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June/ July 2016 £2.95






“Look at properties which are close to transport links” Scarlette Douglas, TV presenter

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2  first time buyer  October/November 2014

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What’s in… 66

Commuter homes


Sean Briggs, 28, and his fiancée Veneta Stanton-Wharmby, 27, discovered they could afford to buy their dream first home in Camberley, Surrey, with Help to Buy.


11 Hot off the press This month’s main news snippets.

12 Living It’s time to enjoy the warmer weather and brighten up your home and garden with these bold, bright accessories.

14 At home with... Jean Johansson Having started her career after winning a nationwide search for a presenter, Jean Johansson is now a reporter on The One Show for BBC1 and is presenting a week-long special called Animal Park, celebrating 50 years of Longleat. Lynda Clark learns about her interesting life and her first steps on the property ladder.

16 House Hunter We try and find Paul and Lottie Lincoln their dream home, within an hour’s commute of central London.

18 Developer’s doctor Simon Scott, Head of Sales and Marketing at Origin Housing, answers your property questions.

19 Beaumont Legal This invaluable cut-out-and-keep guide from Beaumont Legal explains what you should look for when choosing a legal expert and what they do for you.


22 The View: Scarlette Douglas Scarlette has had a very varied career, ranging from a musical theatre performer starring in many West End shows to performing at Eurovision 2015. She is now one of the new presenters on Channel 4’s A Place in the Sun. She talks to Lynda Clark about her exciting career and her property experiences.

26 Show Time!

deposit, it is taking the strain off raising large sums of money. Our guide takes you through the options.

36 Ten top tips for saving for a deposit Savvy saving suggestions to help raise enough money to buy your first home.

71 FTB Readers’ Awards All the highly commended and winners of the FTB Readers’ Awards 2016, plus a round-up from the fabulous awards lunch at the Waldorf Hilton, London, hosted by TV celebrity Nicki Chapman.

A colourful round-up of our extremely successful Home Show in first time buyer hotspot, Croydon.

28 Your guide to affordable ways to get on the ladder We know how hard it is to buy your first home but, with the various government schemes, there is help at hand. Whether you choose Help to Buy, or shared ownership, which both only need a 5%

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22 Scarlette Douglas


94 Finance Kay Hill examines the fine print following the introduction of another ISA and new tax allowances in the recent Budget.

FOR SALE 63-67 The best FTB properties.

82 First Home, First Meal Sisters Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley are passionate about healthy food and rustle up a recipe for courgette and cannellini bean lasagne. Plus, we test the best picnic food from the UK’s top supermarkets.


96 Market Ginetta Vedrickas discovers what service charges mean for first time buyers.

98 Agony Agent All your property questions answered by our panel of experts.


101 Buyer’s Guide

Competition Win a selection of tableware from the Heritage Collection by Denby, worth over £500.

Check out FTB’s Buyer’s Guide, which walks you through the property process.

107 Directory Where and how to contact your Help to Buy Agents, or providers.

114 Last word 40 Hotspot We look at Colindale as a place to live.

90 Mortgage Clinic

Blogger Katie Walmley explains how, after getting married and with a baby on the way, she and her husband decided to move from Scotland to Surrey, where house prices were much more expensive.

David Blake of Which? Mortgage Advisors answers all your mortgagerelated questions.

92 Credit Clinic The latest in our series in which Experian’s credit expert, Joe Green answers your questions about all things to do with your credit.


first time buyer June/July 2016

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EDITORIAL 020 7258 1777

Editor-in-Chief SARAH GARRETT Editor LYNDA CLARK Editorial Assistant BEN DAVIS

Creative Director RYAN BEAL



Director of Advertising/Exhibition Sales LYNDA CLARK Special Events FIONA MARSHALL – First Time Buyer Home Show – First Time Buyer Readers’ Awards 07964 062766 Accounts DAVID SELF

Welcome Our FTB Readers’ Awards 2016 are one of the highlights of the year and a very big thank you to everyone who voted. Many congratulations to the winners and highly commended – do turn to page 71 to see the results. The sparkling lunch and Awards ceremony were held at the Waldorf Hilton Hotel and hosted by TV presenter, Nicki Chapman, and also included a charity auction and raffle. I am delighted to tell you that we raised £3,305 for Great Ormond Street Hospital. It is a wonderful charity and helps support medical breakthroughs that benefit children all over the world. We are very excited to let you know that we have two FTB Home Shows planned. The first, in partnership with Help to Buy NW, is on September 17 in Manchester – the true powerhouse of the north and a real property hotspot. We are also holding a Home Show in central London on October 8 at The Business Design Centre, Islington. This is a real chance to meet housing associations, developers, legal and financial experts, and to find out about the Help to Buy scheme. It is free to attend and useful seminars run all day – so do go to and register now. It can be confusing trying to understand how the various government schemes that are available to ftbs actually work, so we have tried to make things really simple; our informative guide starts on page 28 and explains everything you need to know about shared ownership and Help to Buy. Buying your first home can be daunting, especially when it comes to the legal aspects, so our handy cut-out-and-keep guide to conveyancing (page 19-20) explains what you should look for when choosing a legal expert and what they will do for you. I hope you find this issue packed full of useful information to help you buy your dream home. Until next time, happy house-hunting!

Managing Director SARAH GARRETT Public Relations RACHEL COLGAN SUBSCRIPTIONS 020 7258 1777

first-time-buyer-magazine EDITOR’S PICKS…

SWITCHBOARD 020 7258 1777 FAX: 020 7258 1787 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE COMPANY LTD, 37 IVOR PLACE, LONDON NW1 6EA All advertising copy for August/September 2016 must be received before 15 July 2016. Send all copy to: lynda@ The content of this publication, either in whole or in part, may not be reproduced, stored in a data retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without prior permission from the publishers. Opinions expressed in First Time Buyer magazine are not necessarily those of the publishers. © The Ultimate Guide Company Ltd 2008-2016. The Ultimate Guide Company Ltd t/a First Time Buyer magazine will take no responsibility for any loss/ claim resulting from a transaction with one of our advertisers/media partners.


Help to Buy has been a tremendous success across the country and has helped nearly 200 buyers in Croydon

Gavin Barwell, The race to buy homes in Croydon, Page 42

Thanks to Help to Buy, we have been able to buy an amazing property that was previously out of our price range Sean Briggs, Real Life, Page 68

The first home I bought was in 2000 in London’s East End, it was a shell in an old Chinese laundry Jean Johansson, At home with, Page 14

Slowly the deposit pot was growing, but, with property prices continuing to rise, our dream always seemed a moving target Katie Walmsley,

As an ftb, you are in a Last word, Page 114 great buying position as you are not caught up in any chains Michael Redmond, Agony agent, Page 98

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editor’s letter

8  first time buyer  August/September 2014

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Mailbox JOBS AROUND THE HOUSE I am just about to buy my first home and there is some work that I will need doing to it. The trouble is, my DIY skills are negligible and I need to find some good tradesmen, but I just don’t know where to start. I have heard some horror stories as well, and I am sure there are more than a few cowboys out there! I am on a tight budget, so I really don’t want anything to go wrong. Can you help please? Jane Hodgess FTB: It is certainly not a good idea to start any DIY if you are unsure of what you are doing. You could have a look at as they have over 20,000 tradesmen across the UK including electricians, decorators, plumbers and joiners to name a few. Every single tradesperson who wants to become a member of Checkatrade goes through strict background checks, is fully vetted and, once they join, members agree to have feedback from their customers put online for all to see. It’s a free, online service and it could be a very good starting point for you.

This month’s star letter wins a Grub Tub from Harbour Living. Perfect for food on the go, the Grub Tubs are available in a range of colours, shapes and sizes and come with complimentary cutlery. They have been designed to hold real meals, so whether you are making the most of leftovers, or dining out on pasta salad, your lunch will remain in perfect condition. The prize comprises two Grub Tub containers with cutlery and a cool bag, worth £24.99.

MORTGAGE FEES I recently went to see my bank to find out whether I could get a mortgage. They were very helpful but the mortgage they offered me came with a fee, which I found surprising. Is this usual? David Parsons FTB: It is quite usual for there to be an arrangement fee which can be anywhere between £500 to over

a thousand pounds. Some fees are charged as a percentage of the loan and they can work out to be even more expensive. You maybe given the choice of adding the arrangement fee to the loan and although this will help with your budgeting costs initially, you should be aware that you will be paying interest on it for the length of your mortgage deal, so it could work out to be more costly.

WRITE TO US! Please send us your questions, comments and suggestions concerning property, or the articles in First Time Buyer magazine. First Time Buyer Letters, 37 Ivor Place, London NW1 6EA

RENT A ROOM I have been thinking about getting on to the property ladder, and purchasing my first home. I have been considering buying a house bigger than I need with a spare room, so that I could rent it out. I feel like it would be an investment and would help with my finances. Do you think this is a good option? Jack Horwood FTB: Many first time buyers rent out a room to help out with costs. However, if you are thinking of

COUNTING PENNIES I’ve been renting for years, but I really want to buy my first home. I’ve managed to save some money to go towards a deposit, but I have no idea how to work out what I can afford to pay each month on mortgage repayments. Simon Osbourne FTB: Rather than guessing what goes in and out of your bank account, be realistic about your spending habits. Start saving your receipts, or keeping note of how much money you spend on food and drink, transport, entertainment, clothes and toiletries. Don’t forget to bear in mind costs like council tax and your phone, water, gas and electric bills. This can all be pretty

buying a bigger property and then renting out a room, make sure you compare your extra mortgage costs against the additional income from renting. If the figures all add up, you will find that with the rental income your outgoings should be less. Do make sure you do the maths, though, and check your tax situation as well. You should also rent your room out through a registered company like or easyroommate. com, who check out every advert and profile, so you will be confident that you will be safe and secure.

time consuming, so it’s a good idea to do it before you approach a lender. When you come to apply for a mortgage, you’ll need to supply this kind of information to your broker or lender, along with old payslips, bank statements and tax returns. They will then use this information to work out how much you can afford to pay back each month.

VISIT OUR WEBSITE For everything you need to know about buying for the first time, go to

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NUMBER UP The number of ftbs in March leapt to 32,500, according to the First Time Buyer Tracker from Your Move and Reeds Rains. This is the highest figure since June 2014. The average purchase price paid by ftbs is £166,559 as buyers find cheaper homes.

PROPERTY PRICES Research from Halifax shows that prices for apartments have risen more sharply than prices for other property types since March 2008. Detached homes recorded the smallest rise of 20%, while terraced and semi-detached houses saw price rises of 38% and 34% respectively.

RENT RISES Research by OnTheMarket. com has revealed that 60% of estate and letting agents believe April’s Stamp Duty surcharge on buy-to-let purchases will increase rents, because the extra cost will be passed on to tenants, making it harder to save for a deposit. According to a report by Halifax in July last year, the average age of a first time buyer has increased from 28 in 1995 to 31.

COUNTING THE COST OF BUYING A HOME According to a new study by Pegasus Personal Finance, who surveyed 10,000 people in the UK about the added expenses associated when buying a property, 40.6% of new homeowners don’t account for unexpected fees when taking the leap on to the housing ladder. CHAPS bank transfer fees, search fees and mortgage set-up fees were the biggest shocks for first time buyers – with one in four homeowners caught off guard by the charges. Of those surveyed, 24.3% said they weren’t aware of Land Registry fees – while Stamp Duty and excessive solicitors’ fees scored 16.7% and 14.7% respectively. Excluding Stamp Duty, unforeseen fees could amount to a sizeable £1,850 bill, according to recent data from the Money Advice Service. Post-purchase fees also hit new homeowners hard, with one in five participants not accounting for an increase in utility bills as a result of moving to a larger property, while the same number were surprised to see their car insurance costs increase. Optional, but ultimately necessary, home or life insurance policies also scored highly in the survey, taking 15.1% of the vote. One surprising outcome of the study saw respondents reveal a lack of knowledge surrounding interest rates and the impact they can have on the combined cost of a mortgage. A notable 13.5% of homeowners, assumed to be those with variable rate mortgages, admitted they haven’t prepared for an increase in interest rates – should they unexpectedly climb from the current seven year low of 0.5%. Unforeseen housing renovations or repairs, such as installing a new heating system, or tackling damp, accounted for a quarter of all hidden costs. A substantial 24.6% of participants underestimated removal charges, while a staggering 13.9% of those surveyed viewed furniture and decor as a surprise expense.

Barclays has launched a No Deposit mortgage for those buying a home using its Family Springboard mortgage. Previously, the deal allowed people to put down a 5% deposit, provided that a helper – usually the homebuyer’s parents – put cash equating to 10% of the purchase price into a savings account linked to the mortgage. Under the new deal, only the 10% contribution from parents is needed. This cash will then be returned to the borrower’s parents after three years with the accrued interest added, provided the borrowers have kept up with their mortgage repayments. Barclays has also raised the maximum amount that homebuyers can potentially borrow as a multiple of their income under the new deal. So customers with an income of more than £50,000 will be able to borrow up to 5.5 times their income, which is up from 4.4. A buyer without a deposit could get a three year fixed rate of 2.99% under the Family Springboard mortgage and with a 5% deposit could get a three-year rate of 2.79%. Parents who help and put their savings into the Helpful Start account will receive an interest rate of 2%.

COAST VERSUS COUNTRY A new Channel 4 series called Coast Versus Country, presented by Sara Damergi and interior designer Kerr Drummond, is looking for househunters who are planning to buy a property in the UK this year and have the dilemma over whether to move to the coast, or to the countryside. Go to to find out more, or email

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Homepage LIVING

A touch of the tropics! Celebrate the summer months and add a little magic to your home and garden, with these bright, bold and fabulously flamboyant accessories

Light-up flamingo decoration, £34.99, Lakeland Tropical glasses, £10 each, Saffron & Saffron

Pineapple vase, £10; monkey ornament, £12; rattan lantern, 12; Geo floral cushion, £7; zip cushion, £7; Island Birds duvet set, £12, George at Asda Cuban striped cushion, £24, Matthew Williamson at Debenhams

Vase with orchids, £8, George at Asda

C O N TA C T S » Debenhams » George at Asda » Lakeland » Marks & Spencer » Saffron & Saffron 12

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Homepage LIVING

Pineapple garland, £7.99, Lakeland

Parrot cushion, £8, George at Asda

Parrot framed ornament, £10; parrot plate, £3; wire lantern £4, George at Asda

Six parrot clips, £9.99, Lakeland

Peru melamine dinner plate, £3.50; side plate, £3; cereal bowl, £3; tea towels, £6 each; Astoria 16-piece cutlery set, £49.50; Jaipur platter, £25, Marks & Spencer

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Homepage  living

At home with:

Jean Johansson

Jean Johansson is a TV presenter and journalist whose career started after she won a nationwide search for a presenter. Her first TV appearance came when she was 18 presenting UKOOL, a magazine-style programme for CBBC. She is now a reporter on The One Show for BBC1 and will soon be on our screens in a new, week-long special for BBC1 called Animal Park, celebrating 50 years of Longleat. Lynda Clark talked to her about her career, her fascinating life and her property experiences

“We even put up a glass wall between the bedroom and the bathroom and it turned out to be a really special space”

FTB: Tell us about your first property experience JJ: The first home I bought was in 2000 in London’s East End. It was very exciting and was just the shell of an old Chinese Laundry. It was on two floors – the ground floor and basement – and my boyfriend, who is now my husband, and I did all the work ourselves. We even put up a glass wall between the bedroom and the bathroom and it turned out to be a really special space. We eventually rented it out and sold it in 2007. After that, we moved to Sweden, as my husband, who is Scandinavian, was a professional footballer and he was playing for Malmo. We lived in a typically Swedish, rather old-fashioned house, very different from our home in London. The house was very light and had a wonderful Scandi kitchen. We were there for two years and actually got married in Sweden. I’m from Glasgow and I didn’t know much Swedish, but I did go on a course at the local college to try and learn it, so I could get by. FTB: Where do you live now? JJ: We live in a small village just outside Glasgow, in a beautiful Edwardian house, which dates

back to 1915. The house is stunning and our fiveyear-old son is very happy here and has recently started at the local school. It is also near the coast, which is great, but the house is really far too big for us, so we are now selling it, but we do want to stay in the area. FTB: How did you career start? JJ: When I was at high school, I started modeling and went to an open audition as BBC Scotland were looking for a presenter for a new magazine-style show, which was quite funky and edgy. I got the job and I was only 18 at the time! It was called UKOOL and ran for a few series and eventually I went to the Disney Channel, presenting a daily show called Studio Disney. I chatted to pop bands, authors and sports personalities and it gave me a real opportunity to travel as we filmed reports from Paris, Australia and Los Angeles. I hosted the BAFTA award-winning Disney Channel Awards from the London Arena, which brings back some great memories. I moved to Sweden and did a postgraduate course in journalism and it gave me a chance to decide exactly what I wanted to do next. I am now a reporter on The One Show for BBC1 and I also present The Postcode Lottery, where I knock on the doors of unsuspecting winners to give them a £30,000 prize – it’s a great job! After training with the Met Office, I became a weather girl too! FTB: What are your interests out of work? JJ: Looking after my son, Junior, is a full-time job, but is wonderful, and I love reading and watching films – I’m a real musicals enthusiast! I also love football as I’m married to Jonatan Johansson who is a professional footballer, turned coach.

Jean’s house in North Ayrshire is up for sale. For m ore information contac t

FTB: What are your plans for the future? JJ: I am very excited as I am working with Ben Fogle and Kate Humble on a special series for BBC1, which will be on air every day for a week and is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening of Longleat. I will be getting ‘up close’ to the animals, looking into the archives and revisiting old stories – it’s going to be a lot of fun and will be really interesting as well.

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Homepage  living


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What we found... THE WATERSIDE VIEWS Royal Albert Wharf Beckton, east London



THE THAMES GETAWAY L&Q @ Greenwich Peninsula, Greenwich



This month FTB goes on the hunt with Paul and Lottie Lincoln, who are after a one or two bedroom home in the London area


Name Paul and Lottie Lincoln, 35 and 33 Occupation Retail manager, graphic designer Maximum budget £180,000 Requirements A one or two bedroom home, within a onehour commute from central London. Ideally close to a town centre for easy access to local facilities.

What they wanted… In the 10 years we’ve been together, Paul and I have moved around a little bit with his job, managing different stores. He now has a new role at the head office in central London, where he’ll be staying put, and so we’d really like to settle down and buy our first home. We rent a small flat just outside London and we’d love to move a bit closer to the action. I work from home most of the time, so don’t have to worry about commuting, but, as I don’t drive, it’s really important that I’m able to nip to the local shops when Paul’s not here – so we’d definitely like to be close to a town centre. Paul is mad on cycling, so is happy to do an hour’s bike ride into work, but ideally, we’d like to be no more than a one-hour commute into central London. We’d also love to have some outside space if possible as we haven’t had any for years – a balcony or garden would be ideal. We have a deposit of 18,000 and a budget of around £180,000.”


A new waterside community, which will eventually comprise over 1000 new homes, is coming to this historic dock in east London. With fantastic views and close to Gallions Reach DLR, this is a fantastic spot for enjoying the best that London has to offer. Inside, the homes feature open-plan living areas, contemporary fitted kitchens with integrated appliances and large doubleglazed windows. All residents benefit from a private balcony. The site will also include retail units, cafes and bars.

This new waterside development is home to several collections of apartments, ranging from one bedroom to larger penthouses, many with river views. The one and two bedroom homes are smart and contemporary, with floor-to-ceiling windows, open-plan living areas and a well-sized balcony, or terrace. There’s also a great deal to do on the doorstep, with historic Greenwich close by, the O2 arena, many shops, cafes and pubs as well as North Greenwich station for Jubilee Line services into central London.

*Based on a 40% share of a full market value of £325,000

*Based on a 25% share of a full market value of £370,000

What they thought… We are really impressed with this development and are excited about living so close to the water. We’re both into outdoorsy activities and we see that you can actually do watersports in the local area. Location-wise, it’s great – we love that, although it’s in east London, it’s also very easy to get to the south of the river, where we have a lot of friends. We really like the interiors, too. It’s so useful to get all of the kitchen appliances included as, coming from rented accommodation, we don’t have any of these things!”

We love Greenwich – we lived here when we first moved in together, and it would be a fun place to come back to. We really like the look of these apartments, especially as the block is right next to some communal gardens. So we’d have a balcony as well as a garden – perfect! They also look nice and spacious, with lots of natural light. I think we’d really enjoy inviting friends and family over to see the sights and go on some river walks.”

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THE COMMUNITY FEEL Bowles Square Enfield



First choice!

THE WILD CARD Highbanks Southend-on-Sea, Essex





Kewside West London

Sporting a range of apartment buildings and maisonettes, this new development is the perfect place to retreat from the hustle and bustle of London. Enfield is just 30 minutes by train from central London, but the quiet residential area is surrounded by many great parks and is just minutes from countryside. The one and two bedroom homes are finished to a high spec, with oak-look flooring, open-plan living areas, fitted kitchens with integrated appliances – as well as a private balcony. Residents also have access to private parking.

This new 12-storey apartment building, with views over the Thames Estuary, is home to 75 one and two bedroom homes. Two bedroom properties are available from £193,000 and are finished beautifully. The homes are spacious, with an en suite from the master bedroom as well as a good-sized second bedroom. Open-plan living areas feature wood-effect flooring and smart, fitted kitchens. From Southend, trains reach Liverpool Street in 55 minutes, while commuters can return home from the city to fresh, seaside air.

Based on a 40% share of the full market value of £235,000

This is an interesting idea for us, as it’s an area we’ve never really been to, but the thought of being both close to the city as well as being able to get away from it all in the countryside is very appealing. We’ve done of bit of online research and Enfield looks like it’s a good area, with quite a strong community feel, which is really great. The apartments are really nice, we love the tiled bathrooms, they look so luxurious, and they’re bright and spacious.“

Wow, we had never even thought about living by the coast, and this is a really interesting idea for us! The apartments are lovely, with great kitchens and bathrooms, and the views look absolutely amazing – I’m sure you could spend hours gazing from the windows. We’ve been to Southend before, so we know it’s a lively area, but we’re really surprised to see that you can reach central London in under an hour. Not sure if Paul could give up his cycling to work, but it’s definitely something to think about.”

utiful west Kew Bridge and the bea Just a few minutes from es hom new mes, these stylish London stretch of the Tha tral cen from s ute min all under 30 offer a quiet sanctuary, river and ces spa n ope at gre many London. As well as the bustling Chiswick High Street, a walks on the doorstep, cafes, is and ps independent sho stretch of supermarkets, n is just ctio Jun m pha By train, Cla just 700 metres away. d in 28 che rea be can oo terl Wa a 16-minute journey, and nished fi ully s are sleek and beautif minutes. The apartment conies. and feature private bal *Based on a 40% share of the full market value of £440,000


“We have spoken to a mortgage advisor and have a mortgage offer in principle. We’ve also registered our interest with the housing association and have been to see the show home. We’ve been down to Kew and Chiswick a couple of times to get a feel of the area and are really excited that this could be our new home.”

We absolutely love this location – there’s a really great high street just a few minutes away, as well as the river, Kew Gardens, and loads of great things to see and do. And the flats are really gorgeous – we love the wooden floors and also the style of the kitchens. It would be so great to have a shiny new kitchen, especially after our current flat, where we have an ancient cooker. It looks like there’s plenty of room for me to set my desk up, which is really important – and Paul would have a good cycle commute!”

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Developer’s Doctor Simon Scott, Head of Sales and Marketing at Origin Housing has extensive experience in the affordable housing industry, having worked at some of London’s leading housing associations and as chair of the London Home Ownership Group – made up of those who work for providers of affordable housing, based in London. Simon gives some invaluable advice on how you can get on to the property ladder.

Question… I’m a Londoner, born and bred, and am currently renting in Harrow. I’m really keen to put down some permanent roots here in the capital and get on to the property ladder. However, while I’m on a salary of £38,000 and have savings of around £10,000, I just don’t have the cash to put together the deposit to buy on the open market. I’ve heard that there might be some schemes available that could help me, but I’m not really sure where to start – please help!

Answer … Have you ever heard of shared ownership? It’s a scheme that has, to date, helped over 50,000 first time buyers in London, like you, on to the housing ladder.

Shared ownership is a scheme that allows eligible buyers to purchase a percentage share in a property (usually between 25% and 75%), renting the unowned share at a subsidised rent, from a housing association like Origin Housing. From your point of view, one of the most appealing aspects of the scheme is the fact that the deposit required can be as little as 5% of the share you buy. So, for example, if you were buying a 25% share in a property worth £400,000, the deposit could be as low as £5,000 – considerably less than if you were buying on the open market. What’s more, in many cases, the average monthly costs for a shared ownership property can be lower than the cost of renting privately.

SO, AFTER BUYING YOUR INITIAL SHARE, WHAT NEXT? A process called staircasing allows buyers to gradually buy a larger share in their home, ultimately owning the home outright. As you staircase up, you will own more of the property

Simon Scott, Head of Sales and Marketing at Origin Housing

and, as a result, pay less rent to the housing association. If you decide to staircase, you need to instruct a solicitor and apply for a mortgage for the additional share. The process is straightforward, and at Origin Housing we help our buyers every step of the way. Sometimes a buyer’s circumstances may change, meaning they have to sell their share in the property. Selling your shared ownership home when you own less than 100% of the property is known as a resale. There is an initial eight-week period where the housing association markets your home to their list of registered eligible applicants. In most cases, the property will sell within this time, but in the unlikely event that the property hasn’t sold during this period, you can then market it privately through an estate agent. If you decide to sell your home and you have staircased up fully, then you can simply sell your property on the open market. Want to find our more? Visit for further information on the shared ownership process

IT’S ALL HAPPENING IN HARROW Offering a thriving community for young families, Harrow holds a host of opportunities for suburban living in convenient Zone 5.


Origin Housing are bringing two new flagship developments to the borough, commencing later this year. The developments at Townsend and Eaton Houses, South Harrow, and the former Cumberland Hotel, central Harrow, will total 237 new homes – bringing Origin halfway to their target of delivering 500 new homes to Harrow over the next five years, a large number of which will be available for shared ownership. At Townsend and Eaton Houses, Northolt Road, Origin will be transforming a previously underused site into 116 apartments. The development, designed by award-winning architects, will feature straight, clean lines and inset glass balconies, with upper floors including duplex penthouses. The former Cumberland Hotel site will comprise two buildings adjacent to a newly created public piazza, offering a large number of homes with generous public and private amenity space.

Connected to national rail services as well as Underground and Overground, Harrow is more than convenient for commuters. Harrow-on-the-Hill station offers a 20-minute ride to Baker Street on the Metropolitan line, while those heading to Paddington can get there in just half an hour on the Bakerloo line from Harrow & Wealdstone station, or pop into Euston by national rail in just 14 minutes. The area is also well-serviced by local buses, ideal for young parents with pushchairs or those commuting around northwest London.

Famous for the independent boys school, Harrow-on-the-Hill boasts some of north London’s most picturesque green and leafy spaces, which surround Harrow Hill.

Prices at Origin’s Harrow schemes have yet to be released, but applicants can register their early interest at


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Conveyancing Guide

Cut out and keep!

Looking for a legal expert Conveyancing is the term used for the legal process of tranferring ownership of a property from one person to another. It’s not something you can do on your own and you will need legal expertise from either a solicitor, or licensed conveyancer. Our simple and useful guide explains what you should look for when choosing a legal expert and what they do for you

Are you ready to make an offer?

Straightforward costs?

When you find the home you want and put in an

As well as your legal expert’s time, there are other costs they’ll

offer, one question the estate agent will ask is:

have to pay for you, like Stamp Duty. Many solicitors combine their fees with other costs, which can make it difficult to compare.

Do you have a legal expert ready – a solicitor to act for you?

Make sure you get clear costs with: »» A no-completion, no-fee guarantee – (if the case falls through,

If you answer ‘no’ you could be under pressure to choose someone fast – not necessarily your best choice. But look in advance and you can choose what’s right for you.

you don’t pay for the legal expert) »» A comprehensive package of all the property searches your mortgage provider is likely to insist on, including: »» Local (factors like whether any rights of way

What are you looking for? There are hundreds of legal practices across the country – you don’t have to choose one based near you, or the home you’re buying – so here are some things to look for, depending

go through the property) »» Drainage (shows it’s connected to sewers, and where any run through the property) »» Environmental (checks whether it’s built on contaminated land)

on what’s most important for you.

»» Flooding (outlines the risk for your

Modern service?

»» Planning (warns of developments to be

new home) Some legal providers would still rely on post to send documents and want to see you in person, but it’s easy to find a company that gives you access to everything you need online. Look for factors like: »» Ability to get an instant quote online, not just by phone »» Offers an online case tracking portal »» Allows you to upload documents (such as ID)

built nearby) »» Energy & infrastructure (shows whether wind farms or HS2 will be built nearby) »» Ground stability (tells if there’s a risk of subsidence) »» Land registration costs (which doubles if it’s a new property) »» Stamp Duty payable (based on the value of the property)

online, rather than sending through post »» Lets you complete all your details online, rather than by printing forms

Personal service? Some confuse ‘personal service’ with seeing someone in person, but nowadays you can get a personal service over the phone and by email. If this is important for you, look for factors that suggest they have individuals working for their customers, such as: »» Offering a named person responsible for your case »» Friendly people who are keen to help when you pick up the phone »» Online recommendations thanking named individuals for their help

Get a direct quote now!

Beaumont Legal is one of the largest conveyancers in the country and winner of First Time Buyer magazine’s Best Law Firm for Conveyancing award in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. You can get a quote emailed to you now through and line them up ready to go as soon as you find the home you want. Or you can call on 0345 122 8080. If you’ve found a place, get started with Beaumont Legal immediately – they’re one of the few legal companies who can take all your details online without you needing to make a phone call.


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Conveyancing Guide

Cut out and keep!

What a legal expert does You know you need a legal expert to help you move home, but what do they do for you? They check many factors which could potentially cost you or your mortgage provider thousands of pounds if you weren’t aware – this is why mortgage providers insist on you using a solicitor, or licenced conveyancer. Here’s an outline of what they do for you

Order and check property searches These give information about the home you’re buying, such as if it could be at risk of flooding and a wide variety of other factors. Your legal expert checks these to see if there is anything you should worry about.

Check the title and the lease Your solicitor looks at the title of the property you’re buying

Questioning and negotiation

and, if it’s a flat, they’ll look at the lease. They look for anything that could cause concern – such as a lack of clarity over a

Once your legal expert has

boundary, conditions in the lease that mean you have to pay

the key information they

more money than you think, or restrictions on the property.

need, it’s likely to raise questions they’ll need to ask the seller’s legal experts. And if the answers you get aren’t what you want, it can mean further negotiation may be needed.

Completion On completion date, your legal expert receives your money from your

Confirming and exchanging contracts

mortgage provider,

Once the questions are answered, the contracts will be

along with any deposits, and

finalised and you should get a full explanation of matters

transfers it to the other side, who

relating to the title deeds and the property you need to be

confirm they’ve received it and that the home is finally yours! This

aware of before proceeding. Contracts will be exchanged on a

is where you can pick up the keys, but

set day, confirming you’ll move into your new home on the agreed ‘completion date’.

your lawyer’s work isn’t over yet.

Pay Stamp Duty & Register the Title After you’ve moved in, your lawyer will pay the Stamp Duty for you and ensure you’re logged at the Land Registry as being the new owner of the property. You should expect to receive a copy of the deeds showing you as the new owner of the house within a few weeks of completion.

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the view

Scarlette Douglas started her career as a musical theatre performer staring in numerous West End shows. She has also danced in many blockbuster feature films, choreographed musicals, appeared in computer games and performed at Eurovision 2015. Always interested in property and travelling, last year she landed her dream job as one of the new presenters on Channel 4’s A Place in the Sun. She tells Lynda Clark how it all began


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the view

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the view



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the view

Scarlette was brought up in Cheshunt in Hertfordshire and she has always been passionate about performing. She said, “I started dancing when I was three years old as my godmother was my babysitter and her daughter danced, so I did too! I have two older brothers who were really into sport and loved football – one played for Arsenal boy’s team and the other for Luton Town – and I really wanted to be a footballer as well. My mum wasn’t keen on this idea as she wanted me to be a girly girl, but at school I played basketball, hockey and football for Arsenal girls, briefly (I really wanted to play rugby too, but that wasn’t allowed). I was a real tomboy, but I also enjoyed dancing and singing, so I joined EHOS (East Herts Operatic Society), which was great fun. My father was keen that I went on to higher education as I was always good with computers and IT. I wanted to sing and dance, though, and luckily, my mum talked my dad round to the idea that I could do my GCSE’s and then go to a performing arts college. I originally wanted to go to the Sylvia Young Theatre School but I eventually went to Laine Theatre Arts in Epsom, Surrey. I had to move away from home, which was quite hard as I was only 16. I stayed with a host family in the first year and went home every weekend, and then, after that, I rented a place. It was a very tough course; we often worked a 12-hour day and they were very strict about everything! They had their favourites and I wasn’t one of them. It was hard to be noticed and get the good roles, but it did help me cope with rejection, which ended up being a good thing.” Her first job was assistant choreographer for a pilot show, Thriller Live, with two performances on a Sunday. She then went to Zurich in Switzerland for eight months, playing the role of Tina Turner in We Will Rock You. She added, “I was really thrown in at the deep end, but it was an amazing experience and I loved living in Zurich – I even learnt some Swiss Deutsch!” Scarlette was then in demand and was always being cast in musicals as well as doing a lot of adverts. She appeared as Peaches in Hairspray

at the Shaftesbury Theatre and then did a fitness DVD, called Street Fit. It was whilst she was doing this that a director, Andy Woodruff, asked if anyone could read off an autocue. “I will try anything once, and said I would give it a go. I must have done well, because Andy said I was very good and took me under his wing. I did a lot of corporate presenting on a YouTube channel and this really helped me get an agent. Then I heard about a competition with Blue Peter for a new presenter and one for MTV in conjunction with Freederm. I decided to enter both. I didn’t get the Blue Peter one and didn’t hear anything from MTV for a couple of weeks, but then I got a call from the lady from MTV to say I had won! It was amazing and I learnt so much. I spent an entire week experiencing life as an MTV presenter and even had my own news bulletin aired on TV. After that, I was the runner up in a worldwide search for the Next Big Name in Hosting, which would have given me the opportunity to go to Los Angeles to interview celebrities on the red carpet.” Having always been interested in property and interiors, Scarlette’s eldest brother asked her what she was planning for the future, as she had no pension. He was a property developer and suggested that she invest some money that her mum had given her, along with her own savings, to buy a place of her own. “My first property was a one bedroom, ground floor Victorian conversion in Barnet. With the help of my brother, I eventually turned it into a two bedroom apartment, but it was a big learning curve. I had builders in who were not very good and took a great deal of time and then I got a guy on his own in who was a good worker, but he actually moved into the place which was really unacceptable. In the end I finished it off and lived there for about eight months. I re-did the garden as well and made a good profit when I sold it. After that, I had the property bug and decided to buy another place in Enfield, which was a first floor apartment. I made it into an open-plan kitchen/living room by knocking down walls and created a lovely space. I made


a profit on that place too, which was great.” During this time Scarlette worked with Ant and Dec on their arena tour of Saturday Night Takeaway and appeared in the X Factor musical, I Can’t Sing, written by Harry Hill. Unfortunately, the show finished early, which was very upsetting for everybody, but Scarlette knew that in her heart she really wanted to be an entertainment presenter. By chance, she had a meeting with her agent, Becca Barr, to discuss her property development as a way into on-screen presenting. They saw that A Place in the Sun were looking for a new presenter and with her property expertise, they thought it was a good idea for Scarlette to apply. “I had an email interview on the Monday, a phone interview on the Tuesday, a screen test on the Thursday, and 10 days later I got the job. I just couldn’t believe it – it was my dream come true! I started filming last June and, since then, my feet haven’t touched the ground. I went to Ibiza first of all and then spent a month in France and five weeks in the Canary Islands. After that, I had a month in the Caribbean and I managed to pay for my parents to come out to see me and have a holiday. I’m now off to Spain, Majorca and possibly the Caribbean again.” Scarlette is now on her fifth property in four years. The first three she bought, developed and sold and now she has two places, which she intends to keep and release equity from. One in Coulsdon, Surrey, and a first floor Victorian property in Enfield Town, where she is doing a loft conversion. “I’m back living at home at the moment while the work is being done, but it is very exciting and I get a real buzz from each property I buy.” With all her experience, Scarlette has some excellent advice for first time buyers. “These are my main three tips: firstly, look at properties which are close to transport links as that is so important; secondly, look to see what schools and amenities are close by; and, finally, if the property is leasehold, check to see how many years are left on the lease. Be wary if it is under 75 years as, if you have to extend a lease, it can be very expensive and could end up costing anything up to £30,000!” So, with her very hectic schedule, what are Scarlette’s plans for the future? “I’m working on my own YouTube channel and I’m taking a part-time acting course at the Identity School of Acting. I am also learning sign language as that is something I have always wanted to do. I love being busy and, with so many different projects on and filming A Place in the Sun, I couldn’t ask for anything better.” A Place in the Sun – Summer Sun airs on Saturdays at 4.40pm on Channel 4, and A Place in the Sun – Winter Sun airs on Sundays at 5.30pm, also on Channel 4.

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WW OO SH SH MEP!PER STITO Our First Time Buyer Home Show in Croydon was another overw helming success, with both many exhibi tors and potential first time buyers wh o were able to find out everything they ne eded to know about getting on the ladder. Here’s a round-up in pictures, from a packed Fairfield Halls in Cro ydon. Check for details of our next Home Shows in Manchest er (17 Sept) and London (8 Oct). Headline sponsor, Inspired Homes were busy all day

Catalyst Housing talking to ftbs Supporting sponsor Barratt London had some homes perfect for ftbs

Beaumont Legal had a great day

haart enjoyed the show The team from Lawcomm


L&C mortgage advisors

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Hexagon Housing Association discussing various options

Lighthouse Mortgage Solutions helping potential new homeowners

PCS Legal explaining the legal process

Help to Buy London were very busy all day Centra recommending homes to ftbs

Leeds Building Society enjoyed the show

Homematch had a hectic time

Affinity Sutton had many homes for ftbs

Moat Homes had a great selection of properties

TMP Sherwins advising on afforable mortgages

Which? Mortgage Advisors gave one-to-one advice

The team from Site Sales talking to ftbs

AmicusHorizon chatted to many ftbs

Experian advised ftbs about credit ratings

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CHOOSING THE RIGHT ROUTE TO BUYING YOUR FIRST HOME The Help to Buy scheme was created in 2013 to ensure that people who wanted to buy their home could achieve their aspiration through government support. Since the launch of the Help to Buy equity loan and mortgage guarantee scheme, over 150,000 completions have taken place, with 80% having been made by first time buyers, which means 118,000 households bought their first home thanks to the scheme.



The equity loan scheme allows homebuyers to buy a brand new property with just a 5% deposit. Buyers receive an interest-free equity loan for five years, of up to 20% of the value of the property outside London and 40% in London, which then provides access to more affordable loan to value interest rates, which could be as low as 55%. So this means lower monthly mortgage repayments as well as upfront costs. The thought of a loan, which is interest free, might sound rather daunting and could put people off, but the equity loan offered under the Help to Buy scheme is interest-free for five years. After five years, this will increase year-on-year by a fee calculated at 1.75% of the equity loan, plus 1%. It is obviously a good idea to pay it back as soon as possible, or you can wait until you sell the property, or after 25 years, as the loan is still cheaper than most mortgages – which are essentially loans anyway. The scheme is open to any house buyer looking to buy a property up to the value of £600,000.

One of the biggest barriers to first time buyers wishing to buy their first property is the length of time needed to build up a deposit. Launched last December, the Government announced it was introducing the Help to Buy: ISA, which, to date, has been taken up by over 82,000 ftbs. It is available through building societies and banks and is a tax-free savings account, like any normal cash ISA, but with one main difference – the Government will top up the money saved in the account by 25%, up to the value of £50 a month, and up to the maximum total bonus of £3000. To claim the £3000 maximum, you will need to save £200 a month into your Help to Buy: ISA for five years. For basic rate taxpayers, this will be equivalent to saving completely free of tax. You and your partner can open separate Help to Buy: ISA accounts, which will double the amount of your bonus, if you are both able to contribute £200 into your accounts each month.



Regular armed forces personnel can benefit from a £200 million scheme to help get them on to the property ladder. The Forces Help to Buy scheme enables servicemen and servicewomen to borrow up to 50% of their annual salary, to a maximum of £25,000 which is interest-free. This can be used as a deposit and for other costs such as solicitor and estate agent fees. It is designed to help them to buy their first home, or move to another property on assignment or if their family’s needs change.The pilot scheme will run for three years. The scheme is open to all regular personnel who: Have completed the pre-requisite length of service. Have more than six months left of service at the time they apply. Meet the right medical categories. It is recognised that there maybe instances where exceptions to the standard rules may be justifiable, especially where there are extenuating medical and personal circumstances. Servicemen and servicewomen can apply for the loan online through the Joint Personnel Administration system and can seek advice on their application through their Chain of Command and personnel agency.


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Your guide to... AFFORDABLE WAYS

Getting on the housing ladder for the first time appears to be an uphill struggle and raising enough money for a deposit is the first hurdle. Research from housing and homelessness charity, Shelter, has revealed that first time buyers will need a salary of £64,000 and a deposit of £46,000 to afford an average home by 2020. However, fear not, as these scaremongering statistics don’t take into account the government-backed affordable housing schemes, which are helping thousands of ftbs buy their first home ELIGIBILITY You have to be a first time buyer to be eligible, so if you or your partner has ever owned a home before, you will not be able to open a Help to Buy: ISA. You can make an initial deposit of up to £1000, meaning a head start of £250 from the Government towards the £3000 maximum limit. You cannot put money into a Help to Buy: ISA and a regular cash ISA in the same year. This means that, if you have opened, or put money into cash ISA you will have to wait until the 2017 tax year to open one of the new accounts. The bonus only appears when you buy your first property as it goes straight to the mortgage lender. The Government top-up never stays in your ISA. You can only use the bonus on a property worth £250,000, or less, outside London, or a maximum of £450,000 in London. Interest rates will vary from bank to bank, so it is advisable to shop around.

HOW LONG ARE HELP TO BUY: ISAS AVAILABLE? They are available until 30 November 2019. After that date, they will not be available to new savers. However, if you opened your Help to Buy: ISA before then, you can keep saving into your account. You must claim your bonus by 1 December 2030.

WHO OFFERS HELP TO BUY: ISAS? Aldermore (telephone and online only) Bank of Scotland Barclays (branch and telephone only) Buckinghamshire Building Society (branch and post only) Chorley Building Society (branch and post only) Clydesdale Bank Cumberland Building Society (branch only) Halifax

HSBC Lloyds Monmouthshire Building Society (branch, post and online only) Nationwide (branch and online only) NatWest Penrith Building Society (branch, post and online only) Progressive Building Society (branch and post only) Newcastle Building Society Santander (branch and telephone only) Tipton & Coseley (branch and post only) Ulster Bank Virgin Money (online only) Yorkshire Bank There is no requirement to take out a mortgage with the lender who provides your Help to Buy: ISA, so it is well worth shopping around for the best rate and the best mortgage deal.


In the 2016 Budget, the Chancellor announced a new Lifetime ISA, to be launched in April 2017. This ISA is designed to help people under 40 buy their first home and, like the Help to Buy: ISA, will offer a government bonus on savings. With a Lifetime ISA, you can save up to £4000 a year and the Government will top up your savings by 25%, meaning you earn an extra £1 for every £4 you save. The money can be put towards first homes costing up to £450,000. During the 2017-18 tax years, anyone with a Help to Buy: ISA will be allowed to transfer their savings into a Lifetime ISA. You can save into both, but can only use the Government bonus from one account to buy your first home.

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Your guide to... AFFORDABLE WA



The Maltings is a courtyard development of 44 homes, centred around a unique conversion of a former Victorian malt house. The development offers four bedroom townhouses, plus one, two and three bedroom apartments and duplexes. All the homes are available with Help to Buy. The eight contemporary two bedroom, two bathroom apartments in Bushel Court are designed for lowmaintenance living, with open-plan kitchens and living spaces. Piper House offers two and three bedroom apartments and duplexes, with a choice of open-plan or traditional layouts. The highquality specification includes German designer kitchens and Spanish ceramic flooring. There is an en suite shower room to the master bedroom and there is also a second bathroom. Newmarket high street is just a seven minute walk away, where you will find a range of cafes, bars and shops, and Newmarket train station is easily accessible on foot, or is just a five-minute drive away. Prices start at £289,000 for a two bedroom apartment in The Malthouse, £309,995 for a two bedroom apartment in Bushel Court and £339,995 for a two bedroom apartment in Piper House. 01638 565 112

FROM £364,995


The second phase of homes has just launched at Maida by Bellway and is part of the development and regeneration of the former garrison site, which will see new schools, community amenities, improved transport and pedestrian links, plus open green spaces. Perfect for family living, the development offers a range of three, four and five bedroom houses and townhouses. Wellesley is set to become the ideal neighbourhood, offering two new primary schools, sports facilities, a dry ski slope and a centre with cafe, local shops and a play area all planned. Near to significant areas of nature conservation, 270 acres of woodland and parks – to be known as Wellesley Woodlands – are also being provided. The homes include fully-fitted kitchens, with a range of optional appliances, French doors opening to a rear garden and en suite shower to the master bedroom. The historic and listed military buildings, including the Cambridge Military Hospital and 4th Division Headquarters, will be refurbished and converted into new homes and community facilities. A central park and neighbourhood centre will also be developed, featuring formal and informal play and seating areas and footpaths. All the properties are available through Help to Buy and Forces Help to Buy for armed forces families. Prices for a three bedroom home start at £364,995 and £499,995 for a four bedroom home. 0333 577 3135

FROM £285,000 FROM £364,995


This collection of three, four and five bedroom homes off Calleywell Lane is within easy access to Ashford’s many amenities and the beautiful Kent countryside. Help to Buy is available on selected plots. The four bedroom Ruckinge features a spacious living room which opens through French doors to a private garden and also leads to a secluded PC room, while there is a large kitchen/dining room and guest cloakroom. The master bedroom comes with an en suite and outside there is an integral garage and driveway for two cars. Lyons Gate is located in the historic village of Aldington, which offers a choice of convenient amenities, including a post office, village stores, pub and village hall. Less than five miles away, Ashford has a wide range of facilities, including the Park Mall and County Square shopping centres. Ashford International railway station is within easy reach for services to London St Pancras. 01233 223 959


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Your guide to... AFFORDABLE WA


First time buyer Dave Wright, 26, found out about Help to Buy and is now the owner of a brand new two bedroom home at Lovell Homes’ Eaton View development, just northwest of Nuneaton town centre. The young graduate has gone from a shared rented house in Nottingham to owning his own home and has more than halved his commute. Dave, an in-store marketing manager for a major retailer, said, “I needed to relocate to be closer to my job, so this seemed a good time. I wanted to get on the property ladder and my parents advised me it was better to do it sooner rather than wait.” Although he had the money saved for a deposit, the assistance of Help to Buy was crucial in helping him buy his home quickly. He added, “Without the scheme I would have had to wait until I had built up my savings to cover the additional expenses involved in buying a property.” He was able to take out a £96,712 mortgage and pay £6,447 as his deposit on his new home, which has a full market value of £128,950. “I wasn’t sure about Help to Buy initially, but in hindsight, it’s been a very good thing. It’s meant I had cash spare for other things involved in moving, such as solicitor’s fees and buying sofas. I needed to move quickly and wouldn’t have been able to without that extra money being available.” His new house is south facing and Dave is particularly impressed by the size of the kitchen. He said, “The whole area is being redeveloped and it really does feel like a community.” Located just two miles from the town’s mainline station, Eaton View has excellent transport connections and provides easy access to both Coventry and Birmingham. The area also has plenty of leisure time attractions with Camp Hill woodland area and Stubbs Pool nearby. 02476 480 237


Parents to be, Kris and Anne Wood, both 28, had initially set their sights on buying a three bedroom home together, but when they discovered Help to Buy, they realised they could afford to buy a larger four bedroom house instead. Kris, a special needs teaching assistant, and Anne are expecting their first child together in August and could not be happier after moving to their new Bloor Homes’ Saxon Gate development on Parkers Road, Crewe. Anne said, “It’s a really exciting time for us with a new house and a baby on the way. The Help to Buy scheme was a big incentive for us and meant we only had to find a 5% deposit and we also got more house for our money. We were only saving for a deposit for just under 18 months, which is much quicker than we thought – we paid £184,950 and had to find £9,500 for the deposit. At first, we thought that a three bedroom house is all we would be able to afford, so it was great to find out that, with Help to Buy, we could buy a bigger home instead. It’s so nice to sit in our house and think ‘this is ours’ and, unlike a rental property, we don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to do anything in it. It’s just a great feeling to be a homeowner.” 01270 897 302



Alison Smith, 32, is a bid manager for an architect firm in Farringdon and wasn’t actually looking to buy until she found out her landlord was planning to increase her rent by £100 a month, which she thought was far too much. After visiting lots of estate agents to see if she had any alternative options she was very discouraged. She said, “All the apartments were small and poky and I didn’t want to spend my money on a home I didn’t like just for the sake of getting on the property ladder.” She then happened to see an advert for shared ownership apartments at Network Living’s Electric House, a newly-built collection of 20 apartments in Willesden Green. Built on the site of a former electricity works, its stunning design reflects the original building’s Art Deco roots. “I had pretty much given up the idea of buying my own place but, to my surprise, I discovered that the homes in Electric House were actually within my budget – and even better, only 10 minutes’ walk from where I was previously living.” Alison bought a 35% share, worth £160,300, for a one bedroom apartment with a full market value of £458,000. She paid a 10% deposit of £16,030 raised with some help from her parents. Her mortgage repayments are £500 with her subsidised rent of £700 and a service charge of £143, which means her total monthly outgoings are £1,343. Alison continued, “I loved my old home, but the neighbours were noisy – but I love my new apartment, which is at least half as big again as my old home. I really like the full height windows and it faces south so I get lots of sunshine. I feel there is a real sense of community here and it’s really easy to get in and out of central London as Willesden Green is close to Paddington and there are direct connections to Kings Cross.” There are currently two, two bedroom apartments remaining for sale at Electric House with prices starting from £194,250 with a full market value of £555,000. 020 8459 0122

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SHARED OWNERSHIP Shared ownership or part buy/part rent is where you buy a share of your home – usually between 25% - 75% - and then pay a subsidised rent on the part that you don’t own. Over time, when you can afford it, you can buy more shares, until you own your property outright. This is called staircasing and the more shares you buy, the less rent you pay.

ELIGIBILITY You can buy a home through shared ownership if: You are a first time buyer (or you used to own a home, but can’t afford to buy now). Your household earns £80,000 a year or less with the exception of London where the threshold is £90,000 a year You rent a council, or housing association property.

APPLYING FOR SHARED OWNERSHIP To buy a home through shared ownership you should contact the Help to Buy agent in the area where you want to live. See page 106 for details.

Your guide to... AFFORDABLE WA

You will need a smaller deposit as you only need to find the deposit for the share you buy. You will need a smaller mortgage as you are only buying the percentage you can afford. There will also be a service charge on the property, so it is important to check what this is likely to be. You will need to take out a mortgage to pay for your share of the home’s purchase price. Shared ownership homes are always leasehold. You can sell your home at any time. The housing provider will have eight weeks to find you a buyer and, during this time, you cannot sell your home privately or through an estate agent. If they find a buyer, they will usually charge you an administrative fee, so you should ask them whether this is a fixed price. If they cannot find a buyer after eight weeks, you will be able to sell your home privately or though an estate agent. Housing Associations offer resale properties, which have already been bought through shared ownership in the past, and the owner is looking to sell their share and move on. You buy the share they are selling and pay a subsidised rent on the remainder. It is unlikely that you can buy fewer shares than the current owner has, but it may be possible to buy more. Remember that these homes will obviously be older and in more established communities.

POCKET’S AFFORDABLE HOMES Pocket offers affordable housing with homes sold outright to buyers at a discount to the local market of at least 20%. All Pocket buyers are singles or couples and their current average household income is around £37,000. To buy a Pocket home you must live or work in the borough. Buy to Let investors are excluded. Pocket leases ensure that, on resale, the homes remain affordable as they can only be sold to eligible buyers. Buyers of Pocket homes own 100% of the property and have no extra rent to pay.

STREATHAM, SW16 Moutearl Gardens


Mountearl Gardens offers 32 one bedroom apartments, which feature large windows for lots of natural light, great storage, and modern insulation to FROM keep the costs £256,000* down and the noise out, plus secure cycle storage. The homes are just 10 minutes walk from Streatham Hill station, where you can commute to London Victoria in 20 minutes, and 40 minutes by bike on London’s growing network of safe cycle routes. Nearby Streatham High Road offers a large selection of shops, pubs and restaurants and a growing number of independent cafes and delis. 020 7291 3683 *Prices estimated at time of going to press


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Nine Elms Point

Affinity Sutton are launching their new development, Nine Elms Point, that will offer 52 one, two and three bedroom apartments. Nine Elms is an up-and-coming regeneration area, with a range of shops, bars, restaurants, art galleries and new public spaces, including a riverside park to come. Very conveniently positioned for commuting, Vauxhall Station is just a five-minute walk away and Oxford Circus can be reached in about 15 minutes. A new Nine Elms underground station is planned for 2020. All apartments feature a balcony and residents will have access to a communal podium garden. There will also be a new public linear park influenced by New York’s High Line, which will stretch from one end of the regeneration district to the other. For green space, Battersea Park is just a 20-minute walk away. Prices are expected to start at £113,750 for a 25% share of a one bedroom apartment, with a full market value of £455,000. Apartments can be purchased with a 5% deposit that is under £6,000. Priority will be given to those living or working in Lambeth, or one of the other SW London sub-regional boroughs (Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Richmond upon Thames, Sutton and Wandsworth). 0300 100 0303 *Based on a 25% share with a full market value of £455,000


FROM £182,000*

Trafalger House at Battersea Reach

Situated between characterful Wandsworth Old Town and bustling Clapham Junction, Trafalgar House from Notting Hill Sales is perfect for first time buyers. The development provides residents with exclusive access to the on-site Gym & Tonic fitness suite, and there is also a modern business centre, retail units and a staffed nursery, exclusively for the residents use. Set within four acres of landscaped gardens and courtyards, with riverside walks on the doorstep, the development also features a waterfront bar and restaurant, a Hudson’s grocery store, a Tesco Express and a patisserie. Wandsworth Town station is only 0.3 miles away, taking you into the transport hub of Clapham Junction in approximately 3 minutes and London Waterloo in approximately 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can take a slightly longer stroll direct to Clapham Junction station, which is 0.8 miles away. Prices for a one bedroom home start from £182,000 for a 40% share with a full market value of £455,000. 020 3815 1234 *Based on a 40% share with a full market value of £455,000

FROM £133,750*


The Meridian

The Meridian from Affinity Sutton offers three, three bedroom terraced houses, featuring quality fitted kitchens including an oven, hob and hood as well as private front and rear gardens. It is close to Lewisham Town centre and Blackheath Village, where you can find a number of independent shops, bars and restaurants. The homes are very well connected, with frequent bus routes to the West End, Victoria and Crystal Palace, while Lewisham Rail/DLR is a seven-minute walk away. Prices start at £133,750 for a 25% share with a full market value of £535,000 and a 5% deposit of £6,688. Buyers must have a minimum salary of £68,000 if buying alone or £72,000 if purchasing jointly. 0300 100 0303 *Based on a 25% share with a full market value of £535,000

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top tips

Ten top tips – saving for a deposit If you feel like there’s never enough money left at the end of the month to help boost your savings and finally own your own home, then take a look at our saving-savvy suggestions

1 Engage your brain Do you ever buy without really thinking about it, those little things – cans of Coke, celebrity magazines? On a regular basis they really add up. See for yourself on – an online tool that offers a truly eye-opening insight into your spending habits, and will make you think twice about any absentminded buying. The tool shows you not only how much you spend a year on one item, but how many hours you have to work to pay for it. For example, buying a £1 bottle of Diet Coke every day costs around £400 a year and, on an average salary takes a whole week of working to pay for – motivation to stop and think before you spend, if ever you needed it.

2 Get a new phone contract Just because you’ve been on a phone contract for a while, doesn’t mean it’s the best financially. So, as your current contract comes to an end, do some research, using,, or (see page 38 for

more information on Onedox). These sites allow you to compare all the latest packages and deals available from different networks. If you find a deal you like, it’s worth calling your current provider to see if they can beat it. And if there’s nothing wrong with your current handset, keep it and get a sim-only deal, which can often be purchased cheaper online. You could make significant savings adding up to several hundred pounds a year.

3 Make your own If you really do need a coffee hit every morning, why not make and take your own? Get yourself a commuter’s coffee mug, and save yourself some serious money. Using, we calculated that a £3 daily coffee costs us £750 a year and takes two weeks of work to pay off. Nescafe also sell a ‘coffee on the go’ range, complete with baristastyle cardboard cup. The same goes for buying lunches every day – a £4 lunch every working day will cost you £1000 over the course of a year. Are those soggy sandwiches really worth it?

4 Save-to-buy scheme Mortgage-linked bank accounts can help savers edge closer to buying a home. These bank accounts offer better terms, higher rates of interest and, with Nationwide’s Save to Buy account, for example, savers have the opportunity to apply for a 95% mortgage after six months of saving. Take a look around at the save-to-buy accounts available through the high street banks, and talk to an advisor about your best options.

5 Assess your living situation As many a news headline will tell you nowadays, renting can cost a fortune and with prices so high, it can feel impossible to save anything at all. So, perhaps it’s time to rethink your living situation. Is it possible to move back to your parents, into a friend’s spare room, or, if you have a spare room, could you get a lodger? The Home Ownership Association ( has some great tips for those looking to save money, and suggests the idea of moving into a house share, or with friends who are also looking to make savings. The average rent for a one bedroom apartment in London is now over £1000pcm, while a room in

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top tips

a house share can be found for around £700. But not only are you sharing the rent, you’re also splitting those bills, which can save you thousands every year.

6 Sell, sell, sell When it comes to moving, the less clutter you have to move with you, the better, so, while you’re saving it’s a great time to sell the things you don’t need. Ebay is an excellent and easy way to sell your unwanted items. But remember, 10% of the total sale also goes to eBay and a small fee to Paypal too, so also consider free sale sites like Gumtree, or local sites and noticeboards. Car boot sales are another excellent way to make money and make for a fun day out with family or friends who are also looking to make some extra cash. The carboot app Shpock, is an athome alternative for those not willing to brave the early morning start. Moneysavingexpert. com has some excellent tips for making the most of a car boot sale.

7 Use voucher sites

9 Be a cool commuter

Discount sites like Groupon and Livingsocial are great ways to save money on everyday activities and holidays. So long as you use them wisely – and not for impulse buys – they are great for bargain shopping. For example, if you normally visit a hairdresser every six weeks, instead of cutting back on visits, search for hairdressing deals in your area that can save you as much as 80% off of your regular spending – which, once again, could add up to hundreds of pounds over the course of a year.

Paying to get to work is often one of the biggest expenses after paying for rent. Huge savings can be made in this department. Buying an annual season ticket, instead of a weekly one can save you hundreds of pounds every year. calculate that this tip can save you over £200 on yearly commuting from Crystal Palace to Oxford Circus, for example. If you can’t afford to do this yourself, many employers offer an interest-free season ticket loan. There are also a few commuter clubs, including and, through which you can buy an annual season ticket but repay it in monthly instalments, saving you the cost of regular monthly fares.

8 Rethink your fitness regime Gym memberships are expensive. Whether you’re the member of a local, council-run gym, or a national chain, you can be paying anything from £20-100 per month on membership (or more!). With so many free and cheaper alternatives out there, ditching your gym membership is a great way to save money. Several of the big sports stores run some excellent free fitness classes, including Nike and Reebok – simply enroll online and sign up. Classes include yoga and high-intensity workouts. You can also search for free running groups, such as Park Run, who meet on a regular basis for group running sessions.

10 Set up a regular payment Once you’ve identified where you can make savings, set up a regular standing order from your everyday account into a separate savings account – on the day, or just after, you’re paid. This will put that money out of sight, and out of mind – if you can’t see it, you can’t spend it. You can always adjust the standing order if you think it’s too much or too little.

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EVERY PENNY COUNTS! Buying a property for the first time is probably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, so it is important to try and save as much as possible and is the perfect time to look at how much you spend on household bills. It would be great to find a way to claw some money back each month. The good news is that there are typically hundred of pounds in savings to be made on household bills each year Taking gas and electricity as an example, the findings of a Competitions and Markets Authority investigation into the UK energy market, published in March, found that UK consumers overpay by an average of over £200 a year, simply by not being on a competitive energy tariff. If you have been renting, you should be careful that you don’t start paying more than you were previously for your gas and electricity; which typically happens if you remain on the default tariff you are given when you move into your new home.

HOW ONEDOX CAN HELP Onedox is a secure, free app, designed to make it easy for consumers to save time and money on household bills like energy, internet, landline and your mobile. Collectively, we overpay by billions of pounds each year, just by being on the wrong tariffs. Onedox has been designed to address this challenge, making it easy to keep an eye on bills and ensure we aren’t paying too much. This can be particularly helpful when moving into your first home, given there are so many other things to organise and pay for. Once you’ve created your Onedox account and linked your household accounts, it automatically collects your bills, alerts you when contracts are coming to an end and helps you save money by letting you know if you’re paying too much and assisting with switching to a better

deal. The safety of customer data is paramount and, as such, the service incorporates highly sophisticated security measures – including bank-level data encryption, the use of Amazon data centres for secure data storage and employing independent third parties to carry out regular security reviews. Some Onedox customers describe it as a Personal Assistant for your household bills; it automatically files them in one secure place and then tells you when you need to do something to save money! To create a free Onedox account visit the Onedox website at


Alex Hunter uses Onedox and it has saved him £300 in the first year. He said, “After years of saving, I recently bought a house to move into with my partner and two young children. Money is always tight for first time buyers and we were no exception – every penny we could save was hugely important. In the first few days, I set up new accounts with electricity and gas providers and linked them to Onedox, as well as my internet, landline and mobile accounts. Over the proceeding months, Onedox monitored what I was paying and let me know whether I could make any savings; that didn’t mean I had to switch provider every month! I was happy with the utility provider I was using in my new property and wanted to stay with them, but I also wanted to make sure they continued to offer me the best tariff. Onedox helped me to save £300 in my first year, simply by alerting me to a tariff that better suited our household electricity usage.”


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Average property price (MARCH 2016) – £511,787 Property breakdown:* (London Borough of Barnet) Detached – £1,166,746 Semi-detached – £647, 264 Terraced – £486,063 Flat – £368,307 *According to the Land Registry House Price Index, March 2016

With thousands of new homes, increasingly good amenities and great transport links, the rapidly transforming town of Colindale, north London, is fast becoming a new hotspot for first time buyers

HOMES AND RESIDENTS Several impressive new developments are currently underway in the area and first time buyers – mainly young professionals and young families – are choosing Colindale for the comparatively lower house prices and good commuting times. These new homes, many of


which are just a few minutes from the tube station, mix with a real variety of existing house types; large 1930’s semi-detached homes line the wide streets that wind away from Edgware Road, and there are also many late 20th century apartment buildings and Edwardian terraces. With the new homes and location of Colindale in mind, it’s no surprise that the population is a young one: the last census revealed an average age in the area of just 33. The demographic is culturally varied, too, with a wide range of languages spoken by its residents.

OUT AND ABOUT Colindale (and nearby Kingsbury) is great for grabbing a coffee and indulging in food from around the globe – there are plenty of welcoming cafes and restaurants to choose from. Try Spaccanapoli, a popular Italian serving a homemade menu, or Jakarta on Sheaveshill Parade for Thai. With the development of so many new homes, there are also several new restaurants coming to the area. An entire new parade of eateries will form part of the Colindale Gardens development, and is set to include popular names such as Yo Sushi, Carluccios and Prezzo

as well as bars and cafes. Just a few miles south, Kilburn is a popular choice for a lively evening out. Join the queue for the locally famous Spicy Basil and enjoy well-priced, superb Thai, or cosy Little Bay for cheerful service and European cuisine. The Tricycle Theatre runs a great schedule of plays and shows, and you can get post-show cocktails in the Kilburn Ironworks. Leafy Mill Hill, just three miles from Colindale, also has several good gastropubs, where you can enjoy a hearty meal after exploring the very pretty local area. There are several large and lovely parks in the immediate area – and the raised location

View of Wembley from Fryent Country Park

Photo © Loz Pycock/Flikr

The north London town of Colindale is one undergoing great change. Located approximately seven miles from central London and the same distance from the Hertfordshire countryside, the town has been identified as an ‘opportunity area’, and thousands of new homes are being built, bringing new life and business with them. Located in travel Zone 4, leafy Colindale is a dream for commuters, with journey times into central London of around 20 minutes. For those seeking green spaces, it’s also a great spot; there are numerous parks in the local area, while rolling hills are never far by car. So, with first time buyers heading to the area, attracted by more affordable homes, lively local towns and increasingly good amenities, Colindale is certainly set to become a north London hotspot.

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of Colindale means that you get amazing views over London from most of them. In Colindale, Silkstream Park is a great green space to enjoy in the summer, while Fryent Country Park is set over 250 acres of rolling hills and parkland – perfect for exploring on foot, or bike and for spotting wildlife with the kids. For tennis and sports – as well as an ample playground – try Roe Green Park in Kingsbury, while if you’re looking for country walks and quaint villages, you only need to travel a few miles north, where you’ll find leafy Hertfordshire. You can also get acquainted with Colindale’s historical aviation ties, which are celebrated at the RAF Museum. Hendon aerodrome, which was located in Colindale until the late 1960s, was an important site as an airfield and for manufacturing during the two World Wars. The museum is a popular attraction, and features exhibitions, tours, a 4D theatre and many planes on display, including the iconic Vulcan bomber.

Colindale and the surrounding areas are very good for shopping, be it small or big-ticket items. There are some great, busy high streets in the local area as well as several shopping malls. The two huge supermarkets in Colindale will take care of your weekly food shop, while you can stock up on more unusual items in many smaller independent stores along the Edgware Road. Head just a few miles down the road to Cricklewood for the market on Fridays and Saturdays. Here you’ll find great quality food and products, including vegan cakes, delicious Caribbean and Portugese food as well as designer jewellery and flowers. Brent Cross shopping centre – the only mall in London with free parking – is also just a short drive away and houses hundreds of the big name high street stores under one roof. The Broadwalk Shopping centre in nearby Edgware is also a popular choice with locals. For bigger items, visit Colindale’s retail park, or head to Ikea in Wembley, while label lovers should try the London Designer Outlet, also in Wembley, where you can get your hands on designer labels at discounted prices.

TRANSPORT Colindale is only around seven miles from central London. From the Zone 4 Underground station, Northern Line Tube services will get you

Greenwich Market

to Euston in just 20 minutes. From Hendon rail station (two miles from Colindale), you’ll reach south London in around 30 minutes, or head north to Luton Airport in the same time. Several bus routes run to surrounding areas (including to the big supermarkets and shopping centres) as well as towards central London. Cyclists have a direct route into central London via the Edgware Road, which runs from Colindale to Marble Arch. Travel out of London is made convenient by the M1, which can be accessed within just a few minutes.

5 REASONS WE LOVE… …COLINDALE • Aviation history at the RAF Museum • Great local shopping • Fryent Country Park • Cricklewood Market • Plenty of green space

HOMES on offer in the area…

FROM £595,000

FROM £314,000

FROM £335,000




Set across nine acres of stunning landscaped gardens, these beautiful new homes offer the perfect peaceful alternative to city life – all just 30 minutes from central London. Ranging from one to three bedrooms, homes include contemporary kitchens with fully integrated appliances, underfloor heating as well as en suite bathrooms in the larger homes and private balconies. An on-site gym for residents only also adds to the exclusive feeling of the apartments. Supermarkets, cafes and transport are all within easy reach.

Built on the site of the former British Library Newspapers, this new collection of smart homes is every commuter’s dream – just a few seconds from the Zone 4 Tube station. The one, two and three bedroom homes are beautifully finished, with clean, contemporary design, large windows for plenty of natural light and a private balcony for each home, from which you can take in the green surroundings. The homes sit adjacent to Colindale Park, and there are several great green spaces and fantastic shopping facilities nearby.

There are just a few three bedroom homes remaining at this new development by NEAT. The contemporary new homes are arranged around landscaped gardens, perfect for getting to know the neighbours, and are designed with spacious, open-plan living areas that open to a balcony, or terrace. The internet connection is second to none, thanks to fibre optic cabling, and on-site facilities include a concierge, gym, crèche and covered parking – all just a 10-minute walk from Colindale Tube station.

Colindale Gardens


TNQ, Colindale

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As the property market heats up in Croydon, we discuss the various ways in which first time buyers are coping with increasing house prices in the area

Gavin Barwell, MP for Croydon Central


Last month we were delighted to hold our very first FTB Home Show in Croydon, away from our usual spot in central London. Croydon is well known as a very up-and-coming London borough, which, over the years, has experienced a big lift in house prices, thanks to the ongoing regeneration of the area. With over £50m of investment planned over the next 20 years, in addition to excellent infrastructure already in place and train services into central London in under 20 minutes, Croydon is fast becoming a property hotspot. Added to this, with plans for shopping centre giant Westfield to come to town in 2020, Croydon’s house prices are only going to continue in the same direction. So, it won’t surprise anyone to hear that the show was a storming success, with over 1,500 first time buyers turning up, all trying to find ways to cash in on Croydon’s booming market. Even local MP for Croydon Central, Gavin Barwell, very kindly agreed to attend the event to show his support for local first time buyers aspiring to purchase in the area. Hosting one of the seminars, it was interesting

to listen to the other side of the story, with the big question being about local buyers who feel they will ultimately be priced out of their own market. Whilst gentrification of an area is great for businesses, the economy and existing homeowners, what does this mean for local first time buyers who feel that they are going to be priced out of their home area? Mr Barwell said, “It’s fantastic that Croydon is emerging as a vibrant and highly successful destination, not just as a London borough but also at an international level. A side effect of this is a significant lift in local house prices, as more people invest in the area and move to benefit from the resulting job creation. This uplift in house prices will be welcome news for homeowners in Croydon, but, unfortunately, makes it harder for local people to get on to the housing ladder.” In order to try and offer advice to local first time buyers in the area, Mr Barwell discussed some of the various ways in which people can make more affordable choices when buying a home, especially highlighting the success of Help to Buy – the government-funded equity loan scheme, which only requires a 5% deposit.

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Gary Penfold and Rosie Grew

He continued, “Help to Buy has been a tremendous success right across the country and has also helped nearly 200 buyers in Croydon. The Government’s equity loan scheme allows buyers to get on to the ladder with a much lower deposit, while at the same time, gaining access to more affordable interest rates. Alternative options include shared ownership and there are other homeownership schemes in the pipeline too. “The key is to ensure that we are building enough properties to keep up with demand as this will help mean that house prices don’t spiral out of control.” Mr Barwell praised the success of the First Time Buyer Home Show and thanked the team for hosting its first event in Croydon. He added, “The event was a very busy one and clearly demonstrated the need for hardworking local people and families to find out what’s available to them. Having bought my own house in Croydon at the age of 25, I understand the desire to own a place of your own and I will be doing everything I can to help the next generation have the same opportunities that I had.” At the show, we spoke to some of the first time buyers who attended, to find out what they thought about getting on the housing ladder in Croydon.

Local first time buyers Rianne Foster, 24, and James Sexton, 23, from Croydon, both live with their parents locally as they continue to save for their first home. Through attending the show, they were delighted to find out about both the Help to Buy: ISA – a scheme where their savings will be matched by the Government – and also the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, whereby they can buy a new home with just a 5% deposit. Rianne said, “Obviously it’s great to see Croydon continue to get better, but we are quite anxious to buy our first home as we watch house prices keep going up. We’re at the show to find out a way we can get on to the

James Sexton and Rianne Foster

Francois Onawelho-Loren and Wioleta Kowalska

property ladder sooner rather than later, as we are concerned that when Westfield arrives, we won’t be able to afford to buy at all. “We’re definitely going to sign up for the Help to Buy: ISA as we continue to save by living at our parent’s houses. It would be silly not to take advantage of the saving plan, which is essentially free money available to us. Then we are going to try and find out where we can use the Help the Buy equity loan scheme which means we only need a 5% deposit. We reckon we are about two years away from buying our first home and, hopefully, we can get in just before we are priced out of the local market.”

Priced out of their own area Francois Onawelho–Loren, 42, and Wioleta Kowalska, 32, are currently renting a property in northeast London. Priced out of their own local housing market, they are looking at Croydon as a more affordable way of getting on to the property ladder. Francois commented, “We’ve been saving for a couple of years but there’s no way we could afford to buy anything in our local area. Croydon really interests us as the transport

links are so fast into London and the house prices still seem relatively affordable – and we hope to benefit from any house price increase. “Coming to the show has made us realise, for the first time, that we really can afford to buy our first home now and, by looking a little further afield, we now know that with Help to Buy, we can even buy a two bedroom property. We can’t wait to buy.”

Moving home to save Currently renting, Rosie Grew, 25, and Gary Penfold, 25, are living in a house share in Earlsfield, southwest London. They plan to move in with Rosie’s parents close to Croydon while they save to buy a place of their own. Rosie said, “Croydon definitely appeals to us as a location as our money will go a lot further here and there is hopefully an opportunity to benefit from the increase in house prices. The transport links are also fantastic, so we can only see us buying here to be a good thing. We hope to buy somewhere before the end of the year, after we’ve saved some more by living with my parents, and we really can’t wait to invest in our own four walls.”

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affordable homes

Foundry Mews, Walthamstow

Waltham Forest is the place to buy Back in December, the borough of Waltham Forest was announced as anticipating 20% growth in house prices by 2020. This is the fastest expected growth in the country. Buyers looking for affordable parts of London are turning to the east in their droves and demand is soaring Wanting to put down roots and have a larger home for their families, professionals are singling out Waltham Forest as the most affordable location for them. Foundry Mews goes a step further for affordability with a rarity in the area – a brand new shared ownership development including four bedroom townhouses with family gardens, starting from £175,000 for a 25% share. Shared ownership is a part buy/part rent scheme, which is part-funded by the Government for the benefit of first time buyers. It is designed as a stepping stone towards owning your own home outright, by allowing you to buy further shares in your property (known as staircasing) as and when you can afford to do so. Foundry Mews is the only shared ownership property with four bedrooms listed on Share to Buy in the whole borough.* Located between Wood Street Library and Woodside School, this attractive development has been carefully designed to complement its surroundings and

to provide light, spacious and energy-efficient homes. There is also cycle storage, a children’s play area and some allocated parking for the houses, making it perfect for young families Waltham Forest also has a number of Ofsted ‘outstanding’ schools and plenty of green space on the doorstep, with various parks and Epping Forest all close by. As well as Foundry Mews, East Thames also has schemes coming in the area: • Evesham Avenue – Eight one and two bedroom homes a mile from Walthamstow Central – coming Summer/Autumn 2016 • Sutherland Road – 43 one and two bedroom homes less than a mile from Blackhorse Road. The fourth phase of our popular Paper Mill Place development is set to be a great one! Waltham Forest achieves a balance between larger homes with a more family oriented lifestyle and a simple commute. The area is very well connected, with fast Victoria line services from Walthamstow Central and Blackhorse Road

to Kings Cross, or Oxford Circus, as well as quick London Overground services from Wood Street to Liverpool Street. Many coming to the area have opened up businesses which is a sure sign that the area has staying power. It also offers a great opportunity for eating and shopping in more distinct local restaurants and boutiques. Plus, there is the Wood Street market for vintage clothing and homeware and two Sunday farmers’ markets. This year, our very own enquiries from people wanting to buy in Waltham Forest are already up by 60% compared to last year. This reflects the demand for these homes. East Thames does have plenty going on in the area, so get in touch and see how we can help you! East Thames are the specialists in shared ownership in East London and Essex – take a look at their homes for sale at or call 0300 303 7333 * Correct at time of going to print

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affordable homes

Waterside living at its best Are you looking to get a foot on the property ladder but are not sure if you have the finances? Then help is at hand as Southern Home Ownership present Bow River Village, an award-winning development, comprising a selection of one, two and three bedroom apartments available for sale on a shared ownership basis Shared ownership How shared ownership works is quite straightforward – you buy as much of the property as you can afford, usually at least 25% up to a maximum of 75%, and you pay a subsidised rent on the rest. Shared ownership is the affordable home ownership option. It can also be cheaper than renting privately. The mortgage cost and reduced rent usually add up to less than the equivalent rental payments to a landlord. For more information on shared ownership visit

Bow River Village Bow River Village recently won Best Large Development in the First Time Buyer Readers’ Awards. This contemporary, waterside development consists of one, two and three bedroom apartments in one of east London’s most sought after locations. The apartments offer: 99 Private balcony or roof terrace 99 White gloss kitchens with built-in appliances

99 99 99 99

Tiled bathrooms Provision for Sky + and Hotbird TV point and entry phone system Cycle storage

Bow River Village sits in a perfect spot next to the quiet River Lee. The River Lee is London’s second waterway, made famous by the 2012 games, a short distance upriver. The whole of the Lee Valley is filled with open spaces and sports facilities for you to explore. There are river walks and shared spaces beside the water to give all residents the chance to enjoy this unique location to the full. It is the perfect place to enjoy a sunny Sunday afternoon, or watch the sun go down after a hard day at work. Bow brings together all that’s exciting and vibrant about modern urban living. From the Columbia Road flower market to the restaurants of Brick Lane, it draws you in with its buzz. Roman Road market is the oldest in the country and Victoria Park is one of the finest in London, complete with wide-open spaces, ponds and wildlife. You’ll find pop up bars,

restaurants and galleries, cinemas, theatres and performance venues sitting alongside traditional pubs and fish and chip shops. Bow is a great place for jobs too. There’s a real push to turn the area into one of London’s creative hubs, with new businesses and opportunities. The whole area is set to be transformed into a connected valley with a mix of dynamic parkland and workspaces. Bow River Village is the perfect base for enjoying everything that London has to offer. Buses stop nearby, Bromley-by-Bow Underground station (Hammersmith & City and District Lines) is only a five-minute walk and Bow Road DLR less than 10. From local stations, it’s an easy 15-minute commute to Canary Wharf or the City. Nearby you’ll find: 99 The shopping at Stratford (including Westfield Stratford City) 99 The sports facilities of Hackney Marshes and the Lee Valley 99 The great nightlife of Shoreditch Bow River Village launched in February 2016 and a number of properties are now under offer. However, there are still further releases to come, so register your interest in these homes at There will also be a selection of one, two, three and four bedroom apartments available to rent privately. For more information on these and to register your interest, visit

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Shared ownership from Metropolitan is the way to go!

If you’ve dreamed of buying a home of your own, but didn’t know where to begin, or whether you could afford it, now could be the perfect time to do something about it Metropolitan have a range a new shared ownership developments across London, the Home Counties and the East Midlands available now and coming soon, which offer the opportunity to buy a home affordably through our home ownership service.

Canary Gateway

How does it work? With shared ownership you have a mortgage on a share of the property price that you can afford to buy, usually between 25% and 75% of the value of the home, and pay a subsidised rent on the remainder. The rental element is indexlinked – which means it rises predictably in line with inflation. Depending on the property type that you buy, you may also have to pay a service charge and ground rent. The amount you have to save for a deposit will be lower, because you only have to pay a deposit on the share that you buy rather than on the full market value. Your ongoing monthly housing costs will also be more manageable too – usually being approximately 20% less than if you were to buy the same home outright and less than if you were to rent the same home privately.

So who’s eligible? Shared ownership is available to households (usually first time buyers) earning up to £90,000 per year in London and £80,000 per year outside of London, who can’t afford to buy a suitable home on the open market. Buyers will need to be able to fund the deposit and costs associated with buying (such as legal fees, mortgage arrangement and removal fees) and will need to have a balanced rent account and a good credit history to be able to secure a mortgage. Local terms can apply too, but this depends on where the new homes are and how they were funded – ask the sales team for more on this.

So what’s available and where? In Stevenage, Metropolitan are marketing over 140 apartments, including some for private sale, as part of a project transforming the former

Fujitsu building, Six Hills House. As well as easy access to Stevenage’s Old Town and a speedy commute into central London (just 26 minutes from the front door to King’s Cross), the development offers great affordability to those looking to get on to the property ladder and is available to buyers from any region. Aldgate Place in Tower Hamlets, which launches this summer, provides an opportunity to buy a stylish, modern apartment just a short Six Hills House walk from the City. Canary Gateway, another Tower Hamlets development over 80 new homes available to purchase through located just five minutes’ walk from Westferry shared ownership. DLR station, will provide 17 apartments which New homes developed for Metropolitan come offer great value for money for the area. Over with a level of specification designed to give the in Gant’s Hill, Metropolitan will be offering new home owner everything they need in order 11 shared ownership apartments at The Point to make the move into homeownership a smooth development, from early summer, as well as a one, including fitted appliances in the kitchens, small selection of new apartments at Chandos fully-fitted bathrooms, carpeting, storage space Avenue in Barnet. and a NHBC warranty. Later in the year, Metropolitan’s Southwest Nine apartments launch. Just a five-minute walk To find out more about Metropolitan’s new homes, get in from the famous O2 Academy and the buzz of touch with their sales team on 0203 535 2555, by email central Brixton, Metropolitan are revitalising the local area with striking new apartments, providing to, or visit

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open market

A piece of history could be yours!

Have you ever imagined living in a famous, historical building? Well now you can, as private developer Annington is restoring one of Aldershot’s oldest buildings and transforming it to create very special apartments perfect for first time buyers A new era beckons for one of Aldershot’s oldest buildings as Annington breathes new life into the town’s Grade II listed Union Building on Hospital Hill. The sensitive transformation of the Jacobean-styled property is underway, retaining many of the original features of a building that boasts a fascinating and varied history. Originally built in 1629 as a sub-manor to the local Tichborne estate, the Union Building survived Civil War skirmishes, a fire and hurricane winds, before serving as a working house and a school for children. However, it was not until the mid-19th century, that the building adopted its name. In 1954, the War Department purchased the properties and established their camp in the area, where they used the Union Building as a military hospital. However, the building’s life as a hospital was relatively short-lived and, following the opening of the Cambridge Hospital in 1879, the Union Building’s usage was changed and the Army Pay office took up occupation. In 1907, the building was almost completely destroyed by a fire, however, extensive work was carried out to save it. During WWII the nearby Salamanca Barracks succumbed to German bombing, but the Union Building managed to avoid incendiary damage. Luckily, the period features remained and are still standing today; these include red tile roofing, wooden and metal beams, mullion windows and the original gabled entrance porch. Now the historic building is undergoing a transformation, with Annington restoring and converting it into a range of characterful new

Stratford Plaza

homes, some of which will overlook a vast, landscaped communal garden. To ensure that any new materials blend seamlessly with the original building, Annington has sought advice from brick specialists, so that replicas match the same style of the original Flemish and English Bond. Once complete, Union Place will feature 17 one and two bedroom apartments, with contemporary bathrooms and kitchens. Each property will include allocated parking and access to the communal gardens. Sally Parsons, Property Director at Annington, said, “The Union Building possesses a wonderful history and really is a landmark in Aldershot. Having fallen into a state of disrepair, we are delighted to be able to give the building a new lease of life, creating a range of distinctive homes in the process. It is fascinating to work with a listed building of such local importance, and we are retaining and enhancing as much of the original building as possible, including exposed wooden beams, iron frames and detailed brick

Annington became one of the largest private owners of residential property in the UK, following the purchase of 57,434 homes from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 1996. Most of these properties are leased back to the MoD. A significant number, however, have been handed back to Annington. In the years since 1996, they have invested time, money and expertise in regenerating thousands of these homes and returning them to the national housing stock. To date, they have helped over 17,000 homebuyers, many of whom were first time buyers and key workers.

work, whilst making only essential alterations to its structural layout – ensuring its historic integrity remains. “There is widespread investment underway throughout Aldershot and the Council has recently produced an improved Town Centre Prospectus that has been met positively by the local community. We are sure that Union Place will become a vibrant residential area, and hope that it will play a positive role in Aldershot’s future.” A bustling market town, Aldershot is located close to the Surrey/Hampshire border. The town has a Victorian history and prides itself on a great sense of local community and as a wonderful location to raise a family. Aldershot offers a range of excellent transport connections with direct services to London Waterloo taking less than an hour. Homes at Union Place will be for sale from June 2016. To be the first to hear about them, register your interest at:, or call 0800 358 1118

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help to buy

Full house Bringing up a family in a home which has been designed and finished to a very high standard and is situated in a beautiful leafy setting sounds idyllic. Woodbridge in Frimley, from Thames Valley Housing, is a new development of executive family homes, which offers just that This new development of 10 luxurious converted apartments and houses in a locally listed Edwardian building, along with 10 stylish, new family houses and 14 apartments are all set in lovely landscaped grounds. The homes occupy the site of Frimley Cottage Hospital, which was founded in 1908, and the original red brick hospital building still retains many period features. The four bedroom spacious houses are perfect for growing families and have been built to complement the original locallylisted Edwardian building at the heart of the development. The new homes are energyefficient, easy to maintain, and included bi-fold doors that open out on to a pretty private garden. Kitchens come with electric, ceramic hob, oven and extractor plus an integrated fridge/freezer and washer/dryer. Master bedrooms include a fitted wardrobe and carpet and there is wood-effect flooring to the ground floor. Each house also comes with an allocated parking space.

The perfect lifestyle Frimley offers everything you might need on a daily basis, including a supermarket, smaller shops, a health clinic, doctor and dental practices, restaurants, pubs, banks, and a post office. Nearby Frimley Green offers the Lakeside Complex with a nightclub, sports facilities, gym and a pool. Less than four miles from Frimley is Pennyhill Park, a luxury hotel and spa, with a golf course and an excellent restaurant.

area, there is a green cycle route running from Bracknell town centre to the border with Ascot.

Education Frimley also offers a number of excellent independent and state schools and, for younger children, there are plenty of nurseries and preschools to chose from. The University Centre at Farnborough and the University of Surrey in Guildford are also nearby.

Green spaces

Transport links

Sitting on the borders of Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey, Frimley forms part of Surrey Heath and is surrounded by lovely open land, offering many places to enjoy the great outdoors. Nearby Lightwater Country Park offers open heathland, woodland, meadows and ponds, with walks and nature trails offering a spectacular panoramic view from High Curley Hill. This stretch of heathland is a protected Site of Special Scientific Interest, supporting rare wildlife. Chobham Common is the largest National Nature Reserve in the southeast and is home to 300 species of wild flowers and 100 species of birds. If you are a cycling enthusiast and want to explore the

An ideal location for commuters, it takes just over an hour to get from Frimley station to London Waterloo. The station also offers services to Camberley in four minutes, Aldershot within 10 minutes, Ascot in 20 minutes and Guildford in 40 minutes. From Farnborough station, which is less than three miles away, there is a direct rail service to London Waterloo taking just 35 minutes. Four bedroom houses start from £485,000 and Help to Buy is available. Register your interest by calling 01276 538 991, or go to

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open market

Award-winning housebuilder shaping the future of Cambridge Cambridge is one of England’s most popular and dynamic cities, renowned around the world for its iconic university and rich history. As the city grows, awardwinning housebuilder Hill is leading the way in creating beautiful new homes in the city Hill, a leading housebuilder in the south of England and WhatHouse? Housebuilder of the Year, has plans to build over 1,200 new homes in Cambridge. Hill has gained an enviable reputation for creative and innovative design, characterful homes and exceptional spaces; that makes each of Hill’s homes uniquely special. Hill’s homes in Cambridge include: stunning city centre apartments and townhouses at Magna, a joint venture project with Homerton College that means you could be living on the doorstep of this stunning and historic university; luxurious apartments and four and five bedroom detached houses at Ninewells, a fantastic place to enjoy city living with a difference; and Virido, an exciting collection of architectural eco-homes within Great Kneighton. All are great places to call home in the heart of Cambridge, or a fantastic investment in this expanding city, with a population of international professionals, entrepreneurs and scientists – working at the city’s world renowned companies – who have made Cambridge their base. Show apartment at Ninewells

Computer Generated Image of Magna

Hill understands the challenges that first time buyers face in the current market and wants to help these buyers get on the property ladder. Tony Woodman, Sales Director at Hill says, “Buying your first home is a big investment and, after getting a mortgage and financials in order, a purchaser still has to cover the cost of Stamp Duty, moving costs and legal fees – that’s before you move in and want to furnish your new home! It’s a very daunting time for any new purchaser and signifies a huge milestone in anybody’s life, but with all the additional costs associated with purchasing a home, many simply aren’t able to afford it. We believe in helping people make that leap and, with the city growing exponentially, it’s

important that we identify these challenges and help where possible.” That’s why Hill are offering an outstanding package for first time buyers on selected plots; purchase a stunning new Hill home and they will cover the cost of Stamp Duty, legal fees and removal costs (if there are any).* Not only that, but they’ll also throw in £7,500 of John Lewis vouchers to help you make your new home feel truly yours. Tony Woodman continues, “We really feel that this will help people buy their dream home. It takes away some of the initial challenges that purchasers face, with a view to making the buying process enjoyable, exciting and, most importantly, accessible.” And this isn’t the only thing Hill are doing to combat the challenges that the market is presenting; the Government-funded scheme Help To Buy is available on all Hill Cambridge apartments up to the value of £600,000.** This means buyers only need a 5% deposit to enable them to purchase a brand new home. To find out more about the first time buyer package that Hill are offering, or to get more information about the Cambridge city apartments available, you can visit: or call 0808 168 7900 *Terms and conditions apply. **Stamp Duty paid and Help to Buy available on selected plots, and terms and conditions will apply. Please speak to the sales team for more information.

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affordable homes

Live at the heart of London’s new riverside community

The 116 apartments at 6 Riverlight Quay are offered on a shared ownership basis through Viridian Housing. With shared ownership, you’ll buy a share of at least 25% in an apartment and then pay rent on the remaining share

6 Riverlight Quay is one of six eye-catching apartment buildings that feature a wealth of glazing and stunning gull-wing roofs. The contemporary architecture is complemented by a beautifully designed public space and a river walk for the entire community to enjoy. This new development also includes a crèche, restaurants, bars and cafes, along with a food store and new ground floor retail and leisure spaces. However, this is just part of the wider picture; the redevelopment of the Nine Elms area is one of Europe’s most important regeneration projects and will result in what has been described as a new ‘global city’ on London’s South Bank. The Nine Elms regeneration will re-energise the entire area and make it more accessible, with new footpaths, cycle lanes, parks, riverside walks and public spaces. These include a riverside park with art galleries and

a community space for theatre, dance, events, markets and exhibitions. Culturally, Nine Elms will become London’s ‘new Barbican’ but, more than this, it will also be a community with a new school, nurseries and healthcare facilities. The proposed extension of the Northern Line to Battersea, due to be completed in 2020, will see two new tube stations being built at Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station. The Northern Line extension will cut travel times to the City to 12 minutes and to Leicester Square to 14 minutes and will make Nine Elms one of the most accessible parts of London. Currently, the nearest Underground station is Vauxhall on the Victoria line, and the nearest railway stations are Queenstown Road and Battersea Park for services to London Bridge and London Victoria. The journey time from Vauxhall to Oxford Circus is approximately nine minutes,

to Tower Hill approximately 28 minutes via the Victoria and Circle lines, and to Wimbledon, 39 minutes via the Victoria and District lines. With fully-fitted designer kitchens and bathrooms, and all white goods included, these new homes are set up for you to move straight into once they’re complete this summer. With approximate total monthly costs for a one bedroom apartment from £1,089* and £1,457** for a two bedroom apartment these apartments are a great opportunity to get on to the property ladder. Contact Viridian for further details at sales@, or on 0800 012 1442. *Based on 25% of a full market value of £584,600 **Based on 25% of a full market value of £849,870

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FOR SALE THE CREAM OF THE CROP each month, FTB scours the market for the best starter homes for first time buyers. Whether you’re looking for a new home to fit your budget, or a hideaway with good commuting times, we hope you will enjoy our selection (Prices and availability correct at time of going to press)

islEworth, wEst londont




Affordable Homes p64-65 s o u t h r u i s l i P, w E s t l o n d o n t


rEal lifE




Commuter Homes p66-67

Help to Buy p68

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for sale

afforDaBle HoMes islEworth, wEst london


from £126,000*



Acacia sixteen beautiful one and two bedroom homes are available in this attractive new development in leafy Isleworth. The homes are just a few mintues’ walk from Isleworth station, where services run to central london in around 35 minutes. The stunning west london stretch of the river Thames is just a short walk away as well as some great parks and gardens. Inside, the apartments are finished to a high standard, with contemporary styling, fitted kitchens with integrated appliances and energy-saving features. each home also has a balcony or terrace, a parking space – and all residents share a landscaped garden. Thames Valley Housing 020 8607 0550 *Based on a 40% of the full market value of £315,000


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for sale H o u n s l o w, We s t L o n d o n This is a CGI showing the intended design and proposed Phase 2. Details may change.

From £104,000*

Brighton, East Sussex

From 11 £1 ,750*

Middlesex Court This vibrant part of west London is fast becoming a favourite with ftbs. There are many great amenities in the local area, as well as fast commuting times to central London. This new development by Richmond Housing Partnership consists of several one, two and three bedroom homes and is just a 10-minute walk from Hounslow

Central tube station, as well as being close to the Thames and local parks. All homes are built with modern living in mind, with open-plan living/dining areas, integrated appliances and plenty of natural light. Red Loft 0844 880 0731

*Based on a 40% share of the full market value of £260,000

Ne w t o n Abb o t, De v o n

Super B The bustling coastal city of Brighton and Hove is the home of this popular collection of apartments – where only two bedroom apartments remain. The beautifully-designed homes sit just moments from the main train station – with services to London in just 50 minutes – and close to the North Laines, Churchill Square and, of

From £237,500

course, the seafront. Inside, homes are bright and spacious, with open-plan living/dining areas, well-sized rooms and generous balcony or terrace space – perfect for soaking up the atmosphere from the plaza below. Hyde New Homes 0345 606 1221

*Based on a 30% share of the full market value of £372,500

Q u e d g e l e y, G l o u c e s t e r s h i r e

From £170,000

Hele Park This peaceful location, on the outskirts of the town of Newton Abbot, is the perfect location for those looking to enjoy some country life – while being close to a busy town. The homes at Hele Park range from two to six bedrooms and have been designed in a variety of styles. The three bedroom town houses are arranged over three

storeys and have plenty of space for a growing family. The ground floor features separate kitchen and dining rooms as well as storage space, while the bedrooms are situated on the top two floors – with a w/c on each level. Taylor Wimpey 01626 244 697

Kings Copse The latest phase of this development has just launched, releasing several two and three bedroom homes to the market. The spacious two bedroom coach houses sit on the first floor, above private garages and feature thoughtful, contemporary design. The three bedroom properties, which start at £205,000, feature open-plan

living/dining areas, private garden, downstairs w/c and en suite from the master bedroom. The M5 is a short drive away, for easy travel, while the surrounding countryside is perfect for escaping at the weekends. Taylor Wimpey 01452 228 291

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for sale

CoMMUTer HoMes s o u t h r u i s l i P, w E s t l o n d o n


from £374,995




Avedis Just a few minutes from the tube station (from where trains reach central london in 30 minutes) sits this new collection of one, two and three bedroom homes. The new apartments form part of the regeneration of the former arla Dairy site, which is set to include a cinema, restaurants, a central plaza and walking and cycling routes. The homes are thoughtfully designed and beautifully finished. rooms are generously proportioned, and there’s even extra storage space with hallway cupboards. each home features private outdoor space in the form of a balcony or terrace. Bellway 0333 202 5170


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for sale D i d c o t, O x f o r d s h i r e

From £275,950

Cambridge, cambridgeshire

From £395,000

Great Western Park Consisting of around 3000 new homes, this new development is located just 10 miles from Oxford and also includes schools, a health centre and sports pitches. Buyers can choose from several styles of three and four bedroom homes, designed in keeping with their surroundings. The homes are beautifully finished,

with bright and spacious living areas, separate kitchen and lounge, as well as French doors opening to a private rear garden. Didcot Parkway station is just one and a half miles away, for services to London Paddington. Bellway 01235 430 760

Whetstone, North London

From £420,000

Magna This new collection of one, two and three bedroom homes sits just over a mile from the centre of the historic city of Cambridge. These homes are bright and contemporary and feature large windows and balcony doors for optimal natural light, clean design, smart, fitted kitchens with integrated appliances, and at least one balcony

Hastings, East Sussex

or terrace. You’ll never be short of things to see and do in the area, and with Cambridge station under a mile away, with trains reaching King’s Cross in under 50 minutes, it’s also a perfect location for London commuters. Hill 01223 792 600

From £325,000

Oakleigh Green Having undergone significant refurbishment, this collection of family sized homes, complete with private gardens, is perfect for those looking for some extra space, yet within a 30 minute commute to central London. The two, three and four bedroom homes feature new kitchens with integrated appliances, new

bathrooms and flooring and even new front doors. Residents also benefit from private parking. There are many amenities in the local area as well as plenty of green space – the perfect escape after a long day at the office. Annington 020 8446 6888

*Based on a 35% share of the full market value of £333,000

Woodlands View The seaside town of Hastings has been hailed as the next big thing for ftbs looking for affordability in a vibrant setting – and the perfect spot for those looking for some space and seaside air. The homes, which have been built in a mixture of styles, back on to woodland, with stunning views across the countryside. Inside, these

family homes are beautifully finished and have plenty of space for family life. From Hastings, train services to both Brighton and King’s Cross take just over an hour. Millwood Designer Homes 01424 390 150

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Help to Buy: Camberley, Surrey When first time buyers Sean Briggs, 28, and his fiancée Veneta StantonWharmby, 27, were searching to buy their first home they were feeling a little disheartened. With the deposit they had saved, they were looking at a maximum house price of around £220,000, which in the Surrey town of Camberley, was not stretching far. Then, on hearing about the Help to Buy scheme at a stylish town centre development – Viridium by Hodson Developments, the couple discovered they could actually really afford to buy their dream first home By using Help to Buy, it meant that, as well as only requiring a 5% deposit upfront, with the 20% equity loan from the Government, they could also gain access to lower interest rates available with a 75% loan to value mortgage. As a result, the couple were able to extend their budget by nearly £100,000 and buy a stylish new two bedroom apartment, complete with a 30ft long glass balcony, at Viridium for £316,000. What’s more, the couple will now only have to pay just over £10 more in monthly mortgage payments than they were paying previously in their rented property. Aircraft engineer Sean said, “Thanks to Help to Buy, suddenly we have been able to buy an amazing property that was previously out of our price range. As soon as we saw this particular apartment, we knew we loved it, but it wasn’t until we did the sums with Help to Buy, that we realised we could actually afford to buy it. We only needed to pay a 5% deposit and, as the Government is providing us with a 20% equity loan, we were able to secure a mortgage with an interest rate of 2.2% – meaning really affordable monthly repayments. We can’t quite believe that we have managed to buy our first home here.” Previously having thought they were going to have to buy a property that required a lot of work, given their budget, they are thrilled to move into a ready-made home. Their brand new apartment not only requires no work, it also comes with a sophisticated new kitchen,


Property: Two bedroom apartment Price paid: £316,000 Deposit: £15,800 20% Help to Buy Loan: £63,200 Monthly service charge: £95

with top-of-the-range appliances, stylish bathroom, en suite and even luxury carpet throughout. Body Shop store manager Veneta added, “The prospect of having to do up a run-down property was not what I had wanted at all, but with the budget we had, it felt like that was our only option. So, when we found out we could get everything we wanted at Viridium with Help to Buy – and no need for any DIY – we wasted no time in paying a holding deposit to secure the property. The fact that it comes kitted out with all modern appliances is also a great help – meaning that we don’t have any more to pay out before moving in. It’s our dream first home and I can’t imagine anything I would want to change about it.” Viridium is a contemporary new development located just off London Road in Camberley. A popular choice with those using the Help to Buy scheme, many homebuyers are enjoying the fact that they can purchase a high-quality home in a sought after location with the 5% deposit equity loan scheme. Not just a first time buyer scheme, Help to Buy is open to any homebuyer looking to buy a new home under the value of £600,000. What’s


more, the equity loan is interest-free for five years and can even be paid back when the property is sold. Sean and Veneta purchased their ideal home at Viridium, a very spacious two bedroom apartment with an impressive balcony stretching the entire length of the property. Providing the ideal living space, the couple are looking forward to showing off their new home to their friends and family. Veneta said, “It’s just so nice and I can’t wait for everyone to come and visit – we even have a great spare bedroom for anyone to stay. I had been so depressed about the whole housebuying situation, but everything changed the moment we found Viridium and now I can’t stop smiling.” Ideally situated for Sean’s work, Viridium is located just 15 miles from Heathrow and is also a short walk from the town centre for Veneta. Camberley is also well located for access to London, via Ascot by train, the M3 and the extended road network beyond. Recently launched at award-winning Viridium is a new range of one, two and three bedroom apartments with prices for a two bedroom property currently starting from £295,950. With Help to Buy, only a 5% deposit is required, which means that a deposit of just under £14,800,000 is required. Hodson Developments is also covering the Stamp Duty costs on certain properties at Viridium. For further details about this newest phase of homes at Viridium, or to book an appointment with the onsite sales team to discuss Help to Buy, call 01276 66693.

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affordable homes


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photos ©

Winners’ supplement

The FTB Readers’ Awards 2016 held at the Waldorf Hilton, London, were a huge success. Competition was fierce, due to the number of highlevel entries, but it was wonderful to see so many inspirational homes being built for first time buyers. Hosting for the fourth year running, Nicki Chapman, one of television’s most versatile lifestyle presenters, welcomed the highly commended and winners from each category on to the stage, to present

them with their award. On the following pages, we showcase the day, so you can see who won - and most importanly, we would like to thank all our readers who took time to cast their all important votes. This year our charity was Great Ormond Street Hospital, which supports research into cures for childhood diseases, develops new treatments and provides medical breakthroughs to benefit children all over the world. They are currently

rebuilding two-thirds of the hospital, replacing outdated cramped wards with state-of-the-art medical facilities. This will allow them to treat more children than ever

before and will also allow space for families to stay alongside them. We were delighted to have raised £3,300 for this very worthy cause and a big thank you to everyone who donated.

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Best Small Development


Sponsored by

This award was presented by Ellen Gaisie, Assistant Design Manager at Ardmore.

Winner East Thames Group | Mayfield Highly Commended Viridian Housing | 45 Queens Walk

Best Urban Regeneration Project Sponsored by

This award was presented by Anne Currell, CEO of Currell New Homes.

Winner Catalyst | Portobello Square Highly Commended Peabody | Pembury Circus

most innovative redevelopment of an existing property Sponsored by

This award was presented by Rachel Colgan, Managing Director at Building Relations.

Winner Inspired Homes | Green Dragon House Highly Commended Taylor Wimpey East London | Arena Place

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Winners’ supplement Best property supplement Sponsored by

This award was presented by Stel Tziriki, Director at The Media People.

Winner Metro Property Supplement Highly Commended Whathouse?

Best law firm for conveyancing Sponsored by

This award was presented by Stephen Harker, Managing Partner at Dawson Cornwell.

Winner Beaumont Legal Highly Commended Thomas Legal Group

Best First Time Buyer Apartment Sponsored by

This award was presented by Gabe Eyarhono, Director at Cleancare.

Winner Neat and Royal London | TNQ Highly Commended Hexagon Housing Trust | Malvern House

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Best Large Development


Sponsored by

This award was presented by Shaun Peart, Managing Director at LSL Land and New Homes.

Winner Southern Housing | Bow River Village Highly Commended Newlon Housing Trust | Cannon Road

Best online property portal Sponsored by

This award was presented by Joseph Green, Consumer Expert at Experian.

Winner Zoopla Property Highly Commended Family Mosaic

Best Architectural Design Sponsored by

This award was presented by Joe Crawley, Director at NEAT Developments Ltd.

Winner Regal Homes | The Cube Building Highly Commended Catalyst | St Bernard’s Gate

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Winners’ supplement most innovative marKeting campaign SponSored by

This award was presented by Andy Watts, Director at Cast Media Group.

Winner East Thames Group Highly Commended Origin Housing

best show home SponSored by

This award was presented by Robbie Hobson, Director at Brand Reaction.

Winner Octavia Living | The Retro Highly Commended Peabody | Chancery Building

best first time bUyer family home SponSored by

This award was presented by Matthew Pilcher, Managing Partner and Andy Haeffele, Planning Director at Dave the Dog Communications.

Winner Lovell | Lavender Grove Highly Commended Site Sales and Rydon | Lavender Crescent


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Best Mortgage Lender for First Time Buyers


Sponsored by

This award was presented by Bevin Woby, Business Development Manager at Direction Law.

Winner Nationwide Building Society Highly Commended The Halifax

affordable housing provider of the year Sponsored by

This award was presented by Alan Wake, Director at Cast Consultants.

Winner Peabody

private developer of the year Sponsored by

This award was presented by Paul Browne, Managing Director at Oracle Creative.

Winner Hodson Developments

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Winners’ supplement

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Season your kitchen with love It’s often said that the kitchen is at the heart of a home, so add a warm touch and enjoy meal times, with the classic, warm designs of the Heritage Collection of tableware by Denby

W I N!


H OW TO E N T E R Answer the following question:

How many ranges are in the Heritage Collection? Send your answer with your name, address, telephone number and choice of design to:




Closing date: 11 July 2016


THE PRIZE… 1st Prize – Worth £337! 4 dinner plates; 4 accent medium plates; 4 cereal bowls; 4 accent mugs; 4 pasta bowls; 1 teapot; 1 covered sugar bowl; 1 small jug ; and 1 rectangular plate.

2nd Prize – Worth £179! 4 dinner plates; 4 accent medium plates; 4 cereal bowls; 4 accent mugs. Whether it’s for a three-course meal, or just coffee and cake, entertaining family and friends in your new home is a special experience for any first time buyer. Denby’s Heritage Collection tableware will help to add that cosy feel to your new home and will be sure to impress your guests. Inspired by Denby’s rich, 200-year history, there are four stunning ranges in the Heritage Collection, all creating the feel of a modern English home. All four ranges include pieces for eating, drinking and serving, to create a complete look for your dining table. While each range boasts its own unique design and decorative techniques, all share the classic feel and quality craftsmanship we’ve come to expect from Denby.

The winners can choose from the Fountain’, ‘Orchard’, ‘Pavilion’ or ‘Veranda’ ranges. The prizes are non-transferable and no cash alternatives will be given. Competition is open to UK residents only.

The four ranges are: Fountain – Brings together a classic blend of contemporary elegant blues to create a relaxed, almost ‘by the sea’ feel. Orchard – A simple, organic colour scheme of green and oatmeal creates a sense of nature and tranquillity. Pavilion – The use of 1950s pastel colours such as duck-egg blue gives this range a real on-trend, retro look. Veranda – Eclectic tones of yellow, duck-egg and sage give this range a rustic feel and a sense of warmth. Stylish, practical and durable, the beautifully-crafted Heritage Collection would be the ideal addition to any new home and, importantly, the whole range is suitable for use in the oven, microwave, dishwasher and freezer. For more information, or stockist details, visit, or call 01773 740 899

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It is so important to eat healthily, but food should be delicious as well as nutritious. This tasty recipe for courgette and cannellini bean lasagne is taken from Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley’s cookbook, Good + Simple and proves how healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated


Sisters Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley have taken the health and wellness industry by storm since launching their familyrun business in 2010 – for people who want to live healthier, happier lives. Within two weeks of creating their blog, the girls were asked to contribute to, where they are still regular columnists. The Art of Eating Well was Jasmine and Melissa’s bestselling first cookbook and, in 2015, they launched their sell-out Hemsley Spiralizer, the new must-have kitchen tool. Their latest cookbook, Good + Simple, is for anyone who wants easy, affordable, everyday eating that is both nutritious and delicious. The book is packed with over 140 new, exciting and affordable recipes, covering everything from fast suppers, leftovers, reworked classics, energising breakfasts and much more. It also includes plenty of practical tips and down-to-earth advice to help plan for the coming week and cook for you and your family with ease. Jasmine and Melissa’s motto is, ‘Good food, good mood, good digestion, good health!’ and this book celebrates them all! Good + Simple by Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley (Ebury Press, £25) Photography by Nick Hopper Available from Lakeland (

ut half

Ingredients (Serves 4) 3 large courgettes For the béchemal sauce 250g ricotta 80g Parmesan or pecorino, finely grated, plus extra for sprinkling 1 egg For the tomato sauce 1 x 400g tin of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed 2 garlic cloves 120g sundried tomatoes (about 20 pieces) in oil, drained 3 tablespoons tomato purée A pinch of sea salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper METHOD 1 2 3 4


Add the ingredients for the béchamel sauce to a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add the ingredients for the tomato sauce to the food processor (no need to clean out the bowl) and blend until smooth. Using a mandolin or very sharp knife, finely slice the courgettes lengthways into 3mm-thick pieces. Preheat the oven to fan 180°C/gas mark 6. Spread about half the tomato sauce

5 6

over the bottom of a 16cm x 22cm ovenproof dish, which is at least 8cm deep, as a thin layer. Top with about a third of the courgette slices in an even layer. Cover the courgettes with about half the béchamel sauce, then top with half the remaining courgettes in an even layer. Repeat the layering with the remaining tomato sauce, courgettes and béchamel sauce, then sprinkle over a final layer of parmesan to finish. Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for five to10 minutes before serving.

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Now with the longer days there is nothing better than taking a picnic to the park, the beach or even your own outside space. We tested a range of snacks to see which would make the perfect picnic








finest* tomato and mozzarella quiche, £3; finest* 6 mini Melton Mowbray pork pies, £3; finest* 4 cheddar and bacon sausage rolls, £2.50; finest Moroccan houmous, £1.50; chocolate Madeleines, £2.50; mango and pineapple fingers, 50p; finest* Bisol Prosecco, £8

Mustard pie dogs, £2.50; posh puppies in blankets, £3.50; bbq pie dogs, £2.50; Tennessee style bbq chicken wings, £4; smokey Tennessee rib hand cooked chips, £2; Manchego and jalapeno hand cooked crisps, £2; guava and lime Caipirinha sparkling fizz, £6

All butter Kalamata olive twists, £1.75; Spanish tapas platter, £3.49; spinach and feta bourekia, £2.69; tenderstem broccoli, kale & quinoa side salad, £2.99; pimento stuffed olives with manchego and chilli, £3.49; mini coconut bites, £2.69; elderflower jelly with berries, £1.20

Kids fromage frais strawberry pouches, £1.25; everyday classic salad bowl, £3; seasonal fruit platter, £2.50; share mini pork cocktail sausages, £1.65; share mini sausage rolls, £1.65; houmous snacking pots, £1; no added sugar fruit slurps apple & blackcurrant drink, £1.80

Chosen by you cheese twists, £1.19; Extra Special parmesan & garlic mini twists, £1.50; Chosen by you Spanish salami selection, £2; Chosen by you Milano salami, £1.20; Extra Special Ardennes pate, £1.50; coronation chicken in a crown bun, £2.50; Extra Special Prosecco, £6.50


The mustard pie dogs were




This selection is the ideal

delicious and the sweet mustard

The salad was the perfect healthy

The strawberry pouches and fruit

The salami selection was excellent

traditional picnic food. We were

centre had a real bite. The posh

option and we really liked the

slurp drinks are a great idea for

and very good value. We enjoyed

impressed by the pork pies, which

puppies in blankets were smoky

ponzu dressing – it would work

the children. We liked the idea of

the coronation chicken filling

are really meaty and, surprisingly,

and the puff pastry was very

well combined with the Kalamata

the houmous snacking pots, too,

but found the bun to be a little

the cheddar worked with the

buttery. Both flavours of the hand

olive twists. We also enjoyed the

which are ideal for taking outside.

overwhelming. The pate didn’t

bacon in the sausage rolls. The

cooked chips were extremely

bourekia with spinach and feta

However, the sausage mini rolls

quite live up to expectations and

Madeleines are light and fluffy

moorish and had an unusual

and thought they were really tasty

were very dry and the cocktail

was rather bland. We did enjoy

and would go well with a flask of

texture. We adored the fizz, which

– ideal for taking on a picnic!

sausages hardly had any taste.

the light and fruity Prosecco.

tea or coffee, and we thought the

would be perfect to drink on a hot



Prosecco was excellent value.

summers day.




Enjoy a day out with friends and family and enjoy a ready-made bespoke picnic, bursting with homemade goodies, from French artisan bakery and patisserie, PAUL. Priced at £20 to serve two, or £38 for four, each individual picnic is made to order and contains an array of authentic French favourites, including a box of 12 mini macarons. Simply choose your PAUL sandwich or salad, bag of hand-cooked potato crisps, mini macarons, plus a soft drink and receive a free Sac á Pique-nique – a smart and re-usable cool bag that also includes a disposable check paper tablecloth.

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shared oWNershIP, WhaT resPoNsIbIlITIes?

Roger J Southam, Non-Executive

For you, the first time buyer, the Government is going out of its way to embrace Chair of Leasehold Advisory Service you and encourage you to get on the home ownership ladder. This has been demonstrated in words and deeds. The Chancellor’s budget statements launched an additional 3% on Stamp Duty for investors and second homeowners, along with interest not being able to be deducted for buy to let owners. Moreover, the Housing Bill contains a commitment for all development schemes going forward to include 20% starter homes, as well as the ability for private developers to look to shared ownership, and not just registered social landlords and housing associations

So, if the Government is looking to see the delivery of more homes, then the developers have to look at how they can achieve this. According to the Savills research team, shared ownership will become of increased importance to facilitate the starter homes targets as well as deliver increased housing stock. Furthermore, the developers will be looking at apartments as the predominant way to maximise profits from sites. This means, for you, the chances are you will be looking at leasehold in some form and, most likely, shared ownership when you get on the home ownership ladder. It seems sensible to look at shared ownership as a form of ownership. What are the implications and what does it mean to the homeowner? Shared ownership is a form of leasehold ownership that means you rent part of the home and have a long lease on the other part. The ratio varies, but, typically, you would initially buy 25%-50% of the property and rent the remainder. The lease will provide the mechanism to buy in more shares in the property, to allow the owner to escalate to 100% ownership (‘staircasing’). Once you have staircased to 100% ownership, then you hold the lease outright in the same way as someone buying a leasehold property in the open market. Prior to 100% ownership, you will be paying towards the the rent for the part you don’t own and the service charge for your share for the whole of the home. So whilst you may only own 50% of the property, you will pay 100% of service charge from day one. Service charge is the contribution to the running costs of the shared


spaces in the building such as hallways, entrance and structure. A shared owner has the same rights as a full leaseholder to consultation (s20 consultation) on any major works that would mean the home’s share is more than £250 for the work, or there is an agreement to be put in place over 12 months with a cost of more than £100. Any item of expenditure has to be notified within 18 months of being incurred. Obviously, as you escalate the percentage of the ownership, the service charge will remain the same, whilst the rent will reduce. Buildings with shared ownership homes would usually be managed by housing associations, however, the surrounding parts

may be managed by a different managing agent. This means that the housing association would invoice you for the service charge but not be carrying out all the services. There is an initiative underway whereby the Leasehold Advisory Service is working with housing associations and managing agents to ensure that there is greater communication between all parties – to give better service and information to shared owners and a smoother running of buildings where both are involved. When the Housing Bill gets enacted, then it is more likely that shared owners will not see this overlap of management and may only have one party managing their property. This is the more normal situation presented to long leasehold home owners and makes it much easier to know who should be notified about matters/repairs etc., and who is responsible for the services. It is recommended that you find out who manages the various parts of the building and estate and to whom matters should be reported. The clearer you are on what happens and who carries out the work, the easier it will be to seek verification on expenditure, deal with any insurance claims and know where to go for information. Shared ownership is a well-established form of home ownership and one that can work well. However, as with all leasehold, there is a huge advantage in understanding your rights and responsibilities and knowing where to go to seek clarity when needed.

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finance advertorial

Important steps on the first time buyer journey Becoming a homeowner for the first time can be both exciting and a little daunting. We’ll help you on your way, by looking at some of the steps on the journey to getting your first home First things first… You may already be looking at areas you want to live, but before you start property hunting, it’s important to work out what’s in your price range. That means working out how much you could afford to borrow. You’ll need to think about how much you can afford to pay back each month. There are plenty of mortgage calculators online to help you do the sums, like

Saving up your deposit Before you can get a mortgage, you’ll need a deposit ready to pay on your property. This can vary, but, usually for a first time buyer, your deposit will need to be at least 5% of the total value of your property. Your deposit is likely to be a sizeable chunk of money, and many people save up for years to get a deposit together, but putting down more of a deposit now, means you’ll need to borrow less overall. Many mortgage lenders offer you savings schemes and products to help you save up your deposit. The Government Help to Buy: ISA scheme is an example that could help you to start saving towards your new home. The amount you can borrow is ultimately up to your lender, but they’ll base their decision on how much you earn, as well as any outstanding loan repayments or savings you have. They will check your credit rating too. You might be able to ask another person to act as a guarantor for your mortgage. This means that your lender will take the guarantor’s income into account as well as yours, on the understanding that they will cover repayments if you’re not able to do so.

Finding a property When you’re property hunting, don’t forget to check out online property sites like Right Move UK and Prime Location. It’s a good idea to keep your eyes peeled for ‘For Sale’ signs in your favourite area, and you might also want to contact house building companies to find out about any newbuild properties nearby. Knowing what you’re looking for in a property can help to speed up the process. Think about what you want, and what you need. Garden, patio, garage, number of bedrooms, nearby schools – what are the essentials, and what are the nice-tohaves? Try and prioritise what is most important to you. Most people’s first home requires some compromise between your ideal property and what you can get for your money.

Choosing your mortgage lender A mortgage is a long-term financial commitment, which means that your mortgage provider could be a part of your life for a long time. So be ready to look beyond whether they’re prepared to give you a mortgage – and the headline rate they offer you. Looking at everything a provider is ready to do for you won’t just save you money now, it could help make sure that this is a relationship you can rely on in the future. If you’d like to see what Nationwide offers first time buyers, visit, or ask at any Nationwide branch. All Nationwide Mortgages are available to those aged 18 and over, and subject to eligibility, underwriting and criteria. All

Applying for a Decision in Principle Before you make a full mortgage application, it’s worth going to see a lender to get a Decision in Principle. This gives you an idea of what your lender is willing to lend you, based on what you’ve told them. You can then start visiting estate agents and looking for your perfect place.

Applying for a mortgage Once you’ve found a property you love and made an offer, you’ll need to go back to your lender to make a full mortgage application. They’ll look at the price of the property and your financial circumstances. If your lender is satisfied with your full application and your offer is accepted, you’re on the way to signing contracts and buying your first property.

mortgage offers may be withdrawn at any time without notice.

your home may be repossessed, if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage

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Mortgage Clinic As a first time buyer, understanding mortgage terminology and knowing what mortgage is right for you can be difficult, so David Blake at Which? Mortgage Advisers has joined up with First Time Buyer, to answer your mortgage-related questions


What is the new mortgage credit directive and will it impact me as a first time buyer?

David Blake has more than nine years experience in the financial services industry and prides himself on helping first time buyers get on to the property ladder. In his current role at Which? Mortgage Advisers, David and the entire team provide independent, impartial advice and search thousands of mortgage deals, to help buyers find the deal that is right for them.


The Mortgage Credit Directive is a new piece of European legislation for all EU States, which came into effect on 21 March 2016. It has done a few things, such as regulated second mortgages, created two separate types of buy-to-let transactions (namely, consumer and business buy-to-let) and also changed the way foreign currency mortgages are administered. As the UK has a very robust financial regulatory system in place already, the Credit Directive will have little impact upon the system as a whole. However, certain individuals will see an effect; such as those working abroad and paid in a foreign currency, those who already have mortgages and potentially want to borrow additional funds, or those who want to move and let out their former residence or inherited property. Depending upon your own personal circumstances, the impact of this new directive upon a first time buyer is likely to be little to none.


How does the property I buy (house, or apartment) impact upon my mortgage?


Ultimately, a mortgage is a loan secured against a property, so the property you buy naturally has a huge impact on your potential mortgage options. Generally speaking, houses are easier to mortgage than apartments because houses are seen to be more desirable to live in. They are, therefore, deemed a lower risk from a lender’s perspective. This is especially true when looking at newbuild properties. Often apartments come with additional expenditure, such as ground rent and service charges, so it is really important that you confirm these costs, as they will have an impact on how


much you can borrow.Apartments are often purchased as a leasehold property and often leases will need to be extended at some point in the future at a cost to the owner, which again is something to consider when you are thinking about which property to go for.


I want to keep my mortgage payments as low as possible, what are my options?

There are two things to consider in order to keep your mortgage payments as low as possible. Firstly, you will be looking to obtain the lowest rate of interest for your mortgage, based on your personal circumstances. That said, typically, lower rate mortgages come with larger fees, because you often pay more to get a lower rate of interest. So, sometimes, when

you consider the total cost of taking the lower rate mortgage - inclusive of the fees - it can be more expensive than taking a higher rate mortgage with a lower fee. However, having said that, it’s sometimes preferable to pay higher fees to have lower monthly payments, so the option shouldn’t be ignored. What it does flag up is the importance of not judging a mortgage purely on the interest rate. Secondly, to keep your payments low, consider the length of the mortgage. The longer the period you repay the debt over (the mortgage term), the lower your monthly payments will be. For some, having the lowest contractual payments at the outset is important and might free up additional funds to do work to their property, whilst, for others, repaying the debt as quickly as possible might be the priority. Most fixed-rate mortgages give you the ability to repay lump sums of up to 10% of your mortgage balance per year, without penalty, during the fixed rate period (typically, two, three and five years). Generally, it’s advisable to balance these two variables with making sure the mortgage can be cleared in a timely fashion, whilst still making the payments affordable depending on the individual’s circumstances. As always, to understand your options please speak to a qualified mortgage adviser. For further help and advice from Which? Mortgage Advisers, please visit: or call 0808 159 4852

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Credit Clinic

Experian expert, Joe Green, answers your credit-related questions

If you have a question for Joe, please get in touch by emailing us at and you may see your question answered in the next issue.

Payday loan

Moved abroad

On the move!

I am hoping to be a first time buyer soon, but I have only just found out that my credit history will be very important when trying to get a mortgage. I have always been careful with any debts, but last Christmas I let things get out of hand and I took out a payday loan. I am very worried that this will go against me when I try and secure a mortgage. I am hoping to be in a position to start house-hunting soon, but I don’t want to get my hopes up. Could you tell me how I can put things straight? Thomas Sawbank

Eighteen months ago, the company I work for transferred me to their offices in New York and I have been living in a rented house share. I have been able to save during this time and I will be returning to the UK at the end of the year. I want to buy my first home in London and my parents have offered to do some research and house-hunting for me. What troubles me is that, as I have been living away, I have no credit history in the UK. Do you foresee any problems when I try to get a mortgage? Ellie Butcher

Getting back on track with your ‘out of hand’ finances should be one of your highest priorities right now, before attempting to secure a mortgage, as your credit history is very important. Losing control could have a negative impact on your credit rating and your chances of getting that mortgage you want, so it’s great to hear that you’re addressing this. Your credit report will be used as part of the mortgage assessment, so making sure it’s looking good could increase your chances of securing a mortgage and save you money in the long run. Over the past few years there has been quite a bit of speculation in the press on whether customers who’ve used payday and short-term loans are being refused mortgages. The truth is, each lender will assess your credit history using its own criteria and while some may see a successfully settled and well-managed payday loan as a positive, there may be some lenders that might disagree. However, many lenders won’t differentiate between these and other forms of credit, provided you have managed them properly. I’d recommend that you make sure you continue to manage all your credit accounts sensibly, making payments on time, and keep within the agreed limits. If you can, it’s also sensible to try to refrain from applying for any other credit in the months leading up to your mortgage application, as multiple applications in a short space of time can make lenders think you are desperate for credit. Taking all of this into consideration could be the key to a successful application.

It sounds like a fantastic opportunity, but I’m guessing your credit rating was the last thing on your mind when you moved? You’re right to say that you may not have any credit history in the UK during this period as lenders simply don’t share information overseas, regardless of how well you’ve managed your credit history. However, as you have previously lived in the UK you might not need to build your credit history up from scratch. It’s likely that many lenders will be looking at your most recent credit history, but any previous credit accounts you’ve held will remain on your report for six years. You may want to think about obtaining a copy of your credit report before you do anything else, to see what accounts are registered, as there might be information you do not expect to be there. There are many simple things you can do to help you improve the picture your credit report paints. Registering on the electoral roll is a good start, but you also may want to consider adding a statement known as a ‘Notice of Correction’ to your report to explain why there’s a gap in your credit history. Lenders should take this statement into consideration when accessing your mortgage application. If you decide you want to wait a little longer before buying your first property, many lenders also offer things like a credit builder credit card which, if managed well, could better support your mortgage application. This could help you not only get approved, but get the best deals you are eligible for.

I really do not want to spend any more of my hard-earned pay on rent and so I am looking to buy my first home. I haven’t actually started looking yet, but I have heard that if I have moved a lot over a short period of time, this could have an impact on my credit history. Due to various reasons I have moved about six times in the last year, but I have never got into any debt and always paid my rent on time. Could you let me know if this is true and, if it is, what I should do? I have been at my present address for about three months now and intend to stay here until I am able to buy. Jason Andrews


It must be frustrating having to pay rent every month to a landlord and it is certainly more appealing for you to be investing that money into a property to give you a bit more financial stability. It’s not unusual for tenants like you to have moved around a lot, but six times in one year does seem to be higher than your average renter. As you’ve had quite a few addresses over a short period of time, this may cause you a few problems as lenders do like to see some stability in a potential customer. If you have been registered on the electoral roll at any previous addresses, including your current one, and the lender can see this information then the damage might be limited, but it’s important to know that how often you move is only part of the overall picture. Lenders will take a lot of other information into account, for example, if you have any missed/late payments on a credit card, or if you have made any recent credit applications. They will also be scrutinising your monthly income and outgoings to make sure you can afford your regular mortgage repayments both now, and if interest rates were to rise. Settling at your current address until you obtain your mortgage will start to create some stability, so this can only be seen as a positive until you do decide to apply for your first mortgage. If you want help understanding how credit referencing works and how to improve your credit score, visit

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A nicer ISA?

The recent Budget has introduced another ISA and new tax allowances. Kay Hill examines the fine print

It seems that ISAs are a bit like London buses, no sooner had everyone got over the excitement of the new Help to Buy: ISA – announced in the 2015 Budget – than along came the Lifetime ISA (LISA), plus an increased regular ISA allowance and a new Personal Savings Allowance. Both the Help to Buy and Lifetime ISAs offer generous bonuses to first time buyers (see box on page 95 for full details). However, you can’t open a LISA until April 2017 and, as you can’t use it to buy a home until it has been open for a year, it is not much use if you plan to buy before April 2018. As you can open a Help to Buy ISA right now and begin benefiting from the bonuses, it pays to do so – if you wish, you can transfer it into a LISA any time during the first year that they are available, without losing that year’s LISA allowance. Older and younger potential home buyers should also open a Help to Buy: ISA without delay (they are available until December 2019). The new LISA will only be open to those over 18 and up to 39, so those who are aged 16-18 or over 40 should make the most of the wider age range of the Help to Buy: ISA. You cannot contribute to a cash ISA and a Help to Buy: ISA in the same year (although you can have stocks and shares and Help to Buy: ISAs concurrently). You will be allowed to contribute to a Help to Buy:ISA and a LISA in the same year, but you can only use one set of bonuses to buy your home (although you could keep your LISA and bonuses to save for retirement). You can also have a LISA alongside other cash, investments or innovative finance ISAs, but total annual contributions must be within the ISA limit, which, in April

2017, will be raised from £15,240 to £20,000. There is, however, another innovation to muddy the waters; the Personal Savings Allowance. This new allowance means that around 17 million people won’t pay tax on their savings anyway – so the tax-free status of ISAs will be less relevant. This tax year, basic rate taxpayers can earn £1,000 of savings income tax free (£500 for higher rate taxpayers). For those earning more than £150,000, the Personal Savings Allowance does not apply, so ISAs are the only option for tax-free saving. For most, unless you have a huge deposit tucked away that is earning more than your PSA, then it is the overall interest rate that counts – and that could be a bank account rather than an ISA. Another piece of Budget good news was the two ‘micro-entrepreneur’ allowances of £1,000 each, which will come into force next April. One covers small trading income, like selling things you have made on Etsy, while the other covers income generated from your property, such as renting a room via Airbnb, renting your driveway, or charging others to use space in your loft. In each case, income under £1,000 will no longer have to be declared, making it easier to earn a bit extra to help with mortgage payments. Those renting a room regularly will still be better

EXPERT COMMENT While many of the progressive announcements will need to stand the test of time, any moves that provide better opportunities for savers and support the housing market must be welcomed. The new Lifetime ISA and the £11,500 tax allowance from 2017 are huge steps in empowering first time buyers who are saving for a deposit, giving them more flexibility with their savings and a much-needed boost. While it may seem confusing to get your head around ISAs, they are actually pretty simple – tax-free savings that, with the Help to Buy: ISA and Lifetime ISA, you can also get a cash bonus from the Government. Both ISAs come with the all-important cash bonus, but if you are planning to buy sooner rather than later, then a Help to Buy: ISA is probably the way forward. Lifetime ISAs won’t exist until April 2017, and even then, under current plans, you will have to have had it open for a year before you can withdraw and get the bonus. If the Lifetime ISA is your preferred option because you can contribute more to it, you can always transfer your Help to Buy: ISA to a Lifetime ISA once they are launched. Julie-Ann Haines Customer Director, Principality Building Society


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The key differences between Help to Buy: ISAs and Lifetime ISAs: How much can you put in? HTB – An initial deposit of up to £1,000, then up to £200 each month. It is a cash-only saving. LISA – Up to £4,000 a year as a lump sum, or multiple payments, as cash, or stocks and shares. What is the bonus? HTB – The Government will top up savings by 25%, up to a maximum of a £3,000 bonus. You must save at least £1,600 to qualify. LISA – The Government will add a 25% bonus to any contributions made each year, up to a maximum bonus of £1,000 a year and up to the age of 50. Who can get one? HTB – Any first time buyer aged 16 or over LISA – Adults born after 6 April 1977 (although the money can only be used for house purchase if you are a first time buyer) When can you use it? HTB – Once you have more than £1,600 saved LISA – After it has been open for 12 months

What can you buy? HTB – A home costing up to £250,000 (or £450,000 in London). LISA – A home costing up to £450,000 anywhere in the UK. In both cases you must live in the home, you cannot rent it out. Can I get at my money? HTB – The bonus is only payable when a qualifying property is purchased (so you don’t earn interest on it). Your solicitor applies for the bonus and may charge up to £60. You can take your money out before that if you wish, or use it for something else, but you will get no bonus, although you will keep the tax-free interest you have earned. LISA – The bonus is paid into your account at the end of each tax year until your 50th birthday, so you earn interest on it as well. The money is paid to your solicitor if you are using it for a first home. If you don’t buy a qualifying property the money can continue earning interest in your account until you reach 60 when it can be withdrawn tax-free. If you want to take money out for another reason, you will lose all the bonus, any interest on the bonus, and be fined a 5% penalty on what is withdrawn.

EXPERT COMMENT The Government has introduced the

off using the Rent-a-Room tax allowance of up to £7,500 tax-free, however. There is another Budget measure that first time buyers might have cheered at, but which may not be entirely good news, and that’s the 3% Stamp Duty surcharge for those buying a second home. On the face of it, making buyto-let significantly less attractive should leave more small homes available for first time buyers, but not everyone is convinced. Research by property portal shows that 60% of estate and letting agents believe the surcharge will increase rents. Estate agent Ben Hudson, from Hudson Moody in York, explains: “I understand the Government’s objective in trying to support first time buyers into the market, however, there are risks that the increased costs for landlords may end up being levied on tenants. If this is the case, then it’s likely first time buyers may be delayed in getting a foot on the housing ladder as they will need longer to save for a deposit, because they will be paying more rent.” There are also a few odd circumstances in which the surcharge could affect those who regard themselves as first time buyers – for example, owning a small ski chalet, or a holiday flat abroad, will mean that someone buying their first and main home in the UK will have to pay the charge. And if a first time buyer is purchasing a home with a partner who owns another property – even if it is just being still on the deeds of a home where a former spouse lives – the surcharge will be payable on the whole of the new home.


PSA and the Lifetime ISA to encourage people to save for the future, but I am concerned these will just cause more

Saving in a Help to Buy ISA is a no

confusion for consumers. It is clear from

brainer for any FTB planning to buy

our research that the nation is already

their first home. The biggest benefit is

confused when it comes to saving,

a 25% bonus, up to £3,000, from the

mainly because people simply don’t

Government, provided the ISA is used

understand the rules and financial jargon

as a deposit for a first property. The

associated with ISAs and the PSA. Of

maximum investment is an initial £1,000

the 2,000 people we asked, almost half

plus £200 per month. Halifax and

(47%) said they are confused by the ISA

Santander are paying 4% variable, a

rules, 44% didn’t know how much they

higher rate than available on other ISAs

were allowed to pay into an ISA, and

and of course the interest is tax free.

over a third (36%) didn’t understand the

At 4% it takes just over 4 years to save

new Personal Savings Allowance (PSA).

£12,000, and get the maximum bonus

This confusion is not only preventing

of £3,000. A couple can both save and

people from making the most of tax-free

hence have £30,000, enough for a

savings; one in 10 people told us

10% deposit in most locations.

that they were too confused to bother

The mortgage doesn’t have to come

saving at all. The savings landscape is

from the bank used for the ISA and so

becoming too complicated, especially

shopping around is just as important as

with so many different types of ISA now

always. If plans change the savings can

available. What I’d really like to see is

be withdrawn but the 25% bonus is not

the Government really helping savers by

then received.

ending tax on all savings interest and, in doing so, abolishing the need for ISAs, putting an end to this confusion and Ray Boulger

creating a nation of lifetime savers.

Senior Technical Manager, John Charcol

Kris Brewster Head of Products, Skipton Building Society

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Everything you need to know about service charges Service charges are one of the ‘hidden costs’ of buying and, as developers increasingly install a whole host of extras in their new developments, costs are rising and must be an important consideration when buying

EXPERT COMMENT Do remember that service charges can increase. So, if the block is being professionally managed, make sure you do some research into how good the property management company is (also known as a block manager). Many block managers will accept high commissions on insurance policies for the building, or they may not be proactively managing the block. This can often lead to a case whereby the service charge could be much lower if a better block manager was in place.

Jo Eccles

WHO PAYS SERVICE CHARGES? Service charges aren’t restricted to newbuilds and don’t just apply to leasehold properties. Sometimes a service charge is payable on freehold properties, even houses, where there are shared services, or communal areas such as roads or gardens. Developers of newbuild homes typically give the figures as an annual service charge, with fees collected regularly throughout the year, but in resales, or smaller buildings, this can vary. Some buildings don’t collect regular

service charge amounts; instead, the owners run the building on an ‘ad hoc’ basis, meaning that each owner is expected to pay out money as and when works need to be done, which can result in large bills, even though you share joint responsibility with other owners. Some buildings, especially those which are larger, or have a professional management company in place, will usually collect service charges on a regular basis throughout the year from the owners. The money is then used to pay for the running costs of the building.

Managing Director of independent property search agency, Sourcing Property

EXPERT COMMENT Ensure that for new developments the service charges are projected on a typical year basis and not only on year one costs, which might be artificially low. On large developments, check the mechanism for recovering service charges during the build period. Consider the added value of the service charges you will be paying for and how the managing agents work with contractors. One example of value-formoney is our new pilot membership club project that we are running in the Battersea and Nine Elms areas. The Residents Club is aimed at offering residents exclusive deals and promotions from restaurants, shops, theatres and services. Residents get access to our online portal that is designed to increase communication and the flow of information. Richard Daver Managing Director of Rendall & Rittner


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EXPERT COMMENT At our Green Dragon House development in Croydon, the service charge pays for shared facilities and amenities such as a 10th-floor sky garden with BBQ and table tennis, a residents’ lounge with sofas, coffee machines, TVs and pool table, a seven-day concierge and even a useful Brompton bike hire scheme. Affordability is key to our purchasers, who are typically first time buyers, so the important thing is to keep costs down. Our service charge for a two-bed flat is around £2,000 per annum, which is over 20% lower than other newbuild developments in the area. Residents at our smaller neighbouring developments are given exclusive access to the facilities at Green Dragon House and also Impact House when it completes.


weekly flower deliveries for communal areas – costs which are not to be underestimated.

Today’s new developments increasingly feature a wide range of amenities, from gyms and pools to cinema rooms and communal lounges. You might find that you save on private gym membership, but buyers must factor in rising service charges. Recent research by landlord insurance provider, Direct Line for Business, found that the average annual property service charge in the UK is now £1,863 and, staggeringly, service charges for newbuilds are 96% higher than older properties, with owners paying on average £2,777 per year. When buying your first home, you may find a service charge that you think is reasonable, but beware that costs can rise. The insurance provider found that a third of management companies have increased service charges in the last two years.


WIDE VARIATION OF COSTS Costs can vary widely, depending on the age of building and amenities involved. Direct Line for Business’ research discovered wide variations across new London developments. They found that a newbuild development coming on to the market in Croydon in 2016 will see homeowners paying £1.55 per square foot in service charges, while a development in Lambeth coming on to the market in 2017 is charging four and a half times more at £7 per square foot. In some luxury new developments, properties can have annual service charges which can be anything up to around £16 per square foot. With developments increasingly selling an ‘all-inclusive lifestyle’, especially at the top end of the market, buyers are paying for 24-hour concierges and even

In a typical Victorian building, consisting of four or five flats, an annual service charge would currently be around £1,200 per resident, with most of that going towards buildings insurance. Service charges usually cover repairs to communal areas of a development, such as windows, drainage and the roof. They may also be used to establish a sinking fund for major renovations. In some cases, they are also used to pay for shared services, such as gardeners, landscapers, concierge services or cleaners. A ‘sinking fund’ is essentially a savings pot for the building, where a proportion of the service charge is paid into a separate account which builds up over time and then, when larger works need to be carried out, there is already money available to pay, or go towards paying, the full cost. This can be a less painful alternative to owners being hit with a large bill all in one go.

Their contributions to the service charges help to keep the overall costs down.

Martin Skinner Founder and CEO of Inspired Homes

EXPERT COMMENT We’re not surprised as this is just another way management companies are finding to extract more cash from homeowners. We have seen some excessive charges for building works done poorly, or that weren’t necessary at all. These charges can be a real shock to the new leaseholder. That’s why they must insist on getting this information upfront, so they make an informed decision to purchase. For those who already find themselves in a nasty battle of ever-


higher bills, there are options, such as

When buying your first home, always look at comparable properties to assess whether the charges are artificially high. Take time to read the lease carefully and ensure the development is being, or will be managed, by a competent agent. The agent should be ARMA accredited and preferably also regulated by RICS. Check the finer details, like whether water consumption is included in the service charge, or whether it is billed direct by the water authority. Also, check communal heating arrangements to see whether maintenance is included in the service charge.

management of the property. But fighting

buying the freehold, or taking over the and managing ruthless managing agents can be expensive and exhausting.

Paula Higgins CEO at Homeowners Alliance,

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Agony agent Our readers put their property questions to our guest panel of experts; solicitors, mortgage advisers, property gurus and Help to Buy providers THIS MONTH’S PA N E L O F E X P E R T S

Tim Seward Head of property sales, Circle Housing

Michael Redmond Director of redmove (York)

Simon Scott Head of sales and Marketing, Origin Housing, and Chairman of the London Home Ownership Group (LHOG)


We need your questions... If you have any queries, or difficulties in understanding the property buying process, our panel of experts is waiting to help. Send our team your questions on buying property, Help to Buy, legal issues, or your financial problems and we’ll find the best person from our panel to give the advice you need. Send your questions to: First Time Buyer 37 Ivor Place, London NW1 6EA

or email




My job recently relocated to London, so I left my home in Chester and I am now renting in the City. I’d like to get on to the housing ladder in London, but I don’t have enough saved for a deposit on something similar to my old apartment. Is there any way of buying with a smaller deposit, so I don’t have to wait to save? Robin Johnson, Southwark


Making that first step on to the housing ladder is a problem many Londoners face. Shared ownership is a great solution if you aren’t currently a homeowner. Housing associations running the schemes will offer first time buyers the chance to buy a minimum share in a property, while paying a

subsidised rent on the remaining un-owned share. Monthly payments on a shared ownership home in London often work out as less than renting on the open market in the same area, which is a bonus. You’ll only need to put down a deposit on the share that you own – and the minimum share is usually 25%, so that significantly cuts down the savings you’ll need initially. Eventually, as your income changes, you can ‘staircase’ up to own more shares in your home, until you own 100% of your property outright. As you own more shares, you’ll pay less rent to the housing association. At Origin Housing, a good number of shared ownership tenants staircase each year, or sell their shares on when they can afford to buy a home outright – putting the shared ownership property back on the market for first time buyers. Simon Scott

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Changes to Help to Buy London


I’m looking to buy my first home soon and I understand there have been some recent changes to the Help to Buy product offering in London. Can you please explain what the changes will mean to me as a first time buyer? Joe Hartley, Streatham


Yes that’s correct – there have been some exciting changes to Help to Buy which are beneficial to people wanting to use the product to purchase in London. Until recently, Help to Buy was available throughout England, offering a top equity loan level of 20%. This was very attractive and thousands of people bought a new home using the scheme; however, as of the 1st February 2016, the upper equity loan limit for properties in London was increased to 40%. The scheme is available on brand new homes only and works by enabling you to purchase a property direct from the developer. It’s only applicable on homes valued below £600,000 and the property must be purchased as the buyer’s own residence; it’s not an opportunity for investors to buy properties to rent out. The product means applicants can buy with just a 5% deposit as the equity loan is regarded by the lenders as extra security. There is no interest to be paid on the loan until after five years and buyers have the opportunity to buy the loan out at any stage. If values go up since buying, the cost of buying the remaining share will rise proportionately. After five years a low interest charge of 1.75% kicks in on the value of the loan. With the equity loan level increasing to 40%, buyers in London now only need to secure a mortgage for 55% (plus their 5% minimum deposit). This brings a lot of brand new homes within reach of people previously squeezed out of the market. One such development offering Help to Buy at the new 40% loan level is Banbury Park in Walthamstow. Already a comparatively low value area for London, the opportunity to buy at just 60% is an exciting proposition. The development has a good selection of one, two and three bed apartments available for Help to Buy. With prices starting at £360,000, the 60% purchase amount equates to just £216,000, opening the door for a lot more people to get on the ladder. Visit or contact the sales office on 0845 223 0000. Tim Seward



I want to buy my first home but keep getting outbid. It seems that I am being beaten by investors who are buying ‘buy to let’ properties – what can I do to improve my chances of buying? Kim Groves, Leeds


In York, where I am based, being a popular city with two universities, it is very common for investors to snap up any available flats, or smaller homes, which would typically be more suited to a first time buyer. It’s a widespread problem and causes much frustration for buyers like yourself, who don’t always have the financial backing that an investor may do. The good news is that, with a recent introduction of heavier Stamp Duty costs, you may see some of this competition reduce slightly. Investors are now being forced to pay an extra 3% in Stamp Duty Land Tax, which has been introduced in order to help

buyers just like yourself – as well as trying to reduce the amount of property being snapped up by wealthy landlords. Other than this, I also have a few suggestions that may help you buy your first home. The first is to get involved with the estate agents as much as you can – don’t just leave it to internet searches. Let them know exactly what you are looking for and, when a property comes on to the market, make sure you are the first to know about it. Sometimes a property can come back on the market for whatever reason and needs to be sold quickly to avoid a chain collapsing. By being in constant contact with agents, it will put you in a great position to be able to move quickly should you wish to. At Redmove, we welcome people to come in and meet us face-to-face, and understand your exact requirements. As a first time buyer, you are in a great buying position as you are not caught up in any chains and this is very appealing to any seller. So, if you have your finances in place, your ear to the ground and keep in constant contact with an estate agent or two, you will be lining yourself up nicely to be ahead of the game. Good luck! Michael Redmond

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Buyers’ guide FTB explains all the options to help first time buyers

Your options What are your funding options if you want to get on the housing ladder?

Funding options

jargon explained

g o v e r n m e n t- b a c k e d schemes

Equity Loan

help to buy The government will provide you with a 20% equity loan that is interest free for the first five years with interest charged at 1.75% in the sixth year and at annual RPI (retail price index) inflation plus 1% after that. The loan must be repaid when the property is sold or within 25 years. Buyers need to raise a deposit of 5% and a 75% loan-to-value (LTV) mortgage. Only new build homes valued up to £600,000 can be bought. The scheme is available for ftbs and movers.

Newbuy First steps

ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR A GOVERNMENT-BACKED SCHEME? The government runs several Help to Buy schemes to help people get on to the property ladder. To be eligible for Help to Buy your household income needs to be less than £60,000 a year. For more details, contact a Help to Buy Agent. Help to Buy Agents are housing associations that handle the application process for Help to Buy products. Details of Help to Buy Agents start on page 99.

BUYING ON THE OPEN MARKET Most people buy property on the open market. Homes are either offered for sale by estate agents or sold privately. These include flats, houses and former local authority properties.

Available on all newly built properties offered by homebuilders participating in the scheme up to the value of £500,000. Under the scheme, the house builder will put 3.5% of the sale price into an indemnity fund, and the government provides an additional 5.5%. The mortgage lender is then able to offer 90-95% LTV mortgages, and the purchaser only needs a 5-10% deposit.

New Build HomeBuy, also known as Shared Ownership or Part-Buy, Part-Rent

Some house builders offer first time buyer incentives on new build homes. These include cash back, a loan to help you with costs or paying your mortgage for a set period of time. To find out more, contact developers directly.

Homes and Communities Agency This is a government organisation that funds affordable homes including those under Help to Buy.

Staircasing This applies to New Build HomeBuy schemes and occurs when the resident tops up the number of shares they own in their part-owned, part-rented home until they own the maximum share or own the property outright. The shares can be bought in 10% increments.

This scheme gives buyers the chance to purchase as little as a 25% share in a property and pay the rest in the form of subsidised rent. In the majority of cases, there is the opportunity to own the rest of the property outright by a method known as ‘staircasing’. Funding options


This is a loan for a certain percentage of a property’s value. If you remain in the property, you repay the equity loan within 25 years. If you sell the property, you repay the percentage of the property price the loan was for. For example, if the equity loan was originally £30,000 on a £100,000 property (30%) and you sell the property for £200,000, you’ll have to repay £60,000 (30% of £200,000).

With this scheme you rent a newly built property for up to five years and pay a reduced rent. This gives you the chance to save for a cash deposit so you can apply to buy a share of the home later.

Buying on the open m a r k e t & p r i va t e i n i t i at i v e s

To buy on the open market or from a house builder you’ll need to get a mortgage from a bank or other mortgage lender. To do so you’ll need to save a deposit and meet the lender’s lending criteria.

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The ftb process F


aPPLiCation you will need to have at least three months of bank statements, payslips or tax returns, a valid passport and information on any outstanding loans. Banks will look at your outgoings to assess how much you can afford to pay on your mortgage each month. The bigger deposit you have and the better your credit score, the better the mortgage rate you’ll be offered.

BudgEt Work out how much you can afford to repay each month. look at your income and outgoings, including bills, council tax, food, insurance and travel. If you are buying a leasehold flat, you’ll also have to budget for service charges, so find out how much they will be.

Unless you have enough money to buy a property inance outright you’ll need a mortgage. A mortgage is a loan used to buy a property and is normally repayable over 25 years. The loan is ‘secured’ on the property, which means the mortgage lender could repossess your home if you fail to make repayments on time. For this reason it’s vital only to buy a property you can realistically afford. Before you start, find out how much money you can borrow. A mortgage adviser at a bank will need details of your income, outgoings, savings and credit history – they will then be able to give you an ‘agreement in principle’, which will state, in theory, how much they will be able to lend you. An agreement in principle, however, doesn’t tie you, or the bank, to anything. Instead, it will just give you a rough idea of how much money you’ll be able to borrow. You’ll also need a deposit, normally at least 10% of the property price. The bigger the deposit, the better the mortgage rate you’ll be offered. Each mortgage product will have a maximum loan-to-value or LTV.

mortgagE BroKErs Vs BanKs CrEdit sCorE Get a credit report from experian or equifax, and make sure there are no default accounts, CCJs (county court judgements) or missed payments. If you are making lots of enquiries to find the best deal, make sure the lenders log your enquiry as a ‘quotation’ (soft) search rather than an ‘application’ (hard) search. Too many applications will leave ‘footprints’ on your credit score and can affect your rating. To improve your credit score, make sure you’re on the electoral roll, and pay your bills and any loan repayments on time.

You can apply for a mortgage via a mortgage broker (or financial adviser) or direct from a lender. A broker can look at the deals available and advise you which one would be best for your circumstances. Some mortgage products are only sold through brokers, not directly to customers. A broker will help you with the paperwork and deal with the lender on your behalf up until completion. You may have to pay them a fee or they may earn commission from the lender – find out how they are paid before committing to anything. Mortgage advisers in banks will only be able to sell you products offered by that particular bank, so it’s unlikely they will be able to offer you the very best deal for your circumstances. It’s important to shop around. You can compare mortgage deals yourself using websites such as



Work out how much money you have for fees, deposit and the monthly mortgage you can afford.


Make sure your credit rating is sound, and pay off any debts you can.

Buying your first property can be a daunting experience. It’s a big decision, so it’s important to get it right. We take you through all the steps involved or, then apply directly to your chosen lender.

FiXEd-ratEs Some mortgages are fixed-rates. This means you’ll pay the same rate of interest for a certain period of time, and your repayments won’t change. If interest rates go up, you’ll be protected from the increase, but you won’t benefit from any fall in interest rates. Normally at the end of the fixed period your mortgage rate will revert to the lender’s standard variable rate (SVR) for the rest of the term. You can either pay this rate or remortgage to another lender. Remortgaging to another lender will usually mean you have to pay a fee or early redemption charge (ERC).

VariaBLE-ratE mortgagEs Variable-rate mortgages are either linked to the lender’s SVR or the Bank of England base rate, and the rate you pay can change. Lenders can change their SVR whenever they want, but they normally only change it when the Bank of England base rate changes. ‘Tracker’ mortgages have repayment rates directly linked to the base rate and are liable to fluctuate, so you need to be sure you could afford higher repayments if rates rise.

rEPaymEnt or intErEst-onLy You can either pay your mortgage on a repayment or interest-only basis. If you choose a repayment mortgage, your monthly payments will pay off some interest and some capital. At the end of the term, you’ll own your home outright. With an interest-only mortgage you’ll have smaller monthly payments, but these only pay the interest on the loan. At the end of the term you’ll still owe the original mortgage sum. If you take out an interest-only mortgage, you’ll need to have a plan in place (such as an investment) as to how you’ll pay off the capital.


Speak to a mortgage broker, but also look at lenders’ direct products and search the internet for the best deal.


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rEsEarCH an arEa


Buying a home is a big investment. You need to buy a home you can afford and one you’ll be happy living in.

horough research

LoCation is KEy The first step is to shortlist the locations you feel you’d like to live in, then check if you can afford the house prices in those areas. It’s also worthwhile visiting places you like: it may be that there’s an up-and-coming hot spot just down the road you didn’t know about that’s much more affordable. Ideally, you will have rented in the area before buying, but if this isn’t the case, at least spend some time there, check out the commuting time to work, and visit local pubs, shops and leisure facilities. Visit the area at night, too.

floor plan. Sign up with as many estate agents as you can (and your local HomeBuy Agent housing associations if you’re looking at shared ownership properties). They should send you new properties that match your description, but it’s worth phoning agents regularly.

If you like a property, aerial shots of the area can be viewed at earth.

ViEwing Once you see a property you like, arrange a viewing. Most people see at least 10 properties before putting in an offer. It’s worth bringing a friend or relative and also arranging a second viewing to check out any bits you may have missed. Don’t get taken in by the furnishings and décor too much. Remember that a property that is slightly run down can still be a great investment and may only need a touch of paint and a change of furniture.

ProPErty sEarCH

EstatE agEnts

Once you have found the right location, go online and check out what’s on offer. Most properties are listed on property portals such as or or estate agents’ own websites. Most of the properties featured have pictures and descriptions and some have a

It’s a buyers’ market, so make use of agents’ legwork in finding properties that fit your requirements. Be aware that estate agents are paid commission by the seller on the sale, so try to inspect the property yourself rather than just the parts the agent shows you. Don’t get sucked in by the hard sell.


Be practical. Think about the commuting time and if you can afford to buy in the area.


Check out crime rates, future regeneration or new transport links.


Register with local estate agents, and use the internet to search for properties.

Check online for prices of sold properties in the area, and make sure properties you like fit your budget. you can search for recent sold prices of property in any area at, although be aware that prices have dropped significantly in the past year.


Look at several properties, and visit ones you like more than once and with someone else.

Before you put in an offer, visit the street at different times to make sure it’s safe. ask neighbours and local shop owners about the area.

BEForE you Buy When looking at buying apartments, check exactly what is included in the service charge and how much it is. also, ask about the terms of the lease and its length. If the lease has less than 80 years left, use this as a negotiating tool and make an offer below the asking price.


When making an offer, don’t be afraid to ask for less than the asking price. If the property needs work done on it, use this as a negotiating tool.



Make sure you get a survey done – it could save you money in the long run.

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uying process


surVEys and VaLuations

Once your offer is accepted, tell your mortgage lender. They will do a valuation to ensure the property is worth the money being advanced. At the same time, instruct a surveyor to carry out a survey. If this shows problems, find out how much they would cost to rectify and use this information to renegotiate the sale price. Or, tell the seller certain repairs need to be carried out before contracts are exchanged.


push the seller to take the property off the market. This will limit the chances of being gazumped (another buyer making a larger offer). The seller can insist on continuing to show the property, especially if you haven’t offered the asking price. use a recommended solicitor who you know to be reliable and can move fast.

english property law is different to scottish law: in england, if you put in an offer and then have a change of heart, you can legally back out of the deal or negotiate up until the exchange date. But, in scotland, an agreed price is binding.

Compare quotes from solicitors, and ask your friends if they can recommend someone. A good solicitor can make a big difference to a purchase completing or falling through.

SURVEY £300-£500 (depending on the type of survey you have done)

LOCAL AUTHORITY SEARCH FEES £300 (included in your solicitor’s bill)


After the offer is accepted, you will also need to appoint a solicitor or conveyancer who will oversee the contract, deal with the finances and exchange the deeds. Your solicitor will carry out searches, check the terms of any lease and tell you how much stamp duty you have to pay. The seller will also appoint a solicitor, and the two legal teams will be in regular contact to make sure the purchase goes as smoothly as possible.

(depending on the property’s value, e.g., £200 on a property costing between £100,000 and £200,000).


STAMP DUTY 0% for properties costing up to £125,000


EXCHangE and ComPLEtion

Never get pressured into an exchange and completion date without knowing all your finances and documents are in place. If you can’t complete, you may have to pay the seller’s costs.


£0-£300 (depending on your mortgage deal)


soLiCitors a quiCK saLE


Once the mortgage offer is in place, the contract is satisfactory and buildings insurance has been organised, both parties will agree an exchange date. On exchange of contracts, you pay a deposit, and a completion date is set. At this point, there’s no going back – the seller could sue you if you pull out, and you could lose your deposit. The exchange can be on the same date as the completion, but they are usually a week to 10 days apart. On completion, the final paperwork is done, and the property is legally yours.

timE sCaLE From offer to completion usually takes about six weeks to three months, but don’t feel pressured or rush into anything you’re not sure of just because the seller or estate agent wants you to exchange.


Look at the results of searches your solicitor has done. They will tell you, for example, if a main road is about to be built at the end of your garden.


After you’ve exchanged contracts, arrange buildings insurance – this will be a condition of your mortgage offer.


Shop around for a removals firm, and find one that can move your possessions on completion day.

for properties costing between £125,000 and £250,000

3% for properties costing between £250,00 and £500,000

4% for properties costing between £500,000 and £1,000,000

BUILDINGS INSURANCE £300 per year, payable monthly or in advance. Buildings insurance can cost a lot more if your property is at risk of flooding.



Your solicitor or estate agent will call you to tell you the property is yours. The solicitor will have some final paperwork to do, and you will then have to pay the solicitor’s bill and your stamp duty payment (if applicable).

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Home buying glossary Confused by financial acronyms and industry terminology? Buying your first house is daunting enough without having to decode property lingo. FTB’s home buying glossary is here to make the process a whole lot easier to understand

agrEEmEnt in PrinCiPLE


The initial document your lender will give you outlining the amount you are likely to be lent. An agreement in principle is not a guarantee of getting a mortgage.

These are additional charges incurred during the home buying process such as stamp duty and Land Registry charges. You must give the money to your conveyancer or solicitor who will then pay the charges on your behalf.

aPr APR stands for annual percentage rate. It is the interest rate you’d pay over a year. It takes into account not just the interest on your loan but also any other additional charges.

arrEars This is a term used to describe payments that haven’t been made on time.

BasE ratE The interest rate set by the Bank of England. Lenders use the Bank of England base rate to set their own charges.

BroKEr A broker is someone who gives you advice on your mortgage. Some are independent, while others work for lenders.

BuiLding surVEy A survey carried out by a qualified surveyor to spot any structural problems or faults in the home you are buying.

CoLLatEraL Something of value that is offered as a guarantee against a loan. With mortgages, your home is collateral.

EarLy rEPaymEnt CHargE This is an amount of money you have to pay a lender if you decide to move mortgage providers or if you pay off your mortgage quicker than expected.

Equity The difference between the value of the property and the value of the mortgage you have secured.

EXCHangE oF ContraCts This is when you exchange contracts with the seller. When this has happened, both sides are legally bound to complete the transaction.

because the more money you borrow the more of a risk the lender is taking.

Land rEgistry FEEs This is a fee you have to pay in order to register your ownership of the property with the Land Registry.

LEasE A type of contract where you buy the right to occupy the property for a fixed period of time. You usually have to pay annual ground rent each year.

LtV This stands for loan to value – the ratio between the amount of money you have taken out as a loan and the valuation price of the property.

LumP-sum rEduCtion


In order to reduce your mortgage, you can make a lump-sum reduction. This is where you pay more than you owe each month in mortgage repayments.

A freehold is when you fully own a property and the land it stands on.



Paying off your mortgage in full is known as redemption.

When a seller accepts an offer and then later on rejects it in favour of a higher offer from another bidder.


rEPaymEnts The amount you have to pay back each month to your mortgage provider

stamP duty

The finalisation of the sale. Completion day is when all money is transferred and you become the legal owner of your new home.

A person, usually a parent, who guarantees that you can pay your mortgage repayments. You often need a guarantor if you are struggling to get a mortgage based on your own income. If for some reason you cannot pay your mortgage, your guarantor has to pay it for you.


HigHEr LEnding CHargE

The legal process of transferring ownership of a property.

If you take out a large mortgage on a property, some lenders charge you an extra fee. This is

The legal documents that outline your rights and liabilities in relation to your new property. The title deeds also act as proof of ownership.


Stamp duty is a shortened name for stamp duty land tax. This is an amount of money that the government tax you when you purchase a new property. Your solicitor or conveyancer will organise the payment for you.

titLE dEEds

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Zones, Help to buy agents, help to buy providers and more...

HelP to BuY noRtH east, YoRKsHIRe & tHe HuMBeR tel: 0113 825 6888

HelP to BuY noRtH West tel: 0300 790 0570 1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

cumbria lancashire Merseyside Greater Manchester cheshire

1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7)

1 2

northumberland tyne & Wear Durham north Yorkshire West Yorkshire south Yorkshire east Riding of Yorkshire



HelP to BuY east anD soutH east

HelP to BuY MIDlanDs tel: 0345 850 2050

tel: 03333 214044


1) shropshire 2) staffordshire 3) Derbyshire 4) nottinghamshire 5) lincolnshire 6) Herefordshire 7) Worcestershire 8) West Midlands 9) Warwickshire 10) leicestershire 11) Rutland 12) northamptonshire

1) norfolk 2) cambridgeshire 3) suffolk 4) Bedfordshire 5) Buckinghamshire 6) Hertfordshire 7) essex 8) surrey 9) Kent 10) West sussex 11) east sussex



5 4







2 HelP to BuY soutH


tel: 0800 456 11 88 1) 2) 3) 4)

Gloucestershire oxfordshire Bristol Bath & ne somerset, Mendip and north somerset 5) Wiltshire 6) Berkshire 7) Hampshire 8) Isle of Wight





5 7

8 1 HelP to BuY soutH West tel: 0300 100 0021 cornwall Devon south somerset Dorset


1 8


1) 2) 3) 4)


6 4


4 2





3 2






9 11

HelP to BuY lonDon tel: 0300 5000 996 1) london Map supplied by Help to Buy South

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useful contacts zones, help to buy agents & help to buy providers – receive advice on property funding options


Bristol Bath & NE Somerset, Mendip

Help to Buy London

scheme but not the mortgage

contact the participating

and North Somerset

0300 500 0996

guarantee scheme. They

lenders directly.


have the authority to give


the go-ahead for you to


Share to Buy

purchase a home with help

Isle of Wight

from the equity loan scheme. The agents make other key

Please note:

decisions during the purchase

Help to Buy agents administer

process. For the Help to Buy:

the Help to Buy: equity loan

mortgage guarantee, please

MIDLANDS Tel: 0345 850 2050

London Shropshire Tel: 0300 5000 996


Derbyshire Nottinghamshire Lincolnshire

east & south east

Herefordshire Worcestershire West Midlands

Tel: 03333 214044


Leicestershire Rutland Northamptonshire

Norfolk Cambridgeshire

NORTH west

Suffolk Bedfordshire Buckinghamshire

Tel: 0300 790 0570








West Sussex

Greater Manchester

East Sussex


south west Tel: 0300 100 0021

NORTH east, yorkshire & the humber

Tel: 0300 100 0021

Tel: 0113 243 6893

Cornwall Devon


South Somerset

Tyne & Wear


Durham North Yorkshire West Yorkshire


South Yorkshire East Riding of Yorkshire

Tel: 0845 604 11 22 Gloucestershire Oxfordshire

To advertise in this space Speak to our advertising team to find out the best ways to give your organisation maximum exposure. Call 020 7258 1777 or email

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useful contacts h e l p t o b u y p r o v i d e r s – o ffe r i ng new build schemes, includ ing help to buy ( shared ownership) an d R en t t o b u y propert ies Newlon Housing Trust

0800 012 1442 0800 058 2544

Shepherd’s Bush Housing

Affinity Sutton

CHS Group

0300 100 0303

0300 111 3555

Aster Group

Circle Living

01380 735 391

0845 304 1002 

Chelmer Housing Partnership

Estuary Housing Association

0300 555 0500

01702 462 246 Notting Hill Housing

020 8996 6666 020 8357 4444

Southern Home Ownership

Octavia Housing

020 7553 6420 020 8354 5500

Swan Housing Association

One Housing Group


Gateway Housing


0800 234 6242

A2Dominion New Homes

020 8709 4409

0800 783 2159 Genesis Homes Affinity Sutton

033 3000 4000

0300 100 0303 Guinness Partnership (South) Catalyst Housing

0300 111 321

0300 303 2500 Thames Valley Housing Association

Origin Housing

0845 351 2345

0800 040 7989 Wandle Housing Association Paradigm Housing

0300 2000 116

0845 337 4877 Peabody


0845 601 7729 Hexagon Circle Living

020 8778 6699

020 7021 4444

A2Dominion New Homes

Places for People

0800 783 2159

0845 304 1002 Home Group Clapham Park Homes

0845 230 2074

0845 850 9571

Accent Nene

Sanctuary London

01733 295 400

020 3535 3535 Hyde New Homes East Thames

020 8297 7555

0800 781 4755

Accent Peerless

Servite Houses

0800 294 2280

Max McMurdo

0845 600 0830 Islington and Shoreditch Estuary Housing Association

Housing Association

01702 462 246

020 7226 3753

Family Mosaic

London and Quadrant

020 7089 1315

0844 406 9800

Gallions Housing Association

Metropolitan Home


0300 123 1141 020 3535 2555

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useful contacts help to buy providers Family Mosaic

Housing Solutions Group

020 7089 1315

0800 876 6060

Raglan Housing Association

Southern Home Ownership

0800 011 6420

020 7553 6420

Rosebery Housing

Sovereign Housing


One Housing Group

0845 712 5530

01372 814 000

020 8920 7777 Moat

Worthing Homes First Wessex

Howard Cottage Homes

0800 0191 470

01462 683 307

Flagship Homes

Hyde New Homes

01603 255 444

020 8297 7555

0300 323 0011

01425 283 600 01903 703 100

SOUTH WEST Swan Housing Association

0800 234 6242 Rosemary Simmons Housing

Aster Group

Origin Housing


0300 303 2500

0800 040 7989

01372 461 440

01380 735 391

Genesis Homes

Jephson Homes Housing



Cornerstone Housing

033 3000 4000

Orwell Housing Association

Sanctuary South East

01926 339 311

0845 351 2345

01392 273 462

01473 218 818

0800 781 4755

Guinness Partnership (South)

Thames Valley Housing

Knightstone Housing

London and Quadrant


0300 111 321


Paradigm Housing

Sentinel Homescope

0844 406 9800

01225 366 000

01934 524 300

0845 337 4877

01256 338 800 Town and Country Housing




Servite Houses

01892 501 626

01752 856 037

0116 257 6716

020 7021 4444

0800 012 1442 Western Challenge Housing

Elim Housing

Metropolitan Home

Places for People

Soha Housing



01454 411 172

0845 850 9571

01235 515 900


Hastoe Housing Association 0800 783 3097 Home Group 0845 230 2074

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useful contacts help to buy providers GreenSquare

Rooftop Housing Group

01249 465 465

0800 0421 800

Guinness Partnership

Sanctuary Southwest


0800 083 9283

0300 303 8034 Severn Vale Housing Hastoe Housing Association

01684 272 727

0800 783 3097 Signpost Housing Association

Assoc. Ltd

0800 783 7837

Derwent Living Housing


01733 295 400 01332 346 477

Acis Group

East Midlands Housing

0800 027 2057


Asra Housing Group

0844 892 9000

0116 257 6716 Black Country Housing

Family Housing Association

Guinness Partnership

Merican Housing Association

0121 766 1100

(Northern Counties)

0121 322 7373

Sovereign Housing

Friendship Care and Housing

0121 561 1969

0845 712 5530

08456 019 095 Bromford Group 0845 850 4505

Accent Nene


Nectar Homes

0116 223 3700

Jephson Homes Housing

01926 339 311


0845 605900 Metropolitan Home Jephson Homes Housing


Assoc. Ltd 020 8920 7777

Synergy Housing

Heantun Housing Association

Part of the Aster Group

0845 601 0878

01926 339 311

Places for People

01202 308600

0845 850 9571 Westcountry Housing Raglan Housing Association

01803 200 300

0800 011 6420

Midland Heart

01902 571 100 Caldmore Accord

Longhurst and Havelok 0345 60 20 540

Home Group


0300 111 7000

0845 230 2074

0845 309 0700

Muir Group

De Montfort Housing Society

01928 728 0399

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useful contacts help to buy providers Nottingham Community


Housing Association

01609 767 900


0845 650 1204 Crucible Homes Orbit HomeBuy Agents

0114 421 3430

0345 850 2050 Equity Housing Places for People

0800 733 233

0845 850 9571 Guinness Partnership

Based on an American Show this exciting series sees Property Expert Max Blake help couples on the journey of buying a house. He’s even putting £15,000 of his OWN money towards helping YOU secure your home!

Raglan Housing Association

(Northern Counties)

0800 011 6420

0845 605900

Riverside Housing Association

Headrow Limited

0845 111 0000

0133 250 4337

Rooftop Group

Home Group

Wakefield and District


0800 0421 800

0845 230 2074

Sanctuary North

0845 850 7507

Sanctuary Midlands

Jephson Homes Housing


0800 131 3348

If you are a couple currently house-hunting and you need the cash injection from Max – please get in touch now! E-mail:

NORTH EAST Accent Foundation Ltd

Leeds Federated Housing

0800 012 1442


01274 717 500 South Staffordshire Housing

0113 386 1000


Longhurst and Havelok

0800 096 8690


Staffordshire Housing

0845 602 1120

01928 728 0399

Cosmopolitan Housing

Outlook Homes


Tees Valley Housing Group

0161 248 2363

0151 227 3716 Eden Housing Association

Three Rivers Housing

0845 850 9571


01768 861 400


08000 461 452

0844 800 3800 Two Castles Housing

Guinness Partnership

01642 707910

0191 261 4774

(Northern Counties)

0344 736 0063

Gentoo Sunderland

01274 771 144

0191 525 5000


Accent Foundation Ltd

0845 111 0000

0845 230 2074

Guinness Partnership

0121 355 4501

(Northern Counties)

01274 717 500

01928 728 0399 0845 605900

Outlook Homes

01214 574604

Home Group

0161 248 2363 0845 230 2074

Places for People


0845 850 9571 0300 300 1505 Rosa Homes

Live Smart

0845 077 0027 0800 028 3629 Sanctuary North

Association Home Group

Muir Group

WM Housing Group

Riverside Housing

0845 605900


0800 027 2057

Regenda Homes

Association (North East)


Acis Group

01772 450600

0800 733 233

01782 744 533

01274 717 500

Erimus Housing Ltd

Manningham Housing

Accent Foundation Ltd

Progress Housing Group Equity Housing

0845 309 0700


Places for People

08000 461600 Association

Waterloo Housing

Muir Group

0800 781 0401

01926 339 311 Servite Houses

Contour Homes

0845 850 9571

Sanctuary North Impact Housing

Adactus Housing Group

0800 781 0401

03448 736290 Servite Houses

01942 608 715 Irwell Valley Housing

Arcon Housing Association


0800 012 1442

0161 214 4120

0800 035 2212

CDS Co-operatives

Knowsley Housing Trust

020 7397 5700

0151 290 7000

Chester and District Housing

Liverpool Housing Trust

Trust 01928 796000

Your Housing Group

Places for People

0800 781 0401

0808 100 7701

01925 236 400

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Katie Walmsley is our blogger this issue and she tells us how, having previously lived in Scotland, after getting married and with a first baby on the way, she and her husband decided to up sticks and move to Surrey. However, saving for a deposit wasn’t quite as easy as she thought…

Katie says... Having lived in Scotland for seven years with my ‘now’ husband – working and enjoying the busy life that the media world often comes with – we were becoming increasingly frustrated that our dream of owning our own home was still, in fact, just that. A dream. Despite our somewhat lack of discipline on the financial management front, we had both set aside a small amount each month. Some months were better than others. Those holidays and weekends away kept getting in the way. Slowly but surely, the deposit pot was growing, but with property prices continuing to rise our dream always seemed a moving target. Finally, becoming ‘Mr and Mrs’ felt very grown up and we were more determined than ever to watch every penny. The time had come for us to create the spreadsheet, to adhere to a new way of living and finally go full steam ahead to save for a deposit. Oh, and we had another rather important reason to finally ‘grow up’ and start committing to the future. In eight months, give or take a day or two, we were to become a family of three. So, as I grew bigger and bigger, so did our savings account. But it wasn’t just the finances that were up for discussion, so was the location as to where we wanted to buy. Should we stay up north, where arguably, despite the property prices being cheaper, it’s no secret that the west coast of Scotland receives possibly the highest


rainfall in the UK? Or should we relocate? There were sentimental reasons in play too. Not only had we both grown up in England, we knew there were two very loving grandparents in Surrey, who were beyond excited for the new arrival. It was a beautiful area my husband had grown up in, that I’d got to know over the years when visiting. The only downside was that local properties seemed well beyond our price range. But a decision had to be made. So, when I was seven months pregnant, we relocated down to Surrey. ‘What’s the fun in life, if you don’t take a risk?’ we reassured each other! We thought that getting a mortgage offer in place would be simple. Didn’t people have repayment mortgages along with buy-to-let mortgages for investment purposes? Weren’t they handing them out to anyone? I was, of course, on maternity leave, having left the freelance TV world, so we were relying on one salary. We did ask ourselves one vital question. Why had we moved to one of the most expensive areas in the UK to get on the

property ladder, when we’d dropped to one salary and were about to start a family? The answer was simple. Our long-term plan was to start our new family life in the south, near relatives, and be within the commuter belt for our careers. We had to be brave and bite the bullet. We rented for a few months and then, quite by chance, we stumbled across our dream property. It seemed far beyond our reach and dreams, however, having gone to sealed bids we were stunned to learn the house was ours. It was all ours! Well it would be after we’d finalised the mortgage. After months of negotiations, the deal was done. The keys were in our hands. Along with our six-month-old daughter in our arms! We’d done it.

If you write a blog, or have a story to share about getting on to the property ladder, email Lynda Clark at

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First Time Buyer June/July 2016