First Time Buyer October/November 2023

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the Ultimate Guide to... GETTING ON THE LADDER, NEW HOMES AND SHARED OWNERSHIP October/ November 2023 £4.99 10 9 771758 973021 >
“Buy a property that you feel you will be happy with in five or eight years' time”
Damergi TV Presenter, A Place in the Sun

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Editor-in-Chief SARAH GARRETT

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Special Events KATIE WRIGHT

– National Home Buying Week

– First Time Buyer Readers’ Awards katie@


Managing Director SARAH GARRETT

Public Relations



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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,


It was amazing to celebrate the First Time Buyer Readers’ Awards recently and have the opportunity to meet up with so many housing industry colleagues. This year we have been overwhelmed with the support we have had with a record number of entries and a sell-out at the lunch despite the train strike! A very big thank you to everyone for taking the time to vote – it really means so much and if you turn to pages 79-89 you can see all the winners and highly commended.

The annual Shared Ownership Week campaign returns from 2026 September, aiming to help homebuyers understand how using the scheme can help you buy an affordable home. I do hope that you enjoy our shared ownership supplement where you can find lots of information and many lovely developments available through the Government scheme plus an explanation of how the scheme works. We are often referring to areas which are up-and-coming but how do you recognise if the location you are looking to buy in, is really on the up? Turn to pages 22-26 where we give you some top tips of what to look out for, which I think you will find very useful.

I hope you enjoy this issue which is packed with information and help on buying your first home – enjoy!

Until next time, happy house hunting firsttimebuyeronline @firsttimebuyer


We found a really lovely apartment in Rotherhithe which is the perfect base for when we are in London.

John Bruce, At home with, page 12

Ask Emilia, page 96

Start by looking at options, what buying schemes can you afford?

Jon Lord, 20 Questions, page 118

We can’t wait to show our parents around and I’m sure they’ll be giving their seal of approval too.


EDITOR’S LETTER First Time Buyer October/November 2023 3
I’d say to anyone moving into their rst home, cherish that rst week. It is super amazing. Claire Dowd, Real Life, page 70
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 2008-2023. 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.
It’s always good to speak to a mortgage adviser, and be clear about all forms of income.

What’s in…


For sale

– the best FTB properties


It wasn’t a hard choice for Claire Dowd and Dom Barlow to decide on their first dream home. They heard about a new Bellway development planned for the village of Penllergaer near Swansea, and immediately knew it was in the perfect location for them near family members, and before construction even began, they set their hearts on living there.


8 FTB Loves...

With Halloween fast approaching, we have ideas to decorate your home spooky style! Plus, we all want to buy recycled products –see our round-up of what we love.

10 Living

We all enjoy the sunshine so why not bring the outside indoors with

these striking accessories with a California Dreaming theme, to help brighten up the cooler autumn days ahead.

12 At home with: John Bruce

John is the founder of PRM models, the most diverse model agency in the world, and his company’s sponsorship programme offers a new start to refugees from war torn countries. John is passionate about interiors and he talks to Lynda Clark about his interesting life, his first home and gives some advice for first time buyers.

14 House Hunter

We try to find a home for Zara and Amar Dhillon who are looking for their first home in Berkshire with good links to London and Reading.

16 Developer’s doctor

Melissa Toomey, Director of Sales at Home Reach, answers your property question.

18 The View: Sara


Sara presents A Place in the Sun for Channel 4 and also has a property company with her brother, building and renovating homes. She talks to Lynda Clark about her work, her interesting career and offers some excellent advice for first time buyers.

22 Secure Your Future

What is an up-and-coming area?

Debbie Clark looks at how homebuilders choose their next location and has some excellent advice on what to look out for when deciding if a location is right for you. Watch for places where shops don’t stay empty for long and transport links are improving!

CONTENTS 4 First Time Buyer October/November 2023 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2023 / ISSUE 103 / FIRSTTIMEBUYERMAG.CO.UK
Cover Photo © Gemma Day
22 10




96 Ask Emilia...

79 First Time Buyer Readers’ Awards – Your winners revealed

42 Hotspot

We look at the benefits of Slough as a place to live.

91 Competition

Nine lucky winners will win a 2L tub of V33 Renovation Cupboard & Worktop paint worth £27.

92 First home, first meal

This recipe for Autumn Tea from Bake Well Being has a loaf that is full of flavours and textures that evoke nostalgia and warmth and a special recipe for a warming hot drink. So, celebrate the season by indulging in the comforting flavours of this bake and tea treat.

93 Know How

Some practical and creative DIY hacks you will find useful around the home.

94 Keep Calm and Keep Moving

Moving to a new house can be a difficult time. Lesley Price FCILEx of CGM Solicitors provides advice on what you can do to keep things moving and to manage delays when they occurs.

Emilia, Sales Director at Metro Finance, outlines the various types of income types that can be used to buy a shared ownership home.

98 Finance

Kay Hill looks at savings rates following the interest rate rises on mortgages, but also reflects on the tax implications for savers.


Housing Secretary Michael Gove, recently outlined his plans to help fix the UK’s housing shortage. Ginetta Vedrikas looks at his new proposal which calls for homes to be built in cities on brownfield sites rather than in rural areas.

102 Agony Agent

All your property questions answered by our panel of experts.

105 Buyer’s Guide

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

110 Common questions from a first time buyer about conveyancing?

Coralie Phelan Partner and Head of New Build Homes, at Prince Evans Solicitors LLP explains the key steps to staircasing on your shared ownership home.

112 Directory

A round-up of which schemes are available to first time buyers.

118 20 Questions

We ask 20 quick-fire questions to Jon Lord, Managing Director at Metro Finance.

CONTENTS First Time Buyer October/November 2023 5
Sara Damergi



If I buy a 25% share of a property, how does Stamp Duty work? Will I have to pay more if I staircase to 100%?

FTB says: When it comes to staircasing in shared ownership, the rules on Stamp Duty can be quite beneficial, calculated differently to traditional home purchases. When you buy your first share in the property, you may be eligible for a reduced or discounted Stamp Duty rate. The amount payable will be based on the market value of the share you are purchasing, not on the full market value. This can result in significant savings. If you decide to staircase further and purchase more shares in the property in the future, the same principle applies. You will only pay Stamp Duty on the additional share you are buying, not on the entire property value. This means you can continue to save on Stamp Duty as you gradually increase your ownership stake in the shared ownership property.

This issue’s star letter prize wins a ZeroWater Ready-Read Jug worth £44.99 – the first water filter jug with a built-in TDS meter. TDS (total dissolved solids) are minerals and substances dissolved in water. UK tap water is safe to drink, but it can have a high TDS level as it’s treated with chemicals, including chlorine and fluoride, and could have traces of lead in homes with older pipework. These chemicals can give tap water a bitter taste and may be harmful to your health. Easy to use, simply fill the jug with tap water, and the filter will do the rest.


Can I buy a home in just my name as I am a first time buyer but also have my partner named on the mortgage?

FTB says: There is a way for you to purchase a home in your name while having both of you on the mortgage, it’s called a “joint borrower sole proprietor” mortgage. Not all lenders offer this, so it’s advisable to consult an independent

mortgage adviser to find one that suits your needs. With this arrangement, both of you would share responsibility for the mortgage payments, but only you would have ownership of the property. To avoid any issues further down the line, it’s essential for your partner to be comfortable with not being registered as a joint owner at the Land Registry, as this means they won’t have any legal rights over the property’s equity or any profits generated from it.


Please send us your questions, comments and suggestions concerning property, or the articles in First Time Buyer magazine.


My wife and I might receive a modest inheritance. Presently, we are content with our rental situation and location. However, if we decide to utilise the inheritance, we could potentially afford to purchase a 25% share of a shared ownership property in our area. We wonder if shared ownership properties are a wise investment and if we would encounter any difficulties selling the property if we choose to move elsewhere, perhaps within the next five years, for work reasons?

FTB says: Based on the testimonials featured on the Share to Buy website, it’s evident that shared ownership properties are highly beneficial. The most compelling advantage is that it grants individuals the opportunity to purchase a home in an area that would otherwise be financially out of reach. Opting for shared ownership requires a smaller cash deposit, making it a more accessible and affordable pathway to homeownership. When it comes to selling, you are usually required to offer your housing provider a designated timeframe to find a buyer. This requirement can prove advantageous because housing providers maintain an extensive database of potential buyers who meet the eligibility criteria so have numerous buyers waiting for suitable properties.


I am soon going to be moving into my first home. Although I am very excited, I am a little overwhelmed with what I should do once I am moved in. Do you have any tips?

FTB says: Moving into your first home is an exciting milestone! Here are some essential tasks you should consider doing as soon as you move in:

• Inspect for damages

• Set up utilities and services

• Clean and unpack essentials

• Find and organise all your important documents

• Notify change of address

• Consider any necessary home security measures

• Learn about essential home maintenance

• Meet neighbours and explore the neighbourhood

• Personalise your space. Remember, moving in can be overwhelming, so prioritise tasks and take your time settling in. Enjoy the process of making your new house a warm and inviting home!


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

LETTERS First Time Buyer October/November 2023 7

Hinza bag, £30, Daisy Park

Made from recycled plastic, the handles are made of bio-based plastic, sourced from sugar cane, a renewable raw material.


Purchasing recycled products is an eco-conscious and socially responsible choice that benefits both individuals and the planet. Check out why FTB loves these products and continues embracing them!

Recycled 24cm stockpot, £50, Dunelm

Made from recycled aluminium.

Garden Wildlife recycled Evie peanut butter feeder, £10.99, National Trust

Made from 100% recycled plastic drinks cartons.

Fentress recycled table lamp, £45, Dunelm

A true classic with a sustainable twist. Crafted from recycled glass.

Willow recycled throw, £12.99, Dunelm

Part of the Dunelm Conscious Choice range and made from 100% recycled polyester.

Sylvia recycled velvet dining chair, £119, Cult Furniture

The velvet used in this stool is made from 100% recycled PET plastic so it is kinder to the environment.

FTB LOVES 8 First Time Buyer October/November 2023


Embrace the spirit of the season with sophisticated decor ideas that evoke both spookiness and style!

FTB LOVES First Time Buyer October/November 2023 9
Skeleton bath mat, £10, George Home Bamboo pumpkin serving platter, £3.99, The Range Hey Pumpkin cushion, £9.99, The Range Autumnal LED lantern, £12.99, The Range Halloween black cat candle, £6.99, Homesense Knit effect ceramic pumpkin, £6, George Home


Taking inspiration from California’s never-ending sunshine and vibrant coast, add some warmth into the home by bringing the outside indoors with luscious shades of greens, leaf prints and pops of bright colour to make the autumn days feel brighter

Homepage LIVING 10 First Time Buyer October/November 2023
Green Riverside reactive glaze dispenser, £5; Green Riverside reactive glaze tumbler, £3, George Home Black ceramic vase, £8; organic glass vase, £7; large solar powered natural lantern, £24; faux eucalyptus in black pot, £7, B&M Caro bed, £329.99; Cole 2 drawer bedside table, £199.99, Furniture and Choice Paint – Pale Peony matt, from £36.49, Dulux Patterned cotton cushion cover, £6.99, H&M Leaf vase, £6, B&M Caramel brown leaf towel range, from £5, George Home Mushroom table lamp, £45, Habitat Leopard door knocker, £32.50, Oliver Bonas Fabric doorstop, £19.50, Oliver Bonas Octopus table lamp, £49, Dunelm Geo tufted cushion, £10, George Home

Jericho side table, £120; Hashi ceramic table lamp, £80; cotton print cushion, £10; braided jute circle rug, from £60; Koba rattan two-seater sofa, £950, Habitat Monkey

Knock Knock doormat, £19.50, Oliver Bonas

Just Vibing mirrored wall art, £25, Dunelm

Flowers in

» B&M

» Daisy Park » Desenio » Dulux

» Dunelm » Furniture and Choice

» Gardenesque » George Home » H&M

» Habitat » Oliver Bonas

Homepage LIVING First Time Buyer October/November 2023 11
Paint no.2 poster, from £13.95; Le Jardin no.12 poster, from £13.95; Green Botanical on Linen poster, from £9.95; Abstract in Emerald poster, from £13.95, Desenio book ends, £45, Oliver Bonas Tall green leaf ceramic plant vase, £15.99, Gardenesque Elements Viggo table lamp, £40, Dunelm Green piped taper candle holder, £15, Daisy Park Spherical leaf gold and green glass vase, £46.90, Beaumonde Confetti glass, £12, Dunelm Crab-shaped cushion, £10, George Home Sunset Festival poster, from £9.95, Desenio Riviera poster, from £13.95, Desenio

At home with: John Bruce

John is the founder of PRM models, the most diverse model agency in the world, where his sponsorship programme brings over refugees from war-torn countries. He and his husband, Paulo, enjoy living by the river in London and both have a real eye for interior design. John tells Lynda Clark about his interesting life, his first home and gives some advice for first time buyers

FTB: Tell us about your first step on the property ladder?

JB: I am originally from south east London and have always loved the area. We found a really lovely two bedroom apartment in Rotherhithe which is the perfect base for when we are in London. We both travel a great deal – I am away at least two or three times a month and in February, June and September it is Fashion Week so I am spending time in New York, Paris and Milan which is super busy. Paulo is from Brazil and spends around two and a half months there. We have a house there and his mother, who is getting older, still lives in Brazil and he is looking for a larger home at the moment so she can move in. We absolutely love living in Rotherhithe as it’s very quiet, has loads of open green spaces, a wonderful riverside walk that is perfect for running and, best of all, watching the sun setting over the river.

FTB: Tell us about your career?

JB: I was born in Woolwich and when I was around three years old my mum and I moved to South Africa. My grandparents had moved there the year before and we went to join them. My grandfather had a paper business and so I went to school there and from about the age of 17 I started modelling with Topco Models in Johannesburg. I moved back to London when I was around 19 as I still had family living here and was determined to get a job with a model agency. On the third day after I came back I was offered a Model Agent position at Nevs modelling agency and although I loved my work I actually preferred being in the office dealing with clients and booking the models. I was very lucky as I got the chance to work in the office, which was perfect for me. I have always had a great work ethos and it has always been important to me to be in control of my finances. I stayed at Nevs

Homepage LIVING 12 First Time Buyer October/November 2023

for around five years and then moved to Premier models where I did some TV work which was fun. Then in 2012, I decided to open my own agency and started PRM.

FTB: How is it running your own agency?

JB: It’s great fun and very busy! We deal with all the big designers and magazines, like British Vogue, Harpers and Elle. We also have a lot of success on the runway and recently we had four girls walk for Valentino and two for Dior. We are always on the lookout for new models. We do a lot of scouting in the high street and find some amazing young people.

FTB: Tell us about your charity work?

JB: We sponsor an orphanage in Brazil which is very important to us. My grandmother lost her family in the war and went to an orphanage, so it is very

close to my heart. We also have a licence from the Home Office to sponsor people from countries which are very poor. We have scouts in Africa and we have bought over girls from a refugee camp in South Sudan where life is very tough. We really look after them and it completely changes their lives. We sponsored 10 models in 2020 and it gives me the greatest pleasure to help people and give them amazing opportunities.

FTB: You enjoy interior design – tell us about that?

JB: Both Paulo and myself love our home and it is like our baby. We adore plants and experimenting with colours and making the most of the natural light from the windows. The view is wonderful, so we want to enjoy that as much as possible. Many people are working more at home

these days so it’s important to make the space work for both work and home life –you really need to feel good about how it feels and how it looks.

FTB: What advice do you have for first time buyers?

JB: It’s much tougher for people nowadays but I would advise first timers to decide exactly where they would like to live and also look a little further outside of London where you will find the prices much better and the quality of life very good. If you are buying with a partner make sure you both agree to save as there will be problems if one person is saving and the other one isn’t. There is no feeling quite like buying your first home and watching it grow with you and flourish.

Homepage LIVING First Time Buyer October/November 2023 13
John with one of PRM’s models


This month FTB goes on the hunt with Zara and Amar Dhillon who are looking for their first home in Berkshire with good links to London and Reading

What we found…


Finchwood Park Finchampstead, Berkshire

The Longwater Collection at Green Park Village

Reading, Berkshire

Names Zara Dhillon, 28, Amar Dhillon, 34

Occupations Graphic designer, Project lead

Maximum budget £270,000

Requirements A one or two bedroom home in Berkshire or the surrounding areas, with good transport links to both Reading and London and plenty of options for entertainment within easy reach

What they wanted…

We’re getting married next year and we’ve decided we want to buy our rst home before we do. After ve years in the capital, we’ve also decided to move from our shared rented place in London and look in the Berkshire area, where we’re both from. We grew up in neighbouring towns – although we didn’t know each other until we met in London – so moving back that way is an easy decision for us. Not only will we be closer to family and friends, but we’ll also get more for our money. We’re lucky that we can both work from home a great deal, and Amar’s company has of ces in Reading, so he would need to get there once or twice a week. We both love the countryside, but also like nothing more than an evening out with friends and family, so it’s important to us that there’s some liveliness within a short drive or train ride away.”

Residents at this new collection of one bedroom apartments will have the very best of the Berkshire countryside right on their doorstep. The pretty village of Finchampstead lies a short drive away, while the bigger towns of Wokingham and Reading are just 15 and 20 minutes away by car. The apartments are light and bright, with open-plan areas that feature a Juliet balcony to welcome in summer rays or a gentle breeze. The kitchen has a range of integrated appliances and there’s built-in storage in the bedroom and hallway.

Part of the wider Green Park Village – a growing community just outside Reading – this new collection of one and two bedroom apartments is a commuter’s dream. Reading, 21 minutes from London Paddington by rail, can be reached in six minutes by train from the development’s station. Homes are designed for modern living, with stylish and spacious interiors and private outdoor space. Residents also have parking as well as on-site facilities including a market square, landscaped areas and a picturesque lake.

What they thought…

These homes are in a good location for reaching a lot of places – with Reading, Basingstoke, Guildford and Windsor all really close by car. We love the pretty villages in this area – such as Finchampstead – and there are so many lovely places to visit for long walks or bike rides. The apartments are really sleek and we love the green outlook from the Juliet balconies – very serene. There are also on-site sports facilities here, which would be ideal for us.”

The pretty lake and grounds are a far cry from our current town centre apartment – and we really like the contemporary styling of the buildings. The apartments are impressive inside, too, and are a good size with lots of light. The proximity to Reading makes this an attractive option in terms of Amar getting to his of ce and for days and evenings out and shopping. The new Elizabeth Line makes it so easy to get into London, too, so we’d be able to go out there really easily.”

14 First Time Buyer October/November 2023 Homepage FIRST RUNG
*Based on a 40% share of the full market value of £245,000 FROM £98,000* FROM £300,000


L&Q at Huntley Wharf Reading, Berkshire

Silkmakers Court Wokingham, Berkshire

First choice!


Sunninghill Square

Sunninghill, Berkshire

These new homes form part of an exciting new hub set along the riverside in the buzzing town of Reading. The new locale will feature restaurants, gym and shops – all located at the new Riverside Square, along with open spaces to explore. The one and two bedroom apartments feature open-plan living/dining spaces that open to a balcony, along with contemporary kitchens and hallway utility cupboard. Reading station is a short stroll away for services to London and there are good road links to Oxford, Slough, Guildford and Windsor.

What a cool development – with great views out over the local area and right by the river. We think this looks like a great place to live, especially with the restaurants, shops and gym in the immediate vicinity. It would be so convenient for us – and we love that the railway station is so close, too. The apartments are super stylish – with contemporary kitchens and oor-to-ceiling windows and doors to the balcony. This is a top option for us.”

The sought-after Berkshire town of Wokingham lies just a 10-minute walk from this new collection of one, two and three bedroom homes. The properties feature generously proportioned bedrooms, open-plan living space and a private balcony. While Wokingham has a good offering of shops and amenities, there are also superb connections to Reading, which is 10 minutes away by train, for a wealth of entertainment ideas. From nearby Wokingham railway station, trains run to London Waterloo in around 40 minutes.

We have friends and family in Wokingham and have always liked this area. There’s plenty to do and great shopping, while getting around is super-easy too. This development is pretty appealing, and we like that there are larger homes here too, bringing a family vibe, which would be nice. The layouts of the one bedroom homes are really nice –with added storage space and large living areas, great for us after living in a shared house for so long.”

There is a range of one and two bedroom apartments available at this new development nestled in Sunninghill – named as one of the best places to live in Berkshire. Outside, the homes have been created in keeping with their surroundings, while inside, the apartments are bright and spacious, with living areas that lead to a private balcony. There are plenty of options for days and evenings out nearby, including the towns of Ascot and Windsor around a 10-minute drive. Sunninghill high street, for a range of local amenities, is less than a 10-minute walk away.


”We are so committed to moving back to Berkshire and are really excited at the prospect of living in Sunnninghill. We can’t wait to show our parents around and I’m sure they’ll be giving their seal of approval too.“

This new development ticks a lot of boxes for us! The apartments are really light and airy and we love the design of the buildings. The high street in Sunninghill is only a short walk away, which is ideal – and the immediate surroundings are so pretty. My parents live on the other side of Ascot, so they’d only be a short drive away, while Reading is only 30 minutes by car for Amar’s work. There’s so much that we love within easy reach – with beautiful areas such as Windsor and Virginia Water close at hand – and the on-site parking makes things even simpler. There’ll be no more looking for parking spaces like we currently have to!”

Homepage FIRST RUNG First Time Buyer October/November 2023 15
*Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £375,000 *Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £287,500 FROM £71,875* FROM £255,000 FROM £93,750*

Melissa Toomey is Director of Sales at Home Reach, and has been working in property sales for over 15 years – so she knows a thing or two about buying a home! Mel has made it her mission to help as many people on to the property ladder as possible, and is a huge advocate for shared ownership. Home Reach has one of the largest shared ownership programmes in the country, with over 7,000 homes. Its mission is to provide the highest standards of service for its continually growing pool of new house buyers

QI’ve been living at home with my parents since I graduated from university, and I’m thinking about moving out and getting my own place. I’d been considering renting, but a friend mentioned shared ownership to me, and I’d like to understand the scheme more. I know I’ll need to start saving for a deposit, and I’m not sure how much saving I’ll need to do before I’m in a position to buy. Could you offer any advice?

AIt sounds like shared ownership could be perfect for you! The Governmentbacked shared ownership scheme is available to eligible first time buyers, allowing them to purchase a proportion of the property (up to 75%), with deposits starting from just 5% of the share you buy with Home Reach.

As a guide of how this would work, it means that for a property that has a full market value £300,000, with shares from 50% initial purchase tranche, a mortgage of only £150,000 is required. The 5% deposit is from as little as £7,500. This means that buyers require a much smaller deposit than they would typically need if they were buying on the open market.

Shared owners pay a mortgage on the share they own, and pay rent to a housing provider, such as Home Reach, on the portion they do not own.

Shared ownership allows buyers to purchase more of their home over time through a process called staircasing. Staircasing is the process of buying more shares until you own the property outright. As you purchase more shares, the amount of rent paid to the housing provider will go down, and buyers will pay more towards their mortgage.

When you own the home outright, you will pay no rent at all – just the monthly mortgage payments and any relevant service charges.

There is an eligibility criteria that applies for shared ownership; for example, you

must have a household income of less than £90,000 if you are buying in London, or £80,000 if you are buying outside the capital, and priority is sometimes given to those who live or work in the borough.

We would always advise speaking to an independent financial adviser – they can

Melissa Toomey, Director of Sales, Home Reach

help you work out how much of a deposit you need to save and how much a mortgage provider could be willing to lend to you, so it’s a really great place to start.

Here at Home Reach, we have a wide selection of developments across the UK perfect for buyers like you!

FROM £79,500*

Dover Court is an exclusive development of one and two bedroom apartments in Southall, west London, all uniquely designed with a focus on light and size. The spacious and contemporary apartments feature open-plan kitchen/ living areas, alongside an abundance of built-in storage. Homes come complete with private outdoor space, and additional exclusive access to the residents-only landscaped garden.

Dover Court, Southall

Dover Court provides purchasers with the opportunity to enjoy all that Southall has to offer on their doorstep, conveniently located close to local cafes, bars, convenience stores and parkland. There’s a treasure trove of things to do; residents at Dover Court have plenty nearby, including:

• Direct access into London via the nearby Southall railway station, providing services into Paddington in just 18 minutes.

• The new Elizabeth Line is just an 11-minute walk away.

• An abundance of green spaces, including Osterley Park, which is within half an hour’s walking distance.

• Two gyms on the doorstep, including The Gym Group and Featherstone Sports Centre.

• Hanwell Zoo, just a 20-minute drive from Dover Court.

• Extra sports facilities nearby, including West Middlesex Golf Club just 2.5 miles away.

A perfect choice for a new home purchaser looking for style, convenience and luxury. Prices for a one bedroom apartment at Dover Court start from £79,500 for a 25% share (full market value of £318,000), and deposits from £3,975.

For more information, visit

*Based on a 25% share with a full market value of £318,000

October/November 2023


Sara Damergi is of both Lebanese and English descent and presents A Place in the Sun for Channel 4. She also has a property company with her brother, building and renovating homes. She talks to Lynda Clark about her fascinating career, her work and gives some great advice for first time buyers

THE VIEW 18 First
Time Buyer October/November 2023
THE VIEW First Time Buyer October/November 2023 19

Sara appears to have no boundaries when it comes to taking risks. She has led a very exciting and remarkable life and is passionate about both property and travelling. She was born in Paddington and lived with her Lebanese father and English mother in London. Her father had a bespoke business dealing with Arabic VIP clients relocating, investing or holidaying in London and when she was just three years old the family moved to Beirut. Sara has very fond memories of her time there and at the time could speak fluent Arabic.

Unfortunately, when the war broke out in Lebanon the family had to move back to England and her parents divorced. “I then divided my time between London and Kent and as my dad was a workaholic, it was given that I would be part of the business deals, property viewings and general dayto-day duties when I was staying with him. I was answering the phone in his office and helping wherever I could. It may seem odd that I was part of the business when I was young but no one ever questioned it and I think it was partly cultural too. Family is everything in the Middle East. I got to meet Sheiks and diplomats and see their homes and go on property viewings as well. It was a whirlwind really but a great learning experience in the property business.”

Sara went to a very quaint school in Kent, which had originally been the home of Charles Dickens. She said, “It was like something out of a Harry Potter film. There were only five pupils, so it was very unusual and I ended up being head girl, but with so few pupils to choose from it wasn’t really that special! I then moved on to do my A-levels at a grammar school, which had more pupils, and I loved it. In fact, I am still friends with some of the girls now.”

Before she went to university, she lived in Ibiza and Cyprus for a while where she started up a club night. “My television career started by chance when I was at my mum’s house and we were watching a local channel and my mum said that she thought I could be a presenter. So, I called them up and said I would like to give it a go and believe it or not they offered me a job and I got £50 a day!"

She continued working with her father on and off up until he moved back to Beirut when she was in her early 20s. "I started up my internet business, which is still going strong. That allowed me to become a digital nomad and travel the world with no fixed address, which was amazing. I stayed with tribes in rural Vietnam, an aristocratic artist in Sri Lanka, went snowboarding in Japan and cruising in Kerala to name a few! I was also the lead presenter on the international extreme sports show The Crunch, which was filmed across remote China and

broadcast on primetime TV on Granada, Astra and TV NZ across various territories."

Always dipping in and out of working with her father in his property business, Sara said, “Some of the people my father worked with were extremely wealthy and it was totally another world. He found property for people and short-term holiday lets. Sometimes they would stay in a place for a very short period of time but would want it completely refurbished. I can remember having to go to Harrods and buy pairs of pyjamas that cost thousands of pounds.”

Sadly her father passed away last year and Sara and her brother have taken over his business. They are currently fitting out 10 apartments in Beirut, but Sara says, “The economy in Lebanon has crashed really badly. Here in Beirut, it is hard to sell anything in the current climate as property prices have dropped by 50%. It is the worst financial crisis since the 1800s and generally people are renting and biding their time until prices change. On a happier note though, as it’s summer, Beirut is buzzing with lots of tourists, which is great because they certainly need money pumped into the economy at the moment.”

Sara presented A Place in Sun, A Place in the Sun – Winter Sun and A Place in the Sun – Home or Away for three years, which she thoroughly enjoyed. “I had a wonderful time and travelled to some great places and it fitted perfectly with my love for presenting and my bug for travel!” She then needed a well-earned rest and enjoyed having some time off. She bought an apartment in Catford, south east London, which she renovated and now rents out. She also studied yoga nidra and iRest which is a form of meditation and can help with post-traumatic stress disorder.

She said, “It was a very interesting and fulfilling time. I then worked on Coast v Country for Channel 4, which was great fun and after that I was offered my presenting role back on A Place in the Sun. In 2018 I became pregnant with my first son and took a little time off, but I was soon back working. I remember going to Italy to film during the pandemic and taking the baby with me – looking back I wonder what I was thinking of!” Sara then became pregnant with her second son, which was a complete surprise, but she is now back filming and has recently travelled to Portugal, France

and Italy. She said, “When I returned to filming it was so lovely to meet up and have a reunion as many of the crew are still working there.”

She now lives in London with her family and rents out her flat. She said, “I have had some real problems though – I had somebody who rented it from me and just suddenly decided not to pay the rent! I had to go to court and won the case but thank goodness I had insurance cover as I got all the money back and more as he had to pay me extra. So my advice would be to any landlord to get insurance as it is essential.”

Sara also has some excellent advice for first time buyers and said, “Do not overstretch yourself, especially as interest rates have gone up. Life goes on and you have to live and there is nothing worse than being stressed and anxious if you can’t pay the bills. So, before you take the plunge, work out your finances to ensure you can afford everything from the mortgage to the bills and running costs.

"You should buy a property that you feel you will be happy with in five or eight years' time! Moving home is costly so you should consider if the property would be big enough in the future for say, a growing family? It is also sometimes a good idea to look at areas you don’t particularly like. There is so much regeneration going on that areas which might seem run-down now suddenly are on the up. When I bought in Catford it wasn’t very trendy but now it is. Places like Ladywell, Lewisham, Tooting and Balham are now extremely soughtafter too. Transport links are also very important, especially if you are commuting. Check out what trains and underground stations are nearby. For example, the new Elizabeth Line has made such a huge difference to anyone commuting. New shopping centres are also a great indicator and consider what is important to you, is it shops, schools, green space?

There certainly never seems a dull moment in Sara’s very exciting life, and she is full of enthusiasm. “I’m so enjoying filming A Place in the Sun and of course my two boys are very special. I think I’ve got the ideal scenario at the moment as I still travel but I also have a wonderful family life – it can’t get much better than that.”

A Place in the Sun is on Channel 4

THE VIEW 20 First Time Buyer October/November 2023
THE VIEW First Time Buyer October/November 2023 21


As a first time buyer, you want to be confident that you’re spending your money in the right place. If that feels like a huge responsibility, spare a thought for Jamie MacArthur, Bellway London’s Regional Planning Director, whose job involves spotting up-and-coming areas for the company and overseeing millions of pounds worth of land deals every year! Bellway London ( is currently involved in regeneration projects on brownfield sites right across the capital, creating contemporary apartment developments.

Of course, you don’t get that level of responsibility without a great deal of knowledge and experience, so we are grateful for the inside scoop. Jamie says, “It might seem as though you need a crystal ball to predict this kind of trend. It is something of a skill, but there are some practical considerations that will guide you towards locations that are full of possibilities.”

Buying in an up-and-coming area is a great way for first time buyers to both stretch their budget and maximise future returns. Jamie advises, “Getting in on the ground floor with your first property purchase can set you up for growth in the years ahead. A bit of homework at the start of your property journey will pay dividends later.”

With that in mind, Jamie has shared five top tips on what to look out for and why:

New job opportunities are coming in – “If major firms are opening offices, a business park is being built or supermarkets are investing in a big new store, take note. Jobs bring in people with money to spend and that leads to growing property prices and a thriving neighbourhood.”

Retail outlets don’t stay empty for long –

“Just as rows of empty dilapidated shops tell a story of decline, the opposite is also significant. If chain stores and independent outlets are keen to snap up retail space when it becomes available, it bodes well. National chains will only invest if they are confident of getting a return and they don’t do so lightly. So, take advantage of their hard work and research, and check out where major stores are choosing to open up.”

Transport options are expanding – “If a location is getting new transport options, that mean you can quickly and easily get to the more in-demand areas – such as central London – that location is suddenly more appealing. My top tip here is to widen your perspective. Don’t just look at the rail and tube services, check out expansions in bus services and cycle routes as well as any major improvements to the road infrastructure.”

New places to learn are opening – “If you find universities are expanding and the number of schools and colleges is increasing, that tells you that the demographic is changing, and more people are expected to come in and use those facilities. And a well-educated and skilled population is likely to attract important employers to the area.”

It has a good and improving reputation –“Never underestimate local knowledge. Find out what kind of reputation the area has and whether that is changing and developing. By all means, start with an online search, but there is no substitute for getting out there in person. Walk around, get chatting to the locals and get a feel for the place.”

That last tip is key. You may have been told that when you find your new home, you’ll "just know". That gut feeling goes for the area too, and what suits one person or family, won’t suit another. Online research will only get you so far – there really is a lot to be said for experiencing a new area first-hand, so when visiting a potential new home, try to build in extra time to pop in to the local shops and go for lunch. If you can, explore the local transport options too.

If you’re looking at a new development, talk to people already living there to get a feel for who your neighbours will be, or ask the sales team about the current demographic. New builds tend to have a particularly strong community feel, as people are generally moving in around the same time and are often at a similar stage of life.

Ultimately, buying your first home is likely to be the biggest investment you’ll ever make and while buying in a popular, established area may feel like the safe option, actively looking for up-and-coming areas is likely to secure you a home with more space in the short-term and a better return in the long run, when you find your "up-and-coming" home has in fact arrived!

UP-AND-COMING 22 First Time Buyer October/November 2023
Developers are forever telling us that areas are "up-and-coming", but how can they be so sure? Debbie Clark looks at how housebuilders choose their next development locations, and what giveaways you can look out for to satisfy yourself that an area is indeed on the up!



SO Resi Farnham is an exciting new collection of one and two bedroom shared ownership homes. Features include high-specification interiors, contemporary kitchens with integrated technology and appliances, and an allocated parking space for each apartment. Brightwells Yard, a shopping centre with a six-screen cinema, is right on the doorstep. The development is within walking distance of the town centre and Farnham station, with regular services to London Waterloo taking just one hour. So Resi Farnham also falls within the catchment area for several Outstanding Ofsted-rated primary and secondary schools.



Peabody’s new collection of one, two and three bedroom shared ownership apartments has launched at Southmere. Set in a vibrant lakeside setting, the properties benefit from a new public square and civic building including a library, a fitness studio and a cafe, with other commercial and community spaces to follow. Abbey Wood is within walking distance and has excellent links to the heart of the city – the Elizabeth Line will take you to Canary Wharf in 11 minutes and to Stratford or Liverpool Street in less than 20.

020 3369 2170


Luna Place

FROM £69,375* FROM £113,750*  FROM £360,000

Register your interest for this new development, due spring 2024. Comprising 25 one and two bedroom apartments, Luna Place will be arranged over two apartment buildings with lift access. Located minutes from Esher High Street and railway station, which offers services to London Waterloo in 22 minutes, the gated development has a prime location by Sandown Park Racecourse. Each home will have private parking with an EV charging point, and some will have private patios and Juliet balconies. A communal wildflower garden will be accessible for all residents to enjoy.

020 8481 7588

First time buyer Kuriakose, an electrical engineer, has found his ideal home with his family in Rugby. Kuriakose, 37, and his wife Rintu moved into their brand new property at Barratt Homes’ Ashlawn Gardens development in March, along with their two children.

Kuriakose says, “My family is very important to me, so finding a home we would all be happy with was my top priority. We all love it here, and coming home after a hard day at work to a house of my own, with my wife and children, is a wonderful feeling.”

Ashlawn Gardens is a fast-growing community where residents can enjoy plenty of green open spaces, while also benefiting from excellent commuter links. The quaint town of Dunchurch is on the doorstep and Rugby town centre is less than two miles away.

This convenient location suited the family’s needs. Kuriakose says, “Ashlawn Gardens is perfectly located as well, and this makes our commutes to work very easy. I have a four-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son, so having great schools for all ages close by was a huge selling point. It seems like a great place to lay down some roots.”

The family have settled seamlessly into their new home. “It feels great to finally be on the property ladder after renting for so long, and Barratt Homes has been very helpful all through that process,” reflects Kuriakose.

So far, the family haven’t met many neighbours as they were among the first to move in, but Kuriakose says they are “very much looking forward to welcoming more people to the community” in the coming weeks.

UP-AND-COMING First Time Buyer October/November 2023 23 CASE STUDY
*Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £277,500 *Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £455,000


The Brambles

FROM £315,000

Millwood Designer Homes has launched the first seven of 26 properties off-plan at The Brambles – a premium collection of homes ranging from two bedroom apartments to four bedroom houses. The development benefits from a tranquil rural backdrop of mature woodland, and offers easy access to a selection of country walks. Walshes Country Park is just 1.5 miles away, and the nearby Ashdown Forest – inspiration for AA Milne’s Winnie-thePooh – can be reached in under 20 minutes by road. Crowborough station is within easy walking distance, providing a direct regular service to London Bridge in just over one hour and London Victoria in 75 minutes.

01892 646 440


East River Wharf

FROM £96,875*

Ultra-modern one, two and three bedroom apartments are on offer at Legal & General Affordable Homes’ new development. Each home has a private balcony and plenty of space to work from home. Residents will also benefit from a wide range of amenities including a spa, fitness studio, residents’ gym, 24-hour concierge and security services. The Sky Lounge – a 16th floor space in the development that is perfect to meet, collaborate and socialise while taking in the spectacular views of the city skyline and the River Thames – is also accessible to residents. The development is a short walk to both West Silvertown DLR and Pontoon Docks stations which makes it perfect for connections, while the C3 cycleway will take you all the way to Westminster.

020 4587 2319

FROM £190,000

BIRMINGHAM Belgrade Village

Wavensmere Homes, in partnership with Galliard Homes and Apsley House Capital, is delivering central Birmingham’s first EPC B-Rated houses (eligible for green mortgages), boasting air source heat pumps, natural ventilation, low energy appliances and EV car charging points, to enable occupiers to lower their carbon footprint and household bills. The development also offers abundant green outside space and, once complete, residents will have access to a gym, co-working space, screening room, and concierge service. All 174 two, three and four bedroom houses are sold with a parking space, and buyers have the opportunity to buy parking with the 238 one and two bedroom apartments.

0121 212 0800

Young couple Lauren, 21, and Callum, 24, have just secured their first home – a two bedroom Abbott style apartment – at the Glenvale Park development in Wellingborough.

Lauren and Callum, a service adviser and technician respectively, were previously living with parents but wanted their own space. Lauren says, “We really wanted to start living together, so began saving up for a home. We chose a new build apartment as it’s a perfect starter home, and didn’t want something too big or too small so the Abbott was ideal. We love the open-plan kitchen/ living/dining area that makes the home both cosy and roomy.”

The couple found the move effortless. Lauren says, “Our moving experience with Barratt Homes was amazing. From us viewing the property to moving in was only six weeks! It was easy and painless, and the team helped us every step of the way.”

Glenvale Park is a thriving new community set among 200 acres of green parkland, with planned amenities including sports pitches, a large play area and shops, in addition to a community centre and a primary school. The development offers easy access to major roads, and London is just under an hour away by train.

Lauren explains, “We chose Glenvale Park as the development was within our price range, it has an excellent location with a railway station close by and a lot of open space and paths to walk around. We really like the local area, there are lots of great amenities nearby including a pub and a supermarket.”

The couple have settled right in and are excited to meet the neighbours. “The new community really feels amazing,” says Lauren. “There is a Facebook group so we are able to chat with others in the area, which has been very helpful. It’s really feels like a community rather than a development!”

UP-AND-COMING 24 First Time Buyer October/November 2023 CASE STUDY
*Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £387,500

FROM £80,000*

FROM £322,500 FROM £189,000*


Home X

Situated between the South Downs and the sea, Home X comprises a collection of 318 studio, one, two and three bedroom apartments; part of Brighton’s Preston Barracks regeneration. These high-quality new homes, with energyefficient EPC B ratings, offer communal gardens and open green spaces. Facilities include flexible work and collaboration spaces on-site and at nearby Plus X. All residents also receive two years' free membership with Enterprise Car Club (with cars available at Home X) and a choice between either a 12-month NetworkSAVER ticket, providing unlimited travel on all Brighton and Hove buses, or a £150 bike voucher or 12-month BTN Bikeshare membership.

01273 068 032

*Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £320,000

FROM £183,995


Barratt Homes is offering one, two and three bedroom homes here. The development is surrounded by green open space with planned wildlife areas and a play park, and is just three miles from the Kent coast. Discount Market Sale (DMS) apartments are available here for those who live and work in Thanet. Thanet Parkway railway station is now open, with high-speed services to Ashford and London. re-green 0330 057 2452

*For a DMS apartment


Chris, 31, has just purchased a one bedroom apartment for £315,000 at Starling Court, Southmere, after living with his parents for three years to save for a deposit. Dartford local Chris, an architect, was eager to get on to the property ladder close to his family home in south east London and, unsurprisingly given his profession, design was key!


Martello Lakes

This seaside development comprises one and two bedroom apartments, a five-minute walk from Hythe beach. Homes are energy efficient and the development has an on-site sailing and fishing lake, with tennis, fishing and cricket clubs nearby. Incentives are available.

0330 057 2452

WHITSTABLE Whitstable Heights

Whitstable Heights, located just a seven-minute drive from the seafront, forms part of the newly proposed “Garden City” in the seaside town. The development offers two, three and four bedroom homes, with captivating views over Whitstable Bay and the Kent coastline. Each home has been built to a high specification as standard, with contemporary kitchens and integrated appliances, turfed gardens and quality flooring included at no additional cost. 0808 208 5151

Chris recalls his first viewing of the lakeside Peabody development: “I went straight down to the marketing suite and had a look at the model and show apartment. As an architect, I was immediately impressed by the design and layout of the apartments at Southmere. One of the biggest attractions for me was the large balcony, which is more than twice the size it would typically be. The balcony is also inset, which means I can use it all year round. The development also offered an opportunity to get a great view of the city, looking west for evening sunsets, and being high up means I have an amazing view.”

Southmere, the first phase of Peabody’s ambitious redevelopment of the iconic Thamesmead area, has transformed the area into a dynamic and exciting new town for the capital. The neighbourhood offers over 240 hectares of parks and green space, five lakes, and seven kilometres of canals – a lure for Chris, who says, “I was immediately drawn to the lake and multiple parks, which I know is so rare to have on your doorstep in London, especially in a new development. As a keen runner, the prospect of running around the lake and Lesnes Abbey ruins was also a key selling point.”

Chris has quickly made his new apartment home and is already making the most of the quicker commute into central London now the Elizabeth Line has opened at nearby Abbey Wood station. He reflects, “I am excited to finish furnishing my apartment and watch the neighbourhood continue to thrive and grow. As the new public square comes to life with restaurants, shops and events, and the new facilities on the lake are delivered, I look forward to enjoying living in Southmere as much as I already do.”

UP-AND-COMING 26 First Time Buyer October/November 2023


Network Homes is passionate about helping first time buyers and is offering London Living Rent at some of its developments, which is the ideal way to save and buy.


Funded by the Mayor of London, the idea behind London Living Rent is to help people switch from renting to shared ownership. It is designed for people who want to build up their savings to eventually buy a home through shared ownership.

London Living Rent offers affordable homes for private rent on shorthold tenancies for three to 10 years.


9 Find a London Living Rent home that suits you and your needs

9 Rent the home at a discount

9 Save the discount for your deposit

9 Buy shares in your home through shared ownership.

Discounted rental contracts can be renewed, if needed, for up to 10 years after the launch of each scheme, during which time you will be able to gradually build up your deposit.

When you’re ready, you have the option to buy the home you’ve been renting (or another eligible Network Homes property) on a shared ownership basis. The good news is that when you buy is flexible and Network Homes will support you to save during your rental stay, so you can buy at your own pace.



To qualify for London Living Rent you must meet the following criteria:

9 Your annual household income must not exceed £60,000

9 You must live or work in London

9 You must not own a residential property in the UK or overseas

9 You must meet the minimum income required for your preferred property

9 You must be unable to buy a home, including shared ownership, in the local area

9 You must meet lenders' general criteria to obtain mortgage finance. The full eligibility criteria and priority policy for a particular development can be found on the advertised listing.


You can’t move to an alternative if you’ve completed the stated London Living Rent term (usually three to 10 years).


You are the best judge of what amount is affordable for you to save each month. By renting through London Living Rent you benefit from a below-market rent so you will have the ability to save based on the minimum income requirement for your London Living Rent

home. The more you save the quicker you will raise the deposit required to buy your first home.


No. You will need to deposit and manage your savings with your bank.


You can buy the first share after six months as long as you have the deposit and income to meet the repayment obligations.


No, as a London Living Rent resident you will be considered a priority applicant (along with other housing association and council tenants) for shared ownership apartments across London.

LONDON LIVING RENT 28 First Time Buyer October/November 2023
Saving for that all-important deposit is becoming more and more of a problem for so many first time buyers who are very keen to get on to the property ladder. But London Living Rent could be the answer to help you eventually buy your first dream home

It was a happy ever after story for Hamid Sahil, whose inspiring story will give many first time buyers an incentive to use London Living Rent as a way to buy their dream home.

Hamid Sahil lives with his family in Network Homes’ Acton Works development in Park Royal. He was already a resident of the housing association and moved into his London Living Rent apartment back in October 2021.

London Living Rent is a Greater London Authority scheme that allows people to rent their apartment for a discount and save for a deposit to buy shares in their home on a shared ownership basis. It’s specially designed for middle income Londoners who are struggling to get into the housing market or trapped in expensive private rentals.

Network Homes has been offering homes for London Living Rent since 2018. It was one of the first housing associations to offer the tenure, launching its flagship purpose-built development in Harrow on the Hill. Since then, the organisation has delivered 230 homes for London Living Rent with a further 121 under construction.

What’s so great about the scheme is that you don’t have to buy into the home you live in, but you can use it to save in order to purchase elsewhere. So far 12 residents have now purchased, or part-bought, with three buying a share of their current home and nine buying elsewhere. Five sales are currently in the process of going through.

Before discovering London Living Rent, Hamid and his wife were living in a one bedroom flat, but when she became pregnant, they knew they needed a bigger home for their growing family. Hamid says, “I wasn’t aware of London Living Rent, and I was telling Network Homes staff about my situation and that my wife was expecting a baby and they said there was a scheme that might suit our needs. They were very helpful, giving us a lot of information and navigating us through the website.”

Hamid was impressed by the London Living Rent scheme and the opportunities it provided to pay lower rent, save for a deposit and make

the first steps on the property ladder. So he bit the bullet and completed the application. He said, “One of the biggest reasons that I applied for London Living Rent is that living in London makes it almost impossible to accumulate any type of savings in order to buy your own place. It can be a struggle even to pay your bills, especially with the current cost-of-living crisis and high inflation rate. I think schemes like this are a wonderful opportunity to pay lower rent than you would normally pay in London and at the same time, save that money towards your mortgage or towards buying a place.”

Hamid believes passionately that London Living Rent offers the solution to so many Londoners who are paying high rents in the private rented sector and who might feel homeownership is a distant dream. Particularly as London Living Rent is around 60% of private market rents.

“I think there are a lot of people who are not aware of the London Living Rent scheme who would benefit, like young and medium-sized families. I’d say to them that this scheme is what you want to apply for. This is a life changer. It is almost unreal.”

Location is key, and Hamid was able to find that perfect location with Network Homes’ Acton Works development close to work and great transport links. He added, “It’s very close to where I work which is next door at Central Middlesex Hospital as my job is in pharmaceuticals. So, there’s easy access to work, easy access to central London along with other places. But more importantly, we’ve got a nursery nearby for my little one. Having a two bedroom apartment is much more spacious and it’s modern. There’s a great community here and our neighbours are wonderful people. I would like to say thank you to Network Homes who have been excellent and given us great service. And finally, wonderful. It’s been a wonderful opportunity.”

Network Homes is offering one, two and three bedroom homes at Chailey Place, Hayes, in west London for London Living Rent with monthly rent ranging from £915 to £1,118 per calendar month. Find out more at

LONDON LIVING RENT First Time Buyer October/November 2023 29


It has been nothing short of a rocky ride for first time buyers in 2023, with unstable house prices, a cost-of-living crisis and rising mortgage rates. However, there are some signs that the first time buyer market has resisted these pushbacks and that aspiring homeowners can get on to the property ladder over the cooler months, says Kevin

As we now look towards a cool winter market, we are seeing some positive signs of how the 2024 housing market may look, and the delivery of affordable housing will be the key for many first time buyers to get on to the all-important property ladder.

Summer data from Halifax revealed that despite a drop in house prices in 2023, the first time buyer market stayed more or less resilient¹. As more and more buyers look ahead to the winter and start making plans for moving in the new year, many are questioning whether they can get on to the property ladder amid high, albeit falling, mortgage rates. As the country’s leading shared ownership provider, SO Resi’s aim is to allow all types of buyers to take a step on to the property ladder, and support those with the long-term goal of staircasing to 100%.

Although mortgage costs are one of the biggest obstacles in getting on to the property ladder, another challenge for first time buyers is saving up enough for a deposit. Despite popular belief, first time buyers do not struggle to save up

for a deposit because of “iced lattes” and “avocado on toast”, it is largely due to the rising costs of everyday items and getting stuck in the rental trap. This is a big benefit of shared ownership, as deposits can be as low as 5% of the share they are buying, rather than the full price of the property.

Over the summer, we invited buyers to view our 17 new one and two bedroom apartments available at SO Resi Whetstone, which is a good example of starter homes in the London market. Buyers here only need to put down a £5,000 deposit for a one bedroom apartment (5% deposit of 25% share valued at £100,000, full value £400,000), compared with staggering data from Yahoo Finance, finding that the average London property requires a £144,550 deposit²

We also understand that a big obstacle in saving for a deposit is being stuck in the rental trap. Rents this year have hit a new record high and are now a third more than pre-pandemic³. We have recently launched our brand new development, SO Flexi Slough, venturing into the Rent to Buy market for the first time. All homes

here are available to rent on a two-year fixed contract, with monthly rent capped at 80% below local market values and prices starting at £880 per month for a one bedroom apartment. To help combat the rental trap and to go that one step further in our affordable housing offering, tenants will be encouraged to use the savings from the discounted rent in order to save up a 5% deposit, in order to purchase the property using shared ownership at the end of the rental term.

With a slightly more optimistic outlook for next year and the first time buyer market performing arguably more positively than expected in 2023, the next generation of first time buyers are set for a second chance to ride out a political storm, build up some savings, and purchase their home when the time is right.


2 3

SO Flexi Slough: A selection of one and two bedroom apartments recently launched in August. All of the homes are available on the Rent to Buy scheme, with monthly rents starting from £880 and no service charge to be paid.

SO Resi Hendon Waterside: An array of 42 studio, one and two bedroom apartments, and two and three bedroom duplex homes all available with shared ownership and launching in autumn 2023.

SO Resi Whetstone, Barnet: Perfectly positioned in the leafy borough of Barnet with a range of amenities, SO Resi Whetstone is now available for all to view. With a mixture of one and two bedroom apartments available, all coming with spacious balconies, just seven remain, starting from £100,000 for a 25% share.

SHARED OWNERSHIP 30 First Time Buyer October/November 2023


Do you dream of buying your first home? A place you can finally put your stamp on? Somewhere you can proudly show your family and friends… some day?

What if that dream home didn’t need to wait? With shared ownership, getting on the property ladder could be easier than you expected.

Shared ownership allows you to buy a share in a property and rent the remaining part. You don’t need a large deposit (which means you can buy your first home sooner) and over time, you can “staircase” up to full ownership by buying more shares. Unlike the traditional housing market, shared ownership gives you more flexibility in securing the right home for your needs.

How do you get started with shared ownership? Enter SOWN, a dedicated team of shared ownership experts. Recently launched under a new name, our brand is rooted in experience and expertise. Formerly known as Leaders and Romans Shared Ownership, in the past five years we’ve helped over 2,000 households to get on the property ladder – sowing the seeds of new beginnings.

We have the same knowledgeable team in place, but we’re taking a more innovative approach. As SOWN, we’re on a mission to bust the myths that surround shared ownership and provide the advice that first time buyers need to find a home that’s right for them.

What’s even handier is that first time buyers can get help with everything they need. As part of the wider Leaders Romans Group, we can provide you with access to surveyors, legal services and our specialist mortgage adviser, Mortgage Scout. We’ll be there for you throughout the journey until that dream of picking up the keys to your first home becomes a reality. (And if you decide to sell later down the line, we can help you with that too!).

So, where’s home? At SOWN, we have a wide range of properties on our books, located across the country.


One current exciting scheme is Clarendon on Hornsey High Street. Clarendon is an extremely popular development of 1,700 homes on a 12-acre plot in the heart of north London. As a “cultural quarter”, Clarendon will include beautifully landscaped gardens, as well as extensive

business, retail, and community spaces. It will include a central boulevard to significantly improve connectivity between the surrounding neighbourhoods of Hornsey, Wood Green and Alexandra Park, which offer a variety of transport connections.

Another popular scheme is Heart of Hale, developed by Sage Housing Association and located just moments from Tottenham Hale station. Designed by the award-winning architects at Pollard Thomas Edwards, these intelligently designed homes have everything you could want within walking distance. They’re

based around modern stylish piazzas filled with cafes, shops, bars, gyms, and an Everyman cinema.

Join the like-minded community of thousands of people who have chosen shared ownership to unlock beautiful and well-connected homes across the country. If your household income is under £80,000 (£90,000 in London), shared ownership could be the right move for you.

Visit to view the wide range of shared ownership properties on the market. We won’t be surprised if you find your dream home there!

AFFORDABLE HOMES 32 First Time Buyer October/November 2023


charged on an increasing sum; most lifetime mortgages have a fixed interest rate.


A parent or family member can offer equity, usually up to 20% of the value of the property you are buying, by agreeing to a legal charge on their own property as security. This means their property cannot be sold until it’s repaid. Once again, this will help to reduce monthly payments by accessing a lower interest rate and it could enable you to buy a bigger home now and avoid moving again later.



Buying your first home can sometimes feel like an unattainable goal. The search for a property within budget is challenging, it takes a long time to save and many buyers are faced with the prospect of flying the nest later than anticipated. This was how the future appeared to be shaping up for Emily Lyle, who couldn’t have bought her first home without the help of her mother who topped up her deposit. Emily recently moved into her luxurious two bedroom, third floor apartment at The Venue, Hayes by Weston Homes.

Asking parents to contribute towards a deposit means you can borrow less, have a lower loan to value (LTV) and in turn access a lower interest rate. Taking out a longerterm mortgage between 35 and 40 years will also make repayments more affordable –these terms can be reduced later if you can afford higher monthly repayments or the interest rates come down.


A growing number of lenders are giving family members the option to deposit cash up to 20% of the purchase price to act as

a deposit in a savings account which pays interest. Savings can also be gifted in an offset mortgage account where interest is paid on the difference between the total value of the mortgage and the savings in the account at any one time, so the bigger the gift the lower the repayment.


Income Boosters offered by some lenders including “Generation Home” allow you to have up to six family members as your Income Booster. The “boosters” can choose to contribute an amount each month or be responsible for the mortgage payments if they are missed. This can help maximise the amount of lending available to you. Visit for details.


Parents aged over 55 can consider a lifetime mortgage, often with a fixed interest rate, where a long-term loan is secured against their home if there are no other debts secured against it. When their property is eventually sold, the loan is repaid from the remaining equity. Before this, they won’t have to make any repayments on the loan as the interest is added to the debt and

Parents can gift up to £3,000 every year each as well as carrying forward unused exemptions from the previous year without the risk of inheritance tax. As an added incentive, first time buyers pay zero Stamp Duty on the first £425,000 on homes up to £625,000 until 31 March 2025.


Weston Homes is also supporting first time buyers with savings up to £20,000 available.* Its fully inclusive premium specification is fitted to every home at no extra cost, allowing first time buyers to simply move in and avoid any of the costly maintenance required in an older home. Its sales consultants can help to put you in touch with an independent financial adviser who can provide you with free, no-obligation advice and more information regarding these options.

Weston Homes builds new and converted one to four bedroom luxurious homes across London and the South East from £235,000. Every development is in a commuter hotspot, just a 15-minute walk to a tube or railway station with direct connections into London. To book your private viewing call 01279 873 300, or visit Marketing suites and show homes are open daily from 10am to 5pm

*Terms and conditions apply, incentive varies by development

NEW HOMES 34 First Time Buyer October/November 2023
Emily and her mother


Situated in the vibrant Bedminster area of Bristol, City & Country’s awardwinning development Factory No. 1 offers first time buyers the perfect opportunity to get on the property ladder. Offering a range of stylish new build and classic conversion apartments in an affordable yet central location – first time buyers in Bristol are spoilt for choice when it comes to enjoying the benefits of homeownership

Once the site of the Imperial Tobacco Company’s headquarters, a total of 284 converted and new build apartments have been meticulously crafted from the former factory’s historic buildings, alongside five new apartment buildings.

With nearly two thirds of its buyers being first time buyers, Factory No. 1 is proving to be an appealing option for those seeking to buy their first home. Feedback at the development suggests that its appeal is due to a range of factors, including its high-quality finish, value for money, central location, as well as appealing amenities.

Jennifer Rhodes-Finch, Head of Marketing at City & Country says, “The allure of Factory No. 1 lies not just in bricks and mortar, but in the living spaces

created in the unique transformation of this fabulous landmark Bristol building. As well as beautiful apartments, both converted and brand new, buyers here can enjoy the fantastic range of facilities available to them – not to mention the friendly community now forming here.”

City & Country has two show homes available at Factory No. 1 for potential buyers to visit and discover what life at the development might look like.

Part of The Cutting Room collection within Factory No. 1, a two bedroom new build duplex show home combines an excellent specification with stylish interiors and a flexible layout. With a double-height ceiling in the living area and floor-toceiling windows maximising incoming sunlight, along with a spacious terrace, this apartment won’t fail to impress.

In the former factory building itself, the conversion show home is a magnificent two bedroom, 1,615 sq ft apartment situated on the first floor of Regent House. It boasts an abundance of restored heritage features including an ornate Jacobean-style ceiling,

French polished oak panelling and two feature fireplaces.

Jennifer adds, “The unique blend of exceptionally high-quality contemporary new build homes and carefully restored conversion apartments is what makes Factory No. 1 so special. Our diverse product range means we have something that appeals to everyone.

The individually designed homes at Factory No. 1 also benefit from ultrafast broadband and a high specification, including smart thermostats. Many apartments include balconies or terraces, as well as the peaceful landscaped gardens.

The securely gated development also boasts a concierge service, secure undercroft parking with electric charging points, and 400 cycle spaces.

Prices start from £250,000* for a conversion apartment in Regent House, or £300,000* for a new build home in The Cutting Room. Tailored incentives are available on selected properties, including the new Deposit Unlock initiative, which allows buyers to purchase a new home with just a 5% deposit**.

The Factory No. 1 sales suite and show homes are open daily from 10am to 5pm, located at East Street, Bedminster, Bristol BS3 4HH. For more information, call 01174 535 135 or visit

*Prices correct at time of publication and subject to change **Terms and conditions apply – see for full details

NEW HOMES 36 First Time Buyer October/November 2023


Christmas is fast approaching – but for those looking to take the plunge, there’s still time to move into your dream home before the festivities begin

Whether you’re in search of higher ceilings to accommodate your dream Christmas tree, or a bigger kitchen to host your family for Boxing Day lunch, it’s not too late to make this Christmas one to remember.

Legal & General Affordable Homes has a variety of shared ownership homes across the country – ranging from studio apartments in the hustle and bustle of a city, to family houses in the heart of the countryside.

Shared ownership is a Government-backed scheme, offering an alternative route on to the property ladder where you buy an initial share of between 25% and 75% of the home’s full value and pay a

Trent Park, Barnet

For those looking to strike the balance of city and country living, Trent Park, Barnet, may be the place for you. Set in the heart of 413 acres of parkland, it is a green oasis offering fantastic, uninterrupted views across the park and golf course from its one and two bedroom houses. With Cockfosters and Oakwood underground stations a short walk away, Trent Park offers countryside living while still being within touching distance of central London. With a mix of natural and purpose-built landscaping, homes here allow you to escape the city and spend your down time exploring nature – perfect for Christmas day walks. For a minimum 25% share, prices start at £110,625 for a one bedroom and £130,000 for a two bedroom home.

Minimum deposit needed at Trent Park: £5,531.25 for a minimum 25% share.

subsidised rent on the remainder. You can purchase further shares until you own 100% of the property, should you choose to, and when you come to sell it’s a straightforward process with Legal & General Affordable Homes on hand to help you through.

A key advantage of shared ownership is that you only pay a deposit for the share that you purchase – and with shares of homes available for under £100,000, your deposit can be lower than £5,000. This means you can typically get on the property ladder more easily and at a lower price point. And with no property chains to slow you down, shared ownership homes offer you the perfect opportunity to move in before Christmas.

The Pippins, Ashford

Looking to move into a vibrant new community? Check out East River Wharf. Once the heart of the UK’s shipping industry, Royal Docks, which includes Royal Wharf, is an exemplar of regeneration. Surrounded by landscaped gardens and green spaces such as Lyle and Barrier Parks, the Royal Wharf offers a bustling high street and market square with independent shops, cafes and a local pub. Residents will benefit from a wide range of amenities including a spa, fitness studio, residents’ gym, concierge, and Sky Lounge – a 16th floor space in the development to socialise while taking in the spectacular views of the city skyline and the River Thames. Homes are only a short walk to both Silvertown DLR and Pontoon Docks stations which offer access to Bank in under 20 minutes. For a minimum 25% share, prices start at £96,875 for a one bedroom and £132,500 for a two bedroom home. Minimum deposit needed at East River Wharf: £4,843.75 for a minimum 25% share.

If your dream Christmas includes being surrounded by open fields and woodlands, the two and three bedroom houses at The Pippins, Ashford, tick all the boxes. Located in the charming village of Hamstreet, Kent, The Pippins is ideal for growing families, each with its own private garden and space for home working to help you strike the perfect work-life balance. The village boasts all essential amenities including a supermarket, school, medical centre, restaurant and sports facilities. Ashford is also within easy travelling distance and provides a wider range of shopping malls, independent shops, night life as well as access to London in just over 50 minutes. With proximity to some of the south coast’s greatest beaches, plus Godinton House and Leeds Castle, there’s plenty to keep the family occupied during the holidays. For a minimum 25% share, prices start at £80,000 for a two bedroom and £95,000 for a three bedroom house. Minimum deposit needed at The Pippins: £4,000 for a minimum 25% share.

To find out more about shared ownership and how you can get your dream home in time for Christmas, visit or visit us on socials by searching Legal & General Affordable Homes on Instagram, Facebook or TikTok!

SHARED OWNERSHIP 38 First Time Buyer October/November 2023
East River Wharf, east London


Following the latest injection of funds into the Government’s Affordable Homes programme, including a boost to regeneration sites¹, affordable home schemes such as shared ownership are well and truly back on the radar for aspiring homebuyers. Offering the unique opportunity to purchase a new home at the sought-after Wilton Park development in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, Rosewood Housing is offering a new collection of properties available through shared ownership. House hunters have the exciting opportunity to take their first step on to the property ladder in a highly desirable location, with deposits from as little as £4,938

Shared ownership increases purchasing power for aspiring homebuyers by lowering the deposit amounts that buyers need, which is great for people who are not in a position to save large sums of money every month. Through the scheme, buyers can purchase a share of a home’s value, from 25% to 75%, while paying rent on the remaining share. Purchasers need only put down a deposit on the share that they purchase, resulting in a lower deposit required. Purchasers can choose to buy additional shares on their property as and when they can afford to, staircasing right up to 100% and full ownership.

Vicki Noon at Rosewood Housing, comments, “Shared ownership is a fantastic opportunity for those looking to buy a home of their own, but who are unable to save a huge deposit to purchase on the open market. With mortgage rates rising at the moment, monthly private rental costs are also on the rise. At Wilton Park, we have fixed the rent at 2.75% on the unpurchased share, while buyers will only pay interest on the share they buy, making now a fantastic time to buy using shared ownership.

“A selection of our new shared ownership properties are available with priority for local residents for a set period, so now is a good time to look into shared ownership and speak with our

specialist financial advisers to assess eligibility.”

Situated within the highly desirable Wilton Park development, Rosewood is offering a contemporary collection of just 21 one and two bedroom apartments and two bedroom houses, all available through shared ownership.

Starting at a 25% share, purchasers of these affordable homes will benefit from all that the wider development has to offer – including a nursery, new pavilion with a cafe and gallery, sports pitches and community hub. Designed to reflect the feel of a traditional English country estate, acres of green space in the form of grasslands and wildflower meadows will be interspersed throughout the development, providing an attractive, tranquil place to call home.

Rupi Hunjan, Managing Director at Censeo Financial, said, “We are seeing shared ownership become the fourth tenure and a great way for first time buyers to buy their home.

It has already helped thousands of people and is a tried, trusted way to get on to the property ladder. It’s affordable and in the current market, with the demise of Help to Buy and rising interest rates, it is one option for homeownership that cannot be ignored. We would thoroughly recommend that if you are in the market to buy a home, that shared ownership should be investigated to see if it is suitable for your needs.”

The Hitchin house type is one of the two bedroom homes available, a characterful terraced home featuring a classical rendered exterior with brick detailing. Downstairs, the hallway opens into a spacious living/dining room with French doors that lead into the private rear garden. A separate kitchen provides a stylish space for families to cook meals together, and includes a number of integrated appliances such as a fridge-freezer, dishwasher and washer-dryer. Contemporary design details include quartz

worktops. Upstairs, there are two equal-sized double bedrooms with fitted wardrobes, alongside a family bathroom complete with crisp, white sanitaryware. Flooring is included throughout the home.

Beaconsfield is a commuter belt town that is situated just outside of the M25, around 25 miles west of central London. Alongside the characterful cobbled high street, which plays host to independent boutiques, restaurants and a number of popular cafes, the town’s railway station provides regular direct services to London Marylebone in just over 30 minutes. Road links are also excellent, with junctions of the M25, M40 and M1 nearby leading to the wider motorway network. Heathrow airport, a gateway to domestic and international travel, is just over 12 miles away by car.

Prices for the shared ownership properties at Wilton Park start from £98,750 for a 25% share of a property priced at £395,000. For further information, or to see if you qualify for shared ownership, please call 01494 546 773, visit, or email


Computer generated illustration is indicative only

SHARED OWNERSHIP 40 First Time Buyer October/November 2023

Slough HOTspot

Slough, of The Office fame, is a large town in the royal county of Berkshire and is located – as David Brent himself pointed out – “equidistant ‘tween London and Reading”. What he failed to highlight is that it’s actually also a pretty great place in its own right, with excellent transport links, beautiful open spaces and picturesque villages among its many selling points


Located 22 miles west of central London, Slough has a well-established reputation as an industrial town and, as a result, is often overlooked by homebuyers. While the Berkshire town has long been recognised as one of the best places to work in the UK, with higher-than-average wages and a plethora of job opportunities, it is only more recent regeneration, and the introduction of Crossrail to the town, that has put Slough in the limelight.

Slough is close to the M4, part of the UK’s “Silicon Valley”, has an economy worth around £9bn and is host to many global corporate headquarters. Those who are familiar with The Of ce’s dreary opening credits, with views of Europe’s largest trading estate, may be surprised to know that the town is also home to almost 100 listed buildings.

Slough started life as a stop-off for coaches travelling between London and Bath and was a village until the arrival of the railway in the 1800s. Queen Victoria took her rst train journey from the town in 1842, to Bishop’s Bridge near Paddington. More recently, the £450m Heart of Slough regeneration scheme has transformed the town. The project has included investment into leisure, commercial and retail space and infrastructure, transforming the town into what it is today – a highly


1 Transport links that are hard to beat

2 The famous trading estate (where the original series of Thunderbirds was written and lmed in the mid-1960s)

3 An impressive number of parks and green spaces to choose from

4 "Station Jim", the taxidermy dog who has resided at Slough station – on platform ve –since 1894!

5 Ongoing regeneration, with further improvements to the town on the way


desirable place to live. It has even been pitched as “Europe’s top small city of the future” by The Financial Times

The most important infrastructural development has been the arrival of Crossrail. Slough’s main station, a short walk from the town centre, is on the Elizabeth Line, with fast services to London Paddington in 13 minutes, Bond Street in 32 minutes and Canary Wharf in 46 minutes. Bus services are plentiful. Slough is at the intersection of the M4, M40 and M25 motorways, so driving is easy, and Heathrow is 15 minutes away. Cycle Slough’s cycle hire scheme has docking stations readily available.

Slough property prices are up to 45% less than those in London, and 16% less than the South East average. With 35 primary schools and 20 secondary schools in the area, most of which have been rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted, it’s no surprise families are keen to put down roots in the town.

Park are also popular, or take a walk up the

There is plenty to do in Slough. Starting in the heart of the town, stop off at The Curve, a library, cultural centre, gallery, performance venue and museum, celebrating the town’s past, present and future. The Empire Cinema is also centrally located within the Queensmere Observatory shopping centre. If some movie scenes seem familiar, perhaps they are – near Pinewood Studios, Slough’s Black Park, with its stunning lake, has appeared in films including Captain America Casino Royale and Batman Nearby Herschel Park and Upton Court Park are also popular, or take a walk up the Grand Union Canal. Go Ape can be found at Black Park, a great option for a fun day out. Liquid Leisure Centre is popular with families too, offering water sports including sailing and wakeboarding. There is plenty for the children to do indoors, and it doesn’t get much better than Jump In where you can exhaust them on trampolines, tumble runs, battle beams and giant airbags! The Ice Arena is another firm favourite with locals – regular events include family disco sessions, skating lessons and a clip’n’climb adventure wall.

Sports enthusiasts in Slough will be kept busy year-round, with nearby Eton College Golf Course, Royal Windsor Racecourse and Twickenham

LOCATION 42 First Time Buyer October/November 2023


Average property price in Slough (May 2023)

– £318,081

Property breakdown*

Detached – £621,872

Semi-detached – £446,916

Terraced – £344,578

Flat – £223,113



• Entertainer Geri Halliwell

• Astronomer and composer William Herschel

• The Of ce’s ctional manager David Brent

Stadium all local. For a luxurious day out head north to Stoke Park whose facilities include a spa experience with garden hot tubs and saunas, a 27-hole championship golf course, tennis courts and restaurants.

Slough has plenty to satisfy the appetite of any food lover, with everything from cafes, pubs and chain restaurants to street food, fine dining and independent offerings, all at a more palatable price than in neighbouring Windsor! Since Slough is the most ethnically diverse place in Britain outside of London, the offerings include some impressive international cuisine –try Kai’s for Chinese, Masaani for Indian and New Bettola for Italian to get started! Heston Blumenthal’s famous The Fat Duck restaurant is just up the road in Bray.

Traditional British pubs are plentiful, with a solid Sunday lunch scene and regular quizzes and live music. Many also boast beer gardens to enjoy the scenic surroundings on a summer’s afternoon.

Slough’s main shopping district is currently undergoing significant investment as part of the Slough Urban Renewal project, but the Queensmere Observatory Shopping Centre remains partially open with over 120 shops including a large Primark and TK Maxx. For a more relaxed shopping experience, and independent boutiques, visit nearby Eton High Street or Windsor.

SLOUGH Horlicks Quarter

Sovereign has released a collection of ve one bedroom and 20 two bedroom modern apartments available through shared ownership, located on the iconic grounds of the Horlicks Factory, where the famous malted milk drink was once produced. Set around stunning landscaped parks, selected homes overlook the beautiful memorial gardens and former Horlicks factory building. These apartments have been designed with the environment in mind, with car-free streets, a network of cycle paths and exclusive residents' car club. Ideal for a range of buyers, the site is well placed and just a 10-minute walk from Slough town centre and railway station.

Visit, call 0300 330 0718 or email Sovereign on

LOCATION First Time Buyer October/November 2023 43
*Based on a 25% share of a one bedroom apartment with a full market value of £285,000 FROM £71,250* • Scientist and astronaut Helen Sharman OBE Comedian Jimmy Carr *According to the Land Registry House Price Index


Tamara and Terence were renting in London for several years, but were keen to own a home of their own and step on to the property ladder in the capital.

The couple previously lived near Canning Town, and wanted to move back to a similar neighbourhood in east London, but thought they’d be priced out of such a desirable area of the capital.

Terence comments, “Renting in London is tough as the prices are really high, but we put money aside for about a year before we began looking at our options for purchasing a home. We started searching for properties available on the open market, but it was actually our friend who suggested we look at Leaside Lock, after she moved here earlier in the year.”

Set on the banks of the River Lea, Leaside Lock in Bromley-by-Bow is part of a major placemaking project, ultimately delivering 965 studios, one, two and three bedroom homes.

Tamara adds, “Our friend, Laura, bought a home here last year through shared ownership, so we booked a viewing to find out more about the scheme and the development. After doing some research and getting some more information from the team at Guinness, we realised it was perfect for our situation. We would never have been able to afford a home in this area without shared ownership, and as soon as we came to Leaside Lock we knew we wanted to live there.”

Within a week of visiting, Tamara and Terence decided they were going to purchase a 25% share of a two bedroom apartment at Leaside Lock from Guinness Homes, located in Zone 2, east London.

The pair were impressed by their initial visit, and speaking about her first impressions, Tamara says, “We immediately loved how bright and spacious the openplan living area was, and we couldn’t believe the views from the apartment. From our balcony you can see Canary Wharf, and from the bedrooms the City of London – it’s really special!”

Tamara and Terence praised the Guinness Homes sales team who helped them during the buying process. “Our offer got accepted within a week, and we had a great experience with the Guinness sales team throughout the process. They were really responsive and explained everything step by step, and the team have continued to be helpful with any queries we’ve had now that we’ve moved in.”

The transport connections at Leaside Lock were one of the selling points for Tamara and Terence, as Bromley-by-Bow underground station is just a three-minute walk away, connecting residents to the rest of London via the District Line and Hammersmith & City Line.

Tamara adds, “Since we have been living at Leaside Lock, our life has been so much easier. We both work at Royal Festival Hall, so our journey to work is quick as we can travel directly on the District Line from Bromley-by-Bow to Embankment. A lot of our friends also live nearby, so it’s convenient that we can hop on the tube to see them.”

Tamara and Terence are loving the new community already at Leaside Lock and are excited for everything that is still yet to come. Terence comments, “One of our favourite parts about Leaside Lock is the community that’s growing here. While we already had our friend, Laura, in the building next door, we have met some of our other lovely neighbours, and have a group

chat for the building where we are looking to organise some drinks soon. There is also going to be a gym and shops in the square outside, which we’re really looking forward to.”

The development will wrap around a central piazza, designed to cultivate a sense of community among residents. Offering a holistic lifestyle, there will be a broad range of unbeatable amenities on-site – including a cafe, a gym, a convenience store and coworking space.

With a baby on the way, Tamara and Terence are excited for what the future holds at Leaside Lock.

Tamara concludes, “At the beginning of February, we moved into Leaside Lock, but we also found out we were expecting our first child, so it’s a very exciting time for us! We currently use the second bedroom as a gym, but it is soon to become the nursery for our baby girl. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for our family at Leaside Lock.”

Find out more at

AFFORDABLE HOMES 44 First Time Buyer October/November 2023
“As soon as we came to Leaside Lock we knew we wanted to live there”


Located in Essex’s “Golden Triangle” alongside Chigwell and Buckhurst Hill, Loughton is a fantastic destination for those who want peaceful country walks while still having convenient connections to the capital. Nestled within the Golden Triangle, Treeside proudly hosts Network Homes’ newest selection of shared ownership properties. Discover five compelling reasons why this has emerged as a fantastic destination for those seeking their ideal home


Loughton hosts a wide range of shops, pubs and restaurants that enhance the charming community. The vibrant high street combines popular chain stores with independent boutiques such as The Bookshop and Secret Toyshop, a family run business that has operated in the community for over 30 years.

Whether you are a foodie or just looking for a spot to catch up with friends for a quick tipple, The Gardeners Arms is a welcoming gastropub that captures impressive skyline views. Alternatively, Quindici provides delicious Italian dishes with a modern twist for an unforgettable dining experience.

While London’s thriving West End is within easy reach, Loughton offers a wealth of culture right on the doorstep. Loughton Library is home to the National Jazz Archives, a comprehensive resource detailing the evolution of the music genre in the UK.


Located in the District of Epping Forest, it comes as no surprise that Loughton’s residents can enjoy an extensive 5,900-acre woodland just moments from home. With more than 284km of paths to explore, Epping Forest is a great setting for everything from a gentle afternoon stroll to a longer trek.

For nature lovers, Roding Valley Meadows Nature Reserve is the county’s largest remaining species-rich water meadow. From kestrels and finches to butterflies and dragonflies, there is plenty to catch a glimpse of among the brightly coloured wildflowers.


Loughton is a fantastic place for families to call home. The area offers a range of highly esteemed schools suitable for children of all ages. Hereward Primary School is committed to creating a space for younger students to thrive and is rated Outstanding by Ofsted. For older children, Davenant Foundation School combines teaching with a wide range of extra-curricular activities. The school’s sixth form also has a detailed enrichment programme designed to prepare students for their next steps after leaving school.

Outside of school, there is plenty to keep families occupied, from playgrounds and parks to meals out. If you are looking to keep active, Loughton Leisure Centre hosts pools, a gym and various studios for fitness classes. From inflatable fun in the pool to designated junior sessions in the gym, there is plenty here to keep children engaged.


Loughton’s history is intrinsically linked to transport, with the area once brimming with inns and shops catering to those travelling from London to Cambridge, Newmarket, and East Anglia. Today, the area is still

well-suited for those looking to get out and about by road, with the M11 offering easy connections towards Cambridge.

In this Essex location, you are never far from London. Just a short walk away is Debden underground station. Positioned on the Central Line, residents can enjoy direct links to Liverpool Street in 30 minutes and Oxford Circus in 40 minutes, perfect for commuters and shoppers alike.


Just 1.1 miles from Loughton’s thriving high street, Treeside is a stunning range of shared ownership properties. The first phase comprises a collection of 14 new build apartments ranging from one to three bedrooms. All apartments enjoy open-plan living, impressive specification, and highquality integrated kitchen appliances. Each home also features a balcony or terrace area, perfect for morning yoga, creating a herb garden or al fresco dining with friends and family.

Discover more about how Network Homes can help you get on to the property ladder in Loughton by visiting find-your-new-home/treeside-epping-forest/

AFFORDABLE HOMES 46 First Time Buyer October/November 2023


Demonstrating the demand for shared ownership in Oxfordshire and following the success of our fully reserved scheme at Newman Place in Littlemore, a new development, The Aviary, by Peabody New Homes, located in Blackbird Leys, will be delivering 120 elegantly designed homes available through shared ownership, giving many first time buyers the chance to get on the property ladder in an area where they’d normally be priced out and where there’s limited shared ownership

Offering the opportunity to buy an affordable home just south of Oxford’s evocative skyline, cobbled streets and renowned universities, The Aviary is a collection of 120 one, two and three bedroom homes available through shared ownership. This 100% affordable development brings high-quality new homes to Oxford.

With its official launch eagerly anticipated in the coming year of 2024, The Aviary promises to redefine the very essence of modern living through alternative homeownership. This visionary project, conceived within the ethos of community and accessibility, will see the transformation of newly envisioned retail units serving to provide a seamless integration of convenience and accessibility. New cycle routes will foster an eco-friendly ethos that beckons both residents and the wider community to minimise their carbon footprint. In a world where green spaces are hailed as sanctuaries of tranquillity, residents will be able to relax and unwind among the green landscapes at The Aviary, designed to connect residents with the natural environment.

Sustainability features include energyefficient building fabric and insulation, high-efficiency heating, double-glazed windows, low-energy lighting and solar panels; all helping to lower carbon emissions by at least 20%. The development will also have electric vehicle charging points across the site, and cycle storage will be available.

Shared ownership offers an alternative route on to the property ladder, lowering some of the financial barriers associated with buying a first home. Through shared ownership, purchasers buy a percentage share of their home, typically between 25% to 75%, and pay rent on the remaining portion. Buyers only require a deposit and mortgage for the share they are buying, helping those with lower savings and incomes to get on to the property ladder. As and when they can afford to, buyers can

purchase greater shares in their home until they own their home outright, through a process called “staircasing”.

Steve Pickering, Head of Sales and Marketing (Counties) at Peabody, comments, “The opportunity to purchase a home in a design-led development like this, in as affluent an area as Oxford, is increasingly difficult for first time buyers. That’s why it’s so important we offer homes through schemes like shared ownership, so that buyers can still access high quality housing in this area.”

Properties are available in a number of different layouts, from one bedroom apartments which offer a viable route on to the property ladder for a single buyer, to three bedroom houses that make idyllic

family homes. Providing more value for money, homes at The Aviary are inclusive of white goods, and buyers are given the choice of high-specification fittings, including flooring, tiles and kitchens to suit different tastes.

Residents have fantastic facilities on the doorstep, as well as buzzing Oxford city centre a 15-minute drive away. The Aviary’s range of amenities including a selection of supermarkets and parade of shops, all within walking distance. Heyford Meadow Nature Reserve is two miles away, providing a picturesque walking spot along the River Thames, while closer green spaces include Littlemore Park.

AFFORDABLE HOMES 48 First Time Buyer October/November 2023


From having to share your home to only being eligible if you are a first time buyer, there are plenty of myths about what shared ownership entails. In reality, it’s a practical way for people to get on to the housing ladder with a lower deposit than they would usually need and is one way for people to break out of renting and start building equity on a home to call their own

The Office for National Statistics observes that private rents increased by 5.1% in the year to June 2023 and Shelter reports that more than 2.5 million people are consistently struggling to pay their rent – a 45% jump since last April. Also, with the latest Rightmove data showing that there are 20 viewing requests for each rental home, whichever way you look at it, renting is tough.

With that in mind, it’s even more important to cut through the chatter surrounding shared ownership. Let’s look at a few common misconceptions.


Not always. Andrew Bolland and his wife purchased a 25% share of a two bedroom property at in Kirk Langley, Derby, when they retired. Andrew explains,

“With our retirement plans in mind, we had discussed the potential to move for a while. With the cost-of-living crisis and rising rental prices, we became increasingly worried about whether our monthly outgoings would increase, or if our landlord would eventually sell our rental home. This triggered our interest in buying our own

home, something that was only possible through the shared ownership scheme.”


Not at all. In fact, for first time buyer Petar Georgiev, purchasing a 40% share of a home at Dominion in Doncaster meant he could move from sharing with 12 other renters to living alone. Petar comments,

“The prospect of having a property to myself, as well as making a financial investment for my future instead of paying increasing rent, were two main reasons for my decision to move. I was so pleased when I found Dominion – it means that I no longer have to share a kitchen or a bathroom, and I have a place to call my own!”


Another myth. Ellie Heritage, Tom Smith and their pets recently moved into their newly purchased shared ownership home at Maple Fields in Bordon, Hampshire. Ellie reports, “We looked into buying privately but

we could only afford a one bedroom flat, and while it is just the two of us at the moment, we already had a few pets and plans to get a dog… By using shared ownership, we have been able to buy a bigger property in an area that otherwise would have been unaffordable. We now also have our dog!”


This is perhaps the most persistent misunderstanding. No, you don’t have to be a first time buyer. Shared ownership exists to help people who can’t purchase a property on the open market. That includes buyers who used to own homes or are in the process of selling – buyers just have to meet the eligibility criteria.

Whichever way you buy a home you need to do your research and speak to experts to help you make the decision that suits your needs. Different housing providers will have different criteria, but at Places for People we want to make sure our prospective customers have as many options as possible to join one of our thriving communities.

50 First Time Buyer October/November 2023
David Hnyda, Sales and Marketing Director, Places for People Andrew Bolland Dominion


Located on Burnham Road in the delightful village of Latchingdon, Sunmead is an exclusive collection of 25 elegant new homes. The beautifully designed homes are inspired by local architectural styles and sit in close proximity to the stunning local countryside

With a selection of two, three and four bedroom houses and two and three bedroom bungalows, each built and finished to a high standard, you’re sure to find the home that you’ve been hoping for. Your new home will also have its own private garden, dedicated parking, a charging point for electric vehicles and a superb location, with coast, countryside and a friendly community on hand.

Whether you’re looking for your first home, somewhere with more space for a growing family or a single-storey home and a more relaxed lifestyle, you’ll find everything you need at Sunmead.

Living on the Dengie Peninsula in the heart of Essex means having the best of country and coast on hand, with the thriving city of Chelmsford and local towns of Maldon and South Woodham Ferrers a short journey away.

There’s a small, sandy beach on the River Crouch at Burnham’s Riverside Park, less than 15 minutes’ drive away, but travel a little further afield to discover delightful resorts. Southend-on-Sea, with seven miles of coastline and seaside attractions is only 20 miles away.

On the south-facing slopes of Crouch Vale, you’ll discover Clayhill Vineyard, where you can stock up on excellent quality local wine and relax in the cafe over coffee and cake.

Set against this scenic, rural backdrop, Latchingdon provides everything you’ll need day-to-day, including convenience stores, a Post Office, tea rooms and a popular local pub.

For your weekly shop, or just some retail therapy, the maritime town of Maldon is

within easy reach. Plus, the lively city of Chelmsford with its shops and markets, theatre and cinemas, museums, galleries and festival, is just 12 miles away.

Work out or take a class at The Old Ironworks Gym, bowl at The Jacks Centre or practise your swing at Burnham Golf Club – there’s always plenty to do and see in this area.

If you love sailing, you’re in luck! Take to the water at any number of clubs including The Royal Burnham Yacht Club, Harlow Sailing Club on the River Blackwater or at Maylandsea Bay Sailing Club.

A short drive south west of Latchingdon will bring you to Fambridge Lake where you can picnic, paddle, watch wildlife or soak up the views of the River Crouch. Younger family members will love the animal adventure park at Marsh Farm, in South Woodham Ferrers.

There’s an excellent selection of schools in the area in both the public and private sectors. Latchingdon Church of England Primary School, just a short walk down Burnham Road, has been rated Good by Ofsted, as has the local secondary school, Ormiston Rivers Academy.

Private schools nearby include Maldon

Court Preparatory School, and Heathcote Preparatory School and Elm Green School in Danbury. There are two selective state schools in Chelmsford, King Edward VI Grammar School for Boys and Chelmsford County High School for Girls.

Commuting links from Latchingdon are excellent. The nearest mainline railway station is in Althorne, approximately 1.5 miles away, which provides regular services to London’s Liverpool Street. The fastest service to London has a journey time of about an hour.

There are also a number of bus routes passing through Latchingdon. These include the Chelmsford to Burnham-on-Crouch service, Chelmsford to South Woodham Ferrers, Tillingham to South Woodham Ferrers and the Maldon to Bradwell-on-Sea service. If you’re travelling further afield, there are international airports at Stansted and Southend-on-Sea.

This really is the best of both worlds: stylish contemporary rural living with great access to open country and exceptional transport links.

Register your interest at to be among the first to receive full details

NEW HOMES 52 First Time Buyer October/November 2023


For those thinking about purchasing property, Origin Housing is here to help. The First Time Buyer Readers’ Award-winning housing association, behind impressive new developments such as Harrow and Wealdstone Heights, gives its top four reasons why a new build might be the right choice for you.


One of the most enticing aspects of new build properties is the array of modern amenities and features they offer. Developers strive to create spaces that cater to contemporary lifestyles, integrating stateof-the-art technologies, energy-efficient appliances and innovative design elements conceived to enhance convenience and quality of life.

For residents at Origin Housing’s flagship development Harrow and Wealdstone Heights in north west London, access to a communal roof terrace offers a unique vista across London’s skyline – the perfect spot for enjoying an after-work drink. Plus, a new central public realm means residents enjoy landscaped green spaces on their doorstep, alongside play spaces and mature planting.


Purchasing an older property often comes with the potential burden of repairs and maintenance. With new build properties, you can rest assured that you’re moving into a home that has been constructed with the latest materials and techniques, minimising the need for immediate fixes.

Origin’s homes come with a two-year defects period and an NHBC warranty that covers structural issues, allowing you to enjoy your new home without the worry of the unexpected costs associated with ageing properties.


In an era where environmental considerations are key, many new build properties in London are built with energy efficiency and sustainability in mind. These homes are designed to meet or exceed stringent building codes and

Buying a home is a decision that requires careful consideration, particularly for first time buyers. Among the options available, new build properties stand out for several reasons

green standards, resulting in reduced energy consumption and lower utility bills. Features such as double-glazed windows, advanced insulation, and energy-efficient heating and cooling systems contribute to a smaller carbon footprint.

An environmentally forward new development, Harrow and Wealdstone Heights incorporates several ecocredentials including a ground source heat pump and solar panels to power the communal lighting, meaning costs are kept low for residents.

By choosing a new build, you’re not only investing in your own comfort but also making a positive impact on the planet.


As a first time buyer in the capital, there are a number of schemes which are available to help you take that first step on to the property ladder, specially designed for new build homes.

All 81 apartments at Harrow and Wealdstone Heights are available through shared ownership – a Government-backed scheme which enables you to buy a share of a home, while paying a reduced rent on the remaining share.

The fantastic perk of the scheme is the opportunity to secure a home with a

much lower deposit – often as low as 10% of the share value. For example, to buy a 25% share of a one bedroom apartment at Harrow and Wealdstone Heights for £81,250 (full market value: £325,000), you would need a deposit of just £8,125.

Before making a decision, it’s essential to conduct thorough research and to consider your budget and lifestyle needs. Whether you are a young professional, couple or family, a new build in London could suit your every need.

Origin is currently marketing a collection of one and two bedroom shared ownership apartments at Harrow and Wealdstone Heights, which are available to move into straight away.

To find out more, visit harrow-wealdstone-heights

SHARED OWNERSHIP 54 First Time Buyer October/November 2023


How would you like to spend your weekend? Maybe navigating an assortment of quirky independent shops arranged on a quaint village street? Or cosying up in a charming cafe, tucking into homemade pastries with a pot of tea? Perhaps even enjoying a crisp autumnal walk across a nearby sandy seafront?

This could all be a reality with shared ownership specialist Snugg Homes’ latest development, Abbey Springs.

Located in the historic market town of Ormskirk, with the lively city of Liverpool just 17 miles away and the picturesque coastlines of both Formby and Southport nearby, this development truly has everything you need on your doorstep.


Abbey Springs is a stylish collection of two, three, and four bedroom semi-detached, detached and mews-style homes with contemporary living at their core.

Each energy-efficient home is complete with a large lounge, a modern fitted kitchen/dining room perfect for hosting guests and a stylish three-piece bedroom suite. These homes also benefit from a useful downstairs WC and a convenient utility room. Outside, there are landscaped

gardens, off-road parking and even a tranquil pond nearby.


Ormskirk is home to a mix of high street and independent shops, perfect for a spot of retail therapy or finding a special gift. There is also a wide variety of tasty toprated restaurants, pubs and cafes all within walking distance.

A short 20-minute drive allows you to explore the dramatic coastlines of both Formby and Southport. Here you can navigate the rolling sand dunes on a scenic coastal walk or simply enjoy the peaceful sandy beaches overlooking the sea.

The area is well served for public transport with links to Liverpool, Formby and Southport. Ormskirk railway station is just five minutes away and the M58, M55 and M6 motorways are also nearby, making this the ideal location for commuters.


Buying a shared ownership property with specialist Snugg Homes is the perfect way to make it on to the property ladder if you can’t quite afford the mortgage on 100% of a home.

You can buy a share of your home (usually between 25% and 75% of the home’s value) and pay rent on the remaining share. You will have the opportunity to buy more of your home at your pace, through staircasing and eventually can even own your property outright.

The shared ownership scheme is open to anyone aged 18 or over so long as the household earns less than £80,000. To be eligible, you must simply meet the specified criteria and not own another home.


The Snugg Homes team is on hand to answer any questions and support you every step of the way as you take the road to homeownership, whether at Abbey Springs or any of our other stunning schemes across the North West or Nottinghamshire.

To register your interest, please visit our website You can also follow us on @SnuggHomes on Twitter or @snugghomes on Instagram and TikTok

AFFORDABLE HOMES 56 First Time Buyer October/November 2023
Rowan Wood


As a part-time nursery nurse with a young daughter, Megan McNamara knew that – even with her partner’s wage working as a floor-layer – rising house prices meant they’d be unable to purchase their own home any time soon

Shared ownership became an increasingly attractive option to them, so Megan, 26, and her partner James Huggitt, 29, began looking online every day until the perfect opportunity presented itself.

Megan said, “James and I realised that buying a home using a traditional method would be out of the question for many years, as it is for so many young families. My friend mentioned shared ownership to me and, after a lot of research, I knew that this would be the ideal way for us to get on to the property ladder.

“We looked online every day until the perfect home came along. It was a three bedroom property at St Arthur Homes’ Whiteley Meadows development in

Whiteley, which just looked like it could be the one for us.

“With some savings and help from family, we managed to put together a deposit and buy a 45% stake in the property, paying rent on the other percentage. We are looking to embark on a process called ‘staircasing’ which means we purchase more and more of the value of the home over time, eventually owning 100% of it.

“I didn’t have a huge tick list of things I wanted from a home – I just wanted to buy my own. But all the things we did want, like an en suite, a garden, a garage and three bedrooms, were all there in the property we eventually bought.”

In December last year, Megan, James and their four-year-old daughter Ella finally managed to move into their home, where they’ve been enjoying life ever since.

Megan said, “I’d certainly recommend St Arthur Homes. Our sales adviser, Trin, is always so helpful and replies to any emails immediately. And, like any new property, there was a snagging list, but any issues were sorted out quickly.”

There are only two shared ownership properties left on this phase of Whiteley Meadows, so people who may be interested in buying are encouraged to act quickly to avoid missing out.

For more information, visit

58 First Time Buyer October/November 2023



Shared ownership is designed to help you step on to the property ladder sooner by purchasing an affordable share of your new home (usually between 25% and 75%) and paying a subsidised rent on the remainder. Importantly, your deposit starts from just 5% of the share you buy – not the full property price – so it’s smaller and therefore quicker to save up. It’s a simple and cost-effective way of buying new and you have the option to buy more shares in your home later, as finances allow.


At Places for People, you can take your pick of high-quality shared ownership homes* in a choice of excellent locations. We started more than 50 years ago and today we’re building and managing happy, healthy and inclusive communities that work for everyone. Our homes offer generous, flexible living space to adapt to your unique lifestyle, and benefit from an exquisite finish coupled with efficient heating systems and energy-saving technology to keep running costs to a minimum.


If you’re looking for a lovely new home in a vibrant community close to great amenities, then Laconia Place in Milton Keynes ticks all the right boxes. Choose from a range of one, two and three bedroom houses and apartments, all featuring spacious interiors with plenty of storage as well as high-spec kitchens and bathrooms. With shared ownership, a three bedroom home could cost just £108,750 for a 25% share, which would make a 5% deposit of £5,437.50 extremely saveable.

Located just 50 miles from London, close to good local amenities including shops, restaurants and schools – and within easy reach of attractive woodlands and Lautier Park – Laconia Place is an ideal place to put down roots.

The first phase of our Carvers Meadow development near Attleborough was so popular that we’re anticipating an equally

high level of interest for the next exciting phase. Our high-quality homes benefit from generous living space and modern, wellequipped kitchens along with close proximity to the bustling market town of Attleborough, with its wealth of handy amenities and good local schools.

All the two, three and four bedroom homes here are available to buy through shared ownership, providing your household income is less than £80,000 and you don’t already own a property.* This means that you could be moving to this idyllic location, surrounded by Norfolk’s beautiful, unspoiled rural landscape, sooner than you think.

In Attleborough itself, White House Park presents another opportunity to embrace modern country living in this outstanding location. The development’s two and three bedroom homes are finished to an exceptionally high standard and are suitable for couples and families alike. With a spacious layout, statement Lemongrass kitchen and private turfed rear garden,

you will have all the room you need to comfortably work, relax and entertain. And from Attleborough, you can easily commute to Norwich and other towns nearby.

Prices for these homes start from £272,000 but with the shared ownership scheme, you could buy a 25% share for £68,000 with an achievable 5% deposit of just £3,400. Along with your mortgage, you would also need to pay rent at a rate of 2.75% annually for the share you don’t own, which for the example above works out at £467.50 a month.


Discover more about our shared ownership homes and find out if you qualify for the scheme. Our friendly, expert team will guide you step by step through the entire process. Visit *T&Cs

60 First Time Buyer October/November 2023
With the Government-backed shared ownership scheme, saving for a deposit on a brand
Places for People home doesn’t have to take forever…
apply – please see our
website for details.


Commutability and connectivity are key elements that Bellway customers look for, making homes close to this convenient mode of transport all the more popular. Bellway has a wide range of apartments dotted along the first few stops of the Elizabeth Line; perfectly suited to first time buyers and found across three current developments, Belmont Park, Cooper Square and Huntercombe Walk, and two upcoming sites launching next year.

Emma Russell, Sales Director at Bellway, comments, “With apartments back in demand and a range of exciting incentives on offer, our developments across the Thames Valley region are a sought-after choice for a first property; spacious, stylish, and located in brilliant, well-connected hotspots. At Huntercombe Walk, 16% of our buyers have moved from London, and at Belmont Park, this figure stands at 30%. We continue to welcome these London leavers and other first time buyers to our developments.”


To add to Bellway’s remarkable presence in Maidenhead, the five-star housebuilder also has a new development, The Atrium, coming soon to the lively town. The new neighbourhood will comprise one, two and three bedroom apartments with allocated parking, electric vehicle charging points on-site and balconies. With its premium position just five minutes’ drive from the A404 and an eight-minute drive to Maidenhead railway station, The Atrium is set to be a popular choice among first time buyers.

Please register for updates.


From one Maidenhead development to another, Cooper Square is set in the heart of the bustling Berkshire market town, offering buyers a huge choice of restaurants, bars and pubs only a short stroll away in the newly regenerated Waterside area. The one, two and three bedroom apartments are stylish and sophisticated but most importantly flexible, meaning they adapt to each buyer’s requirements.

Contemporary architecture provides a striking exterior to the apartments, both blending with the existing buildings but also standing tall as a unique development. Internally, this sense of modernity continues with a host of energy-efficient integrated appliances, long-lasting materials and crisp finishes. To give residents a private outdoor space to enjoy, every home at Cooper Square benefits from a balcony, providing a natural extension to the internal layout, while selected properties include parking. By car, Marlow and Windsor are a 16-minute drive away while High Wycombe, Slough, Bracknell and Heathrow are all less than 30 minutes away. Maidenhead station is 11 minutes’ walk or a four-minute drive away, from where trains whisk commuters and adventurers into Reading, London Paddington and Oxford in under an hour.

Prices at Cooper Square start from £300,000 for a one bedroom apartment.

62 First Time Buyer October/November 2023
The Elizabeth Line has been instrumental in changing the lives of thousands of commuters, explorers and everyone in between. It has connected the South Eastfrom Reading to Shenfieldmaking it easy to travel swiftly, sustainably and smartly to your desired destination


Expertly designed to cater to today’s style of living, Huntercombe Walk benefits from being close to two Elizabeth Line stations – Burnham station is a 21-minute walk or six-minute drive away and Taplow station is a 25-minute walk or six-minute drive. The development comprises five modern apartment buildings surrounded by landscaped gardens with on-site parking and cycle storage. Each apartment benefits from an open and flexible layout with high-quality finishes throughout. Many homes include a balcony or terrace, with some allowing residents to walk straight on to the green communal space, which features scenic pathways and areas for outdoor exercise. Buyers here are wellplaced, not only for picturesque Taplow or the nearby waterside retreat, Dorney Lake, but the development is only four miles away from Maidenhead town centre. Residents have all they need on the doorstep, including a selection of supermarkets, Queensmere Observatory Shopping Centre and The National Trust’s beautiful Cliveden House. As a first time buyer, you are in a favourable position with no chain. At Huntercombe Walk and Belmont Park, we have Fast Move plots, which are homes that are completely finished, so you can move in as soon as you wish, without waiting on anybody else.

Prices at Huntercombe Walk start from £255,000 for a one bedroom apartment. The 5% deposit contribution incentive also applies to selected plots here.





Set in the desirable town of Maidenhead, Belmont Park offers one, two and three bedroom apartments, ideal for first time buyers and professionals looking for excellent travel links, a vibrant community and high-quality homes. Energy efficiency and convenience are at the core of Belmont Park, with underground parking, several on-site charging points, air source heat pumps to all apartments and impressive areas of greenery located around the site. Less than a mile from Maidenhead town centre, Belmont Park is a five-minute drive to the town’s railway station or a scenic 21-minute walk. Elizabeth Line services from here reach Reading in 15 minutes and London Paddington in under 20 minutes. The sleek interiors of Belmont Park are designed with the modern homeowner in mind, focusing on sustainability, durability and versatility. Homes have been designed to work effortlessly, not only to suit your lifestyle but enhance it too. The apartments at Belmont Park are equipped to do exactly that with clean finishes, an excellent specification and outdoor space to boost your wellbeing. To help first time buyers get over the deposit hurdle, Bellway is offering an exclusive deposit contribution incentive on selected plots at Belmont Park, whereby it will contribute 5% of the home’s deposit (Ts&Cs apply) to help your property dreams become a reality.

Prices at Belmont Park start from £250,000 for a one bedroom apartment plus get up to £12,000 towards your deposit on selected plots.


Nestled on the outskirts of Slough, a popular Berkshire town, Montem Square is a fantastic development of one and two bedroom apartments and three bedroom houses. Due to launch March 2024, Montem Square not only benefits from fantastic local amenities and excellent transport connections from Slough railway station (a five-minute drive away), but also has serene open space on site.

Please register for updates.

NEW HOMES First Time Buyer October/November 2023 63


As summer draws to a close and the autumn breeze sets in, the real estate market hums with anticipation. Whether you’re a first time buyer looking to establish roots in the capital or a second stepper looking for a bit more calm amidst the chaos, September is a time of contemplation and action. Southern Housing New Homes’ diverse portfolio of developments means there’s always a property to meet the needs and dreams of every aspiring homeowner. From the vibrancy of Southall, to the charming corners of Southwark, Southern Housing New Homes can help you redefine what city living means to you, with properties suited to every need and liking

The definition of home is different for everyone, but a uniting factor is the importance of a thriving community and neighbourhood. Launching this autumn, West Acre Square provides a collection of studio, one and two bedroom shared ownership apartments across two blocks in one of the UK’s most biodiverse developments known as The Green Quarter.

This development provides a balance between verdant open green spaces and a thriving community to belong to. Buyers can enjoy 13 acres of parkland with 2,500 new trees planted, as well as new community and retail spaces that are helping to form one of London’s most exciting regeneration stories. Local amenities are on the doorstep and transport connections are excellent, with the newly unveiled Southall Crossrail station nearby meaning you can reach central London in just 17 minutes.

For those strained by the bustling rhythm of modern life, the need for nearby outdoor spaces to unwind and reconnect with nature has never been more crucial. It’s a concept at the heart of Arcadia View,

a thoughtfully designed development poised to redefine your east London living experience. A collection of one, two, and three bedroom apartments, available through shared ownership, offers a gateway to a lifestyle that harmoniously blends tranquillity with the unmistakable energy of Hackney’s vibrant culture.

Situated in the sought-after neighbourhood of Clapton in Hackney, and surrounded by the green spaces of Millfields Park, Hackney Marshes and with a tennis court right on your doorstep, buyers at Arcadia View can benefit from the rich cultural and culinary scene that Hackney is so famously known for.

In south London, Southern Housing New Homes will soon be launching a range of developments in the borough of Southwark, an area which is in the midst of a remarkable transformation. Over the years, the area has emerged as an increasingly sought-after destination, capturing the imagination of those who yearn for both accessibility and a sense of belonging.

Close to thriving London Bridge and the City, various new homes will soon

be available through shared ownership offering an exceptional blend of modernity and tradition, ensuring that each buyer finds its perfect match. Whether nestled near the transforming landscape of Elephant and Castle or within the leafy Burgess Park, these homes are thoughtfully designed to meet the needs of the discerning urban dwellers.

Whatever option you choose, shared ownership provides an avenue to more accessible living. By securing a part of your dream dwelling, typically ranging from 25% to 75%, while enjoying subsidised rent on the remaining portion, it provides an unmatched advantage; streamlined mortgage process with a smaller deposit, compared to buying on the open market. This is supported by Southern Housing New Homes’ commitment to building high-quality, energy-efficient, sustainable homes that are fit for the future. We all face our own challenges with the cost-of-living crisis, and most of our new homes benefit from EPC ratings of B or above which mean reduced running costs for owners compared to older homes.

To nd out more, visit

AFFORDABLE HOMES 64 First Time Buyer October/November 2023
West Acre Square Arcadia View


Countryside makes the case for supporting first time buyers on to the property ladder with exceptional one bedroom homes at Chelmsford’s

First time buyers accounted for 53% of all property sales in the UK in 2022, according to research by Yet the latest Census data reveals that just 11.4% of all UK homes are one bedroom properties (down from 11.8% a decade earlier). The figures mean that many first time buyers must save up to buy larger properties than they might need. This means taking longer to build the required deposit and paying more interest on a mortgage.

Not at Beaulieu. The huge housing scheme in Chelmsford, which will provide 3,600 homes and a plethora of community facilities once complete, is providing a selection of one bedroom homes to support first time buyers on to the property ladder.

“Some first time buyers want two or three bedrooms, certainly, but we were aware that others would prefer a more affordable, one bedroom option to get them on to the property ladder,” comments Peter Willis, Managing Director from Countryside Partnerships Home Counties East, which is building the homes at Beaulieu in partnership with L&Q.

Countryside’s provision of one bedroom apartments at Beaulieu Gate is helping to address the dwindling supply of this type of home. These new homes feature Tudorinspired architecture with a modern twist, with subtle red brick detailing and beautiful bay windows mirroring the architecture of the area’s New Hall School, a former Tudor palace. Spacious, well-planned interiors provide a flexible space, with high-specification kitchens completing the open-plan living areas. Principal bedrooms come with fitted mirrored wardrobes and the luxurious bathroom is finished in Driftwood. All homes also come with allocated parking. Once complete, Beaulieu Gate will provide 198 properties for private sale and 74 affordable homes, located in the verdant parkland of King Henry VIII’s former hunting grounds.

Countryside was also keen that those seeking one bedroom homes should not lack choice. As such, its homes at Beaulieu Heath include one bedroom houses,

countering a fairly widespread trend of developers only providing apartments for those seeking one bedroom properties.

At Beaulieu Heath, each one bedroom house comes with open-plan living/ dining space, a high-specification kitchen with integrated appliances, a luxurious bathroom, an impressive principal bedroom with fitted wardrobes and an allocated parking space. Externally stylish, these new homes feature blue-grey weatherboarding, designed to complement the natural red brickwork and parkland setting.

At the heart of the neighbourhood, Beaulieu Square provides first time buyers with a ready-made community featuring two coffee shops, Sainsbury’s, a community centre, new health centre, dental practice, veterinary surgery, food outlets and more. In addition, both Beaulieu Heath and Beaulieu Gate benefit from 176 acres of open space, encompassing formal gardens, a sensory garden with embedded Tudor artworks, a petanque rink and a play area.

Residents also benefit from a brilliant network of public transport, effortlessly whisking them into London and beyond.

Chelmsford railway station is an 11-minute bus ride from Beaulieu, and provides a direct service to London Liverpool Street in 35 minutes, with Colchester, Suffolk and Norfolk also easily accessible. To enhance this connectivity further, Beaulieu Park station is due to be operational in 2026 and will be a comprehensive local hub for travel by rail, bus, bike, road and foot.

The icing on the cake for many of those buying at Beaulieu is Countryside’s 5% deposit contribution scheme. Available on all one bedroom homes, the offer is supporting first time buyers (and others) to manage the financial commitment of purchasing a beautiful new home at Beaulieu.

Homes at Beaulieu Gate start from £249,995 and at Beaulieu Heath from £277,495. For more information visit or

NEW HOMES 66 First Time Buyer October/November 2023


L&Q proudly won the highly prestigious Affordable Housing Provider of the Year accolade at this year’s First Time Buyer Readers’ Awards, as well as Highly Commended for Best Use of Online Tools for its Beauchamp Park development in Warwickshire

Offering a broad range of homes both inside and out of London through shared ownership and outright sale, as well as London Living Rent and pre-owned homes, L&Q is the capital’s largest social landlord and provider of affordable homes, with nearly 60 years of experience in the property market.


The Affordable Housing Provider of The Year award commends an organisation that has shown innovation in the way it "designs, builds and markets its properties", as well as in the services and after sales care that it provides to first time buyers.

L&Q is a developer with a social purpose – it does not only build homes for all stages of life but helps to grow thriving communities. Having helped an impressive 1,465 buyers get on to the property ladder last year through shared ownership and Help to Buy, L&Q is committed to helping make homeownership an affordable and accessible option for as many first time buyers as possible.

The average deposit for an L&Q home in London is just £3,250. Currently, L&Q has 603 shared ownership homes on the market in London – with over 200 under offer. L&Q’s developments outside of the capital span far and wide too, including counties such as Cambridgeshire and Essex.


Being innovative is key to success in a competitive market, which is why the Highly Commended for Best Use of Online Tools was a brilliant win for the whole team at L&Q.

A 20.9-hectare site that will see L&Q

deliver 450 new homes, Beauchamp Park is a major development that is set in the beautiful countryside of Warwick. Launching the first phase of homes at Beauchamp Park, Warwickshire, in November 2021, the sales and marketing strategy reflected the new hybrid-digital world, and made use of pioneering new online tools, including a dedicated app and virtual fly-through videos of the multi-phase development. Today, both digital strategies can be adapted for future phases across the lifespan of this development – making it far easier for first time buyers to purchase their dream home in Warwickshire.


After nine years of renting in London, Emily was keen to find a home of her own. She first heard about shared ownership when she joined her local choir. “I met a girl who had bought through the shared

ownership scheme and couldn’t be more positive about it. After she showed me Share to Buy, an affordable homeownership property portal, I decided to subscribe to everything and started browsing different property options in October 2021.”

After exploring various areas of London, Emily recalls, “I wanted to buy through a major housing association, as I knew that lots of their homes would be aimed at first time buyers. When I received an email bulletin about L&Q at Brunel Street Works, I liked the look of the location and size, so I booked in a viewing straightaway.”

Emily bought a 25% share of a two bedroom home at L&Q at Brunel Street Works (full market value: £530,000).

“My whole buying process was incredibly smooth,” Emily recalls. “Shared ownership offered the perfect opportunity to step on to the property ladder in a vibrant east London neighbourhood, with a two bedroom apartment that I could make my own. Now that I’ve moved in, I know that I want to live here for a long time, so I would think about staircasing in a few years’ time, to own more of my home. I love being in the city and I don’t plan on leaving any time soon!”

To find out more about L&Q visit

SHARED OWNERSHIP 68 First Time Buyer October/November 2023
(Main image) Beauchamp Park by L&Q (Inset) Recent buyer at L&Q at Brunel Street Works Emily

When Claire Dowd and Dom Barlow heard about a new Bellway development planned for the village of Penllergaer near Swansea, they knew it was in the perfect location for them near family members, and before construction even began, they set their hearts on living there

Now they are settled in their new home at Parc Mawr, off Brynrhos Crescent, Claire says that moving in was the best week of her life.

Claire, 30, and Dom, 31, were so keen to get things moving at the earliest opportunity that Claire made it her mission to find out every bit of information she could so that they were ready to act as soon as sales were launched.

For 18 months Claire would browse the Bellway website looking for news and calling the company every few weeks to check on how things were going. “I think it got to the stage they knew my voice when I would call up!” said Claire. “I really did want one of these houses.”

When sales were finally launched the couple secured the first appointment. Claire, who recently started a new job as a business development manager with 2B Enterprising in Swansea, and Dom, a sales executive with Watches of Switzerland in Cardiff, had originally planned to buy a two or three bedroom property, with thoughts of moving house again a few years down the line.

Once the couple started looking at the plans, they fell in love with the Sherbourne – a three bedroom detached home – which cost £267,995, nearly £20,000 more than their planned budget. They decided to go for it despite it being a financial stretch. Claire said, “We thought, we’re going to have to worry about that later. It was our dream home.”

Claire and Dom were the first to reserve a home on the development and the first to exchange, and they moved into their house earlier this year with their seven-year-old pug, Arnie.

They had previously lived in rented accommodation, later moving in with Dom’s parents while they saved hard to cover all the other costs entailed in buying a house


Property: Three bedroom detached house

Deposit: £27,500

Monthly mortgage: £976 per month

Open market: Penllergaer, Swansea

such as fees, Stamp Duty and items for the home.

Getting the keys and moving in was an important moment for the couple, who had both long held the dream of homeownership. “I honestly felt euphoric,” said Claire. “To be able to have something we could call our own and to have the keys and shut the door and know it was ours. I still can’t believe it.”

Claire was not always keen on new build properties, but when a friend bought one in 2021, it was a revelation to her. “I was completely blown away,” she said. It changed her opinion and she saw the benefits of getting a modern home, a blank canvas to make your own. The couple appreciated being able to move in with everything new and ready for them and no DIY tasks to do.

Now they are enjoying their new life in the home they dreamed of and paying a mortgage of £976 per month. Claire is

a keen cook and loves the kitchen/dining space, while Dom especially likes the spalike main bathroom. Having a comfortable spare bedroom for friends and family to use when they come to stay is also important to them.

And although they have only been there a few months, they have already become firm friends with the neighbours, who all came to Claire’s 30th birthday celebrations. The couple got to know some of them before they even moved in through Instagram as Claire has an account ( documenting the building of the house and all that they are doing to make it their own.

And with a dog-friendly pub they like – The Old Inn – a short walk away, family nearby, and easy access to the M4 for commuting or travelling further afield, they feel they made the right decision in setting their hearts on Parc Mawr.

Claire said, “During our moving week I was exhausted, but I would do it over and over again. I’d say to anyone moving into their first home, cherish that first week. It is super amazing. It was tiring but it was the best week of my life to date.”

There’s currently a choice of two, three and four bedroom houses available to reserve at Parc Mawr, with prices starting from £209,995.

REAL LIFE 70 First Time Buyer October/November 2023


Each month, FTB scours the market for the best starter homes for rst time buyers. So, whether you’re seeking a coastal retreat or your rst home on a budget we hope you will enjoy our selection



Family homes p72-73



Affordable homes p74-75


Coastal charmers p76-77

FOR SALE First Time Buyer October/November 2023 71





FROM £269,995

Bertone Gardens

A new range of family homes has recently been launched at this popular development in a semi-rural setting three miles east of Kettering. The three, four and ve bedroom properties overlook green space, while inside, homes feature separate living and dining rooms, downstairs WC, and an en suite from the main bedroom. This is a fabulous location for family life, with peaceful countryside on the doorstep, on-site facilities that include sports pitches, shops and new schools – as well as a great range of shops and amenities within a short drive. The beautiful surrounds have so much to offer, while London can be reached in less than an hour by train.

Barratt Homes 0330 127 8275

FOR SALE 72 First Time Buyer October/November 2023

L&Q at Hooper’s Green

St Neots is Cambridgeshire’s fastest growing town, home to this new collection of two and three bedroom family houses. The town offers the perfect balance, with beautiful open spaces and local facilities and London accessible by train in under 60 minutes. The three bedroom semi-detached houses are arranged over three

Redwood Gardens

It’s the best of both worlds at this new development between the bright lights of Blackpool and the seaside town of Lytham St Annes. The attractive three and four bedroom detached and semi-detached houses are designed with family life in mind, with spacious living spaces, downstairs WC, and en suite

storeys, with an open-plan living/ dining area on the ground oor opening on to a rear garden. Bedrooms are on the rst and second oors, with a bathroom on each storey. All homes have allocated parking.

L&Q 0333 003 5092

FROM £136,500* FROM £244,995

Capstone Fields

The city of Cambridge has been named as one of the most desirable places to live in the UK, with a perfect blend of culture, history, city life and rural beauty. These two, three, four and ve bedroom homes are in Hardwick, 15 minutes from the city centre. The development features a wild ower meadow as

from the main bedroom. Homes feature integrated garages or driveways. Families are spoilt for choice when it comes to days out, with Blackpool less than a 10-minute drive and an endless choice of sandy beaches.

Elan Homes 0845 528 0783

well as outdoor play areas, and is surrounded by countryside. Inside, the properties are bright and contemporary; the larger double-fronted homes feature separate living and dining rooms, with double doors to the garden.

Hill 01223 734 205


FROM £599,950 FROM £349,950

Saxon Square at Platting Village

Manchester’s bustling city centre is just a 10-minute bus ride from this new collection of homes that comprises two, three and four bedroom properties ideal for family life. Saxon Square marks the nal phase of the wider Platting Village development, which has created a thriving new community in East Manchester. Due to complete in 2024, the

homes will feature stylish interiors, open-plan living areas, private outdoor space and allocated parking. On-site facilities include children’s play areas, landscaped gardens and open spaces. All this conveniently placed just 1.5 miles from the city centre.

Lovell Homes 0161 905 1727

FOR SALE First Time Buyer October/November 2023 73
ST NEOTS, CAMBRIDGESHIRE HARDWICK, CAMBRIDGESHIRE BLACKPOOL, LANCASHIRE *Based on a 35% share of the full market value of £390,000 *Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £295,000





L&Q at Beam Park

Beam Park forms part of a brand new neighbourhood in the recently regenerated suburb of Rainham, designed with community in mind. Amenities including schools, medical, faith and leisure facilities, as well as purpose-built open spaces, are all geared towards encouraging interaction between residents. London’s Fenchurch Street can be reached in just 21 minutes from nearby Dagenham Dock station. The one and two bedroom apartments available through shared ownership feature spacious living/dining areas that lead to private balconies or terraces with views over the shared landscaped gardens.

L&Q 020 8189 7502

FROM £62,500*

FOR SALE 74 First Time Buyer October/November 2023
*Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £250,000


Poets Grange

The world-famous town of Stratford-upon-Avon lies just ve miles north of this exciting new development, which forms part of the wider Meon Vale project. Joining the new one and two bedroom apartments and three bedroom houses will be public open spaces, a sports hub and other key facilities. The


Forming part of the ongoing, award-winning regeneration of Thamesmead, Southmere features a selection of two and three bedroom apartments minutes from Abbey Wood Elizabeth Line station. Set around ve lakes and a central square, amenities include a library and community centre, with an arts and culture

styling here is sympathetic to the beautiful surrounds, while inside, houses are bright and modern, with downstairs WC and utility room, separate living and dining rooms, and an en suite from the main bedroom.

Redrow 01789 548 994


FROM ££163,000 FROM £113,750*


Keckwick Park

Surrounded by beautiful countryside, but with great transport links to nearby towns and cities, these new homes offer an enviable location and a great quality of life. The three and four bedroom family homes are a 10-minute drive from Stockton Heath for a range of supermarkets and amenities, while Manchester

of ce, restaurants, cafes, shops, shared working spaces and popup markets all set to open soon. Properties have been created with modern living in mind – with bright, open -plan living spaces and plenty of natural light.

Peabody 020 3642 8559

SO Resi Whetstone

Just a few apartments remain at this popular development in the leafy north London suburb of Whetstone. The one and two bedroom apartments sit around a pretty, landscaped central courtyard. Inside, the properties feature open-plan living spaces that lead to a private balcony, contemporary kitchens, and large

is 30 minutes’ drive. Great dining, pubs, leisure facilities and schools all lie within a short drive, too. The traditionally styled homes have driveways or garages and are nished to a high standard, with quality ooring and ttings.

Redrow 01928 378 173


FROM £329,000 FROM £100,000*

oor-to-ceiling windows for plenty of natural light. The High Road, for cafes, shops, foodie pubs and tube station, is a short walk away, while London Euston can be reached in 26 minutes from the travel Zone 4 station.

SO Resi

FOR SALE First Time Buyer October/November 2023 75
*Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £455,000
*Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £400,000




FROM £250,000

Lanthorne Place

Stunning Kent beaches can be found in as little as ve minutes on foot from this new collection of properties located just outside the historic town of Broadstairs. The 53 one to four bedroom homes here have been created in a range of styles and blend effortlessly with their pretty coastal surroundings. A good selection of shops and amenities is available in Broadstairs – a 20-minute walk – along with the railway station for services to St Pancras (80 minutes). Residents can take their time exploring the various bays and beaches along the Kent coastline on foot or by car, with some must-see areas including Botany Bay (less than a 10-minute drive) and Whitstable, reached in under 30 minutes.

Millwood Designer Homes 01843 880 430

FOR SALE 76 First Time Buyer October/November 2023


Redwood Gardens

Located on Fylde peninsula, this new collection of homes is ideally located for enjoying the quiet calm of Lytham St Annes and the bright lights of Blackpool. Just minutes from the Fylde coast, the three and four bedroom properties are perfect for growing families and lovers of the great outdoors. The spacious homes


feature separate living rooms and kitchens, French doors that open to a rear garden, and downstairs WC. Upstairs there’s an en suite from the main bedroom. All of the homes here are available Stamp Duty free for rst time buyers.

Elan Homes 0845 528 0821

FROM £244,995 FROM £189,950

Spit re Green

Ramsgate is among the Kent seaside towns that have seen a surge in popularity in recent years, with increasing numbers of young professionals buying in the area. These new two and three bedroom homes are around three miles from the coast, offering the perfect mix of seaside, country and town. Homes range from


Fontwell Meadows Mill Green

Nestled at the foot of the stunning South Downs in West Sussex, a 15-minute drive from the coast, these homes are ideally positioned for enjoying country life. Beautiful walking and cycling routes are moments from the door, while the coastal cities of Chichester and Brighton are easily reached by car. The one

to four bedroom properties have been created in a range of styles, with space and comfort a priority in all homes. Barnham station is a short drive, for services to London Victoria, while resort-style beaches can be reached in 15 minutes.

Dandara 01903 337 354

The costal village of Warton enjoys a prime location on the Fylde peninsula, close to the sought-after town of Lytham. The homes, which range from three to four bedrooms, are a short walk from the Lytham promenade and a short drive from the sandy beaches of St Annes. Good schools and a range of shops can also be found close by,

apartments to family houses and have been created with modern living in mind. The three bedroom townhouse-style properties are arranged over three storeys, with a main bedroom at the top with walk-in wardrobe and en suite.

Barratt Homes 0330 828 7150

FROM £189,000 FROM £237,995

while Preston can be reached in around 20 minutes by car. The properties here are stylish and contemporary with open-plan living/dining areas leading to private back gardens. They include a Symphony tted kitchen in a range of colours.

Anwyl 03300 244 955

FOR SALE First Time Buyer October/November 2023 77
Yo Winn s Revealed

And the Winn is...


The FTB Readers’ Awards 2023, held at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square, London, were a glittering success with over 400 colleagues from the housing industry there to celebrate together. The Awards are the highlight in our busy calendar and it’s wonderful to see so many inspirational homes being built for first time buyers. This year, competition was fierce as we had more entries than ever before and the standard was extremely high.

Our host, TV and radio presenter Nicki Chapman, welcomed the highly commended and winners from each category on to the stage to present them with their award. TV presenter

Jonnie Irwin also joined us on the day to support a charity very close to his heart, St Oswalds Hospice. This charitable hospice provides outstanding specialist and expert care to adults and children with life-limiting conditions and their families too. We were delighted to have exceeded all expectations and raised a large amount for this worthy cause. We had some amazing prizes this year, so a big thank you to everyone who donated.

On the following pages, we showcase the day, so you can see who won. Most importantly, we would like to thank all our readers who took time to cast their all-important votes.

Congratulations to you all and we very much look forward to seeing you at the FTB Readers’ Awards next year.

80 First Time Buyer October/November 2023 PHOTOS © MIKE PRIOR
First Time Buyer October/November 2023 81
This award was presented by Harrison Smith, Director and Founder, Tidywork Studio.
This award was presented by Rupi Hunjan, Managing Director, Censeo Financial.

And the Winn is...

Highly Commended

82 First Time Buyer October/November 2023 READERS’ AWARDS buyer
This award was presented by Sarah Jarvis, Partner, Sharratts.
This award was presented by Emma Harvey, Senior Surveyor, JLL.
Highly Commended
Winn Winn
This award was presented by Harriet Stevens, Account Director, Faust PR.
This award was presented by Alan Campbell, Regional Sales Director, and Courtney Reigh-Gannon, Shared Ownership Sales Director, Spicerhaart.

Best Law Firm for Conveyancing

84 First Time Buyer October/November 2023 READERS’ AWARDS buyer
And the Winn is...
This award was presented by John Dean, Director, Buchanan Dean Design.
This award was presented by Bevin Woby, Director, Shared Direction Conveyancing.
Winn Winn
Highly Commended Highly Commended
First Time Buyer October/November 2023 85 READERS’ AWARDS buyer HIGGINS HOMES | THE GARRATT COLLECTION
This award was presented by Wendy Hegerty, Partner, Redloft.
This award was presented by Victoria Michell, Marketing Manager, LSL Land and New Homes.
Winn is... 86 First Time Buyer October/November 2023 READERS’ AWARDS buyer
This award was presented by Ross Smith, Director, SiteSales.
SPONSORED BY SPONSORED BY Best New Dev opment in the South Best New Dev opment in the North PEABODY | SOUTHMERE PLUMLIFE HOMES | THE POPLARS GUINNESS HOMES | MCARTHUR’S YARD SNUGG HOMES, ROWAN WOOD Highly Commended Highly Commended Winn Winn Jon Lord from Metro Finance collecting the award on behalf of Snugg Homes
This award was presented by Jon Lord, Managing Director, Metro Finance.
First Time Buyer October/November 2023 87 READERS’ AWARDS buyer METRO FINANCE
This award was presented by Zoe Cuss, Director, and Dean Cuss, Managing Director, Core Media Services.
SPONSORED BY SPONSORED BY Best Prov to the FTB Market Affordable Housing Prov of the Year L&Q PLUMLIFE HOMES SHARE TO BUY
Winn Winn
This award was presented by Linda Storey, Partner and Head of Social Housing, Penningtons Manches Cooper.
Highly Commended

And the Winn is...

Private Dev op of the Year

88 First Time Buyer October/November 2023 READERS’ AWARDS buyer
This award was presented by Craig Osborne, Director of Housing, Investa.
This award was presented by Teleri Williams, Managing Director, The Media People. Jonnie Irwin Legacy Award
Winn Winn

The Editor’s Special Award for S vices to the Industry

First Time Buyer October/November 2023 89 READERS’ AWARDS buyer
This award was presented by Lynda Clark, CEO & Editor, First Time Buyer magazine. NICK LIEB | SHARE TO BUY Winn Simran from Share to Buy collecting the award on Nick’s behalf


A paint that’s already a smash hit with homeowners wanting to give their kitchen cupboards a moneysaving revamp is now available in more colours, and has been reformulated for use on worktops too


Answer the following question: Including white, how many colour options is V33 Renovation Cupboard & Worktop paint available in?

Send your answer with your full name, address, telephone number and choice of colour to:


(Mark your email V33 Competition)

Closing date: 30 October 2023



• This competition is open to UK mainland entrants only.

• The prize is non-transferable, and no cash alternatives can be given.

Now with Te onTM technology, V33 Renovation Cupboard & Worktop paint helps facilitate a complete kitchen renovation without the cost of replacing it. Perfect for rst time buyers who simply want to be able to refresh the look of a kitchen but not add to their expenses by buying a new one, the paint prevents culinary and domestic staining, and allows regular and easy cleaning without altering the colour and nish of the paint. This makes it suitable for use not just on cupboards but on worktops too where its complex combination of exclusive polymers also means it’s highly resistant to heat, scratches, knocks, water and humidity.

With testers available, you can choose from neutral tones or, to stamp your individual style on your kitchen, there are also blue, green and black options. A total of eight on-trend shades – including white – gives you the opportunity to renovate your kitchen without having to go to the expense of ripping out cupboards and worktops. What’s more, V33 Renovation Cupboard & Worktop paint’s high level of adhesion means it can be applied direct to surfaces without having to use an undercoat.

Coming in a range of colours including white cotton, soft grey, loft grey, agave green, petrol blue, charcoal grey and quartz black, the paint is easy to apply using a roller for main areas and a roundedged brush for angles and corners. This renovation task is easy enough for even novice DIYers to take on, but nevertheless the superior quality of the paint ensures a professional-looking nish. Offered in 0.75L and 2L pack options, the former is available at B&Q priced at £27 and provides 10m2 of coverage.

Here’s some handy information on how to prepare and apply:


Preparation of the surface is essential. Wash the surface with a soda-based or sugar soap (alkaline) cleaner. For varnished wood, painted wood and melamine: wash, rinse thoroughly with water and

leave to dry. Then lightly sand with a 240 grit sandpaper and remove dust. For laminate and glass: wash, rinse thoroughly with water and leave to dry. On raw oak and chestnut, rst apply an appropriate undercoat to block the tannins.


Apply the paint at room temperature between 12 and 25 degrees centigrade and avoid draughts. Stir the paint with a stirrer or wide stick, working around the bottom of the container to mix it well. Start by painting angles, mouldings and joints. Work on small surfaces. Apply from one end to the other. Follow with successive cross strokes. Do not start the second coat while it’s still drying. Leave to dry for six hours (do not exceed 12 hours) and apply a second coat in the same way. A third coat may be required depending on the surface and colour.

The V33 Renovation range for B&Q is also available via the retailer’s website at

For more information about V33 visit V33 can also be found on Facebook at @V33UK

First Time Buyer October/November 2023 91 COMPETITION
Images courtesy of @homeonthegrove on Instagram


Crafted to capture the essence of autumn., this seasonal delight from Bake Well Being is a loaf that features a symphony of flavours and textures that evoke nostalgia and warmth. There’s no better way to celebrate the autumn's bounty than by indulging in the comforting flavours of this bake and tea treat



1 Dice the apple and mash lightly with a fork in the bottom of a mug. Add the honey and the rest of the dry ingredients on top. Pour the 1 cup of boiling water over the apple and spices and stir. Leave to stand in the boiling water for about 5 minutes then enjoy (even better topped with whipped cream!)


1 Grease and line a 900g loaf tin with a strip of parchment. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Using electric hand beaters, beat the caramel, sugar and butter until smooth and even. Add the eggs, our, baking powder and vanilla, then beat again until even. Fold in the chopped apples, raisins and chopped pecans.

2 Spoon into the loaf tin, then poke the sliced apples into the batter and scatter it with the broken pecans. Bake for 30 minutes, then cover the top loosely with foil and return to the oven for 30 minutes more, until risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

3 For the frosting, cream the icing sugar and butter together with electric beaters until pale, then beat in 1 tbsp caramel. Split the cake into two and sandwich with the frosting. To nish, warm the remaining caramel with 1 tsp water until runny, then drizzle over the cake.



For the tea

 ½ tsp honey

 ½ tsp cinnamon

 ½ tsp pumpkin spice or mixed spice

 1 apple

 1 cup water (boiling)

Autumn Loaf

For the sponge

 175g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

 200g Carnation caramel* (Caramel sauce works too, and salted caramel is even better!)

 Handful of raisins

 50g light muscovado/ brown sugar

 3 large eggs, at room temperature

 175g plain our

 1 tsp baking powder

 1 tsp vanilla extract

 1 tangy eating apple, peeled, half chopped, half thinly sliced

 50g pecan, half nely chopped and half roughly broken

For the frosting and drizzle

 50g icing sugar

 25g unsalted butter, just softened but not greasy

 2 tbsp Carnation caramel

FIRST MEAL 92 First Time Buyer October/November 2023

HOW TO... Paint a wall

Many new homes will have crisp white walls, however if you want to add a splash of colour and a feature to a room you want to make sure that you do it right! Firstly, protect those oors with sheets. Use masking tape across the skirting board and around any edges such as light switches. Start painting from the highest point on the wall and cut in the edges rst. Use a roller and paint in large ‘W’ shapes. Once dry, apply another coat and only paint in good daylight on a dry day so you can open a window!

HOW TO... Use the space

Apply chalkboard paint to a section of a wall or a cabinet door to create a functional chalkboard for notes and reminders. Use pegboards as a great way to store letters and calendars.

Do it yourself... DIY home hacks can be fun and costeffective, especially when you have just bought your first home. Here are some creative and practical DIY hacks you might find useful

HOW TO.. Keep everything together

Moving into a new home means one thing – at pack furniture! Ensure you keep Allen keys, spare nuts and bolts together after putting together the furniture by placing everything in a sandwich bag and Sellotape to the back of the furniture. That way things will never get lost!


Create a useful charging station

Use an old shoebox and cover with decorative paper, thread all cables through here and use the box to hold phones, EarPods etc while they are charging.


Hang pictures straight

Frustrated by looking at a wonky picture on the wall? Then ensure you use Velcro strips to hang up frames. Start by applying your strips to the back of your frame then remove the backing of the strip so that it is ready to place on to the wall. Place a spirit level on to the frame and move the frame against the wall, ensuring that the level is straight, push the frame on to the wall and secure, couldn’t be simpler!


Create more storage

Collect and re-use tubs and jars to organise small items like spices in the kitchen, craft supplies or bathroom essentials.


Organise your cables

Use cable ties to ensure that cables are kept together and don’t look messy behind cabinets and televisions.

HOME TIPS First Time Buyer October/November 2023 93

Keep Calm and Keep Moving

Moving to a new house can be a


One of the questions we get asked most in the conveyancing industry is, “How long will my transaction take?” And it’s the one question that is impossible to answer.

Each property and chain of transactions is unique and there are all sorts of things that can take time to investigate. What is important to remember is that your purchase is a major investment for you, and while we know you will want it done quickly, it is also vital it is done well.


Delays are often made worse in the conveyancing process when you, or another party, have circumstances which mean they don’t have flexibility to react to changing situations.

This could be a personal deadline such as limited leave or pre-booked holidays, or it could be in respect of one of the parties having a fixed date to leave their current accommodation. It is always better to go into the process with as much flexibility as possible, but circumstances may arise which are beyond you or your legal adviser’s control. If you do have deadlines or fixed timescales, then let your legal adviser know straight away.

You need to have contingency plans in place should the worst happen, and these timescales cannot be met.


It is frustrating for everyone when delays occur, and often there may be things you can do to assist your legal adviser in moving things forward. However, there are often delays which cannot be helped and your legal advisers will do everything they can to move things forward.

Keep in contact with your legal advisers, and you should be updated regularly, but if your adviser is receiving multiple chasers on the same issue it can slow down rather than speed up the process. Trust your

legal advisers, as they will contact you as soon as they have news, and if you are still concerned, set timescales for updates which both you and they are happy with.


Often legal issues will arise during the course of a transaction which can be dealt with but can take time to resolve. There are often two ways of dealing with an issue which will involve a shortcut option such as an indemnity insurance policy or a longer process of varying documents or hunting down missing documents. While the use of indemnity policies is very common these days, and they perform a useful function, they are not always able to be obtained. Also, it may be that the better option for the longer term for you is to correct the problem at the point you buy so it does not come up again when you come to sell in

the future. Your solicitors should provide you with all the options and even if you are coming under time pressure, remember it’s your purchase and you will want to go with the best option for your circumstances – not always the quickest fix.


Remember that the end goal of your transaction is to be living for the long term in your new home. Even if the process is delayed or bumpy you will be able to get your move through, and it is important to remember it’s a huge investment for you, which is worth investing time and patience in to get a home you can both enjoy and that represents a safe investment for you in the future.

For more information regarding buying or selling your property and a no obligation quotation please email us on

difficult time. Lesley Price FCILEx of CGM Hampshire Limited provides advice on what you can do to keep things moving and to manage delays when they occur
94 First Time Buyer October/November 2023

Ask Emilia...

What different income types are acceptable? When assessing a shared ownership buyer there are many different income types that could be used. Today I try to outline the various types and how we generally treat them and evidence them. I should point out that with any application, every case has to be looked at on its own merit, but these are general outlines

1 Main job – employed income

Not much explanation needed, this would be considered the “norm”. Most lenders want three to six months of employment, but some will work off as little as a job contract starting within the next three months.

2 Main job – self-employed income

This can be more complex, but don’t worry if you’re self-employed – you can still get a mortgage! You’ll need a minimum of one full year of accounts – either your tax calculations and overviews, or your company accounts. Every lender treats the self-employed differently, so it’s really worth speaking to an adviser to maximise your income. Some lenders, for example, may take your latest year, others may take an average. Some will work off one year, others will want two to three years’ accounts.


Second job – employed income

It’s not a problem to use a second job (or even third income) providing it’s sustainable. So what does this mean? If you are working two jobs, have been for six to 12 months and the hours are reasonable (ie not seven days per week etc) then this could be considered sustainable.

4 Second job – self-employed income

Again, the question is really around sustainability. If you have worked a selfemployed job alongside an employed job for several years managing both at the same time, there would be no cause for concern. However, concerns would be raised if you have recently increased your hours within the employed job, while claiming it would have no impact on the self-employed role, or even taken up an employed job as the main form of income. In these situations we would generally not look to use the selfemployed income until you can demonstrate you can manage both roles.

5 Zero-hours contracts

Zero-hours contracts are perfectly acceptable to use providing there is a good job history. Most lenders want at least 12 months within the zero-hours contract, although we do have at least one lender who will accept six months. The reason? As is the theme of this article, it all goes back

to sustainability! The risk with someone on a zero-hours contract is that the hours can vary so much, so lenders would want to take an average and make sure the income is regular so that you can afford the mortgage.

6 NHS bank work

While many lenders may treat this as zero-hours work and follow the same rules, there are some lenders who will take more of a view given the industry and be more flexible. If it’s the applicant’s main income, one lender can consider just four weeks’ consecutive payslips.

7 Benefits

Many lenders will consider different forms of benefits but it does get quite complicated with lenders’ criteria. One thing to bear in mind would be again the sustainability and the evidence of the benefits.

The most common form of benefit we see is Universal Credit – and it’s very important to understand the breakdown of your Universal Credit as many lenders will not accept the housing element. Make sure you download your statements for your mortgage adviser so they can properly assess everything.

If you receive other forms of benefits, such as disability benefits, these can all be considered. The most important part is to have your paperwork readily available, so if you’ve misplaced your letter make sure you request a new one.

8 Maintenance income

Again many lenders will accept, although some do differentiate between CSA or court-ordered maintenance compared to a private arrangement. As with benefits, the main thing to bear in mind is the age of the child. If the child is above 13, we would need to feel confident in terms of sustainability. If the customer is very reliant on the maintenance, and the child is older, there would be a question of when that payment ends how they will continue to afford the mortgage payment.

9 Pension Income

The biggest problem with a lender using pension income would be around the maximum age the lender will allow. A lot of the high street lenders on shared ownership have a maximum age of 75 or less. However, there are multiple building societies who don’t have an upper age limit, so if the situation is appropriate, then pension income can be used.

Ultimately there are so many different income sources which can be used, however as you’ve probably realised throughout this article, the main thing to consider is how sustainable the mortgage is. It’s always good to speak to a mortgage adviser, and be clear about all forms of income. They can then make a decision.


FINANCE 96 First Time Buyer October/November 2023
Emilia, Sales Director at Metro Finance

Taxing times

In 2016 when Chancellor George Osborne launched the Personal Savings Allowance (PSA), allowing basic rate taxpayers to earn £1,000 interest on their savings tax free, the base rate was 0.5%. Even last year, with few accounts earning more than that, tax on savings wasn’t a worry for most people. After all, with interest rates that low, you would need £200,000 sitting idly in the bank to cross the threshold into taxation.

Now, however, 3.8 million savers are likely to have to pay tax on their rainy day fund or mortgage deposit, according to Coventry Building Society. Its research reveals that in an average account paying 3.88%, a basic rate taxpayer would reach their PSA limit with a pot of £25,400, or just £12,700 if they pay higher rate income tax. The situation is even worse thanks to a sixyear freeze in income tax thresholds which has seen more and more workers, including

teachers and nurses, pulled into a tax band that was designed for the rich. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, in 1991–92 just 3.5% of UK adults paid the 40% higher rate of income tax, but last year 11% were paying it, with more dragged in each year.

Coventry Building Society notes that if you were to put money in a better one-year fixed rate savings account paying 5.26%, a higher rate tax payer would be subject to tax with a pot of £9,500 and a basic rate tax payer with £19,000. As the average first time buyer deposit in the UK last year was £62,470, according to Statista Research, this is an issue that will affect a great number of those who are struggling to buy a home.

Laura Suter, Head of Personal Finance at AJ Bell, thinks the Government should raise the PSA – especially since in real terms most savings are losing money rather than creating a genuine taxable gain. “Some

There has been a huge difference between the base rate and the interest rates made available to savers by high street banks. As in ation remains elevated, it is critically important that savers have access to competitive rates. Positively, the new Consumer Duty rules mean that all banks will be under more pressure to do right by consumers and pass on interest rate increases to savers without undue delay. Time and time again, challenger banks have proven themselves to be more reliable at providing customers with competitive products as interest rates change. Consumers should not just assume that their bank will offer them the best deal. Searching the market for alternative products remains vitally important, and branching out from established high street names remains one of the best ways for people to lock in a better deal. For people in a position to put away a lump sum, there are a number of xed-rate products currently topping the base rate that savers can make the most of to grow their money.

Crucially, these are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protection in the same way as traditional banks, which will offer consumers security and peace of mind.

FINANCE 98 First Time Buyer October/November 2023
Put aside for a moment the effect of interest rate rises on mortgages – rising rates do at least mean your savings pot will grow faster. However, you need to be aware of the tax implications, says Kay Hill

individuals are being taxed despite having relatively modest pots of cash set aside for a rainy day. To add insult to injury, because inflation is so high, they aren’t even making a real return on their money – yet they are still being taxed.”

Savings count towards the tax bracket you fall into – which could mean that by earning a little more interest you might fall into higher rate tax and have your PSA halved. This example is by Moneyweek: “Consider a saver who had £49,500 in salary and £500 in savings income last year. She was just below the £50,270 higher-rate tax band and paid basic-rate tax. This year, her interest rises to £1,500, meaning £51,000 in total income. That pushes her into the higher-rate band and reduces her personal savings allowance to £500.”

Banks and building societies used to take basic rate tax off before they paid you interest. Now, however, you may find the tax being clawed back months down the line. “Until a brown letter lands on their doormat some people won’t even realise they owe tax on cash interest,” warns Suter. “Those filling out a self-assessment tax return will declare any savings interest, and subsequent tax due. But, for those taxed under PAYE, HMRC will calculate any tax due based on information sent to them by banks and building societies. It means many taxpayers will find there is a deduction made from their payslip each month, often before they’ve even realised they owe any money to the taxman.”

So is there any way to avoid this unhappy outcome? Luckily, there are a few possibilities to consider…



With an ISA there is never any tax to pay on your interest – so it’s always been useful for additional rate taxpayers without a PSA. With more people facing tax on savings, it’s worth a look for anyone with more than £9,500 saved up. Rates are lower than non-ISAs, but you could still be better off. For example, at the time of writing the best instant access savings account was from Tandem paying 5% and the best instant access cash ISA was with Cynergy Bank at 4.4%. If you had £10,000 with Tandem you would earn £500 in a year, leaving you £400 after 20% tax or £300 after 40% tax. With Cynergy you would earn £440 tax free. You can pay £20,000 into ISAs each year.


With the Lifetime ISA you can save up to £4,000 a year (of your overall £20,000 ISA allowance) and get a Government bonus of £1,000 a year as well as up to 4% interest, provided you only use the money to buy a first home costing up to £450,000 or for your retirement. The interest and bonus are tax free.


Premium Bonds don’t pay interest, but prizes are tax free. The overall prize pot mirrors prevailing interest rates, but while there’s always the chance of winning big, many people win very little. When interest rates were rock bottom even a tiny chance of a big win seemed worth the risk, but now you can achieve a guaranteed reasonable elsewhere, Premium Bonds, even with their tax-free status, have lost their sparkle.



them money to

Everyone (except the very rich) can earn £12,570 tax free, including income from savings. Lower earners also benefit from the Starting Rate for Savings – an additional £5,000 of tax-free savings income that is gradually reduced until they earn £17,570. Plus, basic rate taxpayers have double the PSA of higher rate tax payers. So, if you are saving for a home with a partner and one has a much lower income, the higher earner could gift them money to put into a savings account, with the couple’s overall tax burden being reduced. This is only legal if it is genuinely a gift – if you split up you cannot ask for it back!

Investments, where you buy stocks or shares, differ from savings as you can lose your original money. They almost always outperform cash savings longer term, but the risks are higher so may not be appropriate if you are planning to buy within a couple of years. If you are considering investments, a Stocks & Shares ISA allows you to invest up to £20,000 a year (over all your ISAs) with dividends and capital growth being free from income tax and Capital Gains Tax – although you will pay fees to run the account. As the Government is drastically cutting the dividend tax free allowance and the CGT allowance it could be an option to consider depending on your attitude to risk and timescale.

account, with capital growth being free from

Rising interest rates are not bad news for everyone. Savers are enjoying the best rates in well over a decade with rates as high as 4.63% on easy-access accounts and just over 6% on xed-term accounts. With in ation still high at 7.9% (at the time of writing), even the best rates deliver a negative return in real terms, so nding the best deal possible is imperative. Thankfully, the gap between the top savings rates and CPI in ation is slowly closing, so people’s savings are being eroded less quickly. Those locking in a high xed rate now could see their pot gain in value in real terms if in ation continues to ease. One risk is savers breaching their Personal Savings Allowance, which has remained the same since 2016. The PSA allows basic rate taxpayers to receive up to £1,000 of interest tax-free on their savings, while those paying the higher 40% tax rate have an allowance of £500. Additional tax rate payers receive no concession. The combination of higher interest rates and frozen thresholds on income tax means even some basicrate taxpayers are now breaching their PSA. A more tax-ef cient way to save is to use a tax-wrapper such as Individual Savings Accounts. Maximising a £20,000 ISA allowance can be an effective way to protect money from tax.

FINANCE First Time Buyer October/November 2023 99

Will Michael Gove’s new initiative help ease the UK’s housing shortage?

Another day, another Government policy to boost housebuilding - Ginetta Vedrickas looks at the latest scheme and the industry reaction to it



ministers have all pledged to “fix the UK’s housing shortage” and the latest initiative from Housing Secretary Michael Gove is no exception. Plans for more new homes include a series of measures with an emphasis on easing the planning process and building “more homes in the right places where there is local consent”. The Government’s previous target of building 300,000 new homes a year has, so far, remained unmet – around 233,000 new homes were built throughout 2021-2022. Gove confirmed that this target still stands, but his new proposal calls for homes to be built in cities rather than rural areas

Gove pinpoints one barrier to new homes being built as delays caused by the planning process. In response, he has launched a £24m planning skills delivery fund intended to clear backlogs and improve planning skills thanks to what he describes as a “super-squad” team of planners and other

experts who he believes can work together to help prevent large housing schemes being blocked or delayed by planners.

The first new planning team will focus on Cambridge where Gove wants to “turbocharge plans in the city” and where he wants to see a new urban quarter consisting of new homes, laboratories and green space. Other initiatives include converting shops and other commercial spaces into homes and less red tape so that more agricultural buildings and disused warehouses can be converted into housing.

The housing secretary also announced a new body called the Office for Place to help lead “a design revolution” that he believes will ensure that local people have a say in how housing is designed. Launching his initiative, Gove said, “Most people agree that we need to build more homes – the question is how we go about it. Rather than concreting over the countryside, we have set out a plan

today to build the right homes in the right places where there is community support –and we’re putting the resources behind it to help make this vision a reality.”


Inevitably, reaction to the latest housing initiative has been mixed, with questions over practicalities. In Cambridge, some local businesses welcomed the initiative, but the challenges involved in delivering them were questioned. Several local councillors and MPs told Inside Housing they had been left “in the dark” over the major growth plans for the city, which includes 250,000 new homes. Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire, Anthony Browne, went as far as describing Gove’s plans as “nonsense” and said he planned on taking action to stop them. The HomeOwners Alliance says that,

100 First Time Buyer October/November 2023

while it supports action to build more homes on inner city and brownfield sites; converting retail premises into flats frequently results in lower quality conversions with poor ventilation. Explains CEO Paul Higgins, “They certainly haven’t always been beautiful! Government must learn from its mistakes made by creating a wild west of office-to-resi conversions. Developers must be required to meet all building and space standards; these developments must be properly inspected by a third party and buyers should receive a full structural warranty.”

The Alliance warns potential buyers to consider the reality before buying conversions which rarely have outside space and which often lie on noisy, polluted streets or on business parks far from shops and schools. “There is a risk these conversions are unsustainable and quickly become homes people don’t want to live in once the newness wears off. If the Government wants to truly build homes in the places people want to live, it needs a strategy for building in suburban and rural areas as well as cities.” As for Gove’s promise to “cut red tape”, Higgins adds, “You don’t have to go back very far to unearth previous attempts to reform the planning system to encourage house building. In 2020, Robert Jenrick announced reforms to protect green spaces while making it easier to build on brownfield land. No one can argue with this, but we need to see the Government deliver.”

The Home Builders Federation, HBF, pointed out that the Government had not responded to previous concerns about the housing shortage, and stressed that the housing sector is “hungry for clarity, consistency and certainty over the Government’s national planning policy”. The HBF believes that this latest initiative will simply give local planning authorities “another excuse not to progress local plans, which will exacerbate further the decline in home building across the country”.

The latest HBF Housing Pipeline report, published in July, shows that the number of planning permissions for new homes granted across England is continuing to “nosedive to new record lows”. The HBF says that this follows Government proposals to weaken planning rules, in response to what it calls “lobbying by the NIMBY [not in my back yard] wing of the Conservative party”, which has resulted in 58 local authorities withdrawing or pausing local housing plans. However, the HBF said it supports the idea of a team of planning specialists to deal with bigger applications.


In July, small and medium-sized housebuilders delivered a letter to the Prime

Minister calling for action to save their businesses and help new homes to be built. A survey by the HBF showed that nine out of 10 SME housebuilders are unhappy with the Government’s approach to housing and the letter, signed by almost 200 firms, highlights “the existential threat to the survival of businesses posed by the increasingly antidevelopment policy environment”.

The HBF estimates that there are now 85% fewer small housebuilders than there were a generation ago, with small building businesses warning that the barriers they face today are greater than ever. The letter warns that blocks on development threaten to wipe out a growing number of firms which will inevitably impact upon the numbers of new homes being built. The survey found that 78% of SMEs are considering scaling back their residential construction activities. The HBF warns that not all homes are built by the top 10 major housebuilders, and it describes smaller builders as a “critical part of the housebuilding industry”. The HBF warns of a “growing housing crisis”, adding that smaller builders are key players in delivering the homes the country desperately needs.

The National Housing Federation says that England needs 340,000 new homes –including 145,000 affordable homes – in the period until 2031, to meet current demand. It believes that the latest initiatives are not enough to combat the current housing crisis which, the Federation describes as “massive”, pointing to the one in six children living in overcrowded homes and 4.2 million people in need of social housing.

Innovative housebuilder Pocket Living has a reputation for developments aimed at first time buyers on modest incomes, who must live or work locally in order to qualify. CEO Marc Vlessing welcomes the Government’s announcement to support housing delivery across England, but he is concerned that Gove’s announcement falls short of providing immediate solutions to the growing challenges facing a housebuilding industry he describes as “under siege”.

“We need housing today, not tomorrow and that is why, for the last year, we, along with almost 50 organisations ranging from Barratt Homes, G15, the National Housing Federation to countless SMEs, have been campaigning for a small site planning policy.” Vlessing believes that simple changes to national policy could unlock thousands of small brownfield sites across the UK that could deliver up to 1.6 million homes. “We need action now to halt the planning blight that is stopping the delivery of small sites and much needed affordable housing. We, along with the growing industry coalition, urgently encourage the Secretary of State to fast-track plans around small sites, which will provide a lifeline to both SMEs and affordable housing providers across the country.”


SMEs are the lifeblood of all industries, but in housebuilding we are seeing them being driven out by an increasingly anti-development, anti-business policy environment. The impact of this approach is devastating for SMEs, and businesses unable to operate or generate an income are laying off staff, or increasingly closing their doors. We are urging Government to act now so that the businesses that remain have a chance of survival.”


The country needs SME builders and the homes they are capable of supplying. However, the wall of bureaucracy in the system is completely stacked against them. I implore ministers not to turn their backs on the hardworking, aspiring business owners of this country, before it is too late.


The lack supply of housing is increasingly a drag on UK productivity and growth, especially in high-value areas as graduates and skilled workers look elsewhere due to prohibitive housing costs. When combined, this is promoting the perfect storm that many first time buyers might not be able to ride out.

First Time Buyer October/November 2023 101 ,

Agony agent

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

Do I qualify for shared ownership?


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: lynda@

QI’m recently divorced and finding it difficult to find a new home that I can afford on a single income. My ex-husband and I recently sold our house in Cambourne, but obviously being close to Cambridge prices are high. Do you think I might qualify for shared ownership even though I have owned a property before? I work for a local hotel and spa as a beauty therapist and often work shifts so need to be close by. With rental prices going up all the time I worry that I may never be able to afford to buy a home again. Any advice welcome. Thank you.

AIt is very likely you will be able to qualify for shared ownership as the deposit will be much lower, and you are permitted to buy a proportion outright with your share of the proceeds from your previous home. The rules of shared ownership state you must not currently own another property.

The good news is we have an affordable scheme about to launch in a village not far from

your work, Colmworth Road, Little Staughton, in north east Bedfordshire. Prices start from £119,000 for 35% share of a two bedroom semidetached house. There will also be two three bedroom semi-detached houses available.

Further good news for potential buyers like yourself, is that this scheme is part of the Government’s new shared ownership model, which allows purchases of initial shares of as low as 10%. For full details on the new product please take a look at This site has all the latest news on shared ownership, and you can search for properties in your area. It is worth noting though, that the old model will still be in existence for some schemes so you will need to check with each provider which products they are offering.

Finally, speak to an independent financial adviser who specialises in shared ownership to check you can qualify. Good luck in your search for a new home!

More details can be found at

EXPERTS 102 First Time Buyer October/November 2023
Victoria Michell, Marketing Manager, New Homes & Land LSL Land & New Homes, The PX Hub & The SO Hub Lisa Crush Sales Director, Development, Peabody
Colmworth Road
Sue Dance Sales & Commercial Manager, Grand Union Housing Group ,

Can I buy with a low deposit?

QI am looking to buy my first home in London and have been saving for a few years but have only managed to save around £10,000 so far for a deposit. I really want to get on the property ladder soon but not sure whether this is going to be possible in the current market. Where do I start my property search and is there anything in place to make homebuying more affordable?

AYou’re not alone! Many first time buyers struggle to save a larger deposit and worry about how changes in the property market will affect them when it comes to buying a new home. The good news is that there are options to help you take your first step on to the property ladder, and you might be surprised that your £10,000 deposit could take your further than you thought.

You might have heard of shared ownership – it’s a part buy/part rent scheme where you can buy a share of a property, typically between 25% and 75% of the property’s full value, and then pay a subsidised rent on the remaining share. The advantage of buying through shared ownership is that you only put down a deposit on the share that you’re planning to buy. For example, buyers interested in living at Arden, our development in Lewisham, can buy a new home with a 5% deposit from as little as £6,225*. Deposits for our shared ownership homes at Southmere, in Thamesmead, also start from just £5,188*.

It’s also good to make sure that you speak with a mortgage adviser when looking to buy your new home. They are specialists that have access to a variety of lenders and can help you secure a

New build home

QWe are getting ready to embark on the exciting journey of buying our first new build home and we want to make sure we are making the right choice on neighbourhood and area. Any tips?

AAbsolutely! I can already tell you’re a savvy homebuyer, and you’re on the right track by wanting to know about the neighbourhood and area before going for that new build home. There are some main factors that are really important for making up your mind and I can give you the locality lowdown!

The first thing you’ll want to consider is feeling safe and secure, without which even your dream home could be marred, so take a look at crime rates just so you can breathe easy from the off. When that non-negotiable is secured you’ll also want to consider amenities. Picture waking up one lazy morning and taking a short step to a cosy cafe for your morning brew, or on your not so lazy days you could be popping to the park for a daily run. A vibrant neighbourhood means you have the good stuff right at your doorstep, to enjoy

mortgage that works within your price and budget range. The key here is making sure that you can comfortably afford to buy using shared ownership, so understanding your affordability is crucial! You might even be surprised by what you can afford and how much you can get for your money.

And if you aren’t sure where to start when finding an independent mortgage adviser, our experienced sales team can help recommend advisers who specialise in shared ownership.

If you are looking for more information on the shared ownership scheme, the Peabody New Homes website has lots of helpful information, guides and stories from recent homebuyers, as well as an online eligibility check.

We wish you the best of luck with finding your new home. Lisa

every single day. Another key amenity that could be of massive importance is also finding schools that rock! Whether you already have little ones or you’re just thinking about starting a family, having great schools nearby is a game changer, a quality education sets your kids up for a bright future.

Even in the liveliest neighbourhoods you will sometimes need to go further afield, so another major thing to consider is convenient transport links, easy access to trains, buses, or maybe cycle lanes – all help to make life more convenient.

Ultimately, your daily life is shaped by the neighbourhood you choose; friendly neighbours, local events and a welcoming vibe all contribute to a higher quality of life.

Remember, your new build home isn’t just an address, it’s a slice of your dream life; taking a peek into a community’s soul helps you ensure it’s a match.

Go on, get out there and find that fantastic new build home, and find it in a neighbourhood that will make you smile every time you return home.

EXPERTS First Time Buyer October/November 2023 107
Crush *Prices and deposits correct at time of writing

Buyers’ guide


Your options

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


The Government backs several schemes to help people get on the property ladder. The best known is shared ownership which is open to people with a household income of up to £80,000 (£90,000 in London). More details are below.


Many people buy property on the open market. Homes are offered for sale by estate/sales agents or from private developers or housebuilders. On new build developments there is usually a show home you can look around and a sales adviser, based on site, to answer your questions. To buy on the open market, you will need a mortgage deposit of at least 5% to 10% of the full property value.


Demand for new homes often outstrips supply; this means that new homes are often reserved before their construction is complete, sometimes several months before they are built and finished. This is called “buying off-plan”. Most providers market and sell their homes in this way. Do some careful research to make sure the home you reserve is the right one for you, especially as you may not have an opportunity to physically view inside it before your commitment to buy it becomes a legal obligation.


Some builders offer incentives on new build homes such as cashback, legal fees or help with moving costs. You could also try to negotiate for upgrades to specification items like floorings or kitchen appliances.



Help to Buy: Equity Loan/Deposit Unlock

Equity loans through Help to Buy are no longer available; they ended in October 2022. The Home Builders Federation (HBF) together with some housebuilders and mortgage lenders are offering a new scheme called Deposit Unlock as an alternative. This helps first time buyers to buy a new home with a 5% mortgage deposit. More information is available at

Shared ownership/part-buy, part-rent

The Government-supported shared ownership scheme is available for people with household incomes up to £80,000 (or £90,000 if buying in London.) Shared ownership homes are always leasehold. With this scheme, you buy a share in a property and pay rent on the rest. Rent is calculated at 2.75% (sometimes less), with annual increases of RPI + 0.5%. The amount of share that you buy is calculated based on your affordability. On many shared ownership homes the minimum is 25% (but could be higher). On some homes, you can buy a lower share starting from 10%, but these are not widely available at present. The mortgage deposit you’ll need to buy with shared ownership is calculated on the share value; this works out at a lot less than if you were buying outright. Shared ownership homes can be new build or resales, apartments or houses across many parts of England.

If you buy a home with shared ownership, you will be given the right to buy more shares in the future. This is called staircasing. In most cases, you can buy shares up to 100% of the property and own it outright. When you buy more shares, these are valued at the market value at the time. Because house prices tend to rise over periods of time, it is a good idea to think about staircasing at an early date.

First Homes

This scheme offers first time buyers discounts of 30-50% on certain new build homes. Local authorities may limit these to key workers or those who live or work in the area. When the home is sold it must be to another eligible first time buyer at the same percentage discount.

Rent to Buy

This scheme allows you to rent a new build property for up to five years and pay a redued rent while you save for a deposit. It is not widely available, however.

Right to Buy

The Right to Buy scheme helps eligible council and housing association tenants in England buy their home with a discount of up to £87,200 (£116,200 inside London). You probably have the Right to Buy if you’re a secure council tenant and have spent at least three years as a public sector tenant. Some properties are exempt.

Older People’s Shared Ownership (OPSO)

This is designed for people aged 55 and over. Scheme specific details vary, so check with the housing association provider.

Home Ownership for People with Long Term Disabilities (HOLD)

HOLD is a specialist option to help people with long term disabilities live independently in a shared ownership property where, in some cases, repairs and maintenance services are offered by the provider.

Other options

There are a few less well-known Government-backed schemes; more details can be found at

The Lifetime ISA (LISA) is a long-term savings product intended to support younger people aged between 18-39, resident in the UK, saving for their first home, or for later life. Up to £4,000 can be saved each year, attracting a government bonus of 25% on each new payment. Funds can be withdrawn without charge 12 months after opening the LISA, if used as a deposit for the account holder’s first home, subject to certain conditions. The property value must be under £450,000.



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 provider’s lending criteria.

First Time Buyer October/November 2023 105

The ftb process


You will need at least three months of bank statements, payslips or tax returns, photo ID such as a passport or driving licence and details of any loans. Lenders 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 mortgage rate you’ll be offered.


Work out how much you can afford to repay each month, taking into account your normal living expenses and the bills, insurance and council tax on your new home. Don’t forget there is likely to be a service/ estate management charge on a new home, plus ground rent for a leasehold property, so find out how much they will be.


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 soft search rather than a hard search as too many applications leave “footprints” on your credit score and can affect your rating. To improve your score, make sure you’re on the electoral roll, and pay your bills and any loan repayments on time.

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 repayable over a number of years (usually 25-35 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 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 lender, 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 around 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.


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 or building societies can only sell you products offered by that company, 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 mortgages online at sites such as or, then apply directly to your chosen lender.


Some mortgages are fixed rate. This means you’ll pay the same rate of interest for a defined period of time, and your payments 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 (which is often quite expensive) or remortgage to another lender. Remortgaging to another lender can sometimes mean you have to pay a fee or early redemption charge (ERC).


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 are also variable, but they have repayment rates that are directly linked to the base rate so will go up and down with it. With variable-rate mortgages you need to be sure you could afford higher repayments if rates rise.


Most mortgages available to first time buyers are on a repayment basis. With this type of mortgage, every monthly payment will pay off some interest and some capital (mainly interest in the early years). At the end of the term, you’ll own your home outright.

If you have a larger (25% or more) deposit you may be offered an interest-only mortgage, where you only pay interest on the loan. The monthly repayments are lower but at the end of the term you’ll still owe the original mortgage sum. You’ll need to prove you have a plan in place (such as an investment) to pay off the capital.

Check out crime statistics, transport links, regeneration and, if relevant, schools.

BUYERS’ GUIDE 106 First Time Buyer October/November 2023 SET A BUDGET Work out how much money you have for fees, deposit and the monthly mortgage you can afford. CREDIT SCORE Make sure your credit rating is sound and there are no mistakes on your le, and pay off any debts you can. SHOP AROUND Speak to a mortgage broker, but also look at lenders’ direct products and search the internet. DECIDE ON A LOCATION
can afford to buy in the area. RESEARCH THE AREA
the commuting
and whether you


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 look at local pubs, shops and leisure facilities. Visit the area at night, too.


Once you have found the right location, go online and check out what’s on offer. Most homes are listed on property portals such as, onthemarket., or, plus estate agents’ websites. Properties featured have pictures, descriptions and a floor plan, and

SEARCH Register with local estate agents, and use the internet to search for properties. Set up alerts.

sometimes a video. Also, sign up with as many local estate agents as you can. They should send you new properties that match your description, but it’s worth phoning them regularly. If you’re looking for a shared ownership property, search online at and


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 decor 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.


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.


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, and also on property portals like

Aerial shots of an area can be viewed at; switch to “satellite view”.

Before you put in an offer, visit the street at different times of the day and night. You could also ask neighbours and local shop owners about the area.


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.


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


If the market is slow, when making an offer, don’t be afraid to offer less than the asking price. If the property needs work done, you can use this as a negotiating tool.



Make sure you have a survey – it could save you money in the long run by spotting any problems.


Compare quotes from solicitors, and ask your friends who they recommend. A good solicitor can make a big difference to whether a purchase completes or falls through. Online companies can be cheaper but are less personal.


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.

BUYERS’ GUIDE First Time Buyer October/November 2023 107
Buying a property is a big investment. You need to make sure you buy a home that you can afford and one you will be happy living in.
Thorough research



Push the seller to take the property off the market. This will limit the chances of being gazumped (another buyer making a larger offer). The seller can insist on continuing to show the property, especially if you haven’t offered the asking price.

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


You must have buildings insurance in place for when you exchange contracts (not complete). This will be a condition of your mortgage offer.


Buying 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.


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 restrictive covenants 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.


Once the mortgage offer is in place, the contract is satisfactory and buildings insurance has been organised, both parties will agree an exchange date. You will sign the contract with your solicitor, and at the point of 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 completion date is usually around a week to 10 days after exchange, but can be done on the same day. On completion, the final paperwork is done, and the property is legally yours.


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.







Scale 1 fees relate to the registration of both new builds and resale properties for monetary consideration.

Apply using the portal or Business Gateway, for transfers or surrenders which a ect the whole of a registered title

For a purchase of £0 - £80k £20.00

For a purchase of £80,001-£100k £40.00

For a purchase of £100,001 - £200k £100.00

For a purchase of £200,001 - £500k £150.00

For a purchase of £500,001 - £1,000,000 £295.00

For a purchase of £1,000,001 and over £500.00

Apply using the portal or Business Gateway, for registration of all leases and transfers or surrenders which a ect part of a registered title

For a purchase of £0 - £80k £45.00

For a purchase of £80,001-£100k £95.00

For a purchase of £100,001 - £200k £230.00

For a purchase of £200,001 - £500k £330.00

For a purchase of £500,001 - £1,000,000 £655.00

For a purchase of £1,000,001 and over £1,105.00


Up to £250,000 Zero

The next £675,000 (the portion from £250,001 to £925,000) 5%

The next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million) 10%

The remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million) 12%

In October 2022 you buy a property for £295,000. The SDLT you owe will be calculated as follows:

0% on the first £250,000 = £0

5% on the final £45,000 = £2,250

Total SDLT = £2,250



Expect to pay a fee of at least £1,000 to secure an attractive rate. But some can be £2000+

The lender will usually o er you the option to pay the arrangement fee upfront, or you can add the fee to the mortgage. The disadvantage of adding the fee to the mortgage is you’ll pay interest on it, as well as the mortgage, for the life of the loan. But if you pay the fee upfront, there’s a chance you could lose it if anything went wrong with the purchase.


Typically, around £300-£600, but can be significantly more


£0-£500 usually paid at mortgage application


Estimate £200-£300 annually – The price depends on the cover you require and your excess. The building insurance is calculated based on the cost of rebuilding your home is known as the ‘buildings sum insured’. It’s important to know that there’s likely to b a di erence between your home’s market value and the cost of rebuilding your home.


£700-£4,000 annually

If you own a long lease on a property in England and Wales you will normally have to pay rent to the freeholder or landlord of the property; this is known as Ground Rent. The lease will normally specify how much rent you have to pay and when it has to be paid. The ground rent can be a fixed sum for the length of the lease, or the lease can provide for the ground rent to increase over the course of the lease. Service charges vary based on the building and the services provided. A building with concierge service, numerous lifts can be very expensive. You should go through the service charge costs with your solicitor. These are audited and the price paid changes annually generally in April. New freehold homes may also have service/estate charges for maintenance of communal areas.


Shop around for a removals rm, and nd one that can move your possessions on completion day. You could also look at van hire to do it yourself.


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



BUYERS’ GUIDE 108 First Time Buyer October/November 2023

Home buying glossary


by financial acronyms and industry terminology?

Buying your first house is daunting enough without having to decode property lingo. FTB’s homebuying glossary is here to make the process a whole lot easier to understand


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


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 interest rate set by the Bank of England. Lenders usually use the Bank of England base rate to set their own interest rates.


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


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


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


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


The legal process of transferring ownership of a property.


These are additional charges incurred during the homebuying 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.


This is an amount of money you may have to pay a lender if you decide to move mortgage provider or if you pay off your mortgage quicker than expected.


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


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


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


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


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.


If you take out a large mortgage on a property, some lenders may charge a one-off extra fee. This funds an insurance policy that protects the lender (not you) from the additional risk.


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


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


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.



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.


Paying off your mortgage in full is known as redemption.


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


Stamp Duty is a shortened name for Stamp Duty Land Tax, also called SDLT. This is a Government tax you may have to pay when you purchase a new property. Your solicitor or conveyancer will organise the payment for you.


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

BUYERS’ GUIDE First Time Buyer October/November 2023 109

The lowdown on staircasing

Shared ownership is fast replacing the Help to Buy Scheme as the affordable way to a first step on the property ladder. Staircasing can seem complicated but it is actually very straightforward if you instruct the right law firm to assist you. It is important that first time buyers fully understand how the staircasing process works before embarking on their first shared ownership purchase. Coralie Phelan, Head of Resales and Staircasing at Prince Evans Solicitors, explains the key steps in this important process


Once you have owned your property for a certain period of time (as specified in your lease) you can consider purchasing additional shares or staircasing. Staircasing is the process of buying additional shares in the property you own, with a corresponding reduction in specified rent. You are basically purchasing more equity.

There a number of advantages to staircasing as follows:

9 Most leases allow you to purchase 100% of your home

9 You may benefit from more mortgage choices as you are not limited to shared ownership products

9 It may be easier to sell the larger the percentage owned

9 You have increased security when you have more equity

9 You pay less rent

9 The greater the percentage owned, the more you benefit from any property price uplift

9 You can sell your property on the open market once you own 100%.


Absolutely not. The process is completely optional and you are not under any obligation to staircase unless you choose this option.


The first step in the process is to contact your landlord housing association and provide formal notice of your intention to staircase.

You will need to arrange for an independent surveyor to visit the property and work out the current market value. You will receive a copy of the valuation and will be asked to confirm you want to proceed with the process.

At this stage you will need to consider how you will be funding your staircasing. If you are remortgaging you should contact a mortgage adviser who will assist you in selecting the best mortgage product for you.

LEGAL 110 First Time Buyer October/November 2023


The valuation will usually be valid for three months and you must complete within the valuation validity period. If you are unable to complete within the validity period then your association may grant an extension, however it is not obliged to do so. Alternatively, the housing association might ask you to pay for a desktop survey based on comparable property prices in the area; this is usually quicker and cheaper than a full valuation. In addition, some valuers will extend the valuation if they believe the property has held, or will hold, its value.


This depends on the terms of the lease and affordability. Generally, most shared ownership leases allow staircasing to 100%. This is something to check with your legal adviser before proceeding with your initial purchase. Some leases do contain an 80% cap on staircasing to prevent the property being used for anything other than affordable housing, often put in place due to planning restrictions.


You will need to pay for the following:

9 A valuation

9 Your own legal fees

9 Your mortgage arrangement/adviser’s fees

9 You might be required to pay SDLT

9 You might be required to cover your landlord’s legal and administrative fees.


While you need a deposit for the initial purchase you don’t need a deposit for the staircasing unless you decide to do so as part of a remortgage to increase your equity.


That depends on:

1. Whether you or the first registered proprietor made a one-off Stamp Duty

payment based on the total market value on initial purchase. If so, there will be no Stamp Duty Land Tax to pay whether or not you staircase above 80%.

2. If you or the first registered proprietor chose to pay Stamp Duty in stages, then Stamp Duty will be payable if you staircase above 80%.


Older shared ownership leases provide for three staircasing applications before a final staircasing. However, there have been some policy changes which have resulted in many staircasing applications not being affected by this cap. You should ask your conveyancer to check your lease in regard to this.


9 Interim staircasing – you can purchase up to 80% of the property and you still pay specified rent.

9 Final staircasing – you purchase 100% of the property and own the property outright and the housing association no longer has an interest in the property.

9 If you own a flat then you will still need to comply with the terms of the lease, save for the shared ownership provisions which fall away.

9 If you own a house the housing association will most likely transfer its freehold interest to you.


Your legal adviser will indeed register your staircasing with HMLR either by noting the memorandum on the title or by registering the transfer of the freehold interest, which would usually involve closing the leasehold title so you are left with a freehold house.


A memorandum of staircasing is the

document used to record an additional purchase of shares and the subsequent reduction in rent as a result. You will find a draft memorandum of staircasing in the appendices of most shared ownership leases.


You can consider back-to-back staircasing if you exhaust the nomination procedures in the lease and wish to sell on the open market. Most shared ownership leases allow for staircasing up to 100% and sale on the open market if your landlord does not nominate a buyer or buy back your shares following receipt of notice of your intention to sell.


Staircasing is a legally binding property transaction and you will need a conveyancer, preferably specialising in staircasing, to advise you and represent you.


A new 1% staircasing schedule has been introduced. If you are purchasing a new build your conveyancer will let you know whether your lease allows for staircasing in 1% increments. Older model leases usually allow for staircasing in 10% increments.


No, you can sell your share at any time subject to the sale provisions as follows:

9 You will need to serve notice to your landlord of your intention to sell your share

9 You will need to allow your landlord a period of time to either buy back your shares itself or nominate a buyer. Your conveyancer will explain the sale or assignment procedures set out in your lease on initial purchase.


There are many advantages to staircasing including financial security. It is imperative you instruct a conveyancer specialising in this area to ensure you receive accurate advice. At Prince Evans our expert team is happy to provide assistance.

LEGAL First Time Buyer October/November 2023 111
Prince Evans specialise in all aspects of conveyancing.  Please contact Prince Evans for all your conveyancing needs and for a friendly no obligation quote on 020 8567 3477 or


With a range of Government schemes available to make buying a home more affordable, find out which scheme is right for you.


If you can’t quite afford to buy 100% of a home, you could buy a share of a home instead and pay rent on the rest.


If you can’t afford to buy a whole home, you could buy the same share of a home bought by its current owner when they used a shared ownership scheme.


If you have a long-term disability, the HOLD scheme in England could help you buy any home for sale on a shared ownership basis.


If you’re aged 55 or over, the OPSO scheme could help you own up to 75% of any home that’s for sale on a shared ownership basis.


For a more detailed description of each scheme please visit


A new scheme supporting local rst time buyers, including key workers, on to the property ladder by offering new build homes with at least a 30% discount compared to market prices.


Rent to Buy gives tenants in England the chance to rent a home at Intermediate Rent, providing them with the opportunity to save for a deposit over time to purchase the home.

The scheme is available in England, apart from London. Properties in London are covered by a separate scheme called London Living Rent.


A UK-wide Government scheme to help to increase the supply of 5% deposit mortgages for credit-worthy households by supporting lenders to offer these products through a Government-backed guarantee

on new 95% mortgages.


If you’re a council tenant in England, the Right to Buy scheme could help you buy the home you rent with a discount of up to £87,200 (£116,200 in London).


If you’re a housing association tenant in England you could be eligible to buy the home you rent with a discount of up to £87,200 (£116,200 in London).


Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a tax on property purchases. First time buyers pay a reduced rate of zero SDLT on the rst £425,000 and 5% on the amount between £425,001 and £625,000. No discount applies on homes over £625,000. The level of relief will be reduced from 1 April 2025.

112 First Time Buyer October/November 2023 Directory INFORMATION PROVIDED BY OWNYOURHOME.GOV.UK
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Estuary Housing Association

0300 304 5000


0800 783 2159

020 8825 1000

Gateway Housing Association

020 8709 4300

Guinness Partnership

0303 123 1890


020 8778 6699

Home Group

0345 141 4663

Hyde New Homes

0345 606 1221

Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association

0300 131 7300


0300 456 9997

SO Resi

020 8607 0550

Newlon Living

0800 058 2544

Notting Hill Genesis

020 3797 0295

Nu Living

020 3151 3394

Octavia Housing

020 8354 5500

Origin Housing

0300 323 0325

Paradigm Housing

0300 303 1010


020 7021 4842

Places for People 01772 667 049

Sanctuary London

0800 916 1444

Site Sales

020 8502 5758

Shepherd’s Bush Housing

020 8996 4200

Southern Housing New Homes

0300 555 2171

Swan Housing Association 0300 303 2500

Wandle Housing Association

0300 200 0120


Accent Group

0345 678 0555

Aster Group

01380 735 480


0300 555 0500

CHS Group

0300 111 3555


020 7378 5638

Crown Simmons

0300 303 1064

Estuary Housing Association

0300 304 5000


020 8825 1000

Flagship Homes

0808 169 9297

Guinness Partnership (South)

0303 123 1890

Hastoe Housing Association

0300 123 2250

Home Group

0345 141 4663

Housing Solutions Group

01628 543101

Hyde New Homes

0345 606 1221


0300 456 9997

SO Resi

020 8607 0550


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Notting Hill Genesis

0333 000 4000

Nu Living

020 3151 3394

One Housing Group

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Origin Housing

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Orwell Housing Association

0345 601 0030

PA Housing

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Paradigm Housing

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020 7021 4842

Places for People

01772 667 049

Rosebery Housing Association

01372 814 000

Sanctuary South East

0800 131 3348

Soha Housing

01235 515 900

Southern Housing New Homes

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Sovereign Housing

0300 500 0926


01202 319 119

Swan Housing Association

0300 303 2500

SO Resi

020 8607 0550

Town and Country Housing

01892 501 480

Worthing Homes

01903 703100


Aster Group

01380 735 480

Cornerstone Housing

01392 273 462


01225 366 000

Elim Housing

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Green Square


Guinness Partnership (Hermitage)

0303 123 1890

Hastoe Housing Association

0300 123 2250

Places for People

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Rooftop Housing Group


Sanctuary Southwest

0800 131 3348

Sovereign Housing

0300 500 0926


01202 319 119

Westward Housing

0300 100 1010


Accent Group

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Green Square Accord greensquareaccord.

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Acis Group

0800 027 2057

Bromford Group

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Clarion Housing sharedownership



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Long Hurst Group

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Home Group

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Guinness Partnership (Northern Counties)

0303 123 1890

Midland Heart

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Muir Group

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Nottingham Community Housing Association

0800 013 8555


0800 678 1221

Places for People

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First Time Buyer October/November 2023 115

Riverside Housing Association

0345 155 9029

Rooftop Group


Sanctuary Midlands

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Homes Plus



Accent Group

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North Jigsaw Homes

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Arcon Housing Association

0161 214 4120

CDS Co-operatives

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Eden Housing Association

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Equity Housing

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Guinness Partnership (Northern Counties)

0303 123 1890

Home Group

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Riverside Housing

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Irwell Valley Housing Association

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Knowsley Housing Trust

0151 290 7000

Livv Housing Group

0151 290 7000 Onward

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Muir Group

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Progress Housing Group

0333 320 4555

Regenda Homes

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Riverside Housing Association

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Sanctuary North

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Your Housing Group

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Accent Group

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Acis Group

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01609 767 900

Crucible Homes

0114 241 3433

Guinness Partnership (Northern Counties)

0303 123 1890

Home Group

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Leeds Federated Housing Association

0113 386 1000

Longhurst Group

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Manningham Housing Association

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Muir Group

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Together Housing

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20 QUESTIONS Jon Lord With

What room at home is your favourite?

An open-plan kitchen/living combo, which is probably not the correct room name! But everything you need is just there and it has great views of the Peak District.

What’s your favourite gadget or technology at home?

That would be my son’s VR headset – it’s simply amazing. More so, when you come from the era of Commodore 64s with blocky graphics. To then enter a real-world gaming experience…

What colour do you think everyone should have in their home? White! I like minimal-looking rooms and can’t stand clutter and stuff on worktops.

Which three people would you invite over for a housewarming party if you could have any guests?

Axl Rose, Jesus and Peter Kay, after having assumed my family are already there.

What’s your favourite memory from your childhood home?

So many, I can’t think of just one. Maybe days playing football in the field opposite, imagining I was playing for Ipswich Town. I lived in Bolton at the time, but supported Ipswich because the dinner lady at school was the aunt of Paul Mariner... legend! (I was only about eight at the time!)

What interior trend do you hate?

Cushions! Why does anybody need so many cushions so that you can’t even sit down!

Would you rather have a garden or a balcony?

I’ve had both over the years, but I’d edge towards a garden. They are just great private spaces to be in, whatever the season. Do you prefer modern homes or period properties?

I have no preference really, it’s all about how it feels in the location it sits in. I suppose views are one thing that could swing it for me.

Would you rather have a library room or media room at home?

A media room for sure. I’d love a mini cinema with those electric seats you get in Odeon Lux. Although at my own darkened cinema with reclining seats, I’d probably be asleep in 10 minutes!

Would you prefer to have luxurious bathtub or a sumptuous shower in your home?

Shower definitely, as I am not really a fan of lying in the bath. Would you rather live in the bustling city or in the country? In between, which is one reason why Sheffield is where I live. There’s a saying in Sheffield which is something like "you’re never

Jon Lord is the Managing Director at Metro Finance. Using his 27 years of experience he guides Metro in the world of shared ownership. Metro Finance partners with more than 100 housing associations across the UK and works with around 3,000 shared ownership buyers every month, helping the buyer into their new home and ensuring that their partner housing associations meet regulatory requirements

more than seven minutes from the Peak District" – It might be 11 minutes, who knows, but wherever you live, you’re close to massive open country and the city centre.

If you were buying a property overseas, in what country would you buy a home?

One of the Greek Islands or Finland, or both, one for summer, one for winter. (Finland for winter, I love snow!)

Would you rather have a bigger property or a better location? Location for me, it has to feel right.

What is one thing you couldn’t live without at home?


What’s your favourite way to unwind at home after work? I love getting home and playing whatever my son is playing; football, gaming or whatever. But to actually unwind later on, I will sadly have to say the TV…

What’s your favourite thing about your home?

Having our bi-fold doors open in summer – the garden and house become one.

Where did you buy your first home?

Sheffield, I wasn’t actually looking or intending to buy. One afternoon in my friend's garden, I could see this small end terrace for sale, something about it felt just right. So I enquired and ended up buying! I didn’t even view any other properties!

What advice would you give a first time buyer?

Start by looking at options, what buying schemes can you afford, can you afford outright in an acceptable location? Narrow down these options to ultimately land at one, then narrow down the property search within the scheme option. Effectively, it’s a process of elimination.

What are your views on shared ownership?

It is the only affordable home product that can tackle the two core issues of today’s housing market – first, deposit levels, and second, income multiples against house prices. Tailoring both to the buyer, it’s truly flexible, which accounts for its success over 40 years.

What are your views on the property market?

I worry less about now, but 20-30 years from now, house prices then will make it harder for the current set of affordable home products to create solutions. Building more being the obvious solution, yet that can only be done with very long-term Government policy and planning reform, which is the bit that worries me. Maybe I should have asked for Rishi at my house-warming party!

20 QUESTIONS 118 First Time Buyer October/November 2023
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