketplace – and just chucked a blanket over it. Our dining table and chairs were also free from Facebook.
We’re trying to save again for new carpets as they could do with replacing.
The house was previously a rented place and the landlord had also used paint that wasn’t very good so painting is the next big thing we need to get done.
What advice would you give to other first-time buyers?
Start saving as early as you can – little things do make a difference.
And stay with parents for as long as possible.
I know it’s not an option for everyone but it was definitely worth it for us and we could save much more.
We were lucky that we’ve both got a really good relationship with our parents.
At one point we were tempted to move out and rent but we just stuck with it.
I didn’t want to get caught in the renting trap where it becomes really difficult to save.
Here’s how one buyer managed to rent and save for a home at the same time.
Free cash from home saving schemes can also help you get on the ladder faster.