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the Ultimate Guide to... GETTING ON THE LADDER, THE PROPERTY MARKET AND HELP TO BUY June/ July 2017 £2.95






“Be realistic as to what you can afford and don’t bite off more than you can chew ” Luke Doonan

TV presenter and filmmaker

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E D I T O R I A L – 020 7258 0036

Editor-in-Chief SARAH GARRETT Editor LYNDA CLARK Senior Editorial Assistant DAWN HARKER

Junior Editorial Assistant ASHLEY BINFIELD

Creative Director RYAN BEAL



Director of Advertising/Exhibition Sales LYNDA CLARK Special Events EILIDH MACLEOD – First Time Buyer Home Show – First Time Buyer Readers’ Awards Accounts DAVID SELF

Welcome Recently, we celebrated our FTB Readers’ Awards 2017 and I would like to say a very big thank you to everyone who took the time to vote, which is so important. It was a fantastic occasion and it was great to see so many passionate people who are involved in the housing industry. You can see all the winners on pages 69-79… and congratulations to everyone! We also raised a massive £5,755 for Great Ormond Street Hospital, which is a charity very close to my heart. I can’t thank everyone enough for their donations and support, and I know that this money will help the hospital very much. We also had a great Home Show in Stratford at the end of March and there is a photographic round-up on pages 64-65. So many first time buyers enjoyed the day, finding out how to get on to the ladder, and, once again, it was a roaring success. We have two more shows later this year; we will be at a real ftb hotspot – Croydon – on 30 September and, on 7 October, we are in Manchester. I do hope that we will see many of you there as it is the perfect opportunity to talk to experts and get information and advice on buying your first home, plus we have seminars on key topics which run all day. It is free to attend and you can register at, or just turn up on the day. We know that many first timers are struggling to afford to buy, but there are options available, so we have highlighted some affordable commuter hotspots (pages 24-31), which should appeal to many of you. Everyone has watched, or is a fan of, TV soaps, so for fun, we looked at some of our favorite soap characters and calculated how much their property has increased in value since they first appeared on our screens (pages 34-38). I hope you enjoy this issue and find it packed with all the information you need to buy your first home. Until next time, happy house hunting!

Managing Director SARAH GARRETT Public Relations RACHEL COLGAN


@firsttimebuyer SUBSCRIPTIONS 020 3874 1649


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 2017 must be received before 12 July 2017. 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 2008-2017. 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.

You don’t have to compromise on location with shared ownership homes; you’ll find them in even the most sought-after places Kush Rawal, Developer’s Dr, Page 18

I was keen to buy, so opting for a newbuild made the process a lot quicker Katrin-Anne Romero, Real life, Page 62

Having a private cinema and gym, and lovely balcony far exceeds our expectations

After years of renting in East London and then South London we managed to save some money Kai Price, At home with, Page 14

Buying a home is likely to be the biggest financial commitment in your lifetime Emma Newby, The legal process of buying a newbuild, Page 104

Marina Bekush, The house hunter, Page 16

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What’s in… 57

For sale


It was a life-changing day when Katrin-Anne Romero came along to a First Time Buyer Home Show in 2016 as she ended up buying a shared ownership apartment at Royal Dock Gardens through East Thames, which she absolutely adores.


32 Delayed gratification


11 FTB loves...

20 The View: Luke Doonan

A round up of our favourite hot buys.

Luke Doonan bought his first apartment when he was just 18 and has never looked back. He is passionate about social housing and, after making the series, Council House Crackdown for BBC1, he decided to start his own production company. He also made a film, Dispossession, that will soon be shown in cinemas across the UK. He talks to Lynda Clark about his fascinating and varied career and his first film.

12 Living Enjoy the summer months and brighten up your home with these stylish nautical-inspired accessories.

14 At home with…Kai Price and Amanda Nelson Kai and Amanda met whilst working in the fashion industry and soon

14 realised they both had a passion for Scandinavian design. This led them to create their website, Att Pynta, which offers Scandi-inspired accessories that are affordable. Kai talks to Lynda Clark about his first home and plans for the future.


16 The house hunter

Saving for your first home can take a very long time. We look at some of the tools available to help you along the way.

34 Property soap stars We looked at the nation’s best loved soap characters and compared how much their properties have increased in value since they were first televised.

64 Show time! A round-up from our recent very successful First Time Buyer Home Show in Stratford, east London.


We try and find Lucas Linden and Marina Bekush their dream home, up to an hour’s commute from Watford.

12 4

18 Developer’s doctor

24 Hot or not?

Kush Rawal, Sales and Marketing Director at Thames Valley Housing, answers a reader’s property question.

Kay Hill highlights some of the best and most affordable commuter hotspots, perfect for first time buyers.

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Luke Doonan


lowest rate always the best one? Kay Hill investigates.

92 Market New homes are in short supply, so many people are opting to build their own. Ginetta Vedrickas asks if this is an option for first time buyers?

96 Agony agent 82 First home, first meal


Oliver Kuehler, Executive Head Chef at Bon Vivant, creates a delicious French inspired bouillabaisse, with garlic baguette.

FTB Readers’ Awards

All the highly commended and winners of the FTB Readers’ Awards 2017, plus a round-up from the fabulous awards lunch at the Waldorf Hilton, London, hosted by TV celebrity Nicki Chapman.



All your property questions answered by our panel of experts.

99 Buyer’s guide Check out FTB’s Buyer’s Guide, which walks you through every aspect of the property buying process.

104 The legal process of buying a newbuild Emma Newby from Beaumont Legal explains the legal process when buying a newbuild property.

106 Directory

Competition Win an overnight stay, with dinner and breakfast for two, at the DoubleTree by Hilton, Kingston upon Thames, worth £300

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

40 Hotspot We look at Colchester as a place to live.

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

114 Spotlight on... We talk to some of the key players in the property world to get their views and ideas of how to get on the ladder and this issue we speak to Paul Isaacs, Managing Director at Generator Group

88 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.

90 Finance Mortgage providers are offering very low rates, but is the product with the

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Mailbox PURCHASING OFF-PLAN I have been looking to buy my first home and have recently found a new development that I love, but it means I will need to buy off-plan. The design looks amazing, and the developer has been very helpful, but is there anything I should be wary of when buying this way? Andrea Godwin FTB: Buying off-plan can give you a lot of room for negotiation, plus you can often have input on the fixtures and fittings, and even the actual price of the property. Many new homes offer standard fixtures and fittings, but also offer upgrades, so this will be the time to try and get them for free, instead of paying extra for them. If you write a letter outlining any extras you want included in your purchase price, you must do so from the outset as this is where your bargaining power is strongest. However, when buying off-plan, it is important to remember that most mortgage lenders don’t offer mortgages designed for offplan properties. Also, most mortgage agreements are valid for six months, so if your completion date overruns you may have to re-apply. MORTGAGE REPAYMENT CALCULATIONS I really want to buy my own home, after having spent years renting. I have been saving where I can, making cutbacks in many areas to get enough together for a deposit, yet I have no idea how to work out what I can afford to pay each month in mortgage repayments. How would I calculate this? Jane Granger FTB: The easiest way to start understanding your potential repayments is to keep a realistic record of what you spend. Keep track of your outgoings by noting down how much you spend each month

on food and drink, transport, entertainment, clothes and toiletries. It helps to keep receipts and go through them. Make sure, when working out your average monthly outgoings, to bear in mind other costs such as council tax, phone, gas, water and electric bills. It can be very time consuming, but is a good idea to have it ready before you approach a lender. When you do apply for a mortgage, you will need to provide your broker or lender with this information, as well as payslips, bank statements and tax returns. They will then use all this information to work out how much you can afford to repay each month.

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

PROPERTY RISKS I am just about to buy my first home with my partner and we have fallen in love with a property, however, it was built in the 1850’s. We know we need to get the house checked over before we go through with purchasing, but what sort of things should we be looking for? Paul Newton FTB: There are a few things you should be paying attention to when buying a house built in the 1800’s. Firstly any house built before the 1930’s won’t

have the same strong foundations as modern houses, so you should get a buildings survey done to locate any issues there may be. Problems such as subsidence (where the ground under the property has moved) can prove to be very costly, so finding out before you buy can save you money and a great deal of trouble in the long run. It’s also important to make sure that the boiler, gas and electric are all up to the strict safety standards required today, so make sure these are checked over as well.

This issue’s star letter wins a Radiant chef pan from Judge. Part of the Radiant Cookware collection, the frying pans are available in three sizes, alongside the chef, crepe, wok and milk pans. They are Teflon coated with the latest non-stick surface, making cooking easier, and have a 10-year non-stick guarantee. Brimming with style they are suitable for all hob types and make a great addition to any kitchen. 24cm Radiant chef pan, £46, Judge 0117 940 0000

LENDERS PANEL Having spent a lot of time searching, I have finally found my ideal first home and have started the process to buy it. My solicitor received the contract papers, however, there is a problem as my mortgage lender has now contacted my solicitor, as they are not on the lenders panel. What does this mean, and will it affect me buying my home? Masood Shah FTB: Usually, when someone is buying their property with a mortgage, it is normal for the buyer’s solicitors to act for the buyer’s lender. To act for a lender, a law firm needs to be on the lender’s conveyancing panel. An application must be made by the law firm to the lender to

become a member of the lender’s panel, and there are very strict criteria, which the firm should satisfy. The panel is there to help buyers as they try to minimise fraud and make sure that there is an excellent standard of service. Most lenders now insist that their panel members be part of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme. You can continue to use your own solicitors, even if they are not on the lender’s panel, but you will probably have to pay the lender’s solicitors fees. Alternatively, you could choose to use the lender’s solicitors, which can work out cheaper in the long run.

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

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s e v o l FTB

What’s hot in the shops? Always on the lookout for exciting and innovative new ideas and accessories that will help create the perfect space, here are our favourites this issue

Scents of Summer

Dobbies summer fragrance collection, inspired by exotic climates mixed with classic scents, will bring an extra dimension to your home. The gorgeous scents include freesia & waterlily, patchouli & sandalwood, exotic orchid & musk and pineapple & coconut, so there is something to suit everyone’s taste. The collection is available as a reed diffuser, candles and pot pourri bags. They are also available in a gift set of either three candles, or three reed diffusers. Dobbies fragrance collection, from £4.99, Dobbies

Rosemar y Shrager centre-P IE-ces Celebrity chef Rosemary Shrager has teamed up with Lakeland to create these fantastic bespoke pie dishes. There are four in the range – rectangular, round, oval and a round pie plate – each of the dishes comes with a recipe card containing two of Rosemary’s delicious recipes. The matte blue dishes are oven safe up to 230c as well as being dishwasher friendly. Rosemary Shrager pie dishes, from £9.99, Lakeland

Recipes Galore

Stacks of Storage

Korridors’ pyramid storage boxes come in a range of sizes and colours and can store everything from stationary and photographs to jewellery. The understated design has carefully rounded edges, whilst the boxes are constructed from solid birch, making them sturdy and secure. Pyramid storage boxes, from £15, Red Candy

ChariTable Bookings Signature Dish recipe book is the must-have recipe book for foodies. There are recipes from 365 UK chefs and restaurants, including top chefs Tom Kerridge and Marcus Wareing, plus top restaurants such as The Ivy. There are a wide variety of main course dishes, from simple hearty meals to exotic spicy creations, so you can have restaurant standard food at home, with simple and easy-to-follow recipes. The book also raises much-needed funds and awareness for charities, with £5 from each book sale going directly to a charity of the buyer’s choice, from a list of over 7500 UK registered charities. ChariTable Bookings Signature Dish recipe book, £40, ChariTable Bookings

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Homepage LIVING

Ocean Blues

Enjoy the warm summer months and add a touch of the seaside, with these fun, fresh, nautical-inspired accessories

Table runner, £8; striped scatter cushion, £14; two-pack placemats, £5; assorted dinner plates, £3; fish platter, £6; dip bowls, £2; serving bowl, £6; long fish platter, £3; 16-piece striped cutlery set, £8; large faux rattan lantern, £28; fisherman's white lantern, £16; blue tint jug, £8; blue tint tumbler, £2.50, Sainsbury’s

Blue four-burner gas BBQ, £400, Debenhams

Blue melamine bowls, small £4; large £10, M&Co

Blake double duvet set, £90; Coast double duvet set, £70; Arzon cushion, £15; whale cushion, £15; embroidered tile cushion, £30; Finn print cushion, £20; Helston bottle vase, £32; Dorset 5”x 7” frame, £22; blue crackle mug, £6, House of Fraser

Whale cushion, £15, House of Fraser

Coast wicker basket, £59, Amaroni Home

C O N TA C T S » Amaroni Home » Debenhams » House of Fraser » M&Co » M&S » National Trust » Sainsbury’s » TK Maxx » Wilkinson


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Homepage LIVING Fisherman's metal lantern, £65; set of four white seagrass placemats, £18; blue crackle dinnerware, from £6; sardine melamine dinnerware, from £3; hammered acrylic tumbler, £3; Newquay bottle vase, £25; fish-shaped chopping board, £32; coastal dish, £10; metal lantern, £25; coast hi-ball tumbler, £8; Padstow recycled glass vase, £30; small shell candle, £20; large shell candle, £50; Padstow recycled glass hurricane lamp, £35; Malo throw, £40, House of Fraser

Oystercatcher melamine tray, £10, National Trust

Nautical storage box, £14.99, TK Maxx

Blue salad servers, £2, Sainsbury’s

Decorative fish, £10, M&Co

Blue tint hi-ball tumbler, £3, Sainsbury’s

Blue bucket BBQ, £10, Wilkinson

Lois armchair, £59; Lois sofa, £149; Lois coffee table, £99; triangle embroidered cushion, £25; triangular hurricane lamp, £29.50, M&S

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Homepage LIVING

At home with:

Kai Price and Amanda Nelson Kai Price and Amanda Nelson met when working in the fashion industry, where they discovered they both had a passion for Scandinavian design. One day, during a coffee break, the idea for their website, Att Pynta, was born, as a destination for Scandi-style and interiors without breaking the bank. Kai talks to Lynda Clark about his home, plans for the future and has some good advice for first timers


FTB: Can you tell us about your first property experience KP: After years of renting in east London and then south London, we managed to save some money, plus, with the help of some very generous family members, we were able to get a mortgage offer and buy our first property in Lewisham. Renting does have its benefits and, of course, its downside, but when I was renting, I could live in properties that I would never have been able to afford to buy. However, I was frustrated that I couldn’t use my ideas and do things like update the kitchen. Buying our property took longer than we thought. We viewed the one bed garden flat in April and then moved in at the start of October, due to lease extension issues, plus the unfortunate Brexit vote also added some serious delays to completing the purchase. By the time we actually moved in, it didn’t seem real! There is a lot we want to update with the space, but luckily it was in a good state for us move in and live comfortably. Over Christmas of 2016 we updated the bathroom, which was the most run down room in the home, and now we are tackling the bedroom – we can’t wait to have the whole home decorated to our taste. FTB: How did you first meet your business partner Amanda and your partner Joe? KP: Joe and I met while at university; he was studying at Cambridge and I was at Bristol, but Joe lived near Bristol so we

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Homepage LIVING met during the holidays. We then moved in together, once we had both completed university, and came to London. I met Amanda, who is my business partner, whilst working for the fashion retailer AllSaints in the PR and Marketing team. We both interned there and then started working together when the internships were finished. We got on really well – Amanda is Swedish and I am half Swedish and we realised we had grown up in the same city of Gothenburg. We enjoyed four years working at AllSaints, but we really wanted to start our own business and work in interiors. So, after some discussions, we set up our website, Att Pynta, and then took the leap from our full-time jobs to work on Att Pynta full time. FTB: What does Att Pynta mean and why did you choose it? KP: It means ‘To Decorate’ in Swedish. Pynta is a word used in Sweden as a general decorating term whether it’s at Christmas or just updating your home with new accessories. We liked the idea of having an unusual name that meant something to us Swedes and also our brand is about updating your home using little things from Att Pynta. FTB: How did you set up the website? KP: The website was designed and set up with the help of a friend’s partner who worked in website coding. He also had a friend who worked in graphic design. Under the name of Studio Thomas, they really helped us work out our vision for the brand and put together a strong identity for Att Pynta – through colour, logo and website usability.   FTB: Tell us a little about what you sell and how you buy the products? KP: We started by selling a selection of Scandinavian-inspired products from various designers in the UK and across Scandinavia. We wanted a collection that was unique and special, whilst also having a contemporary Nordic feel. We focused largely on materials; working with clay, metals, wood and wool. We keep our ear to the ground with what is happening with the Scandinavian trends and bring that to the UK. We also recently started selling a selection of luxury velvet furniture, like sofas, armchairs and ottomans, which are designed by a Swedish designer called Amelia Widell. We met her in Stockholm and fell in love with the range and are so excited to now offer these products exclusively in the UK.  FTB: What are your plans for the future? KP: We want to expand with more furniture,

“WHILE IT IS TEMPING TO DO EVERYTHING QUICKLY IN ONE BIG IKEA TRIP, IT IS BETTER TO LIVE IN THE SPACE FOR A WHILE AND SEE HOW YOU USE THE ROOMS AND THINK ABOUT WHAT STYLES WILL SUIT THE SPACE” dining tables and coffee tables. We are also doing some interior design work, helping people make the most of their home with decorating mood boards and style advice. We also write a design column for the Evening Standard newspaper, which we want to expand and maybe turn into a coffee table book! FTB: What advice can you give first time buyers when purchasing accessories for their home? KP: Think about the longevity of the styles you buy. While it is temping to do everything quickly in one big IKEA trip, it is better to live in the space for a while and see how

you use the rooms and think about what styles will suit the space. Saving money for some items that you really love will be totally worth it in the long run. Mix new styles with your other favourites and, before you know it, your home will be full of things that tell a story and that you truly cherish. Creating zones with lighting and rugs is a great way to make a large room work well, if you have an open plan living room/dining area for example. Also, lighting is key to create a cosy vibe in the evenings; light a scented candle and pop on a floor lamp to instantly make your space more inviting.

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What we found… THE HISTORIC VILLAGE High Elms, Abbots Langley


THE NEW HOTSPOT Ryder Court, at the Old Vinyl Factory

FROM £124,000*

This month FTB goes on the hunt with Lucas and Marina, who are after a one or two bedroom home within an hour’s drive from Watford


Name Lucas Linden, 35, Marina Bekush, 32 Occupation Project manager, make-up artist Maximum budget £390,000 Requirements A one or two bedroom home, up to an hour’s drive from Watford, with outdoor space and good road and transport links.

What they wanted… Lucas and I are looking to buy our first home together, after renting in Finsbury, north London for seven years. Although it’s a nice area, we’re bored with our small flat and are craving some more space and a bit more greenery. We don’t have too many requirements when it comes to where we move to – we’re quite open. Lucas runs projects for a large firm in Watford, so we’d like to live within a reasonable drive from there – anything under an hour. I am a freelance make-up artist and my work can take me all around the country, so as long as we’re close to key roads, I’ll be happy. It’s important for us to have some outdoor space to enjoy in the summer, and we’d also love to be close to a nice town, where we can eat, drink and meet up with friends, old and new. After working in make-up for many years, I have acquired quite a kit, so a second bedroom or utility room would be ideal if possible. We’ll also need parking spaces.”


This new collection of three, four and five bedroom homes lies just over a mile from the historic town of Abbots Langley, a few miles north of Watford. The stylish homes, complete with garage and driveway, have been finished to a high standard, and include fitted kitchens, with integrated appliances, and en suite bathroom from the master bedroom. With plenty of high street shops, bars and restaurants, Abbots Langley has a great deal to offers. Transport links are good, too, with trains to London Euston in just 20 minutes.

This exciting new development, part of a £250m regeneration plan, is set to attract residents and businesses as a new leisure, work and residential hotspot. Ryder Court, at the eastern side of the Old Vinyl Factory development, is home to 10 one, two and three bedroom apartments, available through shared ownership. The homes are beautifully finished, with great attention to detail. Just six minutes from Hayes & Harlington railway station, London Paddington is within easy reach, while Watford is a 40-minute drive. *Based on a 40% share of the full market value of £310,000

What they thought… We are certainly impressed by the amount of space on offer in these new homes – the idea of having a three bedroom home, with space for both myself and Lucas to spread out, really is a lovely thought. We quite like the idea, too, of living in a really pretty town, with such a countryside feel. I think there’d be plenty to keep us entertained. It would be excellent for Lucas getting to work, which would mean we could spend more time together – always a good thing!”

What a cool address to have – it was once the site of EMI records; Lucas would love telling his friends that! We really like the look of these apartments; they are cool and modern and appear to have plenty of space, too. The balconies are really well sized and it looks like there would be plenty of sights to take in. We are really interested in the fact that there will be shops, cafes and creative studios on the site – plenty to keep us entertained.”

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THE WILD CARD Shakespeare Park, Milton Keynes


The Ridgeway, Chinnor

FROM £284,950

First choice! TH E MO VI E STAR

FROM £350,000

Denham Film Studios, Denham

Just 30 miles north of Watford, the thriving town of Milton Keynes is home to this stunning collection of new four and five bedroom houses. The four bedroom properties are arranged over two floors, with a ground floor w/c, large kitchen/ living area and a separate lounge. The homes also enjoy a private garden, with French doors from the kitchen. Watford, 38 miles south, can be reached in just under an hour by car, while London, Cambridge and the North are a simple train journey from Milton Keynes Central station.

Located on the edge of the stunning Chiltern Hills, this pretty new collection of homes is perfect for those looking to get away from it all. The two, three and four bedroom homes are beautifully finished, with high-quality fittings and fixtures and spacious living areas. The two bedroom homes feature an en suite from the master bedroom. Residents also benefit from private parking spaces. Watford is a scenic 30-mile drive, while London Marylebone can be reached in 35 minutes from nearby Princes Risborough station.

Wow, four bedrooms! Certainly not something we had imagined being possible for us. Yes, it is over our budget, but it’s really interesting to see what is out there, and I think for the right property, we would try and make up the shortfall. These houses are really nice – there’s so much space and we’d have our own garden – something we’ve only dreamed of after living in London all these years. Milton Keynes is also quite appealing to us – we have friends who moved there from London and they’ve never been happier.”

This is a whole new part of the world for us – we’ve never ventured into the Chilterns before, although I’ve asked Lucas to take me there for many years! It’s an exciting prospect to move to such a beautiful area, and I think we’d really make the most of it, as we both love putting on our hiking boots and heading out on long weekend strolls. The homes are pretty and spacious, and we really like the idea of having an en suite – we could have one bathroom each!”

pretty se smart new homes in Film buffs will adore the which will es, hom new 4 22 The ire. Denham, Buckinghamsh four and s ent e bedroom apartm include one, two and thre the on d ate cre n uses, have bee and five bedroom townho lude inc l wil ent pm elo dev ios. The site of the former film stud dens gar nal community hall, commu a restored cinema, bar, g kin par ate nts will also enjoy priv and fitness space. Reside es mil 10 just lies area. Denham as well as a woodland y route king for a quick and eas ma d, tfor Wa of south west along the M25.


“We’ve spent almost every evening online, researching the local area and looking through the property details. We are very interested in proceeding and are consulting our families for their very valued opinions. We have spoken to our mortgage advisor, who has confirmed that we now have a mortgage in principle, so we are one step closer to our dream.”

These new homes really do have it all – not only are they really attractive, but there’s so much to see and do on the site, too. The apartment interiors are very much our style, with the dark wood floors and sleek kitchens. We are also more than impressed with the facilities. The idea of having a private cinema and gym, as well as communal gardens and really lovely balconies far exceeds our expectations. The immediate area is really pretty and it would be so easy for Lucas to get into work from here. Denham train station is also really close, meaning my non-driver mum can come and visit whenever she wants!”

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16/05/2017 18:06


Developer’s Doctor Kush Rawal is Sales & Marketing Director of Thames Valley Housing, a pioneer in social housing for more than 50 years and one of the South East’s largest housing providers. Kush has worked for Thames Valley Housing for 12 years and plays a key role in promoting and developing shared ownership. Here, he advises on how to afford a first home, without sacrificing quality or location

Question… I’m a young professional looking to get on to the property ladder as soon as possible. I work in central London, and want to be as close as possible, without living in the city centre – I enjoy keeping my work environment and home environment separate. As I’m buying on my own, I need something relatively affordable, but I also really don’t want to compromise on the location. Could you give me some advice?

a unique scheme, Shared Ownership PLUS, which allows homebuyers to increase their equity share by 1% a year, for up to 15 years. You don’t have to compromise on location with shared ownership homes; you’ll find them in even the most sought-after places, so you can consider buying in an area you

Kush Rawal, Sales and Marketing Director, Thames Valley Housing

might have previously thought was outside your price range. The build quality and specification are excellent too. If you want to live outside central London, but still within easy reach, Twickenham is a great choice (see below). Good luck!

Answer … You may have read that the average cost of a first time home in London is now £405,000, according to Lloyds Bank, and the average deposit is around £90,000. With eye-watering figures like this, unless you have a large deposit available, you’ll need to consider using one of the Government’s first time buyer schemes. You’ve probably heard about Help to Buy, which offers first time buyers a 40% loan, interest free for five years, on a new home in London, and a 20% loan on new properties outside the capital. But you may be less familiar with shared ownership, which is a brilliant way for anyone with a household income of less than £90,000 to buy a home in stages, as and when affordable. You buy a share, typically between 25% and 75% of its total value, and pay a monthly rent on the balance owned by the housing association. The deposit is based on the share of the property you purchase and can therefore be very modest. Over time you can, if you wish, buy more equity in your home (this is called staircasing), until you own 100% of the property. One-off increments are usually in shares of around 10% of the property’s value, but Thames Valley Housing has set up





Queens House is a collection of contemporary one and two bedroom apartments in Twickenham, which will be available to purchase through shared ownership from early autumn 2017. Thames Valley Housing has transformed the original 1960s building to create high-quality, modern homes. Each apartment features floor-to-ceiling windows that flood natural light into the living areas, while bespoke lighting and stylish fittings and finishes create a sense of luxury. Residents also have access to a beautifully landscaped roof garden. Leafy Twickenham is the home of English rugby. Queens House is moments from riverside walks and less than half a mile from the high street, with cafés, bars and restaurants. Nearby Richmond offers great shopping and entertainment, plus the beautiful Richmond Park. It’s a five-minute walk to Twickenham station, with trains reaching Richmond in five minutes and Waterloo in 24 minutes. To register your interest, please call Thames Valley Housing on 0208 607 0550, or visit

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No P lace L ike Home


Luke Doonan bought his first apartment when he was just 18 and now owns his own property investment company. After making a series called Council House Crackdown for BBC1 – a subject very close to his heart, he has started his own production company and his latest film, Dispossession, will soon be shown in cinemas across the UK. He spoke to Lynda Clark about the film, his first home and the advice he has for first time buyers Photos by Mike Prior

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Luke Doonan packs more into a day than most people do in a week! His energy, enthusiasm and positive outlook are infectious and his story is pretty amazing too. He was brought up in East Finchley in a council flat and had a very ordinary childhood. What was different, however, was that from the age of 10, Luke longed to buy his own property. “I started doing car washing when I was very young, so that I could save up and buy a property. I was very determined to own my own home, even when I was just a young boy. I left school at 16 and worked for a family friend in his reproduction furniture company – in fact I worked seven days a week just so I could save. I sold furniture from Monday to Friday, and at weekends, I was the van boy! But I didn’t mind as I was so driven. I lived in rented rooms in flats, where the conditions were really grim, and the desire to own my own place was overwhelming. I just wanted to paint my own walls, shut the door and get my own space.” Eventually, when he was just 18, Luke found a studio flat in Highgate, which was on the market for £37,000. He had managed to save around £7,000, which was enough for a deposit. “By then, I had decided to change track and took a fitness instructors course at a gym. I managed to get a mortgage and my payment was £200 a month. The place was in a real mess, with no heating or hot water, so I had to completely refurbish it and sort out the plumbing, the electrics and plastering. I stayed there for three to four years and then rented it out for a few months. I eventually sold it for £150,000, so I made a huge profit.” “The whole experience gave me such a buzz that I wanted to do it over and over again. I was still a fitness instructor and I decided to move to Bow in the East End, so I bought a one bedroom flat in the famous Bryant and May matchstick factory. It was 1994, I paid £65,000 and it was a beautiful warehouse apartment. In those days, Canary Wharf was nothing like it is today, but it was a great location and had excellent transport links. Once again, I completely refurbished it, but instead of selling it, I decided to rent it out. I knew I was on to something big here, so every time a nearby property was up for sale I started buying them up. Buying in Bow was much cheaper, but I could get really good rents once I had done them up. I wanted to make every flat special and encourage would-be renters to really like and enjoy their new home. I always put champagne in the fridge on the day they moved in and it was always really appreciated, encouraging the start of a good landlord/tenant relationship. Sometimes I had to queue all night for the first flat, but I was lucky because I had changed jobs and was now working as an estate agent, which gave me so much experience and taught me a great deal about the property market.” Looking outside of London was Luke’s next move and he bought six apartments in Chelmsford, as he saw this was a very upand-coming area, with an easy commute to London. He has also bought at the Woolwich Royal Arsenal, right on the river Thames, and on Urban Island, which is a secret idyllic oasis of a designated conservation area, very close to Docklands and the city. When the property market started to go into free-fall and all the press was very negative, Luke decided he would write a book, which would put a more positive spin on buying in London. He also got himself an agent, made regular appearances as the property expert on TV's The Wright Stuff and is often on BBC London News and BBC London Radio. Perhaps most importantly, Luke, is passionate about social housing and has been studying the housing crisis over the last two years – in particular, the massive issue of illegal subletting of council homes (people who

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THE VIEW have been given council properties, who no longer need or want them, and decide to rent them out – usually for a massive profit). It became illegal in October 2013 to sublet your council property He had the idea to make a TV show highlighting this issue, the housing crisis overall and also how it effects people on the housing waiting lists. He took the idea to the BBC and it was commissioned straight away, was shown on BBC1 and was a great success. The show, called Council House Crackdown,, also highlighted cases where people have been on waiting lists and then moved into homes once they have been taken back off people that do not need them. Luke has now started his own production company, 215 Productions, which is the apartment number of the first property he bought. He is now making socially and ethically driven documentaries on housing and other social issues. Whilst making Council House Crackdown, Luke saw what was really happening on some of the estates across the UK; how many of them were being regenerated, but the level of social homes being replaced was minimal in comparison to the homes which were lost. “This is a massive issue and we are effectively socially cleansing London and cities across the country. There are fewer social homes than ever before and we are losing communities which are being broken down bit by bit.” Luke then decided to make a film to highlight these issues. Called Dispossession,, it looks at the state of society and highlights stories of many of the residents who have lost their homes and communities forever. It will be shown in cinemas from mid-June 2017 and Luke has also arranged for it to be screened in as many council community centres as possible. “It’s a real eye-opener and tells some pretty incredible stories. We have been lucky enough to have Maxine Peake, the actor, to narrate it and we are also making a version of the film for the television as well as trying to show it at film festivals. The stories need to be told – I want everyone to realise just what is going on and how wrong it is.” Luke is beyond passionate about working within the social housing sector across the UK. He would like to become a housing advisor for the Government and strongly feels we need a 25-year long term housing plan for the UK, which is implemented and carried out by whichever government is in office. So what does he advise for first time buyers who are looking to buy their own home. “Think with your head and not your heart. Don’t get caught up in the glorious dream of looking at photos in brochures of people standing on balconies, looking like they don’t have a care in the world. It takes a lot of hard work to own your own home and also to keep up with the mortgage repayments. I think one of the best pieces of advice is to thoroughly research an area and, if you are interested in a particular development, also research the builder and what they have already sold. One little trick is to find out when the developers year-end is as they always want to sell off their properties before the new tax year, so you are more than likely to get a cheaper deal. “First time buyers should think long-term – this is their home and it should be gone into with that in mind. You should know the area and ensure that it works for you – ask yourself some simple questions; Do you need schools close by? What are the transport links like? Do you feel safe? Are there any local shops? Also, you may fall in love with a property, but you have to be realistic as to what you can afford and don’t bite off more than you can chew! “There are some great government schemes, such as shared ownership and Help to Buy, which are helping so many people afford to get a foot on the ladder. I think that, to date, the Help to Buy scheme has helped almost 100,000 people to buy a new home, which is a great start for many!


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Hot or Not ? With prices in central London rising beyond the reach of many first time buyers, the race is on to find pockets of affordability and commuter hotspots. Kay Hill points out some of the best places to start looking It’s easy to imagine that you are priced out of London, but there are still some modestly-priced areas in Zone 3 (and the newly created Zone 2/3 ZONE 3 around Stratford, Canning Town and West Ham). Indeed, figures from Bairstow Eves show that GEMS Canning Town has become a top destination for first time buyers, with 63% of the homes sold there going to newbies, at an average asking price of £380,469. An annual travelcard for Zone 1-3 is £1,548, just £228 a year dearer than for Zone 1-2, but the difference in house prices is startling. David Fell, research analyst at Hamptons International, explains, “Alongside postcodes, travel zones are one of the biggest house price dividing lines in the capital. On a £/sq ft basis, the price of a home falls by a fifth between each zone.” Hamptons’ research estimates that the average home in Zone 1 costs £1,380/sq ft, Zone 2 comes in at £894 and in Zone 3 it drops to an average of £675/sq ft. Within Zone 3 itself there are also some huge differences, with areas such as East Ham at £410/sq ft and Plaistow at £432/sq ft coming in way below the average. Putting that into pounds and pence, buying a 500 sq ft flat in Zone 3, rather than Zone 2, could knock £100,000 off the total price, potentially saving £400 a month [assuming a mortgage of £250,000 instead of £350,000 at 2%] – a saving of £4,570 a year, even with increased travel costs. So, whereabouts in Zone 3 should you be looking? As well as East Ham and Plaistow, you might find gems in Canning Town and Stratford (Zone 2-3), Walthamstow and Bexley (under three miles from the DLR). Tottenham N17, also Zone 3, had the highest proportion of first time buyers in London, according to Bairstow Eves, with 63% of sales going to newcomers, at an average cost of £380,345.


FROM £107,500*

ROYAL ALBERT WHARF Royal Albert Wharf by Notting Hill Sales is part of the regeneration of the Royal Docks, which will eventually see 1,500 new homes within walking distance of Gallions Reach and Cyprus DLR stations. The apartments feature private balconies and prices start at £107,500 for a 25% share of a two bedroom apartment, and from £136,250 for a 25% share of a three bedroom apartment. *Based on a 25% share with a full market value of £430,000

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Stratford Broadway

Stratford Broadway is a development by East Thames of one and two bedroom apartments, just across the road from Stratford Station, onsale from £151,500 for a 30% share.

FROM £113,750* *Based on a 30% share with a full market value of £505,000


FROM £345,000

Atelier Place in Walthamstow comprises 43 one and two bedroom apartments, available with shared ownership through East Thames, just half a mile from Blackhorse Road Overground and Underground stations in Zone 3. The apartments also come with their own private space in the form of a balcony or terrace.

CANNING TOWN East City Point

East City Point by Countryside is a development of one, two and three bedroom apartments close to Custom House and Canning Town stations. Prices start at £345,000 for a one bedroom apartment and £440,000 for a two bedroom apartment, with London Help to Buy available on selected properties *Based on a 35% share with a full market value of £325,000

FROM £115,500*


Traders Quarter at Royal Wharf

Traders Quarter at Royal Wharf, Silvertown, is within walking distance from Zone 3 Pontoon Dock DLR station and comprises one, two and three bedroom shared ownership apartments by Notting Hill Sales, available to people living and working in London. Residents at this new riverside community, located in the centre of London’s Docklands, will also have access to a 24-hour concierge, shops, cafes and modern leisure facilities. *Based on a 30% share with a full market price of £385,000

London cabbies once used to be wary of heading ‘sarf of the river’, as if it was another country, but these days, good transport links make for an easy commute and cheaper housing. New Cross in the SOUTH borough of Lewisham is now the cheapest place LONDON in Zone 2 to buy a home, according to Hamptons International, followed by Deptford. Regeneration is underway in New Cross and Deptford, with a stream of new homes coming on to the market – according to Rightmove, the average price in Deptford over the past year was £432,900, and £427,463 in New Cross. Also conveniently situated in Zone 2, are Brixton and Peckham, with average house prices of £544,275 and £515,125 – shared ownership schemes can help make these areas a possibility, but a little further out, buying a whole home could become a reality. Anerley in SE20, for example, is just five miles away from Brixton, but in Zone 4, rather than Zone 2, so a travelcard will cost £1,892 a year rather than £1,320. It might put up your commuting costs by £572 a year, but while the average apartment in Brixton costs £450,000, in Anerley it is just £323,309. Similarly, in South Norwood, also in Zone 4, an average property costs £334,075, according to Rightmove. Not surprising then, that Bairstow Eves puts both locations in its top 20 hotspots for first time buyers.



Electric Quarter Electric Quarter is a redevelopment by Guinness Homes in Loughborough Park, Brixton, that will create 133 shared ownership homes.

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FROM £360,000


Anthology Deptford Foundry Anthology Deptford Foundry is a new development of apartments, within an easy stroll of Zone 2 Deptford and New Cross stations. One, two and three bedroom apartments will be available next year, with prices starting from £360,000.

FROM £260,000


Cargreen Road in South Norwood is a redevelopment of an office building into apartments, with private balconies and a communal roof terrace, plus bike storage. Prices for studio apartments start at £260,000, with one bedroom apartments from £320,000.

The fringe of the Capital is popular with first time buyers. Mark Park, Managing Director ON THE of Redrow, which FRINGES has developments in Harrow and Colindale Gardens, said, “Zones 3, 4 and 5 are continuing to become more popular with first time buyers. This part of the market has been outperforming central London for around two years now and research indicates the trend is set to continue. It is unsurprising as buyers get more for their money in outer London, and many areas are regenerating and starting to offer a buzz usually only found in more central locations.” Barking, for example, is the cheapest place to buy a home in Zone 4, (annual travelcard £1,892) while nearby Dagenham is the cheapest in Zone 5 (annual travelcard £2,248) according to Bairstow Eves. According to Rightmove, the majority of sales in Barking during the last year were terraced properties, with an average price of £370,426, while flats sold at around £212,000. In Dagenham, the average flat sold for £203,000, although mortgage savings would be largely cancelled out by increased travel costs. Further out still, there are definitely bargains – commuting to Grays or Tilbury costs £3,444 a year, but in Grays, the average flat sells for £177,891 and a terraced property for £263,910. In Tilbury, flats near the station are on sale for just £110,000 and the average for all homes is £211,855, but as prices rose 25% in the previous year on the promise of the Thames Gateway and a new bridge, the bargains won’t last long.



Colindale Gardens

FROM £490,000

Colindale Gardens is a development of 2,900 new homes, close to Colindale Zone 4 underground station, with journeys taking under 30 minutes to central London. The homes have a high specification, with underfloor heating and built-in wardrobes to master bedrooms. Help to Buy is available.

FROM £465,000

HARROW Lyon Square

Lyon Square is a development of 31 one, two and three bed apartments in Zone 5, near Harrow on the Hill and West Harrow stations, taking less than 25 minutes into central London. Homes currently available start from £465,000 for a two bedroom apartment. Help to Buy is available.

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FROM £257,995


Caspian Quarter

Caspian Quarter is a collection of one, two and three bedroom apartments. Transport links into London are excellent, with underground services on the District and Hammersmith & City lines, while the Overground has trains to Fenchurch Street. Help to Buy is available.

FROM £359,995

EAST TILBURY The Boulevards

The Boulevards at Bata Fields is a collection of 76 two, three and four bedroom homes in East Tilbury by Persimmon. Four bedroom detached homes are available now from £359,995.

Crossrail has boosted nearby property prices by 22% in two years, according to Lloyds Bank, which has put Woolwich into the spotlight. According to Rightmove, OUT INTO most property sales in Woolwich KENT (£1,892 annual Zone 4 travelcard) were apartments, selling for around £332,000. Jonathan Goring, Managing Director at Lovell Homes – which is working on the £400 million Trinity Woolwich regeneration scheme – said, “It’s no wonder Woolwich is one to watch for aspiring homeowners in London. Woolwich’s brilliant travel links already provide an 18-minute train journey to Canary Wharf on the DLR and, when the new Crossrail station opens, travel times will get even shorter.” Moving outwards, savings are to be had in Erith (£2,408 annual Zone 6 travelcard). For £500 a year extra travel costs, you could pick up the average flat for just £181,475, or buy a semi for the price of a flat in Woolwich. Or, in slightly more fashionable Dartford, with a £3,072 annual commute, most flats that were sold over the past year did so for less than £200,000.

WOOLWICH Trinity Walk

Ebbsfleet Garden City is a massive new development, which will deliver 5,100 new homes by 2021, most available with Help to Buy. Last year, most property sales involved terraced properties, which sold for around £272,000, while flats fetched £171,990. Highspeed trains from Ebbsfleet International Station will whisk you into central London at a price – a season ticket with Zone 1-6 costs £5,180 a year using Ebbsfleet Station, although slower services from Northfleet are cheaper at £3,692. Paul Spooner, interim Chief Executive of Ebbsfleet Development Corporation, explained, “Interest in the Garden City is incredibly strong and sales have been buoyed by the Help to Buy scheme, which is giving younger people a real step up on to the property ladder. Much of the success of Ebbsfleet Garden City is down to its location and the rail link that can get you into central London in just 17 minutes.” Finally, at the end of the line, Gravesend is still a reasonable commute and, on the slower trains, costs £4,016 a year with a Zone 1-6 travelcard. According to Rightmove, the majority of sales there last year were terraced properties, selling for an average price of £262,678, with flats fetching £164,029.

FROM £320,000

Trinity Walk is a collection of new one, two and three bedroom apartments and three and four bedroom townhouses by Lovell Homes, a mile from the new Crossrail station in Woolwich. Prices start from £320,000 and Help to Buy is available.


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FROM £365,000


Springhead Park within Ebbsfleet Garden City comprises 113 two bedroom coach houses, plus two, three and four bedroom homes, set around a park and with a new school set to open next year. Three bedroom properties from Countryside start from £365,000.

FROM £229,000


Castle Hill

Also in Ebbsfleet, Castle Hill by Barratt Homes comprises one and two bedroom apartments, most with terraces and wrap-around balconies offering fantastic views. The Help to Buy scheme is available.

An 18.6% increase in the cost of first time buyer properties in a year identifies Croydon as a massive first time buyer hotspot, according to Rightmove. CROYDON Commenting, Miles Shipside, Director and Housing Market Analyst, said, “The country’s top price-rise hotspot is Croydon, where Londoners priced out of some other parts of the capital have sensed a combination of convenience and value, aided by some serious regeneration.” Mark Harrop, Head of Sales at Bellway Homes South London, adds, “Homes that offer Help to Buy in London are in demand, and developments such as Penhurst Square in Croydon, are giving buyers an option that means not having to leave the capital.” Croydon has obvious benefits – three Zone 5 railway stations and a Tramlink - and, despite the recent price rises, it is still an affordable option. Across the whole of Croydon, last year’s property prices averaged £276,00 for flats and £388,000 for terraces, with the cheapest area being Forestdale, where it is still possible to pick up a small flat for under £200,000.


FROM £294,950

Central Cross

ADDISCOMBE Penhurst Square

Penhurst Square offers two and three bedroom apartments plus four bedroom houses, with great travel links FROM into central London. £379,995 It is located east of Croydon and offers Tramlink services to East Croydon and Wimbledon, with the station less than a 10-minute walk from the development. Penhurst Square is available to purchase with the added benefit of Help to Buy on selected properties.


Central Cross by Inspired Homes consists of 82 one, two and three bedroom apartments, a short walk from East or South Croydon stations. Help to Buy is available and the compact 395 sq ft one bedroom properties start from £294,950. All apartments have 1GB Superfast Hyperoptic broadband and a NEST Smart thermostat.

Hackbridge Gardens, five miles from Croydon in Zone 4, is part of a FROM regeneration scheme, £2 63,995 with the creation of 725 homes at New Mill Quarter. David Wilson Homes is building 246 of these, opposite Hackbridge Station, with a focus on sustainable living. Features include a car share scheme, roof garden and district heating network. Prices start at £263,995 for a one bedroom apartment.


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COMMUTER HOMES Working practices have changed with new technology, and now you can log on using Wi-Fi on the train and begin your working day, making lengthy commutes FURTHER more feasible than ever. It’s even AFIELD possible to buy in some of the cheapest places in the country – Stoke-on-Trent, or Derby – and still be at your London desk in less than two hours (at least, according to the timetables). A look at the table below shows the strong correlation between season ticket prices and house prices, but also reveals a few anomalies, so that Luton is better value for money than Reading or Stevenage, and Northampton could be a better deal than Clacton. LOCATION Slough Basingstoke Stevenage Luton Reading Bedford Northampton Clacton Stoke-on-Trent Derby

ANNUAL SEASON TICKET INC ZONE 1-6 £3,344 £4,272 £4,908 £5,076 £5,116 £6,072 £6,356 £6,428 £9,160 £10,236

SLOUGH Crossways

FROM £229,995

Crossways in Slough, by Bellway Homes, has 153 one, two and three bedroom apartments, within walking distance of the station, most with balconies. Help to Buy is available and prices start from £229,995.

AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE £326,000 £294,000 £276,000 £240,000 £341,000 £244,000 £215,000 £243,000 £129,000 £173,000

FROM £66,000*


Merchant Place Merchant Place in Bedford is a new shared ownership development of one and two bedroom apartments from Guinness Homes. Set on the banks of the river Ouse, a few minutes’ walk from the town centre, prices start at £66,000 for a 40% share of a one bedroom apartment. *Based on a 40% share with a full market value of £165,000



The Fairways, just £269,950 outside Basingstoke, is a development by Bellway Homes of two, three, four and five bedroom houses. Available properties start from £269,950 for a townhouse and £349,950 for a three bedroom, mid-terrace home.


SAVING ON RENT Aggy Bak, 34, is an accountant who bought a one bedroom apartment at Inspired Home’s Canius House development in Croydon, last year, for £294,950, using Help to Buy London. She was tired of renting and was surprised to find she could buy a property with a short commute to central London. After saving hard for nine months to put together a 5% deposit of £16,000, she now finds that her £700 a month mortgage is considerably less than the £1,000 she was having to find each month in rent. “I’d been renting for several years and was fed up with landlords constantly raising prices,” Aggy says. “I felt like I was getting less and less for my money, as time went by, and dreamed of owning my own home and paying less each month. I was surprised to find I could buy my own home so close to central London, and the excellent transport links from Croydon mean I can get into central London in just 20 minutes. My new apartment is bright and airy, with solid wood floors and a high-specification kitchen, but best of all, it’s mine! I’m £300 better off each month and I feel reassured that I’m investing in my future by building up equity, rather than pouring money into a landlord’s pocket.”

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Delayed Gratification

Saving for your first home could take longer than you think, but starting early and making wise decisions can bring your dream home a step nearer. Kay Hill looks at tools and advice that might help Respected consumer organisation Which? has launched a new online mortgage deposit calculator, in response to its research that found would-be homeowners are forced to save for up to a decade to get on the property ladder. The organisation’s latest Homebuyers Survey, which asked more than 1,000 first time buyers about their experiences, found that 69% said it took more than two years to build their home deposit and 23% had to save for five to 10 years. Many people, it seems, start saving too little, too late to achieve their aims, and may not realise the effect of house price increases on their plans. The calculator, which can be found in the mortgages section at, gives a totally personalised projection, based on how much you can save each year, the interest on your savings, existing funds, the possibility of help from the bank of mum and dad and the rate of house price inflation in the area in which you are hoping to buy. “Saving for a deposit is a big challenge and can seem like a daunting task,” says David Blake, principal mortgage adviser at

Which? “Our deposit affordability calculator helps you to think about buying a home and gives you a realistic expectation of how long it might take you to get there. We also factor in regional market information, to forecast how much you’ll need to save over time. This is particularly helpful for first time buyers, who may have less information about the property market and the process of buying a home.”

If you aren’t tied to a fixed location, the calculator may help you decide where best to look, as it automatically fills in the average house price within that area (although you can vary this if you are aiming higher or lower) and the local house price inflation rate – from whole regions like the South East right down to individual towns. So, for example, if you were a first time buyer with existing savings of £2,000, saving £100 a month into an account paying 1.5%, then you might prefer to look at Blackpool, Pendle or Blaenau Gwent, where you would have to save for just two years to get the necessary 5% deposit, rather than set unrealistic sights on becoming a property owner in inner London, where the calculator notes: “Unfortunately you won’t be able to afford a deposit based on these values.” Even if you are tied to a particular county, it can help you decide where

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Although the mortgage deposit is the biggest part of the overall costs that you’ll need to pay to buy a home, there are other things you will need to budget for when saving up, including:

Our research reveals the real difficulty that first time buyers have when it comes to saving enough

 Stamp duty: this is a tiered tax that you'll need to pay on any property costing over £125,000 – you can work out how much you'll pay using the Which? stamp duty calculator.  Mortgage arrangement fees: while these are sometimes waived to entice you in, lenders will often charge anything up to £2,000 to arrange your mortgage.  Legal fees: you'll need to appoint a solicitor to arrange the purchase of your property. Costs vary between firms and can range from a few hundred pounds to more than £1,000.  Property survey fees: these can range from £100 to more than £1,000.  Land registry fees: these can range from £40 to £910, depending on the value of the property you are purchasing.

money for a deposit. Given how hard it can be to get on to the property ladder, ensuring you have the right mortgage could not be more important. Seeking independent mortgage advice early on is vital, in order to know what options are open to you.

David Blake Prinicpal Mortgage

to look – our fictional saver looking to buy in Essex, for example, would have to save for 14 years to buy an average property in Chelmsford, but just eight years in nearby Colchester, a few stops along the mainline railway line. A particularly useful feature is that it demonstrates very clearly how even a small increase in savings can have a dramatic effect. If our fictional saver were to squirrel away a modest extra £20 a month, that property in Chelmsford would be accessible in 11 years and the one in Colchester in seven years. A little bit more effort, for example adding in the £932 that Moneywise deputy editor Helen Knapman says she saved by taking packed lunches to work for a year, plus the £400 she saved on not buying takeaway coffee, would mean putting £231 away in savings each month. Amazingly, that would mean getting the keys to the house in Colchester in four years, or the one in Chelmsford in just five. Of course it’s worth bearing in mind that even the wonderful people at Which? don’t have a crystal ball. “It isn’t possible to accurately predict the impact of Brexit and inflation on the housing market,” warns David Blake, “however, our tool gives you an indication of how long it would take you to save up if market conditions were to continue with the current trend.”

NEVER TOO YOUNG? So, should children be saving for their own real-life castle while they’re still building sandcastles? It’s perfectly possible to own your own home by the age of 25, says a new study by HSBC called Deposit Dash – but youngsters need to stop spending all their money on sweets and football cards, and sacrifice those Easter eggs to build a nest egg. The study suggests that if children were to put away just a quarter of what they receive from birth – including pocket money, Christmas cash, holiday jobs and presents

from the tooth fairy – then they would easily be able to put down a 5% deposit by the time they are 25. The study suggests that, by the age of 10, the average child will have received £22,005. This is not just cash, however, it also includes the value of actual gifts given at Christmas, birthdays and Easter. And what parent would want to tell their eightyear-old that they couldn’t have a new bike, or a PlayStation, because the money needs to go into their deposit fund instead? Tracie Pearce, HSBC UK’s Head of Mortgages, is more positive, “We’re not suggesting that children and young adults shouldn’t spend any of their pocket money, or enjoy themselves, but they should be aware of what money they have and receive, and regularly save some of it. It’s interesting to see that many young people don’t think they’ll ever be able to afford to buy their own home, however, by starting saving early on, homeownership is a realistic and achievable aspiration.”

Advisor, Which? Mortgage Advisors

The deposit affordability calculator can be found at

Our cover star, TV presenter and filmmaker, Luke Doonan, started saving for his first home when he was just 10 years old and longed to buy his own property. “I started doing car washing when I was very young so that I could save up and buy a property. I was very determined, even when I was just a young boy, to own my own home. I left school at 16 and worked for a family friend in his reproduction furniture company – in fact, I worked seven days a week just so I could save." Eventually, by the time he was just 18, Luke had managed to save around £7,000, which was enough for a deposit on a studio flat in Highgate. Read his story on pages 20-23

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Property Soap Stars Are you a Corrie fan? Or perhaps you prefer EastEnders – we have had some fun and looked at the nation’s best-loved soap characters and calculated how much their property has increased in value since they first graced our screens The latest research from leading online estate agent compares the average increase of homes of some of the longest serving iconic characters featured in our favourite soaps. eMoov looked at each screen star's property type, since the year they were first on our screens, and how much they have increased in value.

LIVERPOOL HOLLYOAKS This Channel 4 soap is set in a fictional suburb called Hollyoaks and takes a look at the lives, loves and careers of a group of teenage friends and their families as they graduate through GCSEs, A-Levels and college, and into the world of work.


Tony Hutchinson’s semi-detached house in Liverpool has an average price today of £143,855, an increase of 304%

Bellevale School House Mews School House Mews is an exciting new development by Riverside Home Ownership, with homes available for shared ownership.  The development consists of 12 three bedroom and four two bedroom homes. Situated in a very popular residential area of Liverpool, a whole range of shopping facilities and local amenities are on the doorstep. Just 10 minutes from the M62 motorway, and around half an hour away from Manchester, School House Mews is also an ideal commuter location. Designed in a traditional style, the homes are in keeping with the surrounding area, yet offer a range of modern finishes. There is an oven, hob and cooker hood in the kitchen and carpet and vinyl floor coverings throughout. Homes come with front and rear landscaped gardens and there is also off-road parking. The full market value for a two bedroom home is £125,000 and £140,000 for a three bed.


FROM £31,250*

*Based on 25% share with a full market value of £125,000

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LONDON EASTENDERS EastEnders is a TV soap about the trials and tribulations of a close-knit community in London’s East End.

Ian Beale’s terraced house in East London has an average price today of £494,231, an increase of 481%

STRATFORD, LONDON Stratford Broadway

FROM £151,500*

Located in Stratford, where the Olympic legacy continues to create a distinct and inspiring atmosphere, this new development comprises a stunning collection of 35 one and two bedroom apartments, available for shared ownership. Located in the heart of Stratford, Stratford Broadway is ideally positioned to take advantage of all that London has to offer and continues to benefit from extensive regeneration of the area. Excellently situated for travel all around London, Stratford Broadway is located opposite Stratford bus and train stations, while Stratford International is also just a short walk away. From these stations, fast services link to the West End, the City, Canary Wharf, the rest of London and beyond, via London Underground, Overground, DLR, TFL Rail, Abellio Greater Anglia Rail and a variety of bus services. Only two bedroom apartments remain at Stratford Broadway, with prices starting from £151,500 for a 30% share with a full market value of £505,000.

*Based on a 30% share with a full market value of £505,000

BIRMINGHAM DOCTORS This television drama series is set in a Midlands practice, following the lives of the staff and patients.

Jimmi Clay’s terraced house in Birmingham has an average price today of £146,898, an increase of 31%

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FROM £179,995

Highfield Gardens

A one bedroom apartment in Bloomsbury House at Highfield Gardens features a spacious open-plan lounge/fully-fitted kitchen/diner, plus a spacious bedroom and contemporary bathroom. There is also an allocated parking space, secure bike store and telephone entry system.

BRISTOL CASUALTY Following the lives of the people frequenting the frenetic Accident and Emergency department of Holby City hospital in Bristol.

Charlie Fairhead’s semi-detached house in Bristol has an average price today of £310,821, an increase of 420%

BRISTOL Lyde Green

FROM £174,000

Lyde Green is an exciting new community, just nine miles north of Bristol, surrounded by rolling Gloucestershire countryside and offering a relaxed, community-centered lifestyle. There are one and two bedroom apartments, three bedroom terraced and semi-detached houses, and four bedroom semis and detached houses, available with prices ranging from £174,000 to £400,000. With excellent local amenities and easily accessible transport links, the development will, in time, benefit from new areas of leafy parkland, schools, leisure facilities, commercial properties and local shops and services on the doorstep as the wider Emersons Green East Urban extension is constructed. Lyde Green is a commuter’s dream, with the A4174 providing easy access to both Bristol and Bath. A brand new park-and-ride bus route is also in the pipeline, and miles of cycleways and footpaths are planned for residents to enjoy. Bristol Parkway railway station is five miles away and Bristol Temple Meads station just eight miles away, for frequent services to London, the West Country and the North.


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MANCHESTER CORONATION STREET Britain’s longest-running and most successful soap, the programme centres on the residents of Coronation Street in Weatherfield, a fictional town based on Salford near Manchester.

Ken Barlow’s terraced house in Manchester has an average price today of £142,759 an increase of 8746%


FROM £129,950


Inspired Homes are launching their latest development, Fabrick, in Cheadle Hulme, off-plan, with completions anticipated for mid-2018. The redevelopment of this centrally-located building will provide 184 one and two bedroom apartments, with a high specification finish, including fully-fitted kitchens with integrated appliances, luxury bathrooms, wood flooring and 1GB Hyperoptic broadband. Residents will also enjoy access to a stunning range of communal facilities, including Wi-Fi-ready lounge and stunning rooftop terrace, complete with seating and BBQ area – perfect for summer parties. Fabrick is very close to Cheadle Hulme station, with a journey time of 16 minutes to Manchester Piccadilly and just six minutes to Stockport.

MANCHESTER The Whitworths


The Whitworths is a new development in the Openshaw area of Manchester, from Plumlife in partnership with One Manchester. Offering two and three bedroom homes, with 10 available through shared ownership and 24 for market rent, the development takes its name from Sir Joseph Whitworth, the famous engineer who revolutionised mechanical manufacturing, and whose major workshop was located in Openshaw, employing hundreds of locals. Openshaw is situated just two miles east of Manchester city centre and offers good transport links, being close to both the M62 and M60 motorways, making it an ideal location for commuters, while Gorton train station is just a five-minute walk away. The development is situated close to a range of local amenities, including the sporting/leisure facilities at SportCity, and is just a short drive from the Trafford Centre, with its vast range of shops and restaurants. The Whitworths is set to launch in Summer 2017. Call Plumlife on 0161 447 5050, or email to register your interest.


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HOTspot Colchester – In with the old


Average property price (February 2017) – £255,610 Property breakdown* (Colchester) Detached – £418,945 Semi-detached – £264,378 Terraced – £218,347 Flat – £158,309 *According to the UK House Price Index February 2017


Britain’s oldest town has an impressive past, but with ongoing regeneration, amazing amenities and good schools, this Essex locale also has a promising future – and one that’s enticing first time buyers As London house prices rise exponentially, increasing numbers of first time buyers are looking away from the capital to find their dream homes. Last year, based on research by estate agents Hamptons, the Roman city of Colchester, Essex, was identified as one of the key hot areas for first time buyers to move to, favoured for its great amenities, good schools, beautiful surroundings and speedy transport links. Sixty miles east of London, first time buyers can also get more for their money here and, with entire houses available for the same price of an apartment in London, it’s no wonder that buyers settle in this area once they’re here. It’s a beautiful spot to put down roots, too: as Britain’s oldest recorded town, the area is steeped in history, with a number of beautiful outlaying towns, rolling countryside, historic sights and the Essex coastline just 20 miles away. But it’s also a thriving, forward-thinking town, recently identified as one of the fastest growing in the country.

HOMES AND RESIDENTS Thanks to its impressive past, there’s a wide range of home styles and buildings in the Colchester area, with everything


from medieval cottages to newbuild developments. There are also some interesting regeneration projects that promise to bring thousands of new homes, student accommodation and shops as well as new business and employment opportunities to the area. In east Colchester, a new waterside community is being developed along the River Colne, while in the town centre, more than £500m is being invested in refreshing, renewing and promoting the centre. Colchester’s population is growing, and it is now the second largest district in Essex. Homebuyers are increasingly attracted to the area by the relatively affordable house prices and high quality of life. The University of Essex has a campus in Colchester, which helps to contribute to a young, creative population.

• Painter, John Constable • Indie iconic band, Blur • Presenter, Dermot O’Leary • Musician, Brian Eno

museum while you’re there), and the rather tranquil Green Island Gardens. Of course, there are miles of beautiful Essex coastline to explore, too. Visit Frinton-on-Sea or Walton-on-the-Naze for sandy, holidaystyle beaches, or Harwich for a more rural coastal setting. Back in Colchester itself, start your day at the Hall Farm Café, a converted-barn café serving a fresh menu created from the local ingredients stocked in their farm shop. For lunch, try the Garden Café in Dedham. Set in the grounds of the Munnings Art Museum, the café serves cream tea and cakes as well as a quality lunch and snacks menu. If you’re looking for fine dining, the locally renowned La Talbooth is well worth visiting. Set on the banks of the River Stour, its waterside location is the perfect place to enjoy quality French cuisine.

OUT AND ABOUT From the Colchester Natural History museum to the famous zoo, there are plenty of pursuits to keep people of all ages entertained in the area. Once you’re acquainted with the elephants, nature lovers will be in heaven at one of the many green spaces, including High Woods Country Park, Castle Park (visit the

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The rural surroundings of Colchester mean there are lots of wonderful old country pubs to explore, and visiting them can be easily combined with a great walk, or bike ride. Try the 17th century Wooden Fender in Ardleigh, for a traditional pub setting, or take a walk down the River Colne and reward yourself at the Fat Cat. Arts and entertainment are very much alive in Cochester, too. The Mercury Theatre is the place to see comedy, drama and everything in between, while the Headgate Theatre is the perfect spot for intimate live music gigs and theatre workshops. There’s also a full programme of events at the Colchester Arts Centre, while the Lakeside Theatre runs some exciting live screening events.

SHOPPING Shoppers will love the facilities in Colchester town centre, where there’s ample opportunity to pick up absolutely everything you need at one of the several shopping malls, markets, or high street shops. For big-name brands in the town centre, choose from Culver Square, Lion Walk and St John’s Walk, which together house around 100 outlets. The pretty, narrow streets and cobbled lanes of Colchester are also home to many

Photo © Facebook/Colchester Market


Colchester Market

independent shops, including beautiful book shops (try Red Lion Books), gift shops (Eclettico is worth a stop) and stationers (The Craft Spot), as well as cafes and tea rooms. In such an old town, it’s only natural that there are some great markets. Head to Charter Market, which has a history with the town of over 800 years, and has recently moved to the High Street. Here you’ll pick up everything from fresh fruit, veg and farm produce to clothing and furniture. There are also several farmers markets held throughout the year, which promote locally-sourced and created goods.

TRANSPORT Colchester is superbly located for local, national and even international travel. The A12 passes by the area and serves

as a direct driving route into London, while Cambridge can be reached in just over an hour by car. Rail services from Colchester to London Liverpool Street take just over 50 minutes, while Norwich can be reached in an hour. There’s also a good network of buses and local train links servicing the town and its many outlaying neighbourhoods. Several National Express coach services also run through the area, to destinations including Ipswich and Liverpool. To get further afield, Stanstead Airport is just 30 miles away and can be reached via the 24-hour express bus routes, which also whisk you to Harlow or Braintree. The size of the town makes it easy to get around by bike, with it taking around 30 minutes to get from one side of town to the other. There are also many offroad routes marked throughout the town, including some very pretty riverside rides.

5 REASONS WE LOVE… …COLCHESTER 1. Roman roots 2. Abundant countryside 3. Bustling arts and entertainment scene 4. Big regeneration projects 5. Close to the Essex coastline

HOMES on offer in the area… HIGHWOODS, COLCHESTER Avellana Place



Arena Place

FROM £299,995

Whitmore Park @ Kingswood Heath

FROM £164,995


With the town centre, good schools and rail station all within easy reach, this stunning new collection of homes, just over two miles north of Colchester, is perfect for young professionals, commuters and families alike. The homes range from two bedroom terrace houses, set over two floors, to five bedroom detached properties arranged over three storeys. The three bedroom detached properties feature an open-plan kitchen and dining area with quality fitted kitchen, separate living room on the ground floor and three bedrooms split over the top two floors.

History abounds at this new development, one mile from Colchester town centre; not only have the one to four bedroom homes been created on the site of a former military garrison, but the remains of Britain’s only known Roman circus were also discovered here. The apartments and houses are available in a variety of house styles, with the three bedroom apartments featuring well-sized bedrooms, each with a family bathroom or en suite attached. The openplan living areas are perfect for entertaining, and there’s also allocated parking.

Surrounded by lush Essex countryside, just two miles from Colchester town centre, this new collection of 245 two to five bedroom properties is perfect for those looking to mix town and country life – once complete, residents will also benefit from private open spaces. Created on the site of an historic hospital, the homes will range from apartments and coach houses to detached properties. With many good local schools, it is perfect for growing families. Colchester Town railway station is a short drive away for regular, fast services to Liverpool Street.

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According to research from the Office of National Statistics¹, Barking and Dagenham is one of the top five boroughs in the UK with the largest housing price growth over the last year. With the area earmarked for further growth and the average house price still under £280,000, this borough is an affordable property hotspot, with lots of untapped potential. For homebuyers keen to invest before prices soar, East Thames, part of the L&Q Group, is working with Barking and Dagenham Council to deliver the first phase of an ambitious regeneration project, transforming the eastern side of the Gascoigne Estate and creating over 1,500 new homes As a nod to the area’s industrial history, the name Weavers Quarter commemorates Barking Jute Works, also known as the Abbey Works, which closed in 1891 and was reputed to be the largest factory in the UK. The development, which will bring a £300million investment into Barking town centre, will offer a range of homes from one to four bedrooms, available for rent and shared ownership, set around open green space. The first phase is due to launch in autumn 2017 and will deliver 470 new homes. East Thames, part of the L&Q Group, and Barking and Dagenham Council have a strong vision to transform the area into an exciting and vibrant new part of the local community by 2024. Plans include the development of a 690-pupil primary school, a 1,850-pupil secondary school, a community centre, retail and office space as well as a public square. In addition, a Community Counts fund is available, providing grants of up to £500 to individuals, groups and organisations who work with people living on the Gascoigne Estate. Tony Harker, East Thames’ Director of Sales & Marketing said, “With average house prices considerably lower in comparison to other areas of London, Barking and Dagenham is a up-and-coming regeneration area, ideal for first time buyers. We are delighted to be delivering the first phase of Weavers Quarter, bringing new, high-quality homes to the Gascoigne Estate. We are placing a large emphasis on engaging the local community to create a place people are proud to call home.” Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, added, “Weavers Quarter will be one of London’s most attractive new neighbourhoods, with bright new homes and great community facilities, set in beautiful green spaces. The name we’ve chosen reflects the area’s past, but also signals an exciting future as a thriving community and successful part of the borough.”

Weavers Quarter

Alongside the plans to regenerate Gascoigne Estate, Barking and Dagenham Council also has extensive plans to regenerate and grow the borough, aiming to deliver 50,000 new homes and 10,000 new jobs over the next 20 years, creating an inclusive community for current and future buyers. Part of this will be Barking Riverside, which will be delivered by the L&Q Group. Ideally located for transport links into London, Weavers Quarter is less than half a mile from Barking station, which itself is just 15 minutes’ journey time from the

City. The station also connects directly to Westminster on the District Line in less than 40 minutes and to Liverpool Street on the Hammersmith & City Line in only 25 minutes, and provides an Overground service. Bus services are regular, taking passengers further into Barking and central London, while residents can reach the M25 in less than 15 minutes. For more information and to register your interest, please visit 1 bulletins/housepriceindex/oct2016

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Orbit, which has built an enviable reputation over 50 years in housebuilding, prides itself on developing real communities and offering buyers a range of affordable ways to get on to the property ladder. Following in this tradition, they have just launched a desirable new development on the outskirts of Royal Leamington Spa Union Park is a delightful, canal-side development, which offers first time and family buyers an excellent, value-formoney selection of two, three and four bedroom houses and one and two bedroom apartments, complete with high-end fittings and appliances. Some properties are available for outright purchase from £216,995, with a Help to Buy: Equity Loan; whereby the Government lends buyers up to 20% of the cost of a newbuild home, so they only need a 5% cash deposit and a 75% mortgage to make up the rest – with no loan fees charged on the 20% loan for the first five years of ownership. Shared ownership properties are also available to eligible buyers, from £92,000 for a 40% share of a two bedroom house. Shared ownership allows purchasers to buy shares of their new home and pay a government-subsidised rent on the remaining portion. They can later use a process called staircasing to purchase further shares of their home, up to 100% outright ownership. Anthony Holt, Land & New Business Director at Orbit, said, “The buoyancy of Royal Leamington Spa’s housing market means there is a shortage of affordable housing in the area. Through Union Park, Orbit will offer canal-side living to local people, providing a range of quality homes to meet differing needs and aspirations.” The new community is beautifully landscaped, with tree-lined avenues and open, green spaces, adjoining the historic Grand Union Canal. Because the development is nestled in a wellestablished and popular residential area, Union Park’s residents will benefit from a wide variety of local facilities. There is an excellent range of shops, a post office and a large supermarket, all within easy walking distance, and convenient public transport links to the thriving centres of Leamington Spa and Warwick. Of vital importance to young families, Union Park is within the catchment area

Typical Orbit interior

for several sought-after local schools, with St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School just a stone’s throw away, and a wide range of other primary, secondary and further educational facilities within a small radius of the development. Sports lovers are well served by Union Park’s proximity to the rolling parkland golf course at Newbold Comyn and by easy access to open countryside for cycling and walking. The Grand Union Canal and River Leam both offer ample opportunities for ‘messing about in boats’, going fishing, or to simply kick back, relax and have a picnic by the water. An easy five-minute bus ride from Union Park, the centre of historic Royal Leamington Spa offers an elegant array of Regency architecture, beautiful parks and gardens and an appealing mix of shops, with a wide range of independent retailers alongside favourite high-street brands. The town’s impressive variety of entertainment and leisure options includes a superb choice of restaurants serving worldwide cuisines, acclaimed theatres and

museums, and, thanks to Royal Leamington Spa’s long heritage of therapeutic ‘taking of the waters’, some of the country’s finest treatment spas and salons. Just three and a half miles from Union Park, the county town of Warwick, famous for its picturesque medieval charm, is set in the shadow of magnificent Warwick Castle and boasts a packed calendar of annual events. Finally, Union Park is perfect for commuters, thanks to being ideally positioned for easy access to the M1 and M40 for fast links to Birmingham, London and the North, whilst Leamington Spa railway station is less than a mile away and is an easy walk from the development. From Leamington Spa, frequent services to London Marylebone take as little as an hour and a quarter, while journeys from Warwick or Leamington Spa to Birmingham take less than half an hour at peak times. For further information about shared ownership and outright sale at Union Park, please call 01926 889 503, or visit developments/union-park

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TAYLOR WIMPEY HAS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE IN COLCHESTER! Homebuyers in Colchester looking to take their first step on the property ladder are spoilt for choice, thanks to Taylor Wimpey’s exquisite range of properties across the town The leading housebuilder currently has a stunning selection of stylish two and three bedroom apartments available to reserve at its prestigious Arena Place development, located off Napier Road. Their superb location, combined with a high-quality finish, makes these beautiful new apartments ideal first time purchases for those looking for contemporary living close to Colchester’s eclectic mix of restaurants and bars. For buyers looking for a well-connected home a little further from the town centre, Taylor Wimpey will also soon be launching two brand new developments – Parva Place, located off Warren Lane in Stanway and Whitmore Park at Kingswood Heath, located on the site of the former Severalls Hospital. What’s more, Taylor Wimpey is offering the government-backed Help to Buy scheme at all three developments, enabling eligible purchasers to secure a government loan for up to 20% of their new home’s full price, so they only need a 75% loan-to-value mortgage and a 5% deposit. Michael O’Leary, Regional Sales and Marketing Director for Taylor Wimpey, said, “First time buyers are moving away from London to areas like Colchester as they can get so much more for their money here, yet there are still superb commuter links into the City and elsewhere. “Arena Place has proved incredibly popular with homebuyers, thanks to its desirable location and stunning mix of new and refurbished homes. “Our new Parva Place and Whitmore Park developments will offer a range of new properties, ideal for first time buyers, and thanks to Help to Buy, moving to one of these wonderful new homes could be even more affordable than purchasers had previously thought. However, we don’t expect these homes to be around for very long, so I would urge property-seekers

to register their interest online, or visit us at Arena Place to avoid missing out!” Apartments at Arena Place are priced from £164,995 and have each been finished to a high standard specification, including a fully fitted kitchen and half-height tiling in the bathrooms, with some of the properties offering en suites. The refurbished properties also boast stunning features such as vaulted ceilings, exposed internal brickwork and original windows. Based on the site of the former Colchester Garrison, the new homes at Arena Place have been thoughtfully designed and restored, to complement their historic setting. Whitmore Park at Kingswood Heath has also sensitively retained a number of the original buildings – including a water tower at the site – to faithfully mark the footprint of the hospital. The development offers a beautiful collection of high-quality homes, surrounded by beautiful Essex countryside, while the new properties coming soon to Parva Place will benefit from a peaceful, village setting, close to a host of local amenities.

The developments are well located for commuters, with the A12 providing links to Ipswich, Chelmsford and London. Colchester Town railway station is a short walk from Arena Place and less than four miles from Parva Place, while Colchester railway station is less than two miles from Whitmore Park. Both stations offer direct and regular services into London Liverpool Street. To be among the lucky first time buyers choosing a new home at Arena Place, homehunters can visit the Sales and Marketing Suite, located off Napier Road, Colchester, Essex CO2 7GA, open Thursday to Monday from 10am until 5.30pm, or call the sales team on 01206 581 096. Alternatively, prospective purchasers can register their interest in the new homes coming soon to Parva Place or Whitmore Park at

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THE REGENERATION OF PACKINGTON SQUARE Hyde New Homes has, in partnership with Rydon, recently unveiled the latest in its Packington Square development. The final stage of the Islington-based property offers a blend of classic modern styling and elegant design, in one and two bedroom apartments – the perfect living environment for potential first time buyers

The diversity of Packington Square traces back to the times of Tudor England, and no other borough quite combines modern metropolitan life with the modest luxury of a smart Georgian town in quite the same way. As well as a thriving lifestyle hub with towpath cafes and eateries, there is plenty of green space in nearby Shoreditch Park, as well as in Rosemary Gardens on Southgate Road. There is also the canal to stroll alongside, and Packington Square itself, which offers an outside playing space for children. Entertainment opportunities are abundant in the local area; there are no fewer than four theatres within walking distance of the development, a plethora of independent stores and, of course, the famous Screen on the Green cinema. According to an 18th century census, there were some 56 ale houses listed on nearby Upper Street and it seems this is a tradition that has certainly not been lost with time. Packington Square also presents quick and easy travel options to some of London’s more famous cultural hubs, the revitalised Kings Cross is only a two-minute journey on the tube and a 20-minute cab ride takes you straight to the West End. The Digital Quarter, host to Shoreditch’s many creative enterprises, is also less than a mile away. The apartments themselves offer the epitome of luxury living, with their blend of classic modern styling and tasteful

design. Every aspect has been taken into consideration, from the top-of-therange appliances to the retractable plug sockets on the kitchen work surface. There is underfloor heating to regulate the temperature throughout, while floorto-ceiling windows, with thermally broken double glazing, add to the properties’ cost effectiveness as well as offering uninterrupted natural light. Each apartment also has private outdoor space, which is a real premium in this location. The generous balconies provide views over the attractive landscaped garden square, while glass balustrades further enhance the sense of space. Residents benefit from video entry systems, complete with colour monitors, and are kept connected by award-winning Hyperoptic broadband that provides ultrafast internet speeds. The bedrooms boast full-length built-in wardrobes, whilst large mirrored cabinets with concealed LED lighting are standard for every bathroom and en suite. Contemporary light grey kitchens, with soft-close handleless doors and quartz stone worktops, provide understated interior design luxury, combined with a functional environment for cooking and entertaining. For those looking to make the most of home entertaining, London’s first ever established famers’ market still sets up its stalls weekly on nearby Chapel Street,

and for those less-inclined to cook, or who just don’t have the time to fit it into their busy schedules, the local area offers gourmet versions of almost every cuisine, from Ottolenghi to French Fredericks and Afghan Kitchen. Packington Square is part of the ongoing, ambitious and progressive regeneration scheme developed by the Hyde Group in partnership with Rydon, which has seen over £170 million invested into transforming this area of Islington into a vibrant, rich and diverse community. The last six stages of the demolish and rebuild programme that Packington Square is part of, joins almost six hundred other new homes that have been delivered to date. Whether its a professional wanting to ease their commute to work, a young family looking to get on to the property ladder, or a buyer who is just trying to find a dream home in central London, Packington Square has it all. The starting price for a one bedroom apartment is £485,000, with two bedrooms from £685,000. The new phase is currently only available for private sale, but Hyde New Homes is planning to bring in affordability options in the near future, including shared ownership. More information is available at, or for shared ownership

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CREATING A SENSE OF BELONGING – L&Q’S PRICEDIN House-hunting can be difficult at the best of times, and is often an even more testing task in London. After years of renting in a familiar, accessible and desirable location, many first time buyers can be forced to look outside of the city, when it comes to buying their first property L&Q’s PricedIn Belonging campaign aims to end this cycle, by showing potential buyers that they can afford to buy a home in an area they want to live, through shared ownership. With a wide range of different properties in amazing locations across the capital – from Zone 1 to Zone 6 – first time buyers have a broad choice of areas in which to purchase, and the opportunity to belong within their communities. Paul Hunter, who bought his first home through PricedIn, said, “Owning your own home definitely gives you a better sense of belonging as you take much more interest in the area and what’s going on around you. L&Q offered many different Morris Court


locations for shared ownership and there was lots of choice, from areas in Zone 1 to Zone 2 and further afield. I would have been keen to live in any one of the areas that I saw listed.” Particularly popular with first time buyers, due to its central location, Harvard Gardens is part of the extensive £3billion regeneration scheme transforming Elephant & Castle. The much-anticipated third and final phase from L&Q comprises stylish two and three bedroom apartments and duplexes, while the area is now home to an impressive array of businesses, independent shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs. Meanwhile, in the soughtafter southwest London suburb of Colliers Wood, Morris Court offers spacious homes within a vibrant community. Residents of the development will benefit from close proximity to glorious botanical gardens, a local retail park and numerous supermarkets, while the idyllic Morden Hall Park is within walking distance, with magnificent greenery and a quaint cafe. Each apartment has either a terrace or balcony, making the summer months all the more enjoyable for buyers of the Colliers Wood homes.   Bolingbroke Park, L&Q’s parkland development in Cockfosters, offers a range of homes, perfect for first time buyers and families looking

Harvard Gardens

Bollingbroke Park

to get a leg up on the London property ladder. Nestled amid 12 acres of woodland and scenic ponds, the two and three bedroom shared ownership apartments offer plenty of space, without residents having to sacrifice their London lifestyle. Cockfosters station is just a 10-minute walk away, where the Piccadilly Line runs regularly throughout the day and night. Juliana Graff, who bought her flat through L&Q, explains, “I was certainly surprised about the wide range of areas that

L&Q has properties, also the fact that they are in very good areas in London. It was very hard for me to be able to afford anything until I heard about shared ownership.” Prices for a 25% share start at £144,375 for a two bedroom apartment at Harvard Gardens, £95,000 for a one bedroom home at Morris Court, and £111,250 for a two bedroom apartment at Bolingbroke Park. For more information about creating a sense of belonging in London, visit

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Foundry Mews by East Thames, constructed by Storm Building, has won ‘Best Small Development’ at the 2017 First Time Buyer Readers’ Awards

Located in vibrant Walthamstow, E17, Foundry Mews is a worthy winner, comprising an innovative collection of just 12 homes. Featuring six apartments, two maisonettes and four townhouses, within two blocks and mews housing, the properties cater to a variety of househunters, particularly first time buyers. Designed to fit seamlessly into the surrounding area and enhance the local community, the homes have provided much needed local housing. Ideal for those looking to get on to the property ladder, all the homes within this award-winning development are available under the shared ownership scheme. Shared ownership allows purchasers to buy a stake in their home (at least 25%) and pay a subsidised rent on the remaining share of the property. Additional stakes can be bought at any time up to the value of 100%, allowing purchasers to increase the proportion of the property they own whenever it suits them. Tony Harker, Director of Sales & Marketing at East Thames said, “The First Time Buyer Readers’ Awards are especially important to us, because the winners are voted for by the readers of the magazine. We strive to provide affordable housing to those who are struggling to get on or move up the property ladder, so to be

recognised by this for our Foundry Mews development feels like a real achievement. This development is a perfect example of how home ownership can be achievable for first time buyers in London.” The Storm team added, “Our overall aim at Foundry Mews was to create an inclusive, small community which would also benefit the wider community as a whole. The results certainly speak for themselves! We had an excellent team of subcontractors and suppliers working closely with us, in order to overcome any challenges on the project. In particular, East Thames were brilliant, offering clear and decisive direction, meaning we were all able to work together to achieve this successful project. We are delighted to have be involved in an awardwinning scheme!” Foundry Mews incorporates communal and social spaces throughout, with a children’s play area and courtyards, making the development perfect for young families. The thoughtfully dispersed buildings create areas that are well lit, safely overlooked and evoke a true sense of community. Cycle storage is also provided, as well as allocated parking for the houses. To find more properties available with shared ownership that are perfect for first time buyers go to

First time buyers, James and Genevieve were delighted to purchase their four bedroom townhouse at Foundry Mews and said, “With a baby on the way, we wanted a family home with a garden which would provide for our growing family; Foundry Mews was perfect. The other day, I saw two young children on the development playing outside on their bikes. It struck me then how this is an environment in which I would really like to raise my family. Without wanting to sound cliché, buying here has been life changing for us.”


Founded in 2008, Storm work within the construction industry and with many professional bodies, to deliver high-quality projects across office, residential, health, education and retail sectors. Storm is one of London’s leading integrated design, project management and construction companies. With their partners, they undertake projects of various scales and complexity, for a diverse client base. Over the past decade, through consistent delivery of projects during some of the UK’s most exciting and challenging times, Storm has gained respect from professional bodies, their peers and the wider business community. For more information about Storm’s work, please visit

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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 countryside abode, or an affordable way on to the ladder, we hope you will enjoy our selection.





ES HO★M ★★ Affordable homes p58-59

H A R L O W, E S S E X





ES★C★A★PE Rural retreats p60-61

Shared ownership p62

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Tall Trees This exciting new collection of family homes has just launched near the pretty town of Potton, Bedfordshire, and is already proving popular. With 31 homes released at this stage, there will be a total of 151 houses when the development is complete. The three and four bedroom houses have been designed in a variety of styles and feature spacious kitchen and separate living room downstairs, together with a w/c and storage room, and well-sized bedrooms on the top floor – with an en suite to the master. Residents also benefit from a private rear garden and patio area as well as off-road parking. Kier Living 07860 866 792


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FROM £97,500* O P E N S H AW, M A N C H E S T E R



Stratford High Street Since the roaring success of the 2012 Olympics in London, the East End town of Stratford has gone from strength to strength. These smart new homes offer a fantastic opportunity to put down roots in a rapidly developing area, with some world-class sporting facilities, excellent shopping (Westfield Stratford

City) and speedy transport links (Jubilee and Central lines, DLR and Overground), all nearby. The one and two bedroom apartments available are bright and contemporary, with great views from the private balconies. Family Mosaic 020 7089 1315

*Based on a 30% share of the full market value of £325,000

FROM £71,750*


The Whitworths Just two miles east of Manchester city centre, the 34 new homes at the Whitworths are perfectly located for those looking to get the most out of the city. Openshaw has great transport connections, while the town itself has good local amenities and world-class sporting facilities. The two and three bedroom homes,


10 of which are available for purchase through shared ownership, feature bright and contemporary interiors, with sleek fitted kitchens and integrated appliances. Residents will also be allocated parking spaces. Plumlife 0161 447 5050

FROM £66,000*

Broughton Gardens Recently named by Property Week as the best place to live in the UK outside of London, Crewe has it all; rolling countryside, community, amenities, transport links and good schools. Perfect for first time buyers and families alike, the homes are finished to a high standard, with money-saving eco features,

stylish kitchens and bathrooms, spacious living/dining areas with separate lounge, downstairs w/c and a turfed rear garden. Direct services run to London, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Manchester from nearby Crewe rail station. Guinness Homes 0300 456 0522

*Based on a 50% share of the full market value of £143,500

Merchant Place Located on the north bank of the River Ouse, these stunning new homes enjoy a pretty location, just moments from Bedford town centre. The one and two bedroom apartments available through shared ownership feature high-quality design, spacious living areas and smart, fitted kitchens and bathrooms. Several

regeneration projects in the area mark the arrival of some fabulous new facilities including a cinema, shops and restaurants. Getting around is easy, too, with direct services to London, Brighton and Nottingham from Bedford station. Guinness Homes 0300 456 0522

*Based on a 40% share of the full market value of £165,000

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H A R L O W, E S S E X




Atelier Lovers of the countryside and all things quaint will adore these new homes in Harlow, a pretty area of west Essex, with some stunning sights on its doorstep. The homes available here range from one and two bedroom coach houses to two to four bedroom detached properties. The three bedroom homes are arranged over two floors, with a spacious kitchen/living area downstairs opening to a private rear garden, a downstairs w/c, with three bedrooms and a family bathroom upstairs. The development sits near some good road links, including the M11, M25 and A414, providing easy access to London, Cambridge and Hertfordshire. Countryside Properties 01279 219 933


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FROM £274,995 C H E A D L E , G R E AT E R M A N C H E S T E R

FROM £265,000

Pinnacle The beautiful cathedral city of St Albans is the site of this exciting new collection of affordable homes, proving very popular with first time buyers. There are just 27 one, two and three bedroom apartments in total, and all feature bright and airy living areas, under-floor heating and high-quality fixtures and fittings.

Residents are also allocated parking spaces and share a communal landscaped garden. Pinnacle is just half a mile from the town centre and rail station, where services to St Pancras arrive in under 20 minutes. Howarth Homes 01895 233 999


FROM £327,500

Barnes Village A magnificent restored Grade II listed building sits at the centre of this impressive new development. Seven miles south of Manchester, Barnes Village consists of several apartments, which sit within the Old Hospital site, and over 100 beautiful town houses, which form the New Village area. All have been designed in keeping


with the stunning central building and beautiful surroundings. From Cheadle, trains reach central Manchester in around 30 minutes, while the beautiful Peak District, for walking and cycling, is just a short drive away. Henley Homes 020 7401 8777

FROM £240,000

Oakbrook With rural Newton Leys on the doorstep and Milton Keynes a 15-minute drive, Oakbrook offers the best of both worlds. The homes range from one and two bedroom apartments to two to five bedroom houses, in a range of styles to suit first time buyers and growing families alike. The three bedroom properties are

arranged over three storeys, with living room and kitchen downstairs, two bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor, a master bedroom with private bathroom at the top and driveway parking. Taylor Wimpey 0208 236 3800

Woodlands View Situated in a pretty semi-rural spot, and backing on to woods, these homes are ideal for those looking for country living, close to local amenities and the seaside town of Hastings. The homes range from two to four bedrooms, available in a variety of styles, and have been created in keeping with their beautiful

surroundings. Brighton University has a campus in Hastings and the town has a vibrant arts and music scene, stunning coastline, a host of independent shops and cafes and an impressive history. Millwood Designer Homes 01424 390 150

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Shared ownership: Custom House, London E16 With the Government’s housing strategy outlining the need to provide more affordable houses, schemes such as shared ownership are vital in the attempt to help first time buyers purchase their own home. For Katrin-Anne Romero,,29, shared ownership has freed her from ‘generation rent’ and has secured her spot on the housing ladder at East Thames’ Royal Dock Gardens in Custom House Katrin-Anne, an education administrator for a hospital school in Newham, was previously renting a two bedroom home in Plaistow, but, keen to purchase a home of her own, she attended the First Time Buyer Home Show in 2016 and went on to buy at Royal Dock Gardens. Katrin-Anne said, “When I was 18, I moved out of my parents’ home and have been renting ever since. I am really excited now to have a property of my own, after over 10 years of paying the rising cost of rent in London. Shared ownership was definitely the best option for me; buying a smaller percentage of a home has been a great stepping stone to get on to the property ladder.” Royal Dock Gardens comprises a selection of 18 one and two bedroom shared ownership apartments in Custom House – which is benefiting from a £3.7 billion regeneration project. With Crossrail expected in 2018, the area has seen an investment into transport services and facilities, as well as new homes to replace poor-quality housing – changing Custom House physically, economically and socially, including the creation of more jobs, better quality streets and open spaces. Katrin-Anne explains, “I have previously lived in Custom House, so am looking forward to moving back to the area as the amenities and schooling are excellent, which was a priority for me. The transport links in the area are very good and this will be improved even more by the Crossrail coming in 2018.” All homes at Royal Dock Gardens have a focus on attention to detail and boast a high specification. The apartments feature open-plan living and dining areas, with integrated kitchen appliances, as well as offering views of the communal gardens from many of the homes. Residents will enjoy a private balcony or terrace, with several apartments benefiting from additional Juliette balconies, or oriel windows, providing natural light and space. There is also bicycle storage, a telephone entry system and some parking



Property: Two bedroom apartment Market value: £410,000 Share: £143,500 for a 35% share Deposit: £14,700

“I AM REALLY EXCITED NOW TO HAVE A PROPERTY OF MY OWN, AFTER OVER 10 YEARS OF PAYING THE RISING COST OF RENT IN LONDON” available on a selection of the homes. “I was keen to buy as soon as possible, so opting for a newbuild made the process a lot quicker as there was no chain to deal with. My new home is fresh, modern and the living space is open-plan which is what attracted me to this apartment in particular.” Transport connections in Custom House are excellent, including a bus route to West Ham and Canary Wharf only five minutes away. The development is also only a four-minute walk from Prince Regent DLR train station, for fast connections into the centre of the capital. City Airport is just a five-minute drive away and it’s easy to connect to other parts of the country by road via the A13,

which connects to the North Circular and the A12. Custom House will also see the opening of a new Crossrail station in 2018. Katrin-Anne concludes, “I heard about East Thames initially through the Share to Buy website. The process was smooth throughout and I found the sales team really helpful. I would recommend East Thames to anyone who was looking at getting on the property ladder through shared ownership.” Two bedroom apartments are still available from £102,500 for a 25% share, based on a full market value of £410,000. For further information, or to register your interest, visit, or call 0300 303 7333

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WW OO SH SH ME! STITO PPER sy and successful We all enjoyed a very bu Show at Stratford First Time Buyer Home tion of pictures Town Hall. Here’s a selec time buyers could from the day, where first d find out how to meet property experts an buy their dream home. m for details of our Check ptember in first next Home Shows – 30 Se don and 7 October time buyer hotspot, Croy in Manchester.


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WINNERS’ SUPPLEMENT FTB 68-79 FTB-Awards June-July17.indd 69

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WINNERS’ SUPPLEMENT The FTB Readers’ Awards 2017, held at the Waldorf Hilton, London, were a huge success. It is the highlight in our busy calendar and it is always wonderful to see so many inspirational homes being built for first time buyers. This year, we had more entries than ever before, so the competition was fierce. Hosting for the fifth 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 importantly, 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. We were delighted to have exceeded all expectations and raised the amazing amount of £5,755 for this very worthy cause. The money will certainly help this wonderful charity and the children they treat. We had some fabulous prizes this year so a big thank you to everyone who donated. Congratulations to you all and we look forward to seeing you at the FTB Readers’ Awards next year.


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This award was presented by Scott Waring, Managing Partner at Four Corners.

Winner East Thames Homes | Foundry Mews Highly Commended Magna Group | Magna West


This award was presented by Kirk Hoatson, Founding Director at You.

Winner Home Group | Park Rise Highly Commended St. Modwen Homes | Branston Leas


This award was presented by Nikki Ackerley, Managing Director at Property House Marketing.

Winner Guinness Homes One | Manor Road Highly Commended Inspired Homes | Sutton Court

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This award was presented by Virginia Keltz and Enza Capodici, Account Directors at The Media People.

Winner Metro Highly Commended Whathouse?


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

Winner Beaumont Legal Highly Commended Lawcomm


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

Winner Family Mosaic | Lennard Road Highly Commended Peabody | Carters Yard

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

Winner L&Q | Stadium Place Highly Commended East Thames | Prospect East



This award was presented by Craig Fell, Director at Boxed Red.

Winner Zoopla Property Group Highly Commended Miller Homes


This award was presented by Kate Turner, Director at Faust PR

Winner Taylor Wimpey East London | Arena Place Highly Commended Peabody | St John’s Way

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

Winner Oracle Group & The Media People Highly Commended Barclays


This award was presented by Laura Sears, Senior Account Manager at Oracle Group

Winner East Thames | Prospect East Highly Commended Origin Properties | Brookmans


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

Winner Barratt Kent | Phoenix Quarter Highly Commended Plumlife | Brearley Forge


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This award was presented by Rosie Swanson, Account Manager at

Winner Henley Homes | Barnes Village Highly Commended Riverside Home Ownership | Eardley Park


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

Winner Southern Housing Group | The Featherstone Highly Commended Henley Homes | Rembrandt House


This award was presented by team members from Site Sales

Winner Signature Living Group Highly Commended Barratt Developments

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This award was presented by Maria Gouveia, Director at Oracle Creative.

Winner Thames Valley Housing Highly Commended L&Q



Pre and post drinks sponsor


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Escape from the City Win a stay at the luxurious DoubleTree by Hilton London Kingston upon Thames hotel, with spectacular views over the town DoubleTree by Hilton Kingston upon Thames is a gorgeous new hotel set in the heart of the Royal Borough of Kingston. Its contemporary, angular architecture is backdropped by this leafy, riverside town. Situated in the middle of Kingston, which offers the perfect mix of retail, arts and culture, making it the ideal location for business or leisure, the hotel comprises 146 rooms, is just 12-miles from central London and features destination restaurant, Hawkers Bar & Brasserie – which pays homage to local hero Harry Hawker, whose 1920s aviation company designed the famous Hawker Siddely Harrier jump jet. All the bedrooms offer stunning views over the town, with their floor-to-ceiling windows, and include signature Sweet Dreams ® beds, walkin showers and 43’’ smart TVs. Complimentary espresso coffee machines, Wi-Fi and a private balcony from which to enjoy the skyline, complete the luxurious feeling for the perfect place to relax and unwind. The hotel’s fitness centre is open around the clock.

DELUXE DINING The Hawkers Bar & Brasserie is open all day and Head Chef Darren Edwards offers a modern British menu, including signature dishes such as slowcooked rib of beef and 28-day dry-aged steaks.



HOW TO ENTER Answer the following question:

How many rooms does the DoubleTree by Hilton Kingston upon Thames have? Send your answer with your full name, address and telephone number to: Closing date: 22 July 2017

THE PRIZE… ONE LUCKY READER WILL WIN ONE DOUBLE ROOM FOR TWO GUESTS, WITH EVENING DINNER INCLUDING A COCKTAIL AND A BOTTLE OF HOUSE WINE, AND BREAKFAST THE FOLLOWING MORNING. CHECK IN AFTER 3PM, CHECK OUT BY MIDDAY. T&Cs The winner must be available to redeem the prize at least 10 days after the closing date, to allow the hotel time for booking. Room service, mini-bar charges and additional purchases are not included. Travel is not included. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternatives will be given. Competition is open to UK residents only.

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FIRST HOME, FIRST MEAL Oliver Kuehler, Executive Head Chef at Bon Vivant, creates a very special French-inspired bouillabaisse, with garlic baguette.This tasty recipe is perfect to serve for an informal Saturday lunch, or supper with friends and family


Ingredients (Serves 4)               


2 3


5 6


Clean all the fish and wash the mussels and clams under cold water for a few minutes to get rid of any sand or dirt. Clean and peel all the vegetables, cut the carrots and celery on an angle in thin slices. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and take out the core, then slice the remaining pieces in slices and set aside. Shave the fennel with a vegetable peeler and set aside in ice water to keep it nice and crunchy. Bring a pot with water up to the boil, then blanch (quick boil) your vegetables until cooked, but still crunchy. Slice the fennel in thin slices and set all the vegetables aside. Heat up a pot with a little olive oil to steam open the clams and mussels. When the pot is hot, put in the mussels with a touch of white wine and cover



with a lid. Cook them until open and set aside. In a frying pan, heat up olive oil to sear the fish, start with high heat and reduce after 30 seconds to get a crispy skin. Cook the fillets to 90% on the skin side and only finish for a few seconds on the flesh side. Bring the fish bouillon (fish stock) up to the boil and season it with a pinch of saffron, vermouth, salt, pepper and a touch of lemon juice.


Mix the soft butter with garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Cut the baguette in long slices, add the garlic butter and toast it in the oven.



Assemble all the ingredients in a bowl, add the hot fish bouillon and garnish with tomatoes, shaved fennel and fresh herbs to your liking. Serve the warm toasted garlic baguette on the side and enjoy!

1 litre of fish stock (fish bouillon) 4 fillets of red mullet 400g fresh mussels 500g Palourdes clams 2 carrots 1 bulb of fennel 2 sticks of celery 2 tomatoes 25cl Noilly Prat (or vermouth) 1 baguette 100g butter 2 cloves garlic Pinch of saffron Fresh parsley Salt and pepper

Oliver Kuehler is the new Executive Head Chef at Bon Vivant, bringing his many years of international hospitality experience to this brand new French restaurant in Bloomsbury. Originally from Germany, he began his career at the National College of Culinary Arts in south Germany, completing his apprenticeship at a family-run hotel in the Black Forest in 2007. His first placement was at Hotel Adlon Kempinski in Berlin, where he climbed the ranks, cooking for celebrities and politicians. He then moved to the hotel’s sister establishment, Kempinski Grand de Bains in St. Moritz, Switzerland, before competing in Chef of the Year 2011 at Andel’s Hotel, Berlin. Oliver then travelled to Thailand and Malaysia, before settling in Canada, where he was Head Chef at C Restaurant. He then came to the UK, where he joined Le Boudin Blanc, alongside Nicolas Laridon (formerly Head Chef at two Michelin-starred Le Gavroche), before stepping into his first executive role at Chamois d’Or Hotel & Spa in Les Gets, France. In 2016, Oliver returned to London to join famed French restaurant, café and bar, Les Deux Salons. He is now Executive Head Chef at Bon Vivant, specialising in classic French cookery with wider European influences. He will work alongside General Manager Jean-Sylvain Bombois and owner Charmaine Abomnes, to help Londoners fall in love with France all over again!

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FTB’S FAST FOOD With the long days and warm weather, it’s the perfect time to enjoy taking a picnic to the beach, countryside or park. We tried a variety of picnic food from the UK’s top supermarkets, to see which ones were the tastiest







finest* Clawson mature blue stilton 215g, £2; cheese twists, 99p; finest* chargrilled vegetable cous cous, £2; Halkidiki olives with slow roasted tomatoes, £2; finest* lemon drizzle cake, £2.65; finest* spiced Moroccan houmous, £1.50; finest* Sicilian lemon and mint presse, £1.85; Italian antipasto selection platter, £4; finest* pink lemonade, £2; finest* chipotle quinoa and avocado salad, £2; finest* maple bacon and extra mature cheddar quiche, £3

Moroccan kebabs, £2; houmous selection, £2.70; hog roast sausage rolls, £2.60; slow-roasted tomato, feta & spinach quiche, £2.30; Iberico ham hand-cooked crisps, £2

Extra Special runny scotch eggs, £3; smoky stuffed peppers, £2; Iberico cheese and chorizo, £2; Pepper, olive & manchego empanadillas, £2

FTB SAYS: This selection is perfect

of variety in the flavours. The cheese

traditional picnic food. We loved the

and chorizo was smoky with a great

TtD luxury coleslaw, £2; TtD mini Melton Mowbray pork pie, £2.80; TtD sea salt & peppercorn crisps, £1.50; TtD hog roast sausage rolls, £2.30; mozzarella & flower blossom salad bowl, £2.50; My Goodness! beautiful berries smoothie mix, £2.50

hog roast sausage rolls, the pastry

meaty flavour. The stuffed peppers

FTB SAYS: We enjoyed the hog roast

was flaky and light and the flavour

were sweet, and the cheese was a

rolls, but felt the pork pies were dry

was excellent. The hand-cooked

delicious addition. The empanadillas

and the meat had hardly any flavour.

crisps had an interesting taste and

were a little dry, but the olive and

The sea salt and peppercorn crisps

texture, and they were very moreish.

manchego worked well together. We

were tasty and are a great addition

We felt that the tomato and feta

felt the runny scotch eggs weren’t

to any picnic. The coleslaw was

quiche was a tad salty, but the pastry

for a picnic, but would be a great

creamy, and had a nice crunchy

was buttery and melted in the mouth.

summer treat at home.

texture. The smoothie packs are

FTB SAYS: The lemon drizzle cake

The Moroccan kebabs were spicy


delicious, but need to be made

was moist and light, and the lemon

and had a deliciously authentic taste.

ahead of time. The mozzarella and

filling really added to the zesty


flower blossom salad bowl was very

FTB SAYS: We loved this selection of picnic snacks as there was a lot

flavour. The quiche had a good

attractive and a tasty healthy treat.

amount of filling, and the maple

bacon added a touch of sweetness. The antipasto selection was excellent and was really good value. We loved


the cous cous – it was the perfect

Whether it’s a day out with friends or family, you can enjoy a bespoke picnic,

healthy option. The chipotle dressing

bursting with homemade treats, from French artisan bakery and patisserie, PAUL.

in the quinoa salad was delicious,

Priced at £20 to serve two, or £38 for four, each individual picnic is made to order

and worked well with the Moroccan

and contains an array of French favourites, including a box of 12 mini macarons.

houmous. However, the cheese twists

Simply choose your PAUL sandwich, or salad, bag of hand-cooked potato crisps,

were very dry, and the olives and

mini macarons, plus a drink, and receive a free Sac à Pique-nique – a smart and

slow roasted tomatoes were bland,

re-useable cool bag that also includes a disposable check paper tablecloth.

with little flavour.


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A question that comes up regularly relates to the start date of the lease and your obligations when buying a leasehold property. I guess your first thought might be why is this important? If I start with the development process it will give a context on the matter. A development finishes with what is called practical completion. This is when the contractor has finished his work and the developer can complete sales and collect in the purchase prices. This triggers the start time for snagging, warranties, NHBC certificates and completing leases. Anyone who has made a reservation on a property prior to practical completion will complete their purchases at this point and then move in accordingly. If there are any homes not sold, they will sit empty until they are sold, obviously. However, the date of practical completion will trigger the start date for the lease, the start date for warranty periods, for snagging periods, for NHBC, or similar. It is therefore important, when looking for your home, to be aware of this and what impact, or effect it could have. You may find yourself with a tight timeline to get any snagging items dealt with that occur. If there are any sort of review periods based on the start date of the lease, then these will mean the impact of that review will be closer when you buy, than the full review period if you had bought at the start of the lease. So, as an example, a block of 50 flats is built and practical completion is on 3 April 2015. The term of the lease typically runs on dates that are called quarter days, which are either 25 March, 24 June, 29 September and 25 December, or 1 January, 1 April, 1 July and 1 October. So, with our example, the start of the term would be set as 25 March 2015. The start of the term cannot be after the date the lease is completed on, with


there being an Agreement to Lease – a technical point, but it is the reason. If 30 of the 50 flats are pre-sold before the practical completion, those 30 homeowners will get their leases and the terms will start on 25 March 2015. For the other 20 flats, as and when they sell, their term will also start on 25 March 2015 – even if the flats take a long time to sell and someone were to buy in April 2017. So, it is possible you can find yourself buying a home, where the first two years of the lease have already passed by. The challenge of this can be in relation to any snagging items, which need dealing with, or protection from NHBC. It is essential that all new homeowners know what they are taking on and understand their rights and responsibilities. A key part to that is making sure your lawyer gives a clear report on title

Roger J Southam, Non-Executive Chair of Leasehold Advisory Service

that explains all matters. It should especially make clear when the lease starts and what the impact and effect of that is. One thing to remember in all your dealings with property when buying and selling; the estate agent is there for the seller, while it is your solicitor. So, if you want something explained, then ask your lawyer. If anything is not clear, then get your lawyer to clarify and explain. Looking for ways that you can find out about a leasehold home can be invaluable to understanding your commitments and making sure you are comfortable with them. The Leasehold Advisory Service has a wealth of guides and information on their website and is there to help you, and our advisers are always on the end of the phone to answer your specific query. Buying your home is likely to be one of the most exciting things in your life, so ensuring that you do all you can to be well informed is by far the most sensible thing to do. Of course, seeing past the excitement to the practicalities can be challenging, but, as dull as it sounds, it is absolutely essential. So, when searching for your home, make sure that you know the right questions to ask, obtain the basic details and make sure you are comfortable with the rights and responsibilities you are taking on. Good luck in your searches and remember, if you are prepared, then unforeseen challenges should be avoided. Finding out all you can in advance will pay dividends in the long run.

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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


Are there special mortgages for the self-employed?

One of the misconceptions about the mortgage market is that it can be difficult for the selfemployed to get a mortgage, in order to buy a home. The reality is that most lenders offer the same products to self-employed applicants as they do to the employee. Typically, the mortgage lender will require you to have at least two years’ worth of company accounts, SA302s, or tax returns. If you are self-employed as a contractor, you may also have to provide evidence of work you have already lined up for the future, in order to show that your current levels of income can be maintained. Additionally, there are some lenders who offer specific mortgages to those who are selfemployed, or on a fixed term contract. The assessment of self-employed and contracting applicants is an area of the market that has seen lots of positive change. Usually, if the case makes sense and clients have a track record of experience in their respective industries, there are lenders who will consider an application.


Can I still get a mortgage if I have a low credit score?

Even if you have a low credit score, you should still be able to get a mortgage. However, you might need a larger deposit. It usually depends on the reason why your credit score is low. Mortgage lenders are more wary of lending to people who have a track record of missing payments on a regular basis. For people that have missed one or two payments, especially if missed a few years

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 (along with the entire team) provides independent, impartial advice and searches thousands of mortgage deals, to help buyers find the deal that is right for them.


What are the benefits and risks of buying with friends?


ago, there are lenders who will be prepared to overlook it. As long as defaults or missed payments happened over three years ago, there are usually options for potential borrowers. However, your application will need to be backed up by evidence of your income, level of expenditure, and the affordability of a mortgage. It is still possible to get a 95% mortgage without having a perfect credit history and there are also options for people that have very poor credit history, such as credit repair mortgages. Both of these options could incur increased monthly mortgage repayments, so ensure you are fully aware before signing an agreement. No matter what your situation and how bad you think it is, it’s also worth a phone call to an impartial and independent mortgage adviser, to put a plan in place to obtain a mortgage in the future.

With record highs for average house prices, buying with friends can be an attractive option for those looking to get on to the property ladder. Buying with friends may increase your borrowing capacity, due to higher combined income and a larger deposit. Additionally, monthly outgoings and mortgage payments are likely to be less as you are sharing the costs. The risks of buying with friends are generally linked to your ongoing relationship with the friends involved. You should consider what will happen in the future if one of you wants to move on, or if one of you loses your job. All those involved must understand they are jointly and severely liable for the mortgage. You are not just responsible for paying half each. Buying with friends can offer a unique opportunity to get on to the property ladder and to afford a larger property than you could otherwise afford. However, you should seek independent advice from an impartial mortgage adviser, ensuring you are fully informed before making any long-term financial decisions. For further help and advice from Which? Mortgage Advisers, please visit ftbmortgages, 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.

Stolen bankcard I had a bank card stolen a few months ago and, after finding out I was a victim of fraud, my bank account was shut down. I am really worried how this will affect my credit report, especially if I apply for a mortgage in the future. Will this activity show up on my credit report and affect my future credit offers? Rosie Williams Closing down your bank account to ensure no more fraudulent transactions can happen is a very sensible place to start. What you should do now is obtain copies of your credit reports from each of the three credit reference agencies. This will enable you to check the full extent of any damage caused by the fraudster. If you do find any suspicious information on your credit report, then you need to contact one of the credit reference agencies to get this investigated and removed. I’m pleased to say that all three credit reference agencies work together to help victims of identity fraud and will alert the other two agencies for you, so you only need to initially contact one of them. If you wish to contact Experian, simply call us on 0344 481 8000. Each agency will provide you with a free credit report, give you guidance on its contents and explain the measures you may be able to take to secure your identity. For instance, it might be wise to arrange a Cifas Protective Registration, which will alert the vast majority of banks, lenders and other financial institutions to the theft of your identity. Once you’ve shored up your identity, if you decide you want to monitor your Experian Credit Report for fraud going forward, you may wish to check our fraud monitoring services.

Credit history I have been living in the UK for the last four years with my partner and our daughter, and we have recently decided we want to move from rented accommodation and buy a house.


I am worried, however, that I won’t have much credit history in this country as all my bank accounts and loans have been overseas. Should I get a credit report or will this further affect my applications for a mortgage? Karolina Mieszo You’ll be pleased to hear that you can actually check your own credit report as often as you like, without any impact on your credit score whatsoever. While every check of your report creates a search footprint, only the footprints left behind by actual credit applications are seen by lenders and affect your credit score. Footprints created by other events, such as checking your own report, you asking for a credit or insurance quote, or having your identity checked using your report, simply won’t count. Before lending money to you, lenders will be looking for evidence that, amongst other things, you are going to repay any money lent to you as agreed with them. Not having any history of repaying credit that has been lent to you in the past can be a cause for concern, especially if the amount of money you would be hoping to borrow is large. By checking your credit report, you’ll be able to see what accounts are registered on there and it will give you an idea of whether you need to improve the picture it paints for future mortgage lenders before you apply. You might not realise that services such as mobile phone contracts, some utility bills and even your overdraft all count as credit so you might have more positive information than you think. If you do find that your credit report has very little information, you do have a number of options that may help. Registering on the electoral roll is a good place to start. A well-managed credit card could also help you to rebuild a positive credit history. Before too long, you will start building up a picture of positive credit management that will better support a mortgage application. This could help you not only get approved, but be eligible for the best deals.

Council tax exemption When I was at university, there was a mistake with my council tax exemption and I ended up getting a county court judgment against me. I know these can show up on credit reports, but I am hoping to buy my first home in the future, so is there a way that I can get this removed from my credit report? Toby Wildey Unless you repaid the full amount of the County Court Judgment (CCJ) within a month of it being issued, the information will stay on your credit report for six years. If you weren’t able to do this, the judgment is likely to impact lending decisions of any credit applications you make in the near future. A satisfied judgment does look better than an outstanding one but, realistically, neither will be helpful in your mortgage application. As the judgment ages, your credit score should improve, as long as you manage your existing credit commitments well. That being said, you haven’t given any details of how long ago you were issued with the CCJ, so if it was more than six years ago, this will have completely disappeared from your credit report and therefore won’t cause you a problem when you do apply for a mortgage. To put your mind at ease, you may want to obtain a copy of your credit report to see whether the CCJ is still recorded on there. It may also give you an opportunity to see whether there’s any scope for improving your credit history, to give you the best chance of securing a mortgage deal. If you want help understanding how credit referencing works and how to improve your chances of getting a mortgage, visit experian.

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Race to the bottom EXPERT COMMENT Do you want your own home in the next two to five years? If the answer is yes, then you need to get project managing now! It’s never too early

Mortgage providers are falling over themselves to reduce rates, but is the product with the lowest headline rate always the right one? Kay Hill investigates

to start thinking about finances – making decisions now, such as deciding how much to save each month towards a deposit, means you’ll reap the rewards later. Make sure you check your credit rating; Experian or Equifax are good places to start. Get on the electoral roll, close unused credit cards, store cards and mobile contracts. Make sure you don’t miss or make late repayments. And, if you have any historic debts, pay them off. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Mortgage companies provide free guides and calculators online, why not try a few, or seek advice from a broker? Do you have a decision in principle so you know your full borrowing potential? Shopping around for the best rate is important, but it’s worth considering different terms, fees, and any perks such as loyalty rewards (Sainsbury’s Bank mortgage customers can earn vouchers worth up to £200 a year off their shopping, for two years, for example) because the lowest interest rate doesn’t always mean the best deal.

Catherine More Head of Sainsbury’s Bank mortgages


Mortgages have been making headlines – the Yorkshire Building Society recently launched the UK’s lowest mortgage interest rate at 0.99%, only to surpass itself a few weeks later by launching an even cheaper product at just 0.89%, sparking the tempting possibility of a mortgage price war. How many other institutions follow remains to be seen, particularly with the current political uncertainty, but some, such as Santander and Principality, have already reacted by reducing rates. You will have to move fast, though, as bargains may be short lived – for example, Atom Bank launched a market-leading five-year fix starting from just 1.29%, only to pull it just a week later due to overwhelming demand. It’s also worth noting that while the lowest rates are open to first time buyers, few will be able to take up the offer, as the cheapest deals are only available on loans of up to 65%. Assuming you were planning to buy a home for £200,000 (the average first time buyer purchase according to the Land Registry is £198,325 – the Halifax puts it slightly higher at £205,170), that would mean saving up a massive deposit of £70,000, more than twice the average deposit of around 16%, which stands at £32,321, according to the Halifax. There are dozens of websites which compare mortgages, and with the number of products on the market having increased by 86% over the past two years, according to research from Mortgage Brain, first time buyers need all the help they can

get. Moneysaving Expert’s online facility, for example, lists around 1,300 different mortgages from 86 providers, for a first time buyer with a 25% deposit, while Money Facts comes up with nearly 1,800 products for the same scenario. But best buy tables, useful as they are, can only tell part of the story – buyers need to be honest about themselves and their aspirations, if they are to find the right product. Some of the very cheapest mortgages are short fixes of around two years – at the time of writing, the Yorkshire Building Society, for example, was offering first time buyers with an 85% LTV mortgage 1.52% fixed until June 2019, coming in at £681 a month, and First Direct was offering 1.44%/£675 a month – but, at the end of the fix, this would rise to £945 a month with the Yorkshire and £851 with First Direct as the mortgage reverts to the much higher Standard Variable Rate (SVR). In contrast, buyers could choose the Flexx for Term variable rate mortgage from The Coventry Building Society at 1.59%, coming in at £687 a month – but subject to the vagaries of the Base Rate, or could secure a 10-year fixed rate at 3.64% from the Nationwide Building Society that costs £864 a month, but won’t change for a decade, whatever political turmoil ensues. Which of these is the ‘best buy’ depends on circumstances and personality. If you are taking out a large loan, then high fees are usually worth the improved interest rate – but they make less sense for a more modest borrower. Are you buying a family

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I F YO U ’ R E H AV I N G T R O U B L E . . .

Many lenders cherry-pick buyers and can reject the self-employed, contractors and those on zerohours contracts, along with anyone with a less than perfect credit history. Brokers can often help, but some companies are more open than others. Specialist lender Aldermore has just announced that it is relaxing rules for self-employed applicants by asking for just the previous year’s certified accounts, rather than the average of two years, and by taking into account profits retained in the business when calculating affordability. The company offers 80% mortgages from 3.28% fixed for two years, 3.48% fixed for five years or 2.88% variable, plus 100% mortgages (using a guarantor) from 5.18%. Ipswich Building Society offers similar facilities to the self-employed and is now reaching out to those on zero hours contracts (more than 900,000 nationwide, according to the Office of National Statistics) by reviewing its lending criteria to require just 18 months employment history and a P60 to assess average income. Products include two-year fixes from 1.39% and variable rates from 2.34%. Secure Trust Bank offers a range of 75% fixed rate mortgages from 3.29% for those with a few minor arrears on record, and from 4.59% for discharged bankrupts and those with County Court judgements in their past.

EXPERT COMMENT In the sprint to homeownership, the twin hurdles of securing a mortgage and building a deposit have remained steadfast, but the magnitude has grown such that the challenge is more akin to a marathon with deposit-building

home that you plan to stay in for a decade, or a tiny flat that you will quickly outgrow? Are you a financially on-the-ball kind of person, always switching your mobile phone provider to get the best deal, or do you fix and forget? Low introductory rates or short fixes can be good news if you are progressing in your career and know you are likely to be able to afford the increases in a few years’ time (or are sure you will make time to find a better deal then). Good standard or discounted variable rates often have lower fees, but can you live with the uncertainty? Long fixes give you security and could save you a fortune, but they are more expensive right now and tie you in with early repayment fees – will you be kicking yourself if interest rates don’t rise that much and your prudence costs you dearly? With that in mind, do remember that no single product is going to be ideal for everyone, but here are some suggestions that are worth a closer look (these were correct at the time of writing, but things can change quickly, so we’re sorry if any are no longer available). Figures assume a £200,000 property, with the relevant deposit, and the total repayment was estimated using current interest rates by the mortgage comparison site. If you have a 25% deposit: Variable – Coventry Building Society Flexx for Term, 1.39%, £999 set-up fee, £592 a month at current rate, total repayment estimate: £178,705 Fixed – Yorkshire Building Society fixed until August 2019, 1.18%, £995 fees, £578 a month initially, rising to SVR, £830 a month at current rate, total repayment estimate: £244,772

If you have a 15% deposit: Variable – Coventry Building Society Flexx for Term: 1.59%, £999 product fee, £687 a month at current rate, total repayment estimate: £207,157 Discounted variable – Leeds Building Society Fees Assisted 5-Year Discount Rate Mortgage: SVR less 3.74% currently 1.7%, £499 fees, £696 a month rising to SVR, £995 a month at current rate, total repayment estimate: £274,681 Tracker – Nationwide 2-Year Tracker: Bank of England Base Rate plus 1.79%, currently 2.04%, no fees and £500 cashback, £724 a month rising to SVR, £862 at current rate, total repayment estimate: £254,795.

taking longer than ever. The importance of first time buyers to the market is not lost on government – schemes such as shared ownership and the Help to Buy: Equity Loan Scheme and ISA can give these consumers a real head start, by effectively reducing the deposit required and bringing homeownership within reach. The recent slowdown in house prices also has to be good for first time buyers because the difference between wage inflation and house price inflation has fallen. However, there are headwinds. Withdrawal of the Help to Buy Guarantee

New entrant to the mortgage market, Sainsbury’s, also offers a 2-Year Tracker at 1.44% above Base Rate, currently 1.69% with a £995 product fee. Fixed – HSBC, Halifax (via a broker only) and First Direct all offer 1.44% two-year fixes that work out at £675 a month, rising to around £850 a month and with a total estimated cost of around £253,000. They only vary on the fees, with HSBC and Halifax having a £999 booking fee and First Direct a £1,450 fee.

Scheme removes much-needed capacity, and some lenders have seized the opportunity to increase rates by up to 0.5% following its demise. That’s £80 per month on a £200k home. For those with larger deposits, some attractive propositions can help manage finances in the early months of homeownership, including cashbacks, or interest-free periods on products, such as our Welcome mortgage. But the eternal trade-off

If you have a 10% deposit: Discount variable – Hinckley and Rugby Building Society Lifetime Discount Mortgage: 3.4% below SVR for the duration of the mortgage, currently 2.24% , £999 setup fee, £784 a month, total estimated cost around £236,235.(Also available for 95% mortgages at 3.49%.) Fixed – First Direct 2-Year Fixed Repayment: 1.89%, £1,450 fee, £753 a month initially, rising to £907, total estimated cost £270,021.

remains: buy now with a smaller deposit, or delay, hoping a larger deposit will save money overall.”

Matt Bartle Head of Product and Pricing, Leeds Building Society

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Build your own New homes are in short supply, so more of us than ever are opting to build our own, but is this an option for first time buyers?

NEW RULES ON SELF-BUILD EXPERT COMMENT We are seeing growing interest in self-build and in extending and transforming bog-standard homes. I hope the legislation soon helps individual self-builders, however, at the moment, we’re seeing only large developers being helped. Planning is a big issue.

Stuart MacArthur Owner, Living Oak

EXPERT COMMENT Graven Hill has something for everyone – whether it’s a complete self-build, or the opportunity to shape some of the features of a new home. We see the ‘tailored finished properties’ as middle ground, somewhere between self-building and buying a fully finished home. They are ideal for first time buyers seeking certainty in terms of costs and quality of build, but they also offer more choice over the interior layout and finishes, allowing the purchaser to make their home bespoke.

Karen Curtin Interim Managing Director, Graven Hill


Building your own home is becoming more of a reality, thanks to recent government legislation aimed at boosting self-build projects. As of October 2016, all local authorities must now ensure there are enough serviced building plots to meet local demand for self-build and custombuild homes, thanks to a new legal duty within the Housing and Planning Act 2016, called Right to Build. This initiative is intended to help the 53% who say they would like to self-build, or commission an individually designed, custom-build home. In the UK, just over 8% of homes are self/custom-built compared to around 60% in Germany, 50% in Australia and 23% in the US. The new legislation aims to fulfil the Government’s commitment to double the number of custom and self-build homes in the UK by 2020 and boost numbers to European levels. Across the UK, 14,000 properties will be built in the next year, up 12% from last year. This year the National Custom and Self Build Association set up a task force to help local authorities, community groups and other organisations build large, custom and self-build projects. Buckinghamshire Advantage is the first to get their support, where over 1000 self-build homes are being built as part of a wider development in Aylesbury, now designated one of the Government’s ‘garden towns’. Graven Hill, a pioneering self- and custom-build site near Bicester in Oxfordshire, will have around 1900 new homes.

FINDING OUT ABOUT BUILDING YOUR OWN HOME The popular TV programme Grand Designs must take some credit for growing

interest as viewers watch builders, often on limited budgets, create their own homes from scratch. It’s exciting stuff, but self-builders do need to do their homework and attending a show can be a good starting point. Michael Holmes is a property expert for The Homebuilding & Renovating Shows and chairs the National Custom and Self Build Association and he warns that any first time buyer considering this option must have saved for a large deposit, “Self-build is an option for first time buyers, but the level of deposit required to access the market is significantly higher than for an ordinary house purchase.” Holmes warns that entry level to the self-build market typically starts at a higher level, too, as most self-build homes are detached houses and not the typical first time buyer property. This makes self-build difficult to access for most first time buyers, until they have saved up a significant deposit and have sufficient income to get a larger mortgage, or are in a relationship where two incomes can be combined.

SELF-BUILD MORTGAGES Self-build mortgages come in stages, starting with the plot purchase and then further funds released as the house is constructed – typically four or five payments, each made retrospectively as work progresses. The highest loan available to purchase a plot is 70-80% of value, so purchasing an average plot priced at £100,000 would require a deposit of £20,000-£30,000, plus legal costs. (No stamp duty is payable in this example as the value falls below the threshold at which this is levied.) Building a 100sqm home (the average

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EXPERT COMMENT With18,000 people signing up to new local authority demand registers in just seven months, we believe there is significant potential for custom and self- build housing. The Task Force will be helping Buckinghamshire Advantage with the techniques to deliver custom and self- build by capitalising on both the UK and overseas experience of its experts.

Michael Holmes Chair, The National Custom and Self Build Association

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MARKET three bedroom Victorian terraced house measures around 90sqm) would cost £135,000 (£1500/sqm – costs vary across the UK) plus around £25,000 in design fees, insurances and utility connection charges. A stage payment mortgage would fund 70-80% of construction costs, but would not typically cover fees, so a further £52,000-£65,500 cash would be required, taking the total deposit required to build, up to £72,000-£95,500. But, for those who can raise the necessary deposit, self-build can pay off. The typical saving made by building your own home is 20-25% of the value of the property, so our example project (below), which has a combined land and build cost of £260,000, would be worth around £312,000 when finished. The total stage Land Cost


Stamp Duty


Build Cost


Fees etc.


Total Cost

£260,000 (average 20% saving compared with buying a newbuild property)

Maximum Mortgage 70-80% LTV payment mortgage required would be £164,500-£188,000 plus arrangement fees and, after completion, the self-builder would have equity of £124,000-£147,500.

ANOTHER ROUTE TO SELF-BUILD Plots are becoming increasingly expensive and sought after, and time will tell as to whether the recent legislation improves the picture, but, for anyone unable to find an affordable plot, there is another option. Some developers are buying large plots then dividing them and selling on to buyers to create their own homes. Buyers can then typically choose from a range of designs, with the option to customise and configure internal layouts. Kent-based developer Quinn Estates believes that they are the “most proactive mixed-use developer in Kent” with around 40 current projects, with over £750m of residential property being built, or in planning. Quinn’s Developer Director, Alastair Cracknell, says that his company removes stress and he sees an increasing number of buyers, even first timers, choosing this option, “The property market is so expensive and shows no signs of changing – this is one way that first time buyers can get on the ladder.” Cracknell agrees that programmes such as Grand Designs have been a catalyst and adds, “I think, deep down, everyone loves the idea of building a home exactly to their tastes and requirements.” Quinn Estates’ plots include some at



Helaina Storey and her husband Dan bought a plot through Quinn Estates and are building a family home at Boughton Park. Wedding planner Helaina explains, “We’d been looking for ages, searching for the perfect property, but couldn’t find what we wanted – more space for the children and a bigger garden. We are obsessed! We love Grand Designs and decided, after seeing people doing it on modest budgets, that we could do it too.” They found their plot almost by accident. “It had just come back on to the market, so we snapped it up.” The couple estimate the costs of the plot plus construction at just under £600,000 and, whilst Helaina admits to ‘not being a fan of newbuild’, she feels that this is different. “We have so much input into the design ourselves and can get it exactly the way we want it.” Buying through a developer has brought some constraints. “There are only fourteen plots, all spacious and uniquely designed, but we do all have to use the same bricks and only have a choice between a couple of tiles, which is necessary to keep a cohesive feel,” says Helaina who loves the design of the house they chose, although they have tweaked it. “We really wanted a large kitchen/ dining space that opens up on to the garden, which would be the hub of the house and great for entertaining. The original design didn’t have this, but we’ve flipped it so the kitchen is now at the front.” Helaina is also re-configuring the space to give herself a large utility room and office, but she has found getting a self-build mortgage challenging. “It is far more complex and we’re still going through the process. They want to know so many things, such as the build schedule – it’s all about affordability.” The couple will stay with family for the 18 months it will take to build their dream home. “It’s a two bedroom house and there are five of us, but it’s a lot better EXPERT COMMENT than having to live in a caravan on-site, which was the only alternative. It will allow us to save money, too, as we’ll only be paying minimum rent.” There aren’t many companies doing The pair intends being very ‘hands-on’. “The interiors and what we do, but it’s a good option décor will be very much my baby”, says Helaina, “I’ve got for a first time buyer. We install all lots of transferable creative skills, while Dan has a floorthe access roads and make sure laying business, so has many contacts, which will all help properties are connected to utilities keep costs down.” They hope to be in their house when their – that can be a real headache youngest starts school in September 2018. “That is the plan when you’re going it alone. Once and fingers crossed we’ll be in by then – I can’t wait!” they are built, they are usually worth a lot more than the cost of plot and building, so it’s a great investment.

entry level, and current sites include Boughton Park in Kent. “Our homes start from around the £200,000 mark and we are building in prime locations,” says Cracknell, who accepts that sourcing a mortgage can be complex, but the company offers advice on sympathetic lenders.

Alistair Cracknell Developer Director, Quinn Estates’

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Agony agent Readers put their property questions to our guest panel of experts: solicitors, mortgage advisers, property gurus and Help to Buy providers


James MacPhail Interim Head of Sales & Marketing, Viridian Housing

Maria Montgomery Partner, Land and New Homes, Fenn Wright

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 the panel to give the advice you need. Email your questions to:


What is shared ownership?


I am a young professional, hoping to get on to the housing ladder in London, but I don’t have a large enough deposit to buy on the open market. I’ve heard of a scheme called shared ownership – but I’m not sure where to start! How does it work, and what are the first steps? Are there any hidden costs associated with the scheme? Matthew Parker, Croydon


Great to hear you are considering shared ownership – a scheme that has already helped hundreds of thousands of people to purchase their own homes across the UK. In fact, according to the National Housing Federation, up to 46% of first time buyers are now turning to affordable home ownership to get on to the housing ladder. Shared ownership allows buyers to purchase a percentage share in the property (usually a minimum of 25%) – and rent the ‘un-owned’ share at a subsidised rent level. The good news is, with shared ownership, buyers require a much smaller deposit than those buying on the open market – a minimum of 5% of the share you buy.

The first step is to check whether you are eligible for the scheme. Eligible purchasers must have a household income of £90,000 or less to buy in London, or £80,000 or less outside of London. Priority is usually given to those already living and/or working in the borough in which they wish to buy. Once you have confirmed your eligibility, then you can register with a shared ownership provider, such as Origin Housing. It’s a common misconception that there are hidden costs associated with affordable home ownership. In fact, the process is extremely transparent and straightforward. You will need £3,000£10,000 in savings to cover the costs of buying a shared ownership property. This will cover the reservation fee (with Origin Housing, that’s around £500, which comes off the final price of your home when you complete your purchase) and various other fees, including solicitors fees, mortgage valuation fees, and stamp duty, where applicable. Once you are in your shared ownership home, monthly costs are usually the same, or sometimes less than renting a similar property on the open market. For a detailed breakdown of the shared ownership buying process, visit originsales. to see your customer journey. Simon Scott

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Help to Buy for new homes


I am looking to get on to the property ladder and, in my excitement, I have been viewing a number of properties. I have my eye on a newbuild home as I’m aware that there are a lot of benefits to these houses, however, I’m not sure if developers offer their developments under the Help to Buy scheme, which I am keen to take advantage of? Sara Morris, Ipswich


You’re quite right, there are a lot of benefits to buying a newbuild home ( and the Government has heavily invested in helping first time buyers step on to the property ladder with a variety of newbuild schemes. There has been a rise in newbuild homes to help tackle the UK’s shortage

of homes and to entice new buyers on to the property ladder. Various government initiatives are in place for first time buyers, such as the Help to Buy scheme, and some property developers are also offering their own incentives. For the majority of first time buyers, the Help to Buy Equity Loan Scheme is

the option that is most applicable. The Government lends you up to 20% of the cost of your newly built home, so you’ll only need to provide a 5% cash deposit and source a 75% mortgage to make up the rest. You won’t be charged loan fees on the 20% government loan for the first five years. However, after this period, an annual fee of 1.75% of the outstanding equity loan is charged and must be repaid after 25 years, or earlier if you sell your home. Once you have found a potential Help to Buy property through a developer or local agent, you will need to see a financial adviser to assess your income and find a suitable mortgage. The majority of the deal will be finalised following the completion of a Help to Buy property information form, which comes from the developer. This will show your proposed purchase, proposed main mortgage, deposit and household income. The form is then signed by you and the house builder and sent to the local Help to Buy agent. Maria Montgomery

Service charges


I’m looking into buying my first home using the shared ownership scheme, but when I’ve spoken to a few of my friends who have bought using the scheme, they’ve warned me about the high service charges that I’ll have to pay but have no control over. What advise can you give me about this? Nathan Longdean, Hammersmith


The best advice I can give you is find out as much information about the service charge for the development you are interested in before you decide to buy. The service charge is the money collected by the housing association to cover your share of maintaining the communal areas of the development. Typically, these include items such as cleaning costs, general communal repairs, lift maintenance, communal lighting and heating costs, maintaining any landscape gardens and buildings insurance. If there are other communal facilities on-site, such as a concierge or a gym that you have access to, you’ll also be paying for these through your service charge. The final part of your service charge will be made up of a Reserve Fund that will be used for any major works, or cyclical decorations in the future, and a management fee that

covers the cost of running the leasehold management service. One thing to bear in mind when buying at a new development, is that the service charge figures quoted will be estimated as large parts will be based on estimated figures, e.g. an estimate on how much it will cost to clean the communal areas. Going forward, your service charge will be reviewed each year (usually every April) and will be based on the expenditure of the previous year and readjusted if needed.

The housing association will issue you with audited accounts each year, so you can see how this has been calculated. The exact items you’ll pay for will vary depending on the development you are buying at, so ask the housing association what on-site facilities you’ll have access to, when you the view the show home, and for a full breakdown of what’s included in the service charge. James MacPhail

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


ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR A GOVERNMENTBACKED 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 106.






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 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.


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.

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’.



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.

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.

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).

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.


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 TIPS

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


Unless you have enough money to buy a property 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.


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.

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 SET A BUDGET



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. 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 interestonly 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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a 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.

Buying a home is a big investment. You need to buy a home you can afford and one

horough research

you’ll be happy living in.

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.

PROPERTY SEARCH 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 DECIDE ON A LOCATION

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.

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.

ESTATE AGENTS 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. SEARCH

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


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

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


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.


MORTGAGE FEE £0-£1,000

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

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

SOLICITORS 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.


A QUICK SALE 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.

EXCHANGE AND COMPLETION 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.

Use a recommended solicitor who you know to be reliable and can move fast. 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. 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.

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

LAND REGISTRY FEES £50-£920 (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

2% for properties costing between £125,001 and £250,000

5% for properties costing between £250,001 and £925,000

10% for properties costing between £925,001 and £1,500,000

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.

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.



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.




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

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

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


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.

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.

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



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

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.

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

CONVEYANCING The legal process of transferring ownership of a property.

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


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

REDEMPTION Paying off your mortgage in full is known as redemption.

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

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

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The legal process of buying a newbuild First Time Buyer magazine spoke to Emma Newby, Head of New Build Conveyancing at Beaumont Legal, to get the low down on the newbuild conveyancing process For first time buyers, purchasing a brand-new home direct from a developer – is often the dream. With no structural survey results to stress about, no chain to contend with and a sparkling new place to move in to – you’d be forgiven for thinking that the legal process is bound to be plain sailing. However, with strict exchange deadlines and often no set completion date, those opting to buy new should be aware of how the legal process differs, and what steps they can take in advance to make sure the move goes through without a hitch You’ve acted for thousands of buyers – helping them purchase brand new homes. Should buyers select a conveyancer who specialises in newbuild conveyancing? Due to the technical nature of newbuild purchase transactions, it is vital that purchasers choose a conveyancer who specialises in this area and is comfortable dealing with such complicated matters, quickly and efficiently, to ensure that any exchange deadlines are met without compromising on the legal service provided. It is also essential that your conveyancer is used to dealing with the various schemes and incentives that are available to first time buyers – such as Help to Buy. With the property being brand new – why are searches and legal enquiries still necessary? The purchase of a home is likely to be the biggest financial commitment in your lifetime, so it is vital that you know as much about the property as possible before signing contracts. You want to be sure that the property you are about to buy is worth your investment! There are so many things that we as your conveyancers need to check, to make

sure the developer is constructing the property legally and as they should. We look at things such as planning permission and building regulations, and we’ll make sure there is a new home warranty scheme (such as NHBC) – ensuring you’re protected against future structural issues. We also ensure that you’re provided with the necessary rights to gain access to and from your home, and we’ll clarify who’ll be responsible for the roads and sewers. If the property is an apartment, or a leasehold house, we’ll need to check the lease and make you aware of any conditions that may affect what you can and can’t do in the property. For example, pets may not be allowed, or you may not be able to let, or even sub-let, your property. We will also provide you with key information about any management company, confirm who is responsible for maintaining the building and communal areas which form part of the development, and will detail any costs that you may be expected to pay – such as ground rent and service charges, or other estate charges as well as any possible contributions towards buildings insurance. In most circumstances, your conveyancer will also be acting on behalf of your mortgage lender, who will also want to ensure that all this information is checked. How long will the conveyancing process take and how long after reservation should buyers expect to be able to collect their keys? The process can be very quick, or can take several months, depending on whether the property is fully constructed or not. Most developers will require you to proceed to exchange of contracts within 28 days of either reserving the property, or your

conveyancer receiving the contract papers. If the apartment/ house is ready to move in to (i.e. ready and structurally finished) – you may be required to exchange and complete within 28 days. In popular markets such as London, plots will often be reserved well in advance of the property being structurally complete, but the developer will still require a quick exchange of contracts, with completion taking place ‘on-notice’ – sometimes several months later. Once the property is finished and signed off by the New Home Warranty Provider, we’ll receive written notice that the property is ready and completion must take place within a specified time from receipt of the notice (normally 10 working days later). We’ll then need to prepare for completion by requesting mortgage funds, carrying out final searches and obtaining evidence that the property has been signed off by the New Home Warranty Provider. At this point, you should also be invited by the developer to carry out a final inspection of the property (known as a home demo tour) – allowing you the opportunity to flag up any snagging issues with the builder and seek assurances that they will deal with these. Every developer will have their own process for dealing with snagging, so it is important that you speak to the developer on this point to find out what theirs will be. Developers should always try to give you an accurate estimated timeframe for completion when you reserve – but remember that scheduled works can be delayed due to outside factors, such as poor weather conditions, reliance on third parties, such as contractors and third party companies, and connection to services. Most larger developers also subscribe to the Consumer Codes for House Builders which ensures that all homebuyers are treated fairly and know what service

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Get your conveyancing quotes now, so that you can calculate how much you’ll need to pay and work out if stamp duty is applicable. For a discounted, no obligation quote from Beaumont Legal, contact Emma Newby at, quoting the reference FTB2017.

levels they can expect to receive from the developer of their property. You can find more information on their website. When will I need to provide my mortgage offer? Most mortgage offers expire within three or six months, so if you are buying offplan, the property may not be ready within that timeframe. You may need to get an extension, or even a new offer, before the property is complete. You should always speak to your mortgage advisor about this, to ensure that, once you have exchanged, you will still have a valid mortgage offer which you can use to complete your purchase. If you know that the property isn’t going to be ready for more than six months past the point that your offer is first issued, we’ll advise you on the risks of exchanging contracts without having a valid mortgage offer in place. For example, what would happen if your employment status changed between exchange and completion – affecting your ability to get a mortgage? You need to be comfortable with the idea of exchanging contracts in advance of completion taking place and consider the risks of ensuring you will have the funding in place to complete your purchase as, once contracts have been exchanged, you are legally bound to purchase the property. How much should I expect to pay for the conveyancing? Legal costs can vary from firm to firm and factors such as the property tenure (freehold or leasehold) and purchase price, or even if you are purchasing under

the Help to Buy Scheme, will all have an impact on how much you can expect to pay. However, you also need to budget and you don’t want to be faced with spiralling costs at a time when every penny counts. Do your homework in advance and select a conveyancing firm who is able to provide you with not only a quality legal service, but also a fixed legal fee, along with an accurate estimate of other costs you may incur – such as stamp duty, registration fees and search costs. Although newbuild properties are less likely to fall through, you should also check whether the conveyancing company offers a ‘no completion, no fee’ service, where you won’t be expected to pay the conveyancers legal fees if you do decide not to go ahead with the purchase. When will I be expected to pay? Understanding the process and how much you will be expected to pay and, more importantly, when, can really help you get your finances in order and keep the stress levels to a minimum! Once you have paid a reservation fee to the builder to secure your plot, you will need to instruct your conveyancer and you will usually be required to make an initial payment of around £300 to cover the cost of outgoing expenses, such as searches and ID Checks. The next payment will be requested before exchange of contracts (normally within 28 days) and this is when your deposit is required, to ensure that contracts are legally binding. This is normally a minimum of 10% of the total purchase price,

including any reservation fee you have paid, but sometimes smaller deposits are accepted, for example, if you are purchasing with Help to Buy. If you do not think you will be able to provide a full 10% deposit at the point of exchange (e.g. because you are still saving your deposit up), speak to your conveyancer to discuss options. Before completion, you will receive a completion statement from your conveyancer, detailing the final amount due from you, and this will include the remaining balance for the property, plus the outstanding legal fees and costs, such as registration and stamp duty fees, and any other outstanding amounts which you owe to the developer, such as extras. This will need to be transferred into your conveyancer’s account as cleared funds no later than the day before completion. Remember, if the property is structurally complete at the time you reserve, exchange and completion may happen at the same time, or just a few days apart and, if this is the case, the full funds may be requested all at once. On the day of completion, your conveyancer will have already requested the funds from your mortgage lender and will transfer the full balance to the developer’s solicitor. Once they, in turn, have received the money, keys will be released by the site and you will officially be the owner of a brand new home! Whilst you enjoy settling in, your conveyancer will take care of the registration formalities and ensure your stamp duty is paid to HMRC and the new Home Warranty is put in place.

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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 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









Tel: 0800 456 1188 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 9



1) 2) 3) 4)


6 4


4 2





3 2







HELP TO BUY LONDON Tel: 0300 500 0996 1) London

Map supplied by Help to Buy South

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Help to Buy London

guarantee, please contact the participating lenders

Tel: 0300 5000 996

Tel: 0345 850 2050

0300 500 0996

directly. Shropshire Share to Buy


Staffordshire Derbyshire Nottinghamshire

Please note:

Tel: 03333 214044


Help to Buy agents administer the Help to Buy: equity


loan scheme but not the mortgage guarantee scheme.


They have the authority to give the go-ahead for you


West Midlands

to purchase a home with help from the equity loan



scheme. The agents make other key decisions during



the purchase process. For the Help to Buy: mortgage







Essex Surrey Kent

Tel: 0300 790 0570

West Sussex

East Sussex

Cumbria Lancashire Merseyside


Greater Manchester Cheshire

Tel: 0300 100 0021 Cornwall


Devon South Somerset

Tel: 0113 243 6893

Dorset Northumberland


Tyne & Wear Durham

Tel: 0845 604 11 22

North Yorkshire

West Yorkshire South Yorkshire


East Riding of Yorkshire

Oxfordshire Bristol Bath & NE Somerset, Mendip and North Somerset Wiltshire Berkshire Hampshire Isle of Wight

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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Shepherd’s Bush Housing

Affinity Sutton

Circle Living


020 8996 6666

0300 100 0303

0845 304 1002

0800 058 2544 Southern Home

Aster Group

Estuary Housing

Notting Hill Housing



01380 735 391

020 8357 4444

020 7553 6420

01702 462 246 Chelmer Housing


Octavia Housing

Swan Housing


Family Mosaic


020 8354 5500

0300 555 0500

020 7089 1315

Gateway Housing

0300 303 2500


One Housing Group

CHS Group

First Wessex

A2Dominion New Homes

Thames Valley Housing

020 8709 4409

0800 234 6242


0300 111 3555

0800 0191 470

newhomes Genesis Homes

Origin Housing

033 3000 4000

0800 040 7989

Guinness Partnership

Paradigm Housing


0300 2000 116

Catalyst Housing

0845 337 4877

0300 111 321

0800 783 2159 Affinity Sutton

Wandle Housing Association 0300 100 0303

0845 351 2345


0845 601 7729 Hexagon

Circle Living

020 7021 4444

020 8778 6699

SOUTH EAST A2Dominion New Homes

Places for People


Home Group

0800 783 2159

Clapham Park Homes

0845 850 9571

0845 230 2074

0845 304 1002

Accent Nene Sanctuary London

Hyde New Homes

01733 295 400

East Thames

0800 781 4755

020 8297 7555

020 3535 3535

Accent Peerless Servite Houses

Islington and Shoreditch

0800 294 2280

Estuary Housing

Housing Association

0800 012 1442


020 7226 3753

0845 600 0830

01702 462 246 London and Quadrant Family Mosaic

0844 406 9800

020 7089 1315 Metropolitan Home Gallions Housing



020 3535 2555

0300 123 1141

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Flagship Homes

Hyde New Homes

Origin Housing

Rosemary Simmons

Swan Housing

Housing Association


01603 255 444

020 8297 7555

0800 040 7989

Aster Group

01372 461 440

0300 303 2500

Genesis Homes

Jephson Homes Housing

Orwell Housing



Sanctuary South East

Thames Valley Housing

033 3000 4000


Cornerstone Housing

01926 339 311

01473 218 818

0800 781 4755

0845 351 2345

01392 273 462

01380 735 391

Guinness Partnership (South)

Knightstone Housing

Paradigm Housing

Sentinel Homescope


London and Quadrant


0300 111 321

0845 337 4877


01256 338 800

0844 406 9800

01225 366 000

01934 524 300 Hastoe Housing




Servite Houses

Town and Country


020 7021 4444


0800 783 3097

0116 257 6716

0800 012 1442

01752 856 037

Places for People

01892 501 626 Elim Housing

Home Group

Metropolitan Home

Soha Housing


0845 850 9571

Western Challenge

0845 230 2074

01235 515 900

Housing Association

01454 411 172

020 8920 7777

Raglan Housing


Southern Home





01425 283 600

0800 876 6060

0800 011 6420

Housing Solutions Group

0300 323 0011 Howard Cottage Homes

020 7553 6420 Rosebery Housing

01249 465 465 Worthing Homes

Guinness Partnership

01903 703 100


One Housing Group


Sovereign Housing

01462 683 307

0800 234 6242

01372 814 000

0845 712 5530

0300 303 8034

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Severn Vale Housing

Acis Group

East Midlands Housing



01684 272 727

0800 027 2057

Signpost Housing

Asra Housing Group

Jephson Homes Housing


Family Housing

Assoc. Ltd

0116 257 6716


0800 783 7837

0800 783 3097

0844 892 9000 Black Country Housing

01926 339 311

0121 766 1100

Sovereign Housing


Nectar Homes

Friendship Care and

0845 712 5530

0121 561 1969


Synergy Housing

Bromford Group

Places for People

Part of the Aster Group

0845 601 0878

0845 850 9571

01202 308600

0845 850 4505 0345 60 20 540


Muir Group

0845 309 0700

01928 728 0399

Merican Housing

Nottingham Community


Housing Association

Guinness Partnership

(Northern Counties)

0121 322 7373

0845 650 1204

0300 111 7000

01803 200 300

Sanctuary Southwest

Midland Heart

01926 339 311

01902 571 100

0800 0421 800

Longhurst and Havelok

Heantun Housing

020 8920 7777

Westcountry Housing


Assoc. Ltd

Caldmore Accord Association

Rooftop Housing Group

Jephson Homes Housing

08456 019 095


Raglan Housing

0800 011 6420

Home Group De Montfort Housing


0845 230 2074 0116 223 3700

Accent Nene

Derwent Living Housing

01733 295 400


0845 605900

Metropolitan Home

Orbit HomeBuy Agents


0800 083 9283

01332 346 477

0345 850 2050

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Equity Housing

0845 850 9571

0800 733 233

Raglan Housing

Guinness Partnership


(Northern Counties)

0800 011 6420

0845 605900

Riverside Housing

Headrow Limited


0133 250 4337

0845 111 0000 Home Group Rooftop Group

0845 230 2074

0800 0421 800 Jephson Homes Housing


Eden Housing

Progress Housing Group


Three Rivers Housing

01772 450600


01768 861 400

01274 717 500

08000 461600

Sanctuary Midlands


Accent Foundation Ltd

0800 131 3348

01926 339 311

Servite Houses

Leeds Federated

Housing Association


0800 012 1442

Two Castles Housing

0113 386 1000

0844 800 3800

Association (North East)

08000 461 452

South Staffordshire

Regenda Homes Equity Housing

0344 736 0063

0800 733 233 Riverside Housing

Guinness Partnership


0191 261 4774

(Northern Counties) 0845 111 0000

Housing Association

Longhurst and Havelok

Erimus Housing Ltd


0800 096 8690

01642 707910

0845 605900


0845 309 0700 Gentoo Sunderland

Staffordshire Housing

Sanctuary North Home Group 0800 781 0401


Manningham Housing

Accent Foundation Ltd


0191 525 5000

0845 230 2074

01782 744 533


Waterloo Housing

Guinness Partnership

01274 771 144

(Northern Counties)


Muir Group

0121 355 4501 01928 728 0399

WM Housing Group

Outlook Homes

01214 574604 0161 248 2363


Places for People 0845 850 9571

Rosa Homes

01274 717 500 0845 077 0027

Acis Group

Adactus Housing Group

0800 012 1442

03448 736290

0845 605900

01942 608 715

Sanctuary North

0800 027 2057 0800 781 0401

Broadacres Wakefield and District

01609 767 900

Housing 01925 236 400

Arcon Housing



0845 230 2074

0800 035 2212

0161 214 4120 ISOS

Knowsley Housing Trust

CDS Co-operatives

0300 300 1505

0151 290 7000

020 7397 5700 Live Smart

Liverpool Housing Trust

Chester and District

0800 028 3629

Housing Trust

01928 796000 Places for People

0808 100 7701

0845 850 9571

Muir Group

Contour Homes

01928 728 0399 Sanctuary North

0845 602 1120

Your Housing Group Irwell Valley Housing

Home Group

Crucible Homes

Impact Housing

Accent Foundation Ltd

Servite Houses

01274 717 500

0800 781 0401

Outlook Homes

Cosmopolitan Housing

0161 248 2363


Tees Valley Housing


Places for People

0845 850 7507


0151 227 3716

0845 850 9571 0114 421 3430

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Spotlight on... PAUL ISAACS


Paul has worked in various aspects of the housing industry, from his early days as a banker, lending to small and medium sized housebuilders, to then running the residential joint venture business of a PLC. He set up Generator Group in 2006 and has over two decades of experience in residential and mixed-use development. Paul has played a key role in securing and delivering successful projects of varying scale and complexity. Specialising in regenerating and transforming sites across the South West, East Anglia and London/home counties, Paul understands the newbuild property market and the challenges faced by today’s aspiring young buyers How has Generator Group helped to shape the Help to Buy market outside of London? As a niche developer working in very distinct regions, we have a flexible approach to all our projects, ensuring that we design and create developments, which satisfy local housing demand. Increasingly, we are developing homes to cater for the first time buyer market, and we are able to offer Help to Buy, to help anyone who is struggling to get on, or move up the property ladder. In London, affordability is always an issue, but in key regional cities, such as Bristol and Norwich, there is also a need for financial assistance and more affordable options. The governmentbacked Help to Buy scheme has undoubtedly opened up the newbuild homes market, and we believe it is important to give buyers the choice to move to newly regenerated hotspots across the country, not just in and around London. In fact, we have recently launched a new scheme in Norwich, The Bridge, where buyers can take advantage of Help to Buy to purchase their brand new home. Tell us about your most recent Help to Buy development? The Bridge, in Wherry Road, Norwich, occupies a prime waterside location in the heart of the regional capital, with far-reaching views over the River


Wensum. The development comprises 66 one and two bedroom apartments. We have delivered an innovative, contemporary scheme, with apartments offering generous living spaces and an exceptional finish, at an affordable price. Prices for our one bedroom apartments here start from £185,000. Using the government-backed scheme, Help to Buy, this allows first time buyers to secure a mortgage as little as £412 per month (based on a two-year fixed rate). Why is it important to build on Brownfield and underused sites to improve the UK’s housing stock? We believe it is important to breathe new life into these derelict sites by regenerating them and transforming them, in order to create fresh new communities, appealing new homes and first-rate amenities and facilities for local residents. It is encouraging that the Government has recognised the importance of Brownfield sites in its recent Housing White Paper, and is now setting up a database for Local Planning Authorities to record where they are available for regeneration. However, much more needs to be done to free up these more challenging sites and to make the planning process more efficient, before the UK’s housing market will be able to achieve national

targets of delivering one million new homes by 2020. How do you identify a regional site of importance? We are always looking to identify and secure more suitable sites for development, whether they are on redundant Brownfield and underused sites, or Greenfield land. Specifically, we look to target residentially-led sites for a minimum of 25 homes. An important factor for us is assessing the area’s regeneration progress or potential; looking at new infrastructure investments, the performance of the local property market, the local economy, and the job prospects. The site in Norwich, for example, was a former car park, which had been redundant for 10 years, and was a blot on the otherwise attractive waterfront. Norwich, as the capital of the East Anglia region, also offers impressive prospects for those looking to build up equity in their homes, with Zoopla recording house price rises of nearly 6% in the last 12 months. Can you tell us a little bit about Generator Group? Generator Group is a specialist developer, creating sustainable, high-quality places we are proud to be associated with, where people aspire to live and work, and that stand the test of time.

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First Time Buyer June/July 2017  
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