The Virgin Money Home Buying Coach app: the new app helping first-time buyers to get on the property ladder

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You can hire a coach to help you with everything from improving your tennis backhand to losing weight or putting up a better show at job interviews.

But when it comes to buying your first home – quite possibly the biggest financial decision you will ever make – the standard procedure is to muddle along on your own.

What you really need is a comprehensive, reassuring plan to “hold your hand” through the long and often confusing journey towards becoming a homeowner.

Virgin Money’s Home Buying Coach app starts right at the beginning, with saving for a deposit – and for all the other niggling expenses you’ll need to cover in your buying budget, from surveyors to sofas.

You tell the Home Buying Coach where you want to live, how much you think your first property will cost and when you’d like to be able to buy it, and the app will work out how much you need to save each month to achieve your goal. You can then track your progress in real time, changing and updating your plan if your circumstances or ambitions change.

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The app provides jargon-busting guides that demystify everything from how to brush up your credit rating – you won’t get a mortgage if you don’t have a good one – to choosing your best mortgage deal from the bewildering range out there, to reminding you of all you should be aware of when you start viewing properties.

It will also advise you on how to make an offer once you’ve found your dream home; how to find a solicitor to steer you through the buying process – and even how to handle moving day.

Simon Wallace, Virgin Money Head of Mortgage Integration and Transformation, said: “The starting point for any first-time buyer is to understand not only how much they can save but also how much they need to put away each month to get on to the property ladder. That knowledge, together with a clear plan of action, means they are more likely to take that first step sooner rather than later.

“The app is interactive so it’s easy to see how small changes to a monthly savings amount can influence not only the speed at which someone can buy that first home, but also what they can afford.

“In fact, by stopping to think about what they can save each month, first-time buyers can very quickly get a picture of what is in reach and when.

“Suddenly home ownership goes from a dream to something much more real.”

Top tips:

  • Unless you are buying a new-build home, a survey is an expense worth covering. A property valuation is part of the mortgage application process and won’t provide you with any protection if something goes wrong down the line.
     
  • If you’re not registered to vote, your mortgage application might hit a snag – lenders use the electoral roll to check your identity.
     
  • Don’t go to view a property alone. Bring a friend or relative as a sounding board.
     
  • Before committing to a property get down to the nitty-gritty: turn on the taps to check the water pressure is good, and open and close the windows to make sure they work properly.
     
  • Measure every room and doorway, so you can make sure your furniture will fit before you commit to buying the place.

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