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First-time buyers should act now to avoid stamp duty

On a £250,000 home, this is a potential saving of £2,500.

Hopes of the concession being extended beyond the two years were dashed in November 2011 when the Chancellor, George Osborne, confirmed in his Autumn Statement that the tax would resume as normal in March this year.

But with less than two months to go until the deadline, if you were already planning to buy your first home this spring, you should start thinking about applying for your mortgage now. After all, even when you do not encounter problems with your application, it can still take an average of between three and four weeks to process, according to brokers.

One of the biggest hurdles first-time buyers face when it comes to mortgages is raising an adequate deposit as, post credit crunch, 100% loans are a thing of the past.

The majority of banks and building societies – around 70% of the market, according to some MoneySupermarket number-crunching – offer mortgages of up to 90% of the cost of the property.  However, that still means raising £16,000 against an average-priced home and you will need money for fees and removal costs too.

If you can’t raise this amount, a handful of lenders still offer mortgages to borrowers who only have a 5% deposit.  Of the 14 lenders in the 95% loan-to-value camp, the vast majority are building societies, including Leeds, Shepshed, Cambridge and Skipton.

However, the larger the proportion of the property price you borrow, the greater risk you are perceived by the mortgage lender and the higher interest rate you will pay.

According research by MoneySupermarket, the average rate on a 95% mortgage deal is 5.67%. If you took a £150,000 repayment mortgage payable over 25 years, this would cost you £936.42 a month in repayments.

For borrowing of 90%, the average rate falls to 5.28% which would bring your monthly repayment down to £901.52.

However, if you can possibly scrape together 25% of the property value, the average rate plummets to 3.69% which would cost just £788.44.

This is something of a catch-22 for first-time buyers as, while you can save as hard as possible, there is not much you can do about the way lenders price their mortgages.

However, this is why it’s more important than ever to carry out your research and shop around for the best mortgage deals. So what’s currently on offer for first-timers with a minimal deposit?

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