a guide for first time buyers in london

A Guide for First Time Buyers in London

Written by Katie Cullen
Written by Katie Cullen
26th September 2016 (Last updated on Monday 30th April 2018)

Taking your first steps on the property ladder and becoming a homeowner for the first time is a huge milestone in anyone's life and very exciting.

However, as a result of rising house prices and rent making it increasingly difficult to save for a deposit, the average age of first time buyers in London has risen to 32.

For buyers looking for homes in London, the average deposit is £96,000 – almost triple the UK average of £34,000 – while starter homes are priced at £385,000.

As daunting as these figures make the property market seem, research shows that the number of first time buyers has actually increased during the first 6 months of 2016. This is mainly due to improving market activity and useful schemes like Help to Buy.

Of course, factors such as transport links, affordability, local schools and the overall community will impact where you decide to buy your first home. We have compiled a list of factors you need to be aware of before buying your first home, and the most affordable boroughs to live in in London.

Be Aware of Additional Costs

Everyone knows how expensive buying a house in London is, and you aren't just going to have to save for the deposit and mortgage – there are other costs associated with buying a home! Here are some of them:

  • Lenders often charge for mortgage agreements
  • You need to hire and pay for a surveyor (but you could end up saving money on future repairs)
  • It's recommended you hire a solicitor to manage the legal aspects of buying a house
  • You will need to organise removal services. You could save 70% on your moving costs and find a fantastic removal company tailored to your needs on Comparemymove.com

Schemes to Help First Time Buyers in London

If you need help buying your first home, we have previously written about schemes such as Right to Buy and Help to Buy, but there are also options such as Shared Ownership and First Steps London available.

Shared Ownership

Aimed primarily at first time buyers, shared ownership allows you to own a share of the house and rent the remaining share.

You will need a mortgage to pay for your share, which is usually between a quarter and three-quarters of your home's value. You will then pay reduced rent on the share you don't own, with the option to buy more at a later stage. In London, you are eligible for the shared ownership scheme if the household income is less than £90,000.

Homes For Londoners

This scheme was created to help those on lower incomes buy or rent at a more affordable price. It mostly applies to newly-built homes but there are some resale properties included. However, you can't buy a house on the open market with this scheme. You will part buy and part rent the property, but there is eligibility criteria such as:

  • Your annual income is no more than £90,000
  • You are unable to purchase a home for your needs on the open market
  • You don't already own a home or you have sold your current one

Once you have saved up, you need to decide where to live. The following is a list of affordable boroughs suitable for first time buyers.

Affordable London Boroughs For First Time Buyers


The vibrant atmosphere, musical and cultural history, as well as fantastic transport links make this area feel like a town in and of itself, rather than just a suburb of London.

Local parks, schools and the regeneration projects have transformed Croydon into a hugely appealing area perfectly suited to young professionals and families. It's also conveniently located near to central London, so your commuting time will be short, but you can also escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Average property price: £397,887

Transport: East Croydon to London Victoria – 15 minutes.


Famous for its open green spaces and its rich history as the birthplace of the Tudors, Greenwich is a fantastic place for first time buyers.

Living in London, you're going to need useful transport links to get around, and Greenwich is no exception, with easy access to London City Airport and the world famous 02 arena right on your doorstep.

If you are moving to Greenwich, you will have a range of properties to choose from, from family homes to newly built apartment blocks.

Average property price: £405,099

Transport: Greenwich Station to Bank – 24 minutes.

Waltham Forest

This is one of the most culturally diverse areas in London, with a pub, café or club that appeals to everyone. With fantastic transport links from Walthamstow Central Station and access to both the Overground and Victoria Line, it's difficult to believe it has remained affordable.

You can get a one bed flat minutes away from Walthamstow Central station for £350,000.

Average property price: £435,021

Transport: Walthamstow Central to Oxford Circus – 19 minutes.


Bromley is another great place for first time buyers; its diversity and affordability make it perfect for young professionals and families.

It's an area with fantastic transport to central London, with a pleasant atmosphere that gives you the best of both worlds: it has a town centre with every shop and amenity you could need, a range of schools, historic sites to visit, as well as bars, theatres and parks to enjoy.

Average property price: £427,562

Transport: Bromley South to London Victoria – 18 minutes


If you are interested in quieter, more peaceful areas, then Sutton is for you. Given its rural charm, you would be inclined to believe it's a lifetime away from the capital, when, in reality, it's only 20 minutes from Clapham Junction by Overground.

Sutton is perfect for young families, with local sports clubs and 73 schools with fantastic Ofsted results, children will love growing up here.

Regarding property, there is a combination of Victorian architecture as well as new luxury apartments that are in development, usefully located by Sutton Station.

Average property price: £360,135

Transport: Sutton to London Victoria -  30 minutes

Master the Transport System

If you're moving from outside London, you may not yet be familiar with the transport system. Mastering public transport will save you a lot of money and help you see more of the city. Try and avoid using your car, as traffic in London is terrible, and parking is equally hard to come by.

Instead, learn how to use the Tube, buses, Uber taxis and cycle!

Buying an Oyster card will save you money as it's much cheaper than paper tickets. It is a plastic smart card that holds pay-as-you-go credit for travel on the bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail, Emirates Air Line, River Bus Services and most National Rail services in London. You can also use your debit card as one if you want to avoid top up machines. Simply create an online account and have one posted to you.

If you're thinking of buying your first home in London, you will be aware of how expensive it is to live in the capital. As difficult as it seems, it's possible to find a property in one of the more affordable boroughs in London, with useful transport links, schools and available properties, whether you are a young professional and/or have a family.

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