Hilary picked up the keys to her Southeast London pad in February 2022 (Pictures: Jam Press/Hilary Iyoha)
Property prices in the UK have hit a record high this summer. But for many young people, buying a home on their own is a fantasy that’s far out of reach.
Hoping to provide optimism for others, Hilary Iyoha has shared details of how she bought her first property.
She saved £50,000 in less than two years to buy a three-bedroom house in Bexley, south east London, earlier this year.
After a few months of searching, she got the keys in February 2022.
Hilary put offers on three properties before she stopped at this mid-terrace 1930s house, which was in good condition and close to her parents’ home.
‘I was happy – I don’t think I fully registered that it was mine,’ she recalls.
‘I’m not always the most expressive person, but I was proud of myself.’
The 25-year-old investment banking analyst says she has ‘always been financially savvy.’
She adds: ‘I used to be that kid who would save up my weekly £10 lunch money at school if I wanted to buy something.
‘I’ve always recognised the value of money but understanding how to use it and make it work for you is the real tea.’
She’s got the keys (Picture: Jam Press/Hilary Iyoha)
Hilary’s top tips for saving are fairly straight-forward: cut out any unnecessary spending, use credit cards for cash-back, and create a budget that works for your needs.
Doing this while living rent-free in her family home meant Hilary could save £2,000 per month – amounting to two-thirds of her salary – for almost two years.
Of course, it’s worth pointing out that this is a substantial amount – and is much more than some people can save.
‘Two-thousand pounds was a good part of my monthly income at the time, but during the pandemic where nothing was really open and I was working from home and living with family rent-free, with little to no financial responsibility, it wasn’t too hard,’ Hilary says, adding that 24% of her income went to general expenses.
The 3-bed property isn’t far from her family home
(Picture: Jam Press/Hilary Iyoha)
Can’t live at home with your parents? Hilary also recommends using a credit card. She would use them to spend, and then pay back the full balance in the following month, thereby avoiding any interest.
But you should only do this if you know you can afford to pay it off before the interest accumulates, or you could end up in a sticky spot.
Hilary says that spending on her credit card has added benefits ‘such as accumulating Avios points, which can be used to cover or reduce the cost of flights.’
She’s shared some of her top tips (Picture: Jam Press/Hilary Iyoha)
Choosing a home over holidays, Hilary also sold holiday days at work, while reducing her pension contribution by around 20%.
A further 10% of her monthly salary went to charity, including her local church.
For Hillary, tithing – the act of giving 10% of her wage to a religious organisation – is essential.
‘I also found that giving tithes didn’t impede my ability to save…[it] actually motivated me to save and spend more consciously,’ she adds.
Also, studying money banking and finance at university gave Hilary a head start on financial literacy, but she says that social media is a ‘game-changer’ for her knowledge.
This pushed her to give back and offer her own expertise, posting under @thefashionbanker on TikTok and @ihilarity on Instagram.
While it’s a norm of British culture to be a little cagey about what we earn and spend, Hilary believes it’s important to be open with money.
She adds: ‘I am someone who has benefited – both in my career and property journey – from other people sharing, so I want to do the same for others and to try to add value.
‘Not everything I say is applicable to everyone, as people’s circumstances vary, but the idea was that, in being transparent about how I [bought a property], it can potentially be of help to someone.
‘I also think that representation matters – it’s good to see young, Black females doing great things.’
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