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Buying a house on your own: top tips on how to do it

Updated 12 January 2022

6min read

Kate Morgan
Staff Writer

You don’t need to buy with someone else to get on the first rung of the property ladder. Lots of mortgage providers will accept you, as long as you can show you’re not too much of a risk. We’re here to help.

This guide walks you through how to put yourself in the best position to get the mortgage offer you need and buy a house on your own.

buying a house on your own

Lots of people decide to buy a house on their own. So, if you’re looking to do the same, the good news is that you’re not alone. There are lots of options out there for you and professionals who can help you move forward with this big purchase.  

Prospective reasons for a single person mortgage 

There are loads of reasons why you might want to be a solo homeowner. You could be a first-time buyer and not ready to make this kind of commitment with someone else yet. You could be buying a second property as a buy-to-let investment for yourself, or perhaps your partner has low income or a bad credit history, making it difficult to get accepted as a pair.

Lots of people who are separated or divorce go on to buy a house of their own, and others remortgage to remove a past partner from their mortgage. 

Thankfully, mortgage providers are well versed in the reasons why someone would need a single income mortgage.  

Can a single person get a mortgage? 

Absolutely. As with any loan, a mortgage provider’s focus will be weighing how much of a risk you pose. The fact that you’re buying a house on your own has its own upsides and downsides from a risk point of view. 

An obvious downside is that you have half the buying power of a couple. That means providers will assume you can’t afford to spend as much on your mortgage repayments. On the plus side, you’re probably buying a smaller house, so the mortgage you need will be smaller too. 

You also won’t have to worry about someone else’s poor credit history damaging your chances. As long as you have a good credit history and can prove that you can afford the mortgage, you have every reason to believe that you’ll be accepted. 

How much can a single person borrow for a mortgage? 

The answer to the question is simple: how much can you afford? Mortgage lenders now look very closely at a buyer’s income and outgoings to judge affordability, which may or may not include income from things like bonuses and overtime. 

It’s no longer a case of multiplying your salary by a set amount – it depends on everything from how much you pay in rent to the amount you spend on food, clothes and commuting, and any other loans you need to pay off. 

Given the level of scrutiny involved, it’s worthwhile seeking advice to make sure your finances are in the best shape possible to secure your mortgage. 

Another consideration for a single person mortgage is your age. If you are over 40, lenders may not let you borrow as much. This is because you are about 20 years away from retirement, which gives you less time with a full income to repay the loan. 

But fear not. Some lenders will accept you, and it may be a case of using a mortgage broker to access the more specialist deals. There are also schemes to help you, such as Retirement Interest Only (RIO) mortgages and the Older People’s Shared Ownership scheme, which applies to those aged over 55.  

How can a single person afford a house? 

If you’re earlier on in the buying journey, you may feel like you’ll never be able to buy a house on your own, but that may not be the case. Getting on the property ladder isn’t just about saving enough money to do so – getting the right mortgage can also bring your dream within closer reach.

And there are a number of ways to put yourself in the right financial position to get a single person mortgage. 

The following tips may give you a fresh perspective of what you need to do: 

  1. Be realistic about the property you can afford 

If you’re a solo buyer, you might be able to manage well in a smaller home. This can make buying a house much more affordable. Not only that, but if you’re a first-time buyer, the first £300,000 of a property is usually free from stamp duty. This could chop thousands off the total amount you would need to pay. 

Having said all that, it’s important to be realistic. You’ll need to save for extra costs like solicitor fees, mortgage fees, a removal company and any improvements you want to make. Gauging all these costs will help you to understand what you can and can’t afford, which will give you a clearer picture of your savings goal. 

  1. Consider shared ownership 

Shared ownership doesn’t mean you have to live with someone else. These schemes enable you to buy a percentage of the property and to rent the rest from your local authority. Although you only own part of the property, you’ll live in all of it. Some schemes also let you buy out the local authority’s percentage later down the line, meaning you could eventually own the property outright.  

Buying with shared ownership means you can usually put down a smaller deposit, but your monthly costs will include a mortgage, rent and often a service or maintenance charge. As long as these are worked out to be affordable, this scheme can work very well if you are buying a house as a single person. 

  1. Consider shared equity 

Some developers will help you to buy one of their properties through schemes that boost your deposit. This kind of scheme is essentially a loan that you borrow from the developer to help make up your deposit for a mortgage. You would then repay the developer while you pay your mortgage, but usually it has a very low rate of interest and is not repayable for the first few years of ownership. 

  1. Ask for help from the bank of mum and dad 

Your parents and/or grandparents might want to help you out at this stage in your life. And there are a few ways they can. They could gift you money to boost your deposit or release some equity from their home to give you more cash to put down. Another option is to use your parents as a guarantor for your mortgage, meaning that if you can’t make a monthly payment, the lender would approach them. Not all lenders offer guarantor mortgages, but there are a few around.  

If you are going to ask for financial help from your parents, make sure they seek financial advice too.  

Help to Buy for a single person 

Help to Buy is a range of government schemes for first time buyers. 

One option is an equity loan, which is like those offered by developers, but it comes from the government. The scheme is designed to help you create a 20% deposit (40% in London), but you’ll need to put down at least 5%. 

The government loan is interest free for the first five years, which can really help you to pay it back. It’s available on new build properties up to a certain price in each UK region.  

Another Help to Buy option is shared ownership. This lets you buy between 10% and 75% of a new build home, and then pay rent on the rest. 

The government is also offering a mortgage guarantee scheme, which helps home buyers get a mortgage with a deposit as low as 5%. Because lenders have the benefit of a government backed guarantee scheme, it is less of a risk to offer mortgages to people with a 5% deposit.  

Getting the right single person mortgage 

The first step to buying a home on your own is getting a mortgage in principle. To unlock mortgages that are best suited to your situation and your finances, speak to a mortgage adviser. They have access to specialist mortgages and can also help you apply for schemes to boost your deposit. 

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About the author
Kate has written for leading publications and blue chip companies over the last 20 years.