Should I buy before I take a lower paid job?

Q I am 24 and have about £60,000 in savings and a salary of £32,000. I would like to buy a two-bed flat and rent out a room to help with mortgage payments. I would also like to be located in north London to be close to my family. However, I am also likely to take a lower paying job soon.

Does it make sense for me to try to buy before I move job, or should I wait a few more years in case my financial situation changes drastically? Is it likely the government will repeat any of their schemes aimed at first-time buyers, such as lowering stamp duty, any time soon? And if I buy a cheap flat will it then be harder to in the future? SD

A In terms of getting a mortgage, you would be better off trying to buy before you move jobs. The problem with waiting until after you get a new job is that no lender is likely to lend to you until you have successfully completed any probationary period and are confirmed as a permanent member of staff.

Applying for a mortgage after you have taken on a lower paid job also means the amount you can borrow will go down because lenders look at earnings when assessing mortgage applications. On the plus side, having £60,000 available for a deposit will definitely count in your favour and should give you access to competitively priced mortgage deals.

However, if you are going to take a drop in earnings you need to be sure you will still be able to manage the monthly mortgage payments, or you risk losing your home. Taking in a lodger will certainly help, and under the Rent a room scheme the first £4,250 of rent you receive each year is tax free. As well as looking at how you will cope with mortgage payments if your financial situation changes drastically, you also need to think about how you would cope with paying rent on lower earnings. It may be that coping with a mortgage and a lodger would be preferable.

As for help for first-time buyers, I doubt there will be a repeat of the stamp duty land tax holiday anytime soon. There is, however, help for first-time buyers wanting a new-build home under the government-sponsored HomeBuy schemes, called First Steps in London.

Finally, buying a cheap flat in itself doesn’t make it harder to sell in the future. For example, you could get a good price from a seller who wants a quick sale. However, other reasons for a low price which make a property less desirable may have an effect. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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