A ‘life-changing’ scheme knocked £56,000 off our £187,000 first home – and we only had to put down 5% deposit

FIRST-TIME buyers Natalie and James managed to knock £56,000 off the cost of their £187,000 first home – and they didn’t even need to haggle.

Buying your first home is an expensive business, and many people often feel that getting a foot on the property ladder simply isn’t possible.

Natalie and James moved into their first home in Newcastle in September 2023


Natalie and James moved into their first home in Newcastle in September 2023
They used the First Homes Scheme to get on the property ladder quicker


They used the First Homes Scheme to get on the property ladder quicker
They managed to bag a huge discount on the asking price of their home


They managed to bag a huge discount on the asking price of their home

But there are government schemes to help savers desperate for a place of their own.

Video editor Natalie, 24 and HGV driver James, 25, used the First Homes Scheme to buy their two-bedroom semi-detached home in Gleeson’s development in Moorland Green, Newcastle.

First-time buyers can bag a home with a discount of up to 50% using this government scheme.

Natalie and James managed to get a 30% discount worth £56,098 on their first home.

The home’s discount will stay with the property forever, which means the pair must give the the same percentage discount to future buyers, based on the property’s value at the time of sale.

For example, a house was on the market for £100,000 with a 30% discount will have to be sold for £70,000.

You can only sell on your property to someone who is also eligible to use the First Homes scheme.

To access the scheme, you will need to have a deposit worth at least 5% of the discounted purchase price and earn less than £80,000 a year or £90,000 in London.

Local councils may also add further rules such as a local connection or reserving the properties for key workers only.

First Homes is usually offered on a small number of properties within new developments, so you will need to look for local builders advertising the scheme and apply through them.

If you don’t know who your local council is, you can find it using this handy tool.

Natalie had been tucking away £900 a month for three years to afford their £6,000 deposit.

The pair finally got the keys to their new home in September 2023.

We sat down with Natalie to chat through how she went from saver to homeowner for The Sun’s My First Home series.

Tell me about your home

It’s a three-bedroom detached house in Moorland Green, Newcastle.

We have a separate living room and garage and a downstairs loo which we have converted into a utility room.

Upstairs, there are three bedrooms – the master bedroom, a dressing room and a room that doubles as a spare room and an office.

There is also an en suite with the master bedroom.

How did you decide on the location?

Our house is just an eight minute drive away from my parents house where I was living before, so I know the area really well.

We wanted a home that was a modern blank canvas and ready to be moved into, whereas a renovation project or second-hand home can sometimes not be the style.

The house was also within our budget so we decided to go for it.

How much was it?

Our house was £130,896.

We took out a mortgage of £124,000 over 35-years at a fixed rate of 6.31% for five years.

We decided to go with a fixed-rate mortgage because we were worried about interest rates going up again.

In hindsight, we may have been better off going for a shorter-term fix because rates have gone down, but we just wanted the peace of mind.

Our monthly mortgage repayments are £731.

We could only afford to buy out home because the house was available through the First Homes Scheme.

It allows buyers in England to buy their first home with a discount of up to 50%.

We got a 30% discount on our home, which was on the market for £186,994. This means we got a discount of £56,098.

We put down a 5% deposit of £6,000.

Why did you chose to use the First Homes Scheme?

We wouldn’t have been in a position to buy our first home if it wasn’t for the scheme.

It meant that we could put down a small deposit of £6,000, which seemed a lot more achievable.

If we were to buy somewhere without the scheme, we would have needed to save for a few more years or rethink our finances and put away more money a month.

Of course, the scheme might not work for everyone because it’s only applicable to new builds – but it was life-changing for us.

How did you save for it?

When we looked at the development in August 2023, we knew we wanted to buy, but never expected it to happen so quickly.

When we originally looked into buying the home, we were told the scheme was ending before September so if we wanted the house with the 30% discount, we had to act fast.

First Homes does not have an application deadline nationally, but developers can set their own deadlines based on the availability of plots.

We were fortunate that our solicitor knew about the deadline and were quite quick at getting documents organised and our sales executive was great too. 

We were lucky as the First Homes Scheme deadline got extended until the end of September, which allowed us to relax and take our time a bit more.

We completed on September 28, 2023.

I was lucky that I’d built up good saving habits so that we were in a position to put down the £6,000 deposit straight away.

We were both living with our parents which helped us to save on rent.

I was lucky because my parents didn’t make me pay board, and James only had to pay £200 a month.

I had very little outgoings, apart from the cost of running my car, so I was comfortably able to save around £900 a month.

This money wasn’t set aside just for a deposit specifically, so I would still dip into for holidays or other social occasions.

This is why the First Homes Scheme was such a saviour, because we had the funds ready and could dive straight in.

How did you afford to furnish it?

We budgeted around £1,500 for furniture.

We have been buying things in stages to spread out the cost and brought some furniture like beds and a washing machine from our parents.

I was also lucky enough to be gifted a sofa from my parents as a housewarming gift.

What advice would you give to other first-time buyers?

The best thing you can do is look into what government schemes you are eligible for.

Just be sensible with your targets and make sure you have an achievable goal.

Another family used the snowball method to clear £26,000 worth of debt and buy their first home.

One savvy saver managed to put half of his wages away while still renting to buy his first home.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing

Plus, you can join our Sun Money Chats and Tips Facebook group to share your tips and stories.


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