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7th December 2017

First Time Home Buyer Guide: 5 Things You Need to Do

Are you currently searching for your dream first home, or perhaps you’ve already found it and are in the process of making an offer and getting prepared to make one of the biggest purchases of your life. Buying your first home is a very exciting experience, whether you’re putting down a modest deposit on a small flat or have saved enough to buy a big house for starting your family in. However, before you start looking at DIY supplies or deciding what you’re going to do with the bathroom, here are some important things that you’ll need to do.

first time home buyer

#1. Straighten Out Your Credit Report:

Bear in mind that one of the first things that your bank will do when you apply for a mortgage is to carry out a credit check on you. As a result, the amount of interest that you’ll pay on your mortgage repayments will depend on how creditworthy the lender thinks you are. Because of this, it’s important to ensure that there are no mistakes on your credit report and that you’ve done all you can to improve it such as paying off any outstanding debts and ensuring all bills are paid on time. It’s a good idea to access your credit report from all three agencies at least a year before you start looking for your first home.

#2. Figure Out Your Deposit:

When taking out a mortgage, it’s important to make sure that you’re aware of the amount that the bank will request as a deposit, and make sure that you are able to afford it. In general, banks usually want a 20% deposit amount from you, so that’s £50,000 if you’re looking at a £250k house, or just £20,000 if you’re hoping to spend around £100,000. It’s important to take this into account when you set your home buying budget. As a general rule of thumb, don’t buy a home that will cost you any more than 2.5 times your annual salary.

#3. Get the Right Services:

Before buying a home, it’s important to make sure that you have hired all the right services, from your mortgage advisor and surveyor, right down to the removals company who’ll be helping you move in. One of the most important people to hire during a first-time home buying process is a conveyancing solicitor; these will ensure that the financial transaction goes smoothly and will transfer the funds from the lender to the previous owner of the home. Click here to get a quote from conveyancing solicitors Bird & Co.

#4. Get the Home Inspected:

Last but not least, if you think that you have finally found the home of your dreams, it’s essential to have it inspected by a professional before you sign any papers. Bear in mind that there can be many problems that arise in homes which are unnoticeable to the untrained eye, but can cause serious and costly issues for the owner further down the line.

Are you in the process of buying your first home? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.


This is a collaborative post

Choosing the Perfect Gift for Your Bestie

When Christmas and birthdays come around, there starts the perennial problem of what to buy for your friends and family. All too often, you are left hitting the shops or browsing online for inspiration. Although you might get away with a generalised present for your family, that won’t work when it comes to your best friend. For them, you will have to think of something a little different. Here are some ideas that you can use to get your bestie the perfect gift for them.

Make a Picture Collage

If you and your best friend have had a great year going to gigs and seeing bands, then you will no doubt have many photos from the events you have attended. Why not consider creating a picture collage from your fun-filled year? You can incorporate all the big events with selfies from the two of you and your other mutual friends. Put it all in a nice frame, and you have something that they can look back on with fondness. This would also work if you’ve been on holiday together, or have backpacked and travelled the globe!

picture collage for your bestie

Buy Tickets for Your Favourite Event

Is there a certain place that you both go to every year? Maybe you always go to Glastonbury, or perhaps you love seeing the Last Night of the Proms, whatever it might be, why not treat your best pal to tickets? It might take some shrewd tactics to buy them without them knowing, and without them buying their own, but if you can pull it off, it will certainly be a huge thrill for them. Alternatively, if there is a band or gig that they have always said they wanted to see, then buying a ticket for you both will be an extra special gift. It will also show that you know what they want.

Get Them Something Personalised

Sometimes it can be nice to get something that is personal to you and is something no-one else will have. There are plenty of things that you can now get personalised including pillows, mugs and t-shirts. Another good idea is to get them a personalised phone case; you can get custom iPhone 8 cases where you can add a picture and a special message. It will be something that they will use every day and remind them of your gift.

Take them on an Adventure Day

If your best friend likes to do things on the spur of the moment, then a good way to celebrate their birthday would be to take them on an adventure day. You could start by taking them to a theme park to go on the rides, followed by lunch and then going to London or a nearby large city to do some sightseeing. If you are feeling especially adventurous, you could even take them out around the country for a day or long weekend. The best part is keeping it a secret from them. You can even arrange for some of your friends to come along with you.

 London Eye

Have a Best Friend Day at Home

As exciting as going out and having fun maybe, your friend might not want to go out anywhere on their birthday or at Christmas. For that reason, you can always organise a day at home with them. It can be just the two of you with some wine and a few DVD’s or catching up with a box set. You can get a takeaway if you don’t want to cook, and just have a nice relaxing day on the sofa. It might be just what your friend needs, and it will give you both time to catch up with the gossip.

A Gift Related to What’s Happening in Their Lives

Your friend may have a lot going on in their lives at the time, maybe they have just moved to a new house, or perhaps they are getting married. If that is the case, then getting them something special to celebrate will be especially appreciated. You want to give them a gift that will be special to you and your relationship with them, not just a bottle of wine or some bathroom towels. Maybe you can get them a painting for their new home, or perhaps you can volunteer to take them to all the wedding shows.

It only takes a little thought to find the perfect gift or idea for your best friend. Of course, whatever you decide to give them, it will be even more special if you can share some time together and have some fun.

This is a collaborative post

Lamb Kofta With Yogurt Dressing – Slimming World Buffet

Welcome to day 7 of my 24 days of Slimming World Christmas Buffet Recipes. Today’s recipe is for Slimming World Lamb Koftas with a mint yogurt dip.

Lamb Koftas with mint yogurt dip Slimming World buffet recipe

We have to leave the coriander out of this recipe. I can’t stand coriander and I always know when it’s in something!

The lamb koftas are syn free and the yogurt dip is 3 syns for the whole serving.

lamb koftas with mint yogurt dip

Lamb Koftas with Mint Yogurt Dip


For the koftas –

  • 500g lean minced lamb (5% fat or less)
  • 1 tbsp Ras-El Hanout
  • Small bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • Small bunch coriander, finely chopped
  • Salt and Pepper

For the mint yogurt dip

  • 175g fat-free Greek yogurt
  • Half a cucumber
  • Clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tbsp mint jelly (I got mine from Tesco. At the time of publishing, it was 1.5 syns per tablespoon. Please check current syn values)
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Put the mince in a bowl with the herbs, Ras-El Hanout and salt and pepper. Mix well then divide into 6 and shape around skewers. For a buffet, you can use small balls of mixture and shape around a cocktail stick.
  2. Chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes
  3. While the koftas are chilling, peel the cucumber then scoop out the seeds.
  4. Grate the cucumber onto a clean tea towel and use the tea towel to squeeze out the excess liquid.
  5. Place in a bowl with the yogurt, garlic and mint jelly and mix well. Season to taste and keep in the fridge until needed.
  6. Grill the koftas, turning frequently until cooked through.
  7. They can be eaten warm or cold.

lamb kofta with mint yogurt dip

Tomorrow’s recipe is for delicious syn free devilled eggs.

Please note: I’ve lost 7 and a half stone with Slimming World and kept it off for four years, however, I’m not a Slimming World consultant. I haven’t been trained and I’m not affiliated with Slimming World so please check all your own syn values.


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