The cost of furnishing their new home is a major expense that many first-time home buyers don’t take into account in their budgeting. Along with mortgage fees and stamp duty, this is one of their biggest one-off costs, and research from Santander shows why.
The bank recently found that the average first-time buyer spends £3,872 kitting out a property, rising to a whopping £5,495 in London.
Good sofas, washing machines and curtains don’t come cheap, but with a little care and research the expense can be cut right down. In fact, Santander found that one-in-six first-time buyers happily spent less than £1,000 furnishing their new home, showing there’s hope for austerity Britain!
Here are some ideas on how to go about it:
Get it for free!
On the website Freecycle.org people advertise items that they’re willing to literally give away. A quick search reveals sofas, fridges, TVs and more; much of it of perfectly acceptable quality, as well as some hidden gems.
Gumtree is another online community site on which you can find free items to kit out your home. Both sites generally require you to arrange pick up yourself.
EBay is now a giant in the retail world, and is enormously useful for finding that great looking, quirky wardrobe, or ex-John Lewis deluxe bed at a bargain price. You can bid for items or buy immediately.
Look out for quirky cottage industry providers of great-looking, quality pieces such as chez longues and coffee tables, at a fraction of the price of high street retailers.
Reclamation centres have sprung up all over the country in the last decade. Gone are the disorganised scrap heaps of old and many are highly organised places, staffed by enthusiasts, where you can find genuine bargains and unique items.
Online price comparison
If you’re intent on buying ‘new’, using online ‘shopbots’ can help you save hundreds of pounds. The price of fridges, washing machines, cookers and light fixtures can vary hugely and ‘Shopbot’ sites such as Kelkoo, Pricerunner and DooYoo help ensure you pay the minimum.
From fabrics to designer furniture, factory outlets bring you products at prices closer to those manufacturers charge at the factory gates. One online search engine designed to help you locate your nearest such outlet is shoppingvillages.com.
Car boot sales
These have become a great part of British life all over the country. You’ll find homeowners having big clear out sales and could bag a bargain. It can take some time to sift through the tat, but compared with buying new the savings are often huge.
Unlike with many online stores and sellers, auctions allow you to see and touch the items you’re buying. Auctions aren’t just for clued-up, professional bargain hunters, and many auction houses now host what are essentially highly organised car boot sales. Goods from private sellers as well as government organisations such as the police are on offer – everything from stereo systems to kitchen bins.
Flat pack stores
Of course, the friend (or bet noire depending on your viewpoint) of the first-time buyer is IKEA and the like. You’ll find attractive, self-assemble furniture at low prices. But be warned; assembling what you buy can be the stuff of nightmares, and the mixed quality means it doesn’t always last that long.
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Published 24 October 2011