But while Post Office Money (postoffice. co.uk) has launched a new online tool to help buyers find the average deposit they will need in the area where they want to live, what happens when it comes to buying furniture for their new home?
The British Heart Foundation may have the answer.
Next month the charity is launching its Makeover Challenge, asking shoppers to give their homes a new look using items bought at their 180 furniture and home stores across England, Scotland and Wales.
The new and used furniture and electrical goods at BHF stores help fund research into heart disease, stroke, vascular dementia and diabetes – and TV interior designer Linda Barker is all for it.
“It’s ideal for first-time buyers who don’t have much spare cash and if you’re in rented property and you can’t invest too much, renovating furniture this way is brilliant,” says the former Changing Rooms co-presenter.
“When my daughter moved into a flat we went straight to the charity shop for a sideboard and bedside table and she just got a tin of paint and off she went. Second-hand furniture is a great way to make your money go further.”
With wardrobes starting from £40 and sofas from £95 – plus free BHF delivery for items over £30 – Linda suggests looking for solid furniture that has stood the test of time, because even if it looks unfashionably brown it can easily be transformed.
“I would be looking for bedside tables or sideboards. There seems to be an ongoing trend at the moment to have a sideboard in your living room or even in your kitchen if you’ve got the space,” she says. Paint is your best friend for renovating, she adds: “I would really go down the chalk paint route. You don’t have to sand the furniture or prime it, just give it a clean with washing up liquid and a sponge – the chalk paint goes over everything.
“You can have a solid coat, or maybe two thin coats would be better than one. And rather than varnish I would always use a beeswax – it has no nasty chemicals and seems to bind with the paint. It creates a strong finish.
“For me that’s perfect – no mess, no fuss. It’s a pleasure to do and your furniture looks instantly brilliant.”
Even furniture with a veneer finish can be painted, Linda explains: “I use Annie Sloan paint for veneers. I’m sure there are other paints that do a good job but you can use Annie Sloan paint for leather furniture too. It’s that combination of paint and wax that creates a very strong finish.”
Before buying anything Linda suggests sketching room plans, including windows, doors, radiators and plugs, to show how much space you have.
Measure the walls and the height and width of doors so you know the furniture will fit.
“Just have in your mind’s eye how big your room is. It’s so you don’t go shopping and fall in love with something you can’t fit into your space. Be prepared and understand what it is you need.”
But she adds: “Of course you should completely go crazy if you see something beautiful that blows you away. If you see something, especially if it’s in a charity shop and you love it – buy it. It will always have a place in your heart and your home somewhere.”
As part of the Makeover Challenge the British Heart Foundation want people to upload pictures to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #BoughtAtBHF.
“It helps people get ideas and get involved,” says Linda.
“It gets people understanding what amazing pieces of furniture are being donated and bought – especially if they have never shopped at BHF charity shops before.”