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7 Tips to Get on the Property Ladder

7 Tips to Get on the Property Ladder
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    Despite the much publicised problems in the US Housing Market, there are still many long term advantages to buying a house in preference to renting.

    Buying a house has historically been a good investment; since 1945, house prices have increased faster than inflation and have also outperformed the stock market. Also, buying a house gives you the opportunity to live rent free when you have paid off the mortgage. Mortgages do fluctuate with interest rates. However, generally, mortgages become easier to pay over time. If your mortgage payments are currently $800 a month, this may seem alot, but if you income rises, then as a % of income, your mortgage will eventually fall.

    Despite the financial benefits, buying your first house can prove difficult because of the high prices we currently face.

    These are some tips for buying your first house.

    1. Save a deposit.

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    As soon as possible try to put money aside for a deposit. If you have a good sized deposit, mortgage lenders have more confidence in lending bigger amounts of money. This is because you are less likely to suffer from negative equity. The problem is that to save a decent % of a house can take many years of careful saving. However, with house prices currently stagnant, it has become a little easier.

    2. Borrow From Parents.

    Depending on your circumstances, this may be an option. There are several drawbacks to this approach. But, for many it provides the only realistic hope of getting on the property ladder. Parents may be able to release equity from the value of their house and lend you money (hopefully for a very low interest) this can provide the necessary deposit to buy your house. Many parents are willing to do this because they realise that their generation has benefited significantly from rising house prices. In extreme circumstances parents may be willing to act as a guarantor for your mortgage.

    3. Joint Mortgage.

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    It is becoming increasingly popular for young single people to combine their incomes with others so that they can afford a mortgage. Their own salary is insufficient. But, by buying with other people you effectively double your income, and this can enable you to buy a house. However, there are drawbacks. Firstly, you only will only own a 50% share in the house. Secondly, if you fall out with the other person, it can create an awkward situation, both financially and domestically.

    4. Interest Only Mortgage.

    This means you only pay interest on your mortgage loan. This means it is a cheaper repayment. However, there is a big disadvantage. At the end of the 30 year period, you still owe the entire mortgage loan. Interest only mortgages will only work if you can find an alternative way to invest in paying off the debt.

    5. 50 Year Mortgage.

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    A 50 year mortgage means that you spread repayments over 50 years rather than the standard 25 years. It means that monthly payments will be lower than a 25 year mortgage. The drawback is that you end up paying more interest payments over the course of the mortgage. However, it is likely to still be a better option than renting. Also, if you income increases in the future, you can always reduce the mortgage term at a later date.

    6. Move to a Cheaper Area.

    House prices in some areas are much cheaper. If you are willing to move to these areas then you can make buying a house a real possibility. Maybe in the future you can move back to more desirable areas. It is worth bearing in mind that cheaper areas do not always mean lower quality. For example, some areas have a premium because they are close to good schools. It is worth researching carefully average house prices in different areas.

    7. Self Certification Mortgage.

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    If you feel frustrated that banks won’t lend more than 3-4 times your income you might like to consider a self certification mortgage. Basically, a self certification mortgage enables you to state your likely income. In practise this can be a way to borrow more than under standard circumstances. Given the recent problems with sub prime mortgages it is advisable to be cautious when proceeding with this option. I mention it mainly because it is what I used to buy my first house, 3 years ago. Buying a house was a little more expensive than renting. But, self certificating was the only option to borrow enough capital. Do bear in mind, if you borrow a high income multiple (5 or 6 times income) you will struggle if interest rates rise significantly.

    Getting on the property ladder is not easy for our generation. It is likely you will have to make some sort of sacrifices. However, the alternative of renting is often even more unattractive. Which ever option you choose make sure you don’t go beyond your financial limitations.

    Tejvan Pettinger works as an Economics teacher in Oxford. He writes a blog about Mortgages and Finance. This Includes articles about the Housing Market, getting out of debt and paying off your mortgage early

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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