Getting on the property ladder can be a big step for anyone to take. With this handy guide, you’ll find helpful tips for planning ahead, so you can get familiar with the process and find a mortgage that could be right for you.

Share this guide:

Should you buy?

Choosing to buy a home is probably one of the biggest steps you’ll ever take. That’s why it’s important to understand some of the pros and cons before you get started.


A place to call home

You'll have somewhere to really call your own, without having to rely on a landlord.

Investment potential

When your mortgage is paid off, you'll have the satisfaction of owning your own property, which may also turn out to be an investment that could increase in value.

Improve credit rating

Making regular payments and owning a property is a great way of showing lenders you’re in control of your finances.

Things to consider

Raising a deposit

In order to get a mortgage, you'll need a deposit. This is a sum of usually at least 5% of the property's total value. Sometimes saving this much money to put down on a property can be tough. 

Exposure to the housing market

Sometimes property prices fall. If that happens, there’s a risk of ‘negative equity’ where your home becomes worth less than the mortgage you have on it.

Monthly mortgage payments

You run the risk of losing your home if you can’t keep up your monthly payments. This can also affect your credit rating, which may impact your ability to borrow or get credit in the future.

Getting help to buy your first home

Help to Buy equity loans

A Help to Buy equity loan can provide extra money for the deposit you'd like to put towards a new build home. If you have a 5% deposit, through the Help to Buy equity scheme, you may be able to borrow up to an additional 20% (or 40% in Greater London) towards your new home. Then you’d be able to apply for a Nationwide mortgage of up to 75% (or 55% for Greater London).

All Help to Buy shared equity loans are interest free for five years. After that, you’ll need to pay a monthly interest fee on top of your monthly mortgage payments. If you sell your property you'll need to repay any outstanding balance on your equity loan as well.

Find out more about Help to Buy equity loans

Shared ownership

Shared ownership schemes are usually provided through housing associations and are available on new-build or used properties. You can take out a mortgage and buy a share of a property, typically between 25% and 75%, then pay rent on the amount that’s left. Over time, you can usually increase your share in the property by purchasing further shares in the property (known as 'staircasing').

Right to Buy

The Government's Right to Buy scheme allows eligible council and housing association tenants to buy their council home at a discount. Scheme availability and eligibility rules differ in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

At Nationwide, we're happy to support Right to Buy mortgage applications. Find out more

Forces Help to Buy

This is a Ministry of Defence (MoD) scheme designed to help regular armed forces personnel onto the property ladder.

If you’re eligible, the MoD will lend you up to 50% of your salary (to a maximum of £25,000) to help pay a deposit on your first home. The loan is interest-free and you have to pay the MoD back within ten years through your salary. The actual mortgage element works just like normal, so you can choose from our full range. Forces Help to Buy can't be used with any other government schemes.

couple looking in estate agent window

Buying with a partner, a friend or a family member is known as a ‘joint mortgage’ (or ‘joint ownership’ in Scotland). All named parties are jointly and severally responsible for repaying the mortgage, so it’s important that you’re all able to keep up the payments.

Joint tenants

Joint Tenants (sometimes called Beneficial Joint Tenants) have equal rights to the whole property and the property automatically goes to the other owners if you die. You can’t pass on your ownership of the property in your will.

Tenants in common

This means you jointly own your new home and a share of its value – the property doesn’t pass automatically to the other owners if you die. You can pass your share of the property in your will.

Guarantor mortgages

A parent or family member can help with finding the cash for a deposit. This doesn’t mean they’ll jointly own your new home. Instead they'll be a 'guarantor' and they’ll be liable for the debt they agree to guarantee. Since this could be as much as the total mortgage, they should always seek independent legal advice before entering into a guarantor mortgage with you.

myNationwide app

Mortgage questions answered when it suits you most.

Download the myNationwide App and our team will be able to help you on your mortgage journey. If you’re a first time buyer, borrowing more or looking for an update on your mortgage application, we’re here to help. We can also help you book appointments when you need.

Download today

To download and use the app you need to be aged 18 or over and have an iPhone with iOS 9 or above. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. iOS is a trademark or registered trademark of Cisco in the U.S

Mortgages are secured on your home. You could lose your home if you do not keep up payments on your mortgage.