First Time Buyer February/March 2024

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the Ultimate Guide to... GETTING ON THE LADDER, NEW HOMES AND SHARED OWNERSHIP February/ March 2024 £4.99






“Be realistic and don't bite off more than you can chew” Elliott Wright

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E D I T O R I A L – 020 3488 7754 Editor-in-Chief SARAH GARRETT Editor LYNDA CLARK Editorial Assistant and Head of Special Events KATIE WRIGHT Editorial and Special Events Assistant SOPHIE MUNNERY Creative Director RYAN BEAL Sub Editor KAY HILL Social Media KATIE WRIGHT, SOPHIE MUNNERY Contributors CHRIS CLARK, DEBBIE CLARK, KAY HILL, SOPHIE MUNNERY, LAURA DEANOSGOOD, CORALIE PHELAN, GINETTA VEDRICKAS, STEPHEN WARD, KATIE WRIGHT A D V E RT I S I N G – 020 3488 7754 Director of Advertising/Exhibition Sales LYNDA CLARK

Welcome Now that we have passed the shortest day we are all looking forward to the spring and all that it offers. If you are thinking about buying your first home this year then I am sure you will be interested in our feature, Boost your Budget with Developer Incentives, on pages 22-24. There are many offers out there to help you, so it’s definitely worth a read to see if any of them suit you – as they say, “Every little helps!” If you are still not quite ready to buy then there are some great alternatives, which are well worth looking in to. You can Rent and Save to help you eventually buy a home and we highlight how this works on pages 28-36. We know that interiors are very important to a home and if you are longing for some designer pieces but can’t afford them, then on pages 10-11 we have some fabulous “dupes” which are half the price! We have chosen to feature them in the Pantone Colour of the Year, Peach Fuzz, which is a lovely, soft shade which will blend well in the bedroom, sitting room, bathroom and even the kitchen! I hope you enjoy this issue which is packed with information and help when buying your first home – enjoy! Until next time, happy house hunting

Special Events KATIE WRIGHT

– National Home Buying Week – First Time Buyer Readers’ Awards Accounts



Managing Director SARAH GARRETT SUBSCRIPTIONS 020 3488 7754 SWITCHBOARD 020 3488 7754


Save, save, save and get on the ladder as soon as you can.

All advertising copy for April/May 2024 must be received before 1 March 2024. Send all copy to: The content of this publication, either in whole or in part, may not be reproduced, stored in a data retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without prior permission from the publishers. Opinions expressed in First Time Buyer magazine are not necessarily those of the publishers. © The Ultimate Guide Company Ltd 2008-2023. 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.

Switching your boiler on only when hot water is needed is not only more cost-effective but also energy efficient.

Andy Kerr, Market, page 100

Steve Hird, 20 Questions, page 118

We then had the idea to club together and we bought a flat in Crouch End.

Theo Michaels, At home with, page12

We‘ll spend time in the area, test the commute and get our mortgage offer in principle.

The location is also perfect in terms of commuting into the office as the transport connections in Slough are great. James Frater, Real Life, page 86

Carrie Wilkinson, House Hunter, page 16

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What’s in… 87

For sale – the best FTB properties


Pastry chef Paulo was renting a room in Camberwell when he decided it was time to take his first steps on to the property ladder. Now, he has a two bedroom apartment to call home after purchasing a 25% share of an L&Q apartment at Barking Riverside




16 Developer’s doctor Suzanne Aplin, Group Sales & Marketing Director at Weston Homes, answers your property question this month.

18 The View: Elliott Wright

12 At home with: Theo Michaels 8 FTB Loves... A round up of our favourite hot buys for your loved ones on Valentine’s Day.

10 Living Peach Fuzz is the Pantone Colour of the Year and we bring you a selection of dupes in this warm and gentle colour to give your home a beautiful designer touch but at half the usual price.


Theo Michaels is a chef, presenter and award-winning author. He talks to Lynda Clark about his fascinating career, his passion for cooking and has some excellent advice for first time buyers.

Elliott Wright is an entrepreneur and successful businessman with years of experience in the hospitality industry. He also has a television career and was on TOWIE for ITV. He talks to Lynda Clark about his interesting life, his latest venture and gives some practical advice for first time buyers.

22 Boost your budget with developer incentives With the cost-of-living price rises and spiralling rents Debbie Clark looks at what incentives there are to help make the dream of buying your first home a reality.

28 Rent, Save, Buy In this special supplement we explain how you can rent, save and eventually buy.

14 House Hunter We go on the hunt with Carrie Wilkinson and Jivah Mohantey who are looking for a two bedroom home either in east London or nearby Essex.


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Elliott Wright


66 Hotspot We look at Winchester as a place to live.

the legal jargon. Stephen Ward, Director of Strategy and External Relations at The Council for Licenced Conveyancers, explains the terms you might come across.

98 Finance

48 Hotspot

Council tax can be an overlooked cost when buying your first home. Kay Hill looks at the ins and outs of this property tax.

We look at Ponders End as a place to live.

100 Market

72 Hotspot We look at the North West as a place to live.

The Government has introduced its “green up our homes” initiative and the Welcome Home to Energy Efficiency campaign aims to help everyone improve their energy efficiency and save money too. Ginetta Vedrickas explains.

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


Competition Five lucky winners have the chance to win 2 x 2L tubs of V33 Renovation Cupboard & Worktop Paint in a colour of their choice worth £80.

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

94 First home, first meal Michelin-starred chef, Tom Kerridge, has created this recipe for delicious and warming hearty chicken and mushroom pot pies perfect for this time of the year.

95 Know How Trying to get a deposit together? Then these money-saving tips should come in very useful.

96 Jargon Busting The conveyancing process can be a little confusing when it comes to

110 Leasehold vs Freehold – What’s the difference? Coralie Phelan, Partner and Head of New Build Homes at Prince Evans Solicitors LLP, explains the main differences between buying a leasehold or a freehold home.

112 Directory Check which scheme is right for you, plus useful contacts..

118 20 Questions We ask 20 quick-fire questions to a property expert and in this issue, Steve Hird, Director at Edward Thomas Interiors, is in the spotlight.

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

RENT A ROOM I’ve heard of the Rent a Room Scheme as a way of earning some extra money in my new home. What is the scheme and how much could I make from it? James Deardon FTB says: The Rent a Room Scheme is a tax initiative designed to encourage individuals to rent out a furnished room in their primary residence. Under this scheme, homeowners can earn a tax-free income up to a specified threshold without the need to declare it on their tax returns with the threshold of £7,500 per tax year. This scheme is particularly beneficial for those who have spare rooms and wish to generate additional income by taking in lodgers or tenants. It provides a straightforward and incentivised way for people to make the most of their living space while giving affordable housing options for those in need. It’s important to note that tax regulations can vary, and it’s advisable to consult with a tax professional before embarking on the scheme. This issue’s star letter prize wins a £25 gift voucher from Desenio. Desenio is passionate about interiors and designing your home around you and your personality. Its business idea is simple – stylish wall art should be affordable to everyone. There are frequent new additions to this Scandinavian brand’s range, including the latest trends, artist collaborations and even collections from your favourite influencers. At Desenio there is something to suit every room and style, and there’s even an AI feature allowing you to create your own high-quality artwork from scratch.

HELP FROM A FRIEND A friend who owns a property has offered to help me with my deposit and use it as an investment for themselves. Can they do this and, if so, what criteria need to be met? Kate Fenvier FTB says: It’s generous of your friend to contribute by covering some of the deposit, but caution is crucial. Since your friend isn’t an immediate family member, your options with mortgage lenders might be

limited, as many prefer deposits to be gifted by family. Carefully consider the terms and conditions associated with your friend’s investment. Questions such as whether there will be monthly payments or if they intend to hold a charge on the property should be addressed. Additionally, incorporating your friend as a co-owner of your home, given their existing property ownership, could result in additional Stamp Duty. It would be beneficial to seek independent legal advice.

AGE RESTRICTED? I have recently come into a significant inheritance, enabling me to make a substantial deposit for a house. Despite being in my 50s I am a first time buyer. Would I be approved for a mortgage considering my age and do I need to look for a specialised lender? John Valentine FTB says: Many lenders will consider mortgages up to aged 75, with a few considering up to aged 80 and beyond, however, you need to show how you will fund the repayments over retirement age. The mortgage term will be restricted to the lender’s maximum age, or the age they are happy to approve based on underwriting criteria. The shorter the term, the higher the monthly payments. With your inheritance, you are likely to have a large deposit which means you will have a low loan to value (LTV) with generally lower mortgage rates. To ensure you have access to all lenders, we would recommend consulting a mortgage broker who can evaluate your personal situation to find the most appropriate lender and mortgage product to achieve your homeownership goals.

100% MORTGAGES I have seen 100% mortgages on the market. I am struggling to save enough for my own deposit as I am spending most of my income on rent. Are these mortgages too good to be true? Jason Miller FTB says: There are several lenders who offer products, where a family member can provide security to obtain a 100% mortgage. There is one lender offering 100% mortgages without family assistance, but this is only available for those renting. To qualify they must be a tenant who can evidence affordability for a mortgage and have a strong track record of rental payments. A 100% mortgage has advantages and

disadvantages. On the positive side, it eliminates the need to accumulate a deposit, making it advantageous for those renting. However, such mortgages typically come with higher interest rates, although the one currently available has a favourable five-year fixed rate. Having a 100% mortgage can raise the risk of negative equity in a market seeing property prices fall and can be subject to stricter lending criteria. You will need to evidence affordability and have a strong track record of payments.


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

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Lobster toy, £3.99,

Personalised couple map, £35.99, gingerray. t, £4.99, ki t n u h Treasure

Alphabet jewellery box, £9.50,

Coasters set, £15,

Big heart print, £29.95,


Snack sha ring

set, £2.9 9,

home.barg ains

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FTB LOVES Love is all around this Valentine’s Day and FTB has picked a range of Valentine’s Day gifts to show the ones most special to you just how much they mean. Whether you are spending a cosy evening in watching films, or even if your pooch is the one you spoil this year, we have something for you

Personalised zodiac Dog toy, £6.99,

necklace, £34.99,

gettingper k

Discover pink pepper drum, £15.00, Dapper dogs £8.95,

Photo upload wrapping paper, £4.99, You are my Lobster biscuits, £12.95,

£4.99, mug set, Avocado

ains home.barg

Chocolate donut box, £35.99,

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Homepage LIVING

PEACH FUZZ DEBUT Meet Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2024 - Peach Fuzz, a gentle, cosy tone nestled in between pink and orange. Introducing this colour to your home creates a welcoming atmosphere, however keeping up with the trends can be an expensive activity. This is why FTB has sought out a selection of interior products that are perfect for bringing warm and inviting Peach Fuzz hints into your home, but without the price tag of similar designer items

in Marvella 2.5 seater power recliner 99, £1,7 ge, plush fabric burnt oran Sofology





£10 3D floral print cushion, £10, B&M Botanical peach fuzz daisies cushion, £29.99, Claire Louise

Faceted pink & amber crystal candle holder, £48, Heavenly Homes and Gardens



£48 Crystal candle holder, £19.99, HomeSense

£16 £3,00


Peach texture throw, £16, HomeSense

£165 Tiffany corner sofa, £3,000,


XL pink floral tablecloth, £165, Joanna Wood

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Homepage LIVING

Rebecca Zwanzig Maeve poster, from £15.95, Fresh Peaches poster, from £9.95, Romantic Rose poster, from £9.95; Desenio



Calla pink & brass globe pendant light, £69, Cult Furniture

Rowan coral glass round pendant lamp, £247, Pepper Sq Ltd

£190 £62



Opaque pink marshmallow vase, £62, Rose & Grey

t Wild Days abstrac , 90 £1 t, ar as nv ca Green Lili

Light pink medium vase, £9.99, HomeSense

Terracotta dip mug, £29, Casa by JJ


£29 ProCook orange stoneware mugs, Set of 4, £27, ProCook ia’s Blush, Emulsion paint in Ophel Good Paint £65 for 2.5 litre, Proper by Ca’Pietra

£129 So’Home textured apricot squares table lamp, £129, La Redoute UK

Tough & durable matt emulsion paint in Isumi, £20 for 2.5 litre, GoodHome at B&Q


Harlo peach blush rechargeable touch table lamp, £40, Dunelm

C O N TA C T S » B&M » B&Q » Ca’Pietra » Casa by JJ » Claire Louise » Cult Furniture » Desenio » Dunelm » Green Lili » Heavenly Homes and Gardens » HomeSense » Joanna Wood » La Redoute UK » Pepper Sq Ltd » ProCook » Rose & Grey » » Sofology

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Homepage LIVING

At home with: Theo Michaels Theo is a chef, presenter and awardwinning author and has a fascinating and very successful career. He appeared on Masterchef in 2014, which completely changed his life. He talks to Lynda Clark about how it all began, his passion for cooking and has some great advice for first time buyers FTB: Tell us about your first step on the property ladder? TM: Myself, my then girlfriend and now my wife, Anna, and best friend, Steve, had been renting in London for years. Initially there were five of us but that dwindled down to three and we really wanted to buy somewhere but couldn’t find anything we could afford. We then had the idea to club together and we bought a flat in Crouch End. Eventually, Steve decided to buy his own place and we bought him out and still own the flat to this day. I think we were ahead of the game though, as we thought that it was a great idea to buy with friends or family and together with my brothers we launched CoBuyWithMe. It was a bit like a dating website where we matched people together by looking at what they wanted, where they wanted to buy and what deposit they had. We launched it in Australia, New Zealand and Canada as they had a legal system similar to the UK, where they issue a declaration of trust. We were in our early 20s and didn’t consider how we would make any money from it! It was very successful and eventually we sold it, but it was great fun.


FTB: Where do you currently live? TM: We have three children who are aged 14, 12 and seven and we have a family home in Hertfordshire. It’s definitely not our forever home but when you have children you are restrained by geographical anchors like schooling. I do look at Rightmove and consider selling up and moving to our dream home but the children are very settled here. FTB: Tell us about your career? TM: My father was a very successful businessman and I think I have followed in his footsteps. When I was about 11, I had a little car washing business and would charge £5 to clean a car, but I got my friends to do the washing and gave them £3 and made a profit of £2 and didn’t do

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Homepage LIVING ingredients we would be using so people could get everything they would need and we did three shows a week, which were streamed all over the world. The feedback was fantastic and I think everyone liked it as they were very unpolished and were just us having a normal family life, so everyone could relate to it.

“SAVE, SAVE, SAVE – YOU WILL HAVE TO MAKE SACRIFICES BUT IT WILL PAY OFF IN THE LONG RUN” any of the work! I started a recruitment business from home and ran it for seven years until I eventually sold it to a larger software company but I stayed on as MD and sat on the board. It was a big job and very sales driven but the money was very good. Then I was sitting in the garden the day after we came back from holiday and asked myself if I could carry on working at my job for the next 40 years? I saw an application to enter Masterchef and on a pure whim I filled it out without really thinking it through. To my great surprise I got a call from the producers asking me lots of questions but I really didn’t think I stood a chance! Then I got another call to say I was going to be on the show. I am from a Greek Cypriot background so food is very important to the family and I always had a passion for cooking from an early age. I did pretty well on the show and it spurred me on to make a career change. My wife thought I was having a mid-life crisis but I decided to enter the world of food! I wasn’t sure in what capacity and considered being a private chef, or opening a restaurant, which was very naive. I gave my resignation to the chairman of the company I was working for and he wouldn’t accept it, but after three attempts

he knew I really wanted to go. So, I was sitting on the beach and decided to put a post on Facebook offering people a Greek-inspired eight-course taster menu for £40 in a pop-up restaurant. I honestly didn’t think anyone would sign up, but the next day it was sold out! Looking back, I think it was one of life’s lessons to throw yourself into something you don’t feel very comfortable with. It was a great success and I had some amazing feedback. This then dovetailed to me being a private chef for a few years. I also met the owner of Elsewhere Events who is now a good friend and we have a brilliant relationship. They create imaginative dining experiences at Elsewhere venues and pop up events. FTB: When the pandemic hit, it was hard for hospitality. How did this effect you? TM: Everything stopped overnight and it was very, very hard. I went through a series of emotions from shock, disbelief, anger and then acceptance. It was a financial disaster but I had to do something with my time and came up with the idea of doing kids cook-alongs. They were a big success and we did 36 shows which we live streamed. I got my three children involved and we posted on social media what

FTB: You have done so much, can you tell us about your meal plan service that you offer? TM: I launched, which is a meal plan service online. There are around 500 recipes and the system generates a fiveday meal plan for individuals. It gives a list of ingredients you will need and the recipes you can create. We have 18,000 members and it’s totally free. It started when I was working in France for long periods and my wife was at home looking after the family and I would send her a meal plan for the week to help her out – she loved it! FTB: You have written many cookery books, can you tell us about them? TM: I did a radio show every Saturday where they invited a few chefs to come along and chat about food. There was a brilliant lady, Hannah Miles, who was also a lawyer and has written over 40 cook books. She had been asked to write a book on Microwave Meals, which was not really her thing and asked me if I would like to do it. I had never written a book before but I knew I might never get asked again so I decided to give it a go. I really enjoyed it and I have now written many cookery books and I love it. FTB: What are your plans for the future? TM: I am the resident chef on Steph’s Packed Lunch on Channel 4 and my new cookery book is being published soon that is inspired by Mediterranean/Greek food, which I love. I have big plans for growing the fivedinners business but high on my agenda is to do more television, which I really enjoy. FTB: What advice do you have for first time buyers? TM: I always think you should buy the worst house in the best area. If you can, buy as soon as possible, as property is a great investment and will only go up eventually. If you don’t have enough for a deposit then consider doing what I did, which is buying with friends or family. If you are renting, see if you can go back and live with parents and save, save, save – you will have to make sacrifices but it will pay off in the long run. For more of Theo’s recipes or to join his meal planning service for free visit or follow Theo on Instagram @theocooks

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What we found… THE COMMUNITY SPIRIT L&Q at Beam Park Beam Park, Rainham

FROM £62,500*

THE COUNTRY CONNECTION Towerlands Park Braintree, Essex

FROM £375,000

This month FTB goes on the hunt with Carrie Wilkinson and Jivah Mohantey who are looking for a two bedroom home in east London or Essex


Names Carrie Wilkinson, Jivah Mohantey Occupations UX lead, product manager Maximum budget £350,000 Requirements A two bedroom home in east London or Essex with good commuting links, access to outside space and a strong community feel

What they wanted… We are looking for a lovely new home for our family. We had our first baby earlier this year and currently live in a one bedroom apartment in Hackney, east London. We’ve loved living here, but now we have a child, we’d like to move somewhere a little quieter and greener – perhaps more east or into Essex. Jivah is originally from Hornchurch in Essex, so we like the idea of being closer to some family support. We both work part-remote and need to be in the office around twice a month or more, so we’d like good rail links to central London. It’s important to us that we have a high street, shopping and entertainment facilities within easy reach so that we don’t feel too far away from city conveniences, but we’d also like easy access to the countryside and pretty villages of Essex. We are very sociable and like the idea of getting to know neighbours and becoming involved with the local community.”

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

With market towns, countryside and great transport links on the doorstep, these homes are ideally located for family life. The new collection of three, four and five bedroom homes lies two miles north of Braintree, while Colchester and Chelmsford are under 30 minutes by car. Homes feature separate living and dining rooms along with a downstairs WC. The main bedrooms have an en suite, and many enjoy extra storage space. There’s a great deal to enjoy nearby, and for commuters, trains reach London Liverpool Street in 80 minutes.

*Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £250,000

What they thought… There are several things that we like about this new development. As well as the good rail links and convenient location, we’re really keen on the emphasis on community. There seems to be plenty of green space – including within the development itself – and it’s very close to the local country park. We would certainly get our quota of fresh air and green space here. The two bedroom apartments look really great in terms of space and facilities, and would suit our needs really well.”

What lovely houses these are! We are really impressed with the traditional styling of these properties – they’re certainly in keeping with the lovely surroundings. We particularly like the kitchens that open to the back gardens and the bright and spacious living areas. We’d be able to get three bedrooms here, which means there’s room for guests – or for expanding the family without needing to move. It’s probably a little further out that we’d planned, but they’re a great option.”

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THE HISTORIC SITE The Arbour at Beaulieu Chelmsford, Essex


The Silk District Whitechapel, east London

FROM £125,625*


FROM £269,995*

Edge Hainault, east London

Set within the parkland of the old Tudor palace of Beaulieu, this new development has created thousands of homes just outside Chelmsford. Homes range from one bedroom apartments to five bedroom houses – with the latest phase of one and two bedroom homes at The Arbour selling fast. The properties are surrounded by landscaped gardens, and the new community will eventually include new schools, transport links and amenities. The city lies 30 miles east of London, while the stunning coast can be reached in 40 minutes by car.

Whitechapel has a lot to offer: a vibrant high road, excellent Tube and bus links, and all walking distance from Tower Bridge, the City and Brick Lane. The one and two bedroom apartments sit around landscaped gardens and feature open-plan living areas, separate utility room, and fitted wardrobes. All homes include private outdoor space. Created as part of a £300m regeneration project, the homes will be joined by commercial buildings and public spaces. Some of the capital’s most famous and historic sights are near the front door.

*Based on a 30% share of the full market value of £295,000

Jivah went to university in Chelmsford and talks about what a great area it is. I know there are a lot of options for entertainment, shopping and for family life in general, so this is definitely a good option for us. The two bedroom apartments are impressive, as is the development itself. As it’s a new neighbourhood, there’ll be plenty of opportunity for community involvement. There’s also lovely countryside on tap, while Jivah’s family are a 20-minute drive, which would suit us pretty well.”

*Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £502,500

Whitechapel is close to our current neighbourhood. We love this part of London, there’s always something cool and quirky to do, and of course the transport links are second to none. This new development is such a great opportunity to buy in the area and it really is very tempting. It looks like a very exciting development that’s so close to some of our favourite places. But for our current situation and requirements, we’re still set on moving out of the hustle and bustle, and further east.”

e h-spec one, two and thre This new collection of hig lifestyles. of e anc bal al ide an kes bedroom apartments stri ch central rby Zone 4 stations rea Tube trains from the nea from the nts me mo utes, while just London in under 30 min nce nda abu an and ks ntry par front door you’ll find cou ets. The ark erm sup and ps sho as of green space, as well munal around an attractive com properties are arranged terrace or ate priv a all homes feature podium garden, while a nursery re’s the s, ilie fam t for young balcony. A perfect spo walk. y ary school within an eas just next door and a prim *Up to 5% deposit contribution available


” The 5% deposit contribution will really help us as this is a big and important move, so we want to make sure that we‘re making the right decision. We‘ll spend some time in the area, test the commute and get our mortgage offer in principle sorted while we go through the application and viewings process. We‘re really optimistic for our future!“

What a good location these properties are in, just on the Essex border, which fits our requirements perfectly. There’s a lot on offer very close to the apartments; you can get to some stunning countryside and rural places, all while not being too far from central London. We really love the look of the apartments, too. The design and styling has a real luxury feel – the balcony areas are huge, the living areas are super spacious and there’s plenty of storage space as well as an en suite from the main bedroom. We think that Edge is the perfect place for a new start for our family.”

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Suzanne Aplin is Group Sales & Marketing Director at awardwinning Weston Homes and has been working in the new homes property arena for many years. She has a passionate desire to help first time buyers step on to the property ladder and understands the challenges that many buyers face when purchasing their first home. Weston Homes has helped hundreds of buyers purchase who didn’t think they could. If there is a way, the friendly sales teams at Weston Homes will help you find it


I want to buy my first home. How can I make sure I can get a mortgage?

Everyone’s circumstances are different but the one thing that is consistent is that you cannot obtain a mortgage until you have a sound credit rating. At Weston Homes we work closely with a range of independent new home mortgage advisers who have provided the following excellent advice. Before a bank or building society will lend money to you, they will look at how much of a risk you are. What they want to know is simple – will you pay them back? Your credit information shows them how you’ve managed credit in the past, which helps them predict whether you can afford the repayments. Your credit history and score is held by a UK credit reference agency. Two of the top ones are Equifax UK and Experian. The latter rates you out of 999 points. If you haven’t established a credit history, potential lenders can’t see if you are reliable with money. This can lead to your application being refused. Your credit score is based on several factors including how quickly you pay back money you have borrowed, if you have any outstanding debt, and whether you have missed or late payments. Good ways to build your credit rating are to: • Open a bank account and prove you are a reliable UK resident with a good relationship with your bank. • Pay off the balance on your credit card in full each month to create a good credit history. • Get a mobile phone contract. This can help you establish credit and if you pay your bills on time it will show potential lenders that you are reliable. But it is so easy to slip down the credit rating ladder without realising it. In January, after a potentially expensive Christmas, it is tempting to pay your credit card debt late – don’t. This will push you down the credit rating ladder. Your mortgage lender thinks – if you pay your credit card late – that you will probably

pay your mortgage payments late as well. Renters moving around can find themselves unknowingly holding a bad credit rating because they have not redirected all their bills. For a small payment, with a card registered in your new address, the Post Office will redirect mail for six months. Even an unpaid parking ticket will get you into trouble. If you have defaulted on past payments that are creating a bad credit score, with a reasonable 200-word explanation you can apply to get them removed. When you move into a new area, always put

Suzanne Aplin, Group Sales & Marketing Director, Weston Homes

yourself on the electoral register as it improves your credit rating. Companies use the electoral roll to check you are giving them the correct name and address. Plus, it is a sign of reliability and stability. At Weston Homes, we are here to help you. Speak to one of our Sales Consultants at your preferred development and they can refer you to an independent financial adviser who can give you specialist advice on how to make your move to homeownership, how much deposit you need to save and how much you will need for a mortgage.

A sustainable lifestyle, Barkin g, Abb for this generation and ey Qu ay the next, is the wish of all young homebuyers. And the new home location that fulfils that wish is Abbey Quay, one of the most exciting regeneration programmes for 2024 that is transforming old industrial Barking into a sustainable neighbourhood. Weston Homes won the prestigious 2023 WhatHouse? Gold Award for the Best Sustainable Development across the country, for its £350m, six-acre urban village Abbey Quay in Barking. This fine-looking collection of 1,089 apartments of one, two and three bedrooms, sits within a design that will include 22,281 sq ft of commercial and leisure space. Mindful of commuting costs, it is a short walk to transport links and a fast commute into the City, with the town’s new combined heat and power plant providing eco-efficient hot water and heating for the development. Abbey Quay is an innovative scheme that reflects the core values of family-run Weston Homes and its MD Bob Weston, who builds with a passion for the welfare of his buyers, green energy use and sustainable living. To ensure the high quality of every stage of build, Bob has created two multi-million pound hightech factories to deliver a low-carbon building solution for Weston Homes’ properties. Every detail of the build is considered, from the walls and photovoltaic roofs to thermally efficient windows and doors, high-tech low water consumption fittings in luxury bathrooms, heating systems and insulation − so efficient that even on winter nights little heating is needed. Wide floor-to-ceiling windows create maximum light to lift the mood and open on to spacious balconies for outside living. This is an award that’s well deserved for a company that is building for future generations. Discount Market Sale* homes with a 20% saving start from £261,500. Private sale homes start from £331,000. Save up to £20,000 for a limited period.** Visit for details. *Price includes saving. Eligibility criteria apply **Subject to terms & conditions. Speak to a Sales Consultant for details

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THE GOLDEN TOUCH Elliott Wright is a true entrepreneur. He is a successful businessman with years of experience in the hospitality industry. He is the founder of the Elliott Wright Group, which offers a diverse range of services including luxury real estate, hospitality services and yacht charters on the Costa del Sol. He also has a television career and was on TOWIE for ITV. He talks to Lynda Clark about his fascinating life, his latest venture and gives some practical advice for first time buyers


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hen I spoke to Elliott I felt I had known him all my life – he is warm, entertaining and most of all passionate about everything he works on. He was born in east London, but the family moved around a lot and he has a brother and sister and came from a very happy family. “We were a very closeknit family and my aunts and uncles lived nearby and we all went on holiday together. My dad was in the car business and he has always been my inspiration. He owned and ran car showrooms and was one of the first to export high-end used cars to the Far East markets. He was brilliant at his job – he was handsome and a true gentleman. Growing up he used to let me go to work with him on a Saturday in one of the car showrooms and I absolutely loved it! We did move around a lot – we lived in Gants Hill, Wanstead and Hornchurch in Essex and when I was about 12 we moved to Andalucía in Spain. It was such a great experience and we were there for a couple of years. My dad also bought properties, did them up and sold them on – he was a very clever man. “I was a very sociable child and at school I loved sports and was also good at maths. I even won an award for my handwriting when I was in primary school. Nowadays my writing is so bad, in fact it’s worse than a doctor's! But I won a Roald Dahl book and was very proud. After my GCSEs I left school and always wanted to be a trader on the stock market. I was lucky enough to meet one of the bosses at Merrill Lynch who gave me some work experience. It was an amazing opportunity being on the trading floor. It is interesting because some of the most successful traders don’t always come from families who have money. In those days a lot of the trading work involved hand signals, it was called open outcry trading, so some of the best guys had often come from parents who owned market stalls or worked there or in similar environments, where you had to be heard to get business done. “After my work experience in Merrill Lynch, there were two full time jobs left at a French bank called Fimat and they asked me to go through a bundle of CVs to see who were the best two. Many had been to Oxford, so I assumed I had no chance. But, to my surprise I got a job – you see it’s a real dogeat-dog situation on the floor and you had to be prepared to be ruthless in the market place but you aren't always taught that at university, so these people look further than just degrees, they need to know that someone has the ability to take a call and make the deal despite any consequences. I loved my time on the Liffe floor. “I had spent years watching my dad sell cars and I had picked up a lot of what

"I HAD SPENT YEARS WATCHING MY DAD SELL CARS AND I HAD PICKED UP A LOT OF WHAT WAS NEEDED ALONG THE WAY" was needed along the way. Eventually it all changed and computers took over so I decided to go to college to learn about them. I then ended up trading in oil on the IPE.” Elliott’s father moved to Spain and he managed to get a month off work after passing his trading exams to visit him. He said, “When I got there I realised family was very important to me and I had to make a choice – I chose to stay in Spain.” During 2001-2007 life was very hectic for Elliott. He and his father opened restaurants and his dad cleverly set up property company accounts so they were busy in the winter as well as the summer. Business was booming as the euro was so weak against the pound. It worked very well as people who went to the restaurant often asked if they could recommend any estate agents and Elliott and his father could help them and also suggested builders or lawyers that they could trust. They never rushed them into buying one of their homes. He explains, “I used this same ethos when I launched Elliott Wright Real Estates. My business is based on trust, after all, purchasing a holiday home is most likely going to be the second most expensive thing a client would ever buy after buying the home they lived in. So we are into building long-term relationships not the short ones, and we work with only the best developers, source the best resales, and help negotiate the best deal for all parties. "My experienced agents will help you find your dream home, they will give you only honest advice and if we don’t have exactly what you are looking for, we will find it. We also help with all the necessities with our Elliott Wright Financial Consultants team, which is a free service when purchasing through us. From legal representation, mortgage brokerage to currency exchange and notary completion, we have everything and only the best people to recommend completing your purchase. “For investors or people that want to use their holiday home as an investment too, I also have Elliott Wright Holiday Rentals where we do holidays lets and with our privileged club members, we guarantee a certain amount of weeks a year that your home will return a substantial income. I want my clients' experience to be happy and stress-free. We also cover all pockets whether people are looking for a luxury villa or a much more affordable home.”

Elliott got into television by accident – his cousin, who is Mark Wright and was already in TV, introduced him to some of his friends and contacts. Elliott had split up with his first wife and was constantly travelling from Spain to see his children. He said, “I knew James Argent very well and he invited me round to his house when I was in the UK. There were lots of the cast from TOWIE there and I got on with them very well. "The next thing was the producers of the show asked me to join the show and it made sense at the time to come over to England to film it as I could also see more of my children.” However, in 2015 he found another restaurant venture and opened Olivia’s in La Cala and left TOWIE and returned to Spain. But, after a few months he was asked to make his own show, called Playa Marbella. The first property he bought was a two bedroom, two bathroom home in Alicante, Spain, which was all he could afford. He then went on to buy another property, which was a disaster. There was a golf course and the house was front line but there were no nets and one day his baby son was in the swimming pool and a golf ball landed very near to him. This was a wake-up call for Elliott and eventually his neighbour got hit by a ball so he decided to sell the house. “It was a lesson learnt – be careful when buying a property on a golf course, there’s nowhere the balls can’t fly from!” He now lives in La Cala de Mijas with his wife Sadie and four-year old son Billy, who is just starting school there, his eldest son Elliott Junior and their eight-month-old son Johnny. “We have been through Brexit, the pandemic, my restaurant got burnt down and there is a cost-of-living crisis but we have come through the storm and I am very positive for the future.” Elliott has some great advice for first time buyers and said, “At the moment it is a buyer’s market so work out a budget of what you can afford, where you want to buy and go for it. The market will eventually turn round. Possibly interest rates will stay around the same level for a couple of years but be realistic and don’t bite off more than you can chew. Affordability is critical but if you are in the position to buy I would definitely do it, there are bargains to be had in a bear market.”

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How affordable is “affordable” housing really? Many people feel priced out of the property market, with high prices and an income already strained by cost-of-living increases without the pressure to save for a deposit. Yet, every day, new build homes are being snapped up by first time buyers. Debbie Clark asks the important questions. What are they buying? What are they earning? And, more importantly, what incentives are they taking advantage of to make the seemingly impossible a reality? Data from OnTheMarket (2022) shows the median average of property prices across England varies considerably, from an average property price of £250,000 in the North West to a whopping £588,500 in London. Region

North East

North West

East Midland

West Midlands


South East

Median Price







While median salaries also vary, they certainly don’t reflect the property prices. Salaries – in the South East and London in particular – are seriously stretched! Age group

North East

North West

East Midland

West Midlands


South East






















incentives subject to the stage of construction, T&Cs apply. Higgins Homes, renowned for quality building in London and the South East, is also responding to the needs of customers by offering a range of incentives, tailored to suit a range of scenarios. #HomesComfort is a campaign that has been specifically designed around the areas that create a barrier to homeownership for first time buyers. There is a range of bespoke, real-world incentives, with buyers encouraged to speak to advisers to discuss their particular needs to eliminate as many obstacles to homeownership as possible. Examples of incentives include a 5% deposit top-up, potentially taking the deposit from 10% to 15%, having the legal fees and Stamp Duty paid, which also adds up to a substantial expense, or the option of a Furniture Pack. #HomesComfort is being offered on The Garratt Collection, Earlsfield (020 8498 6111) and Ecole, Bermondsey (020 8498 6112). Ultimately, homebuilders need to be able to sell their properties to make a profit, so most developments will have a range of incentives available to help buyers. If you’re not sure what they are, find out – you might be pleasantly surprised!

Thankfully, both the Government and homebuilders are conscious of the myriad of issues buyers face. There are many national schemes you can access as a first time buyer. A great example is the Discount Market Sale (DMS), which offers buyers the opportunity to purchase a new home with a saving of up to 30% while still giving the buyer 100% of the ownership. Buyers need to live or work in one of the areas required for the scheme to be valid and meet other eligibility terms. Developers are also getting inventive with their incentives to give you a foot up. Weston Homes, for example, is offering its unique First-time SecureBuy (FTSB) initiative on selected plots and developments. The scheme allows first time buyers to reserve a home off-plan for a £500 reservation fee, and a 5% exchange deposit. Then, six months before build completion, the buyer can apply for a mortgage. Should the value of the property increase in the time between reservation and build completion, buyers will only pay the price agreed on the day they reserved their property. The FTSB initiative can be used in conjunction with other


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FROM £250,000*


DMS available*. Save up to £20,000** An impressive collection of 181 new homes, these beautifully finished luxury apartments are conveniently located just a six-minute walk to Hayes & Harlington station, with trains to Heathrow and London Paddington. All homes have a private balcony or terrace and access to a large central podium garden. There is allocated parking to selected plots.

Sophie, 32, has just bought her first home at L&Q at Huntley Wharf, Reading. Midwife Sophie had spent five years building her life in Reading, but never thought that she would be able to afford her own home. She says, “I used to drive past L&Q at Huntley Wharf and had watched it being built… as they were right in the centre of Reading, close to the train station and town, I never thought that I would be able to afford one on my single income.” Spotting an advert on the hoarding of the development, Sophie finally decided to enquire. She had managed to save during Covid and realised through an initial chat with the sales team that she had enough for a deposit through the shared ownership scheme. Sophie recalls, “I honestly could not believe that I could get on to the property ladder in Reading on my own, just a 12-minute walk from where I work.” Sophie purchased a 25% share of a one bedroom shared ownership apartment off-plan, making use of L&Q’s 5% deposit incentive. She is particularly enjoying the space in her new home as she had previously been renting a small one bedroom flat, and the peaceful positioning of her apartment means she can easily sleep before a night shift. Sophie’s expectations of the location have also been met. She says, “We have the perfect mix between urban life and lots of nearby green spaces. Being able to walk to the hospital where I work has massively cut down my commuting time and the opening of the Elizabeth Line is going to make things much easier if I need to pop into London.” Looking toward her future, Sophie comments, “Over the next five years, my plan is to staircase so that I can own a higher share in my property. But, for the time being, I’m enjoying making my apartment my own with new furniture and putting up photos – something I could never do when I rented. I now even have my first pets, two house-trained rabbits, Chewie and Stewie, who absolutely love the open-plan kitchen – another amazing thing about finally having my own home!” To find out about L&Q homes and incentives that could be running, please visit 020 3976 8245

FROM £269,995*

*Price reflects a 20% Discount Market Sale (DMS) saving, subject to eligibility criteria. **T&Cs apply

FROM £449,995*



FROM £450,000


London @ Last scheme

Greenwich Millennium Village

Available with a 5% deposit contribution up to a value of £22,750

Available with a 5% deposit contribution up to a value of £33,500 Greenwich Millennium Village is situated on the Greenwich Peninsula, just one stop from Canary Wharf. This unique development offers a wide selection of high-specification one and two bedroom apartments ready to move in to. Residents benefits from a range of green open spaces including a four-acre freshwater ecology park and yacht club.

Available to move into from this spring, this superb collection of one to three bedroom apartments is located on Manford Way. Edge is less than a mile from both Hainault and Grange Hill railway stations, which connect to London Liverpool Street in half an hour via the Central Line. The apartments are ideally placed adjacent to local facilities, including Tesco Express and the Post Office. The nearby Hainault Forest Country Park and Fairlop Waters offer an idyllic landscape to enjoy and explore.

Sales have launched off-plan for THE BeCa at the Ruby Triangle, a £150m Manhattanstyle tower, with Phase 2 homes launching this spring. They are available from Avanton with its unique triple-boost incentive, London @ Last, which promises to help Londoners secure a Zone 2 mortgage for half the price of local Zone 2 rent. The scheme firstly helps Londoners conditionally exchange with a 5% deposit on which they will receive annual interest. Secondly, contributes another 5% deposit and covers legal fees, and thirdly guarantees a 4.99% interest-only mortgage rate for one year. 020 3884 1018 020 3343 5778 020 7052 5111

*T&Cs apply. Price dependent on plot.

*T&Cs apply. Price dependent on plot.

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FROM £265,000*

SYDENHAM, LONDON Dylon Riverside

Paul, a 41-year-old technical consultant, and Harley, a 27-year-old professional dog walker, were fed up of renting and dreamed of buying their own house further away from Newcastle city centre. The couple, who married after meeting through a love of wild camping, say they were only able to afford to buy their house thanks to the Your Home, Your Way scheme from housebuilder Bellway. Under the initiative, the couple were given a £14,000 deposit contribution from the developer, which enabled them to secure a three bedroom detached house at Bellway’s Westburn development in Callerton, around five miles west of Newcastle. “We have only been together for four years and did not have enough of a deposit to allow us to get a mortgage rate that would be manageable for us,” said Paul. “But Harley’s family, three of whom have all bought homes from Bellway in the last 18 months, said the company was brilliant and told us to give them a call, in case they could help.” The couple arranged to go down to the sales office and were amazed when sales adviser Jenna said that Bellway could give them the deposit contribution, meaning they could put down a 10% deposit and get a mortgage deal with affordable monthly payments. Paul says, “Once we had done the figures, we realised we could afford to go for a three bedroom detached Carver house which ticked all our boxes. We need three bedrooms so I can have a home office/gaming room and we can still have a spare room for when my relatives from Wales or America come over. Secondly, we want a garage to store our camping gear and kayak in and thirdly, a big garden to give us an outdoor dining area and room to allow our three dogs, and dogs that Harley is sitting or boarding, to run about. Our new home has the lot. It’s amazing.” Paul and Harley are due to move into their £296,995 home soon. Paul says, “Once we move, we will still enjoy going away, but we will also look forward to getting home because we will be returning to our own dream home – made possible by Bellway’s fabulous offer.”

DMS available*; FTSB available*. Save up to £20,000** Part of the second phase of the redevelopment of the former Dylon textiles factory site, the area is being transformed into a new £100m residential development incorporating undercroft basement parking, a new children’s play space, an outdoor gymnasium and extensive landscaped gardens. Providing 254 one, two and three bedroom apartments, the first apartments will be ready to move into in summer 2024. Dylon Riverside is a two-minute walk to Lower Sydenham station where you can reach London Bridge in 14 minutes. All residents have access to outdoor space, with a private balcony, terrace or winter garden to every apartment. 020 4502 2999 *Price reflects a 30% Discount Market Sale (DMS) saving, subject to eligibility criteria. **T&Cs apply

BARKING Abbey Quay

FROM £261,500*

DMS available*; FTSB available*. Save up to £20,000** Abbey Quay is a residential-led mixed-use development in Barking, east London. The development will provide 1,089 mixed tenure one, two and three bedroom apartments all with their own private balcony or terrace, alongside commercial and leisure space which is planned to include a new pavilion restaurant, local shops, cafes, gym and a community hub. The DMS scheme is available to eligible buyers who have lived or worked in the United Kingdom for over 12 months (other criteria apply). 020 4502 3079 *Price reflects a 20% Discount Market Sale (DMS) saving, subject to eligibility criteria. **T&Cs apply


Harrow and Wealdstone Heights

FROM £81,250*

Shared ownership; Origin Kickstart offering incentives worth £2,500 This collection of 81 shared ownership homes with thoughtfully considered internal spaces is designed for modern living. All apartments benefit from a private balcony, and kitchens boast integrated appliances including a stainless steel electric oven, electric ceramic hob, fridge/freezer and integrated dishwasher. The development also features a number of eco-credentials including a ground source heat pump and solar panels for communal power lighting. Just a five-minute walk away is Harrow & Wealdstone station, from where mainline railway trains run twice an hour for London Euston and Bakerloo Line services run to Paddington and Waterloo. 0300 323 0325 *Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £325,000


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FROM £295,500


FROM £89,375*


Brentwood Central

FTSB available*. Save up to £20,000* Brentwood Central is a contemporary collection of 60 one and two bedroom apartments, built around a landscaped courtyard in the heart of Brentwood. Most properties include private outside spaces, with top-floor apartments boasting spacious private terraces. The development is designed with flexibility and lowmaintenance living in mind; kitchens include a full range of Integrated appliances, quartz stone worktops and splashbacks, while state-of-the-art bathrooms feature smart technology. Weston Homes' design team has prioritised energy efficiency, from insulation to glazing and heating specifications, to optimise performance and reduce both CO2 emissions and running costs. 01277 231515


Shared ownership; £500 towards legal fees available; £500 in Love to Shop Vouchers.

With a prime location beside Wembley Park, Arc is an exciting opportunity for those seeking quality urban living. Each apartment boasts open-plan living/dining space and a private balcony. The development also benefits from being close to Wembley Stadium station and is a 15-minute walk to Wembley Park, which is packed full of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. 0300 373 3000

*Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £357,500

*T&Cs apply

FROM £77,500*

FROM £428,500



FTSB available*. Save up to £20,000*

Shared ownership; £500 towards legal fees and £500 contribution for a mortgage adviser

Caxton Square

Caxton Square is just an eight-minute walk to Wood Green tube station (Zone 3) with connections to London Kings' Cross in 14 minutes. The development will comprise one, two and three bedroom apartments, each with its own private balcony or terrace, as well as flexible commercial space and a communal garden. All apartments will benefit from an all-inclusive specification, including integrated appliances and quartz stone worktops in the kitchens, state-of-the-art bathrooms with smart technology, open-plan living areas and luxurious flooring fitted throughout.

Faber Green

Winner of "Best First Time Buyer Family Home" at First Time Buyer Readers’ Awards! Faber Green offers a variety of homes to suit all needs; as well as being pet friendly, each home at Faber Green comes with private outside space and bright, modern interiors. The development is designed with the aim of building a community, not just somewhere to live. Getting around is easy with the underground and Overground within a 10-minute walk. 0344 748 0057 020 4571 2399 *T&Cs apply



Lauren, 24, and her partner Logan, 27, were weeks away from moving into a new apartment in Bristol when everything fell through. Not to be deterred, they got straight back to searching and wasted no time in securing a spacious two bedroom conversion apartment in Regent House at City & Country’s Factory No. 1 development in Bedminster. Consultant Lauren says, “We had previously been renting a two bedroom rural property outside Bath and were set to move into a new build home. When this didn’t happen, we visited Factory No. 1 the next day and immediately fell in love with one of the converted apartments they had available. It was so different to any apartment we had ever seen and so beautifully finished with stunning original features – we knew it was exactly the right place for us.” Situated in a Grade II listed former tobacco factory, City & Country’s development Factory No. 1 stood out to the couple for numerous reasons. Lauren says, “Our apartment has the most lovely and spacious open-plan kitchen and dining area, which is perfect for hosting, and we love the incredibly high-quality fixtures and fittings. The stone worktops and brass handles really add to the overall feel, and the finish is just outstanding!" Their new home had to be practical for Lauren’s hybrid working set-up. She says, “We were fortunate that our apartment came with a parking permit – unusual in the city centre. This was important for me as I work long hours and having a permit means that parking isn’t an issue when I get home.” Lauren continues, “Being able to turn the second bedroom into a home office was ideal for us. I think it’s valuable to create an environment you love to work from and I now have a comfortable workspace with excellent views over the city.” The couple love the security and peace of mind of having a concierge at the development and the “friendly multigenerational community” feel. They are clearly impressed with the overall quality of their new home. Lauren says, “We always thought we’d be in our first place for a couple of years, but now we’re thinking we’ll definitely stay longer (and save up for our next, bigger City & Country property!)”

*Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £310,000

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RENT, SAVE, BUY We know that renting with all its very costly implications can make getting on the property ladder an impossible dream. But, with these renting opportunities including Rent to Buy and London Living Rent, it means you save at the same time as renting and eventually can get the keys to your own front door. In this special supplement we explain the various ways you can rent, save and eventually buy LONDON LIVING RENT



Do I qualify for London Living Rent? To qualify for London Living Rent you must meet all of the following criteria: 9 Your annual household income must not exceed £60,000 9 You must live or work in London 9 You must be unable to buy a home, including shared ownership, in the local area 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 meet lenders' general criteria to obtain mortgage finance.

Funded by the Mayor, 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 up to three years. Simply: 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.

The full eligibility criteria and priority policy for a particular development can be found on the advertised listing.

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 property) on a shared ownership basis. The good news is that when you buy is flexible, and the housing association will support you to save during your rental stay, so you can buy at your own pace.

Can I move to an alternative London Living Rent apartment once my term ends? You can’t move to an alternative if you’ve completed the stated London Living Rent term (usually five to 10 years).

Step one

Step two

Find a London Living Rent or Rent to Buy home suitable for you

Must I save a minimum amount each month? You are the best judge of what amount is affordable for you to save each month. By renting through London Living Rent you benefit

Rent the home at a discount

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RENT, SAVE, BUY from a below-market rent so 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.

RENT TO BUY Rent to Buy helps tenants in England save for a deposit to buy a home by offering properties at a discount. This is normally 20% below market rent. The scheme is available in England, apart from London. Properties in London are covered by a separate scheme called London Living Rent.

organisations that have Rent to Buy homes using the shared ownership scheme service. Properties in London are covered by a separate scheme called London Living Rent.

COUNCIL AND HOUSING ASSOCIATION HOMES Some local councils and housing associations advertise Rent to Buy homes. Check the shared ownership scheme service or with your local council or housing association for more information. There may be extra eligibility requirements to apply.



You can use the deposit you’ve saved to buy any home, including those available using an affordable homeownership scheme.

To be eligible for Rent to Buy, you must be: 9 In full or part-time employment 9 A first time buyer 9 Able to pay your rent and save for a deposit at the same time.


You may also be eligible for Rent to Buy if you are returning to homeownership following a relationship breakdown. A landlord may check your income and credit history to decide if you’re eligible.

HOW THE SCHEME WORKS You apply to rent a property that is in the scheme. If you’re considered eligible, and the property is still available, it will be offered to you. Your initial tenancy agreement will be for up to two years. After that, if you need more time to save for a deposit, your landlord may agree to extend your tenancy. If you do not pay your rent on time and follow the terms of your tenancy agreement, you may not be allowed to stay in the scheme. You can buy a home as soon as you’ve saved enough deposit and can get a mortgage.


You may be able to buy the home that you’re renting if your landlord agrees. If your landlord decides to sell while you’re a tenant they must give you the option of buying your home first. The price you pay will be the property’s market value. This may be more or less than when you first rented your home. Check with your landlord whether buying the home you’re renting is an option.

BUYING THE HOME YOU'RE RENTING THROUGH SHARED OWNERSHIP You may be able to buy the home you’re renting through the shared ownership scheme if: 9 Your landlord agrees 9 You’ve saved enough deposit to buy a share 9 You can get a mortgage 9 You meet the shared ownership eligibility requirements.

If you live in England (excluding London), you can search for

Check with your landlord whether buying the home you’re renting through shared ownership is an option.

Step three

Step four

Save the discount for your deposit

Buy shares in your home through shared ownership

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UNLOCKING THE PROPERTY LADDER WITH LONDON LIVING RENT Saving for a deposit remains one of the biggest challenges for hopeful homebuyers in the capital. Offering a solution for renters looking to take their first step on to the property ladder, L&Q is delivering London Living Rent (LLR) homes in several London boroughs across the city

FROM £725.12 PCM


Rookery Grove


L&Q at Beam Park Funded by the Mayor of London, LLR is a stepping-stone to homeownership, designed to enable current tenants to rent a home at a discounted rate, while saving towards a deposit for a first home. The rent for LLR homes is set at one-third of the average local household income in the borough where the property is located; this ensures monthly costs stay manageable and savings can be redirected for the long-term. London Living Rent tenants can go on to purchase a home either through shared ownership or on the open market. Plus, for many, a key benefit to renting an LLR home with L&Q is that it is possible to go on to buy the home that you already live and are settled in – somewhere you already know that you love! Andrea Palmer Head of LLR at L&Q comments, “London Living Rent is an excellent option for middle-income Londoners who want to save towards buying a home. All properties on the LLR scheme guarantee tenants an assured tenancy of a minimum of three years and a maximum of 10, providing stability amid London’s ever-turbulent rental market. “For those interested in LLR, we recommend checking the eligibility criteria initially, to see whether you are eligible. If you live or currently work in London, meet the minimum income and affordability standards, this could be the scheme for you.” With 60 years’ experience in the rental market, L&Q has established a broad range of LLR homes in neighbourhoods across the capital. This offering currently spans from Barking & Dagenham and Walthamstow in the east right across to Hayes in the west and Hendon in north London. To find out more about London Living Rent with L&Q, please visit:


FROM £949.82 PCM

Situated on the borders of Rainham and Dagenham, L&Q at Beam Park comprises a collection of contemporary one to three bedroom apartments, available through both LLR and shared ownership. It's designed as a sustainable development, with a highly efficient water system, high levels of insulation and brown roofs across many blocks. A new public square, medical centre, schools, retail spaces and community facilities are also being delivered as part of the master plan.

In the north of the city, L&Q is bringing a new collection of LLR homes to Rookery Grove, alongside private rental apartments. Combining the best of urban living with city connections, the development caters to a wide range of renters, with studios as well as one and two bedroom apartments available. Residents moving to Rookery Grove are set to benefit from vast investment into the local area. The development is situated within the Brent Cross Cricklewood scheme, one of the biggest regeneration projects in Europe, which will see 150 retail stores, 50 restaurants, a cinema and a hotel delivered nearby, alongside new homes.

FROM £1,087.68 PCM

FROM £814.95 PCM



Beatrice found her dream LLR home with L&Q at Hayes Village and is now looking to the future. “Because of LLR, I’ve managed to start saving towards a deposit and hope to buy my home soon.” The development is well-positioned for easy access into central London via Hayes & Harlington station which is within walking distance. A new collection of apartments will be launching at the development this year.

Presenting an opportunity for London renters to get a slice of life at Barking Riverside, a transformational neighbourhood on the banks of the River Thames, L&Q has released a brand new collection of one, two and three bedroom London Living Rent homes. One of Europe’s most ambitious new developments, Barking Riverside is a landmark neighbourhood bringing more than 10,000 new homes to east London, along with award-winning community facilities, transport links and green spaces.

L&Q at Hayes Village

Barking Riverside

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SOVEREIGN NETWORK GROUP SNG is passionate about helping every first time buyer and because it realises it can be tough to raise a deposit, it is offering London Living Rent at some of its developments, which is the perfect way to save and buy

Eligibility for London Living Rent is restricted to existing private and social renters with a maximum household income of £60,000, without sufficient current savings to purchase a home in the local area. Where there are multiple customers looking to rent a home who meet the above criteria, priority will be given in the first instance to British Armed Forces personnel, and then on a first come, first served basis. Eight weeks after full market release we may accept applications for any homes that remain available from those living outside of the development host borough.

QUESTION TIME Do I qualify for a London Living Rent home? To qualify for London Living Rent you must meet the following criteria: 9 Your annual household income must not exceed £60,000 Juliana Goode​, 9 You must live or work in London Senior Build to Rent 9 You must be unable to buy a home, including Manager shared ownership, in the local area 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 meet lenders' general criteria to obtain mortgage finance. The full eligibility criteria and priority policy for a particular development can be advertised in the listing. How do I register my interest in London Living Rent? You can register your interest by selecting the contact tab on one of the London Living Rent scheme adverts. Here you can find an enquiry form that you can complete. What happens after I have registered my interest? Once you’ve completed our online form, your application will be reviewed by our marketing agent to confirm that you meet the eligibility criteria for the property or development you have expressed interest in. If you meet the eligibility criteria, you will be asked to provide some supporting documentation. You will be referred to an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) to complete an affordability check. Once you have been approved by the IFA you will be invited to view your preferred apartment. If your viewing is successful, you will be allocated a property. Our marketing agent will complete a reference check on all London Living Rent residents over 18 years old. If you pass this check you will be asked to pay one month rent as deposit and the first month’s rent, sign the tenancy agreement, and move into your new home. How long does it take to complete the process? As we complete a thorough vetting process prior to you viewing the property we can usually move you in within two to four weeks subject to the property’s availability.


ACTON Ark Soane

One bedroom apartment − £1,152.02 Two bedroom apartment – £1,280.02 Three bedroom apartment – £1,400.00 Ark Soane is an important element of the regeneration of central Acton, providing new educational and sporting facilities as well as much needed affordable homes. Sovereign Network Group (SNG) is delivering nine London Living Rent apartments close to the vibrant town centre with its array of shops, busy market and cafes. The development is only 10 minutes’ walk from Acton Town station (Piccadilly Line) and offers wonderful views of the surrounding area. Homes are carefully finished to a high standard with open-plan living spaces, a fitted kitchen with brand new integrated Zanussi appliances and a fullyfitted bathroom – perfect to move straight in to.

How long is a London Living Rent tenancy? We ask you to sign an assured shorthold tenancy for three years. Usually, you will have a two-month break clause from the 12th month so you can move out after 12 months if your circumstances change. At the end of the tenancy and if you have been a reliable tenant, you will be offered a tenancy renewal. How long can I stay in my London Living Rent home? If you fulfil your obligations as a London Living Rent tenant, you are entitled to remain in your home for the duration of the London Living Rent term. The London Living Rent term is separate to your tenancy term and usually lasts between five to 10 years from the date the development was completed. This term can vary between developments. So, if a scheme with a 10-year term was completed on 1 January 2020, the London Living Rent term would end on 31 December 2029. Can I move to an alternative London Living Rent apartment once my term ends? You can’t move to an alternative if you’ve completed the stated London Living Rent term (usually 5 to 10 years). Are bills included in my rent? Only service charges are included in your rent, you will need to pay for all other bills. Must I save a minimum amount each month? 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 belowmarket rent so 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. We are happy to discuss your saving options with you. Must I deposit any saving with you? No, you will need to deposit and manage your savings. How soon after moving into my London Living Rent apartment can I purchase my first share? You can buy the first share after six months as long as you have the deposit and income to meet repayment obligations. Must I buy the apartment I am living in? 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.

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BARRATT HOMES AND DAVID WILSON HOMES First time buyers often tell us they can’t save for a deposit because they are already paying “their landlord’s mortgage”. With the average deposit for a first time buyer rising to £54,116, while rents are skyrocketing, it’s no wonder that the younger generation are struggling to get their foot on the ladder, says Marc Woolfe, Director of Sales and Marketing at Barratt David Wilson North Thames However, innovative new schemes are providing a glimmer of hope for "Generation Rent" by turning renters into buyers. Our recently launched Rent then Buy scheme, for example, helps aspiring homeowners build the deposit they need, while they are living in their dream Barratt David Wilson home. This provides much-needed support for qualifying first time buyers, enabling them to put down just a 2.5% deposit, exchange contracts and move into their new home straight away. Using the scheme, buyers can spend six months renting their chosen new

home while their monthly payments build their deposit up to 5%. At the end of the six-month rental period, the money they have paid in rent is counted as the remaining 2.5% of their deposit, meaning they can then draw down a 95% mortgage and complete the purchase of their brand new home. The scheme provides a lifeline to speed up the saving process, allowing homebuyers to get started on their new life without delay. With saving for a deposit becoming increasingly difficult and with rents rising fast, Rent then Buy offers homebuyers a chance to seize the

moment and lock in the home of their choice now. Instead of paying private rent that eats up all their savings, the money can be put to good use as part of their deposit, all while enjoying living in their new home. The Rent then Buy scheme is on offer at a range of developments at Barratt David Wilson North Thames. To find out more about the Barratt Homes properties available call 0333 355 8500 and for David Wilson Homes properties available call 0333 355 8501, or



Clipstone Park

Orchard Green @ Kingsbrook

Located in Leighton Buzzard, this is a highly sought-after, thriving community. Residents can enjoy beautiful countryside on their doorstep, as well as an array of schools within walking distance and plenty of new amenities to come. Reach London within 30 minutes via Leighton Buzzard station, and M1 junction 11A in 10 minutes. Three and four bedroom homes from Barratt Homes start at £390,000, and three and four bedroom homes available from David Wilson Homes start at £535,000.

This large, multi-phase development near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire comprises 2,450 new homes, three new schools and community infrastructure. Partnering with the RSPB, sustainability is at the heart of this development, with a 250-acre area of wildlife-rich space, and more than 100 allotments. One bedroom Barratt Homes apartments start from £230,000, and three and four bedroom David Wilson Homes from £380,000.



Linmere in Houghton Regis will have over 5,000 homes, schools, parks and a community cafe. Located within five minutes of the M1, the nearest stations are Leighton Buzzard, Leagrave and Luton Airport Parkway. It offers 90 acres of public open space, 17 play areas for the community, electric car charging points and new community allotments. Three bedroom Barratt Homes start from £362,500 and £355,000 for a David Wilson Home.

Located in Buckingham, these two and three bedroom properties from Barratt Homes start from £255,000. There are children's equipped play areas and a large public open space feature within the development. The Royal Latin Grammar school is located within walking distance of the development. Located between the M1 and M40, you’ll be within easy access of Milton Keynes, Bicester and Aylesbury. You can reach London in under 40 minutes from Milton Keynes or Bletchley railway stations.


St Rumbold’s Fields

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If you’d love to buy a home of your own, but are finding it hard to save up for a deposit, SO Flexi could be the answer COMING SOON

With SO Flexi, you rent one of our new homes for much less than the market rate. That makes it easier to save up for a deposit. When you’ve saved enough, you can simply buy the home you’re already renting with shared ownership. Or, if you’d prefer, you can choose to buy a different shared ownership home. There are two SO Flexi options – London Living Rent and Rent to Buy. Before you sign the paperwork for your SO




SO Flexi Cambourne is a collection of two bedroom Rent to Buy maisonettes available in Cambourne, Cambridgeshire. Situated just nine miles west of Cambridge and just over an hour from King’s Cross Station. This new development offers easy workday links with plenty of scope for weekend adventures – surrounded by a nature reserve and independent eateries, shopping centre and the opportunity for activities. Stansted airport is a 38-mile drive or four miles to Cambridge airport. One, two, three and four bedroom houses will be available through shared ownership.

SO Flexi Acton is a collection of 52 one, two and three bedroom London Living Rent apartments available in East Acton, West London. Homes come with stylish fully-fitted kitchens, an en suite to selected two bedroom apartments, private balconies and there is useful cycle storage and lovely communal outdoor space. The Great Western Rail main line connects Bristol Temple Meads with London Paddington, through Hanwell, Ealing Broadway and Acton Main Line. From East Acton station on the Central Line it takes 30 minutes to Tottenham Court Road.

Register your interest at

Register your interest at

Flexi Home, you’ll need to pay some upfront fees. These include: 9 A reservation fee of £250. You pay this after your financial assessment is successful, to secure the home you have chosen 9 Your deposit. This is paid once successful references have been received. The deposit is equivalent to one month’s rent and is paid into a Deposit Protection Scheme 9 One month's rent. You pay this when you sign your tenancy agreement and are preparing to move into your new home. The amount you pay will depend on your moving date. We will let you know how much this will be in advance. Monthly costs Once you have moved into your new SO Flexi home, you’ll need to pay your monthly rent on the date agreed within your tenancy. You are also responsible for the costs of running your home including utility bills, council tax and contents insurance. Your future rent payments will be made by Direct Debit. Your tenancy agreement will be reviewed once a

result of struggling with housing costs

There are also some one-off costs before you move in.

9 Be willing to agree to save an affordable amount every month towards your deposit while you are

Upfront costs

renting a SO Flexi home.

Before you sign the paperwork for your SO Flexi Home,

year, the rent increasing in line with the consumer price

You are not eligible if you:

you’ll need to pay some upfront fees. These include:

index calculation in your tenancy agreement.

9 Already own a property or are in the process of

9 A reservation fee of £250. You pay this after your

Am I eligible for London Living Rent?

9 Already have a deposit, meaning you are eligible

buying one To apply for a SO Flexi home with London Living Rent, you’ll need to:

for shared ownership and able to buy now 9 Have an adverse rental history and are not able

9 Live or work in a London borough

to get a good reference from your current landlord

9 Have a household income of under £60,000

– for example because of rent arrears or other

9 Meet the indicative minimum income and

tenancy breaches

financial assessment is successful, to secure the home you have chosen 9 Your deposit. This is paid once successful references have been received. The deposit is equivalent to one month’s rent and is paid into a Deposit Protection Scheme 9 One month's rent. You pay this when you sign your

affordability requirements for the home you are

9 Have a history of bankruptcy, county court

tenancy agreement and are preparing to move into

interested in. These will depend on its current

judgements (CCJs) or Individual Voluntary

your new home. The amount you pay will depend

value, and an assumed future purchase of 25% of

Agreements (IVAs).

on your moving date. We will let you know how

your home 9 Be able to pay some rent in advance and

much this will be in advance. What is Rent to Buy?

provide the equivalent of one month’s rent as your

Rent to Buy is designed to help people living outside

Monthly costs

tenancy deposit

London to save for shared ownership while they rent.

Once you have moved into your new SO Flexi home,

Rents are often up to 20% less than for similar homes on

you’ll need to pay your monthly rent on the date agreed

the open market and tenancies are at least three years.

within your tenancy. You are also responsible for the costs

9 Be unable to afford a similar home in the local area, either through shared ownership or on the

of running your home including utility bills, council tax

open market 9 Have the right to rent – proven by possession

What does it cost?

and contents insurance.

of British/EU/EEA Citizenship or a valid UK

You pay a monthly rent, which includes service charge.

Your future rent payments will be made by Direct

residency visa

For example, the monthly rent on a one bedroom flat

Debit. Your tenancy agreement will be reviewed once a

in Slough, valued at £300,000, would be £880 pcm,

year, the rent increasing in line with the consumer price

based on 80% of a market value rent of £1,100.

index calculation in your tenancy agreement.

9 Have a formal rental tenancy in place, or live in an informal arrangement with family or friends as a


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TRENDWATCH: WHAT’S HOT IN 2024 AND HOW TO INCORPORATE THESE IDEAS IN YOUR HOME Scrolling social media is a great source of inspiration for home interiors, but what trends are popular this year and how can we translate these ideas into our own homes? Steve Hird, Director and Co-Founder of show home interior design specialist Edward Thomas Interiors, shares his insight…

Pictures: 2024 Trends designed and installed by Edward Thomas Interiors






The carefully curated look is out and instead, home styling is leaning towards bold, deliberately mismatched designs that embrace vivid colours. Homeowners are seeking interiors that bring them joy and a sense of carefree living. This is the next iteration of the maximalist trend, which is now extending to wall treatments, fabric choices and accessories. Expect to see colourful rugs, bright upholstery and quirky furniture.

Our collective commitment towards sustainable living remains strong, meaning we’re uber-conscious about material choices, favouring those which ensure the longest lifespan. Natural materials such as wood, stone, linen and wool will all be prominent and, when layered together, create chic and earthy interiors. Part of this trend is incorporating more secondhand, upcycled or repurposed pieces, particularly furniture and accessories.

Moving away from the Matisse-style line drawings that were dominant last year, abstract artwork will feature heavily throughout 2024. Think shapes that are free form and individual. We’re not just talking wall art here either, lampshades, objet d’art and occasional furniture will all follow this aesthetic. For house types with quirky layouts or apartments that need subtle subdivision, abstract art can provide a stylish and eye-catching solution.


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INTERIORS TOP TREND #4 – COLOUR EXPLOSION Alongside “Sweet Embrace” (a delicate pink) and “Peach Fuzz”, which were named the 2024 Dulux and Pantone Colours of the Year respectively, two more colours to watch out for are yellow and silver. The darker shades of the yellow family (mustard, ochre, etc) that have been a staple of recent times are making way for softer, comforting shades like straw and butter. Similarly, silver is set to make its comeback alongside aluminium, chrome and stainless steel. We expect to see this in light fittings and kitchens the most.

TOP TREND #5 – SELF-CARE SPACES Homeowners have let go of traditionally badged rooms and are preferring to make spaces that suit their lifestyle. Embracing “self-care” spaces, somewhere restorative that supports mental and physical wellbeing, is a rising trend. This might mean turning a study into a craft room, a guest bedroom into a home office, gym, library or child’s playroom, and not forgetting “spathrooms” ie bathrooms with spa-like decor! So how can first time buyers introduce these trends into their homes, especially as after all the costs associated with the house buying process have been met, there’s likely only limited budget remaining?

BE SPACE SMART Most new build homes follow an openplan layout, so try to avoid creating pinch points with bulky objects or furniture. This ensures the home’s logical flow can still be followed. You can subtly subdivide or “zone” these spaces with abstract art and lighting to allow for different activities such as relaxing, dining or home working. We also advocate vertical thinking in apartments and open-plan areas. TVs, drinks stations and shelving can all be wall-mounted while bar storage, hanging planters or pot and pan racks can be added to ceilings as stylish storage solutions. Remember not to overlook any underutilised or transitional spaces either. Under the stairs, landings, hallways and alcoves make great spots for a self-care space. You could add a ladder desk to make a home office, or an occasional chair and side table to create a cosy spot for reading, listening to a podcast or crocheting!

WONDERWALL(S) AND FOCAL POINTS Wallcoverings are one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to transform a

room, and they don’t have to include all four walls! Feature wallpapering and panelling immediately adds a luxe look and is certainly one way of introducing dopamine decor into your home. But one of the most versatile treatments is painting. This can be applied in many ways, from full and halfheight walls to abstract shapes and colour block panels. Here’s when you can use some of 2024’s most sought-after colours to create a focal point, for example behind the bed, to frame a picture gallery or simply to inject personality into smaller rooms such as cloakrooms and utilities. Don’t forget to look up too, painted ceilings or ceiling canopies can add depth or make a child’s bedroom more playful.


costs less, but you have to replace it quicker. By changing your thinking, embracing circularity and investing in secondhand furniture you can achieve surprising results more sustainably. Painting, reupholstering, decoupaging or stencilling all, or part, of a piece of furniture can really give a new lease of life, think chair seat backs, table legs or cupboard doors. Then of course there’s upcycling. Repurpose smaller items such as rattan plant pots into lightshades, or what about using old gin bottles as candle holders? You can be more inventive with larger pieces too – make a desk from old fruit crates and timber, join two breadbins together to make a “breadside table”! By layering these alongside newer pieces, you’ll give your home its own identity.

Fast furniture is similar to fast fashion. It

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At SOWN, we say, “Your dream home may surprise you” because our customers are often amazed at what they can buy through shared ownership. With the opportunity to buy a property of a higher value than would have been possible on the open market, customers find that they can get more than they had hoped for – whether it’s a balcony, an extra bedroom or a better location

Rowan Wood

The simple fact is that when you buy a shared ownership home, you’ll buy between 10% and 75% of the home’s full market value and pay rent on the outstanding proportion. But over time, you’ll probably choose to increase, or “staircase” your ownership. One step at a time (like walking up a staircase), you can purchase further shares in the property until you achieve full ownership (reach the top of the staircase). So you can buy your dream home sooner than you would have done otherwise. Something else that surprises our customers is the range of properties available to them. Is your dream home a brand new modern apartment in a purpose-built city scheme, in a community of like-minded young professionals? This is probably the traditional image of shared ownership, and it’s certainly true of several of the schemes that we’re currently marketing. One example is Clarendon on Hornsey High Street 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 convenient transport connections. Another popular scheme is Ferry Island North Heart of Hale, located just moments from Tottenham Hale station. Designed by Pollard Thomas Edwards, these 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. But your dream home may be something different, such as a house or apartment in the countryside or a pre-owned shared ownership home in an established residential community. There is something out there for everyone. These examples, and many more, are available to buy through shared ownership. Take a look at the SOWN website and you’ll see the wide range that is available to you. We don’t just market newly built schemes, we also fulfil the important role of overseeing the sales of properties when their owners choose to move on. Because it is important that homes sold as shared ownership remain available as shared ownership, we work with housing

associations on resales as well as sales, matching up future first time buyers with their dream home, whatever that might be. Shared ownership has never been so popular. Why? Because with shared ownership you can buy sooner, with reduced upfront costs and good mortgage deals. Because with shared ownership you can avoid sky-high rents. Because with shared ownership you can increase your ownership shares at your own pace. And because with shared ownership you can own your dream home sooner than you might have thought possible. So visit the SOWN website today to find out what’s available in your area. As part of 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. We would be delighted to help you find your dream home, whatever it is that you are looking for. And if you decide to sell later down the line, we can help you with that too!

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COULD YOU BE LIVING THE PLUMLIFE THIS YEAR? A new year presents a chance for change and if you are looking to get your foot on the property ladder then look no further than Plumlife Stepping into a new home can be one of the best feelings in the world and with shared ownership, that feeling could be just around the corner! There’s no doubt that the housing market is tough at the moment, anyone who follows the news can understand that getting your foot on the property ladder is difficult, but our homes are still proving very popular and within reach for our customers. Take for example our Mulino Walk development in Ancoats, Manchester, and Hollins Grange in Hollingworth, Hyde. Launch events were held for both developments in November 2023, these were extremely successful and all 35 plots were reserved off-plan! So why is the shared ownership scheme proving so popular in a challenging housing market? It offers a solution to those who can’t afford to buy a home on the open market, which is a very


common position to be in for people from all walks of life. Shared ownership is a way to buy a share in a home now, with the option to buy more of it in the future when you’re in a position to do so. You pay rent on the share of the home that you don’t own and you need a much smaller deposit than with a traditional purchase.

Interested? Plumlife has a range of homes across the North West, all available to purchase with shared ownership. Plus, Plumlife has developments launching throughout 2024. Just head over to the Plumlife Homes website to register your interest, then you’ll be the first to hear as soon as we have any further information available. One of our happy customers, Lucy Donahue, needed to move home following a relationship break-up but had to stay in the area where her children went to school. She said, “My children go to school in the East Didsbury area, so I needed to stay local, but even though I had a lot of equity from my previous property it was proving virtually impossible to purchase anything in the area. I had been looking for nearly five years before I found The Poplars development – that made it possible.” She added, “I love the location and the style of the property. I particularly like the kitchen/diner area, it feels so much more spacious than I expected. Also, the build

is really good quality – it’s never cold and you can’t hear anything from the neighbours. The process was smooth enough and I would highly recommend Plumlife. I always thought that shared ownership properties were only for first time buyers. So when I realised I was eligible in my situation, it was like all my prayers had been answered. “The alternative would have been to buy a very run-down property that I wouldn’t have been able to afford to improve or move completely out of the area – which I didn’t want to do because of my boys.” For many of our customers, their new home is their perfect forever home. But if you’re a shared owner ready for your next move we have you covered, in the shape of our shared ownership resales specialist Plumlife Move. Plumlife Move is an expert in reselling shared ownership properties on behalf of customers, ensuring homes are sold quickly and compliantly. You don’t even have to be a Plumlife customer, Plumlife Move can sell any shared ownership home. In challenging market conditions, the team continues to find a buyer for homes in an impressive average of four weeks. So if 2024 is your time to make a move, check out and you too could soon be living the Plumlife!

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Making the move from one country to another is both exciting and nerve-wracking, and for couple Maxine and Andrew, a promising career opportunity in south London encouraged them to take the leap After living in London for a period of time, the couple began searching for a home to call their own. However, with the UK currently facing a perfect storm of challenges including the cost-of-living crisis, high interest rates and inflation, it seemed that owning a home in the capital could be out of reach.

AN ALTERNATIVE ROUTE Faced with impossibly high prices, primary schoolteacher Maxine and partner Andrew were starting to give up on the idea of owning a home. However, having seen friends successfully purchase homes through shared ownership schemes, they realised that the search for a beautiful new home wasn’t over. “We watched so many of our friends find happiness in their first homes using shared ownership, they inspired us to explore the options available to us. I don’t know what we would have done if we didn’t find out about shared ownership,” said Maxine. Shared ownership is an alternative pathway to homeownership whereby buyers purchase a share of the property, typically starting at 25%. They pay a low rent on the remaining shares to the housing developer and a small monthly service charge on top. Maxine added, “If it weren’t for shared ownership, we wouldn’t have been able to buy a property.”

FINDING THE RIGHT MATCH Maxine and Andrew soon found their perfect home at Signal Park – a south London development by Guinness Homes. “As soon as we set our eyes upon Signal Park, we knew it was the one for us. As it’s recently been built, all the homes are sparkling new, with tonnes of storage and even a beautiful kitchen island and our own private balcony area.

“When we were in South Africa, Andrew and I always wanted to buy a home, but everywhere we could afford required so much renovation work it would have cost a fortune – and taken so long – to get a house to become our home. Buying a new build shared ownership property took all of those problems away.” Looking for a spacious home to call their own, and with visiting family needing a place to stay, the couple knew that space was a must-have. “Finding a three bedroom home was non-negotiable,” added Maxine. “As we have moved halfway across the world, we needed somewhere for our families to stay when visiting us.” With the development located close to a number of schools, Signal Park opened up many job opportunities for primary school teacher Maxine to develop her career and support their family in the long term.

THE FINANCIAL DETAILS When purchasing a property outright, first time buyers often face high deposits

and mortgage repayments. Fortunately, with Guinness Homes’ shared ownership scheme, Maxine and Andrew were able to put down a deposit that suited their budget. The couple were able to purchase a 30% share of their home (with a full market value of £585,000) and put down a deposit of £35,000, equivalent to 20% of their 30% share, worth £175,000. “The team at Signal Park were so helpful – we’d recommend them to anyone. From the location to the style of the apartments to the affordability, we’re confident that we’ve made the right decision,” Maxine concluded. Offering a number of one, two, and three bedroom shared ownership apartments, Phase One of Signal Park comprises modern, spacious homes, finished to a high standard. With landscaped outdoor space and excellent transport links, Signal Park is the ideal place to call home in London. The apartments at Signal Park are ready to move into now, so if you’re searching for your first home, give the Signal Park team a call on 020 3824 9500 today or visit the website to find out more information

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WE NEVER THOUGHT WE WOULD BE ABLE TO AFFORD SUCH LUXURY A recent poll of Weston Homes buyers concluded that they bought because their properties offered so much more in the price than any other housebuilder

Megan, 28, and Panny, 31, have just moved to Watford Cross in Hertfordshire from Glasgow to take up jobs in London and through sheer luck they got the apartment they wanted when its previous buyer couldn’t proceed on buying at this Weston Homes development. Panny could not believe the amount of smart technology throughout – from the superfast broadband to digital taps that control the temperature and clever water use in the luxury bathrooms, and the specification which provided them with a fully fitted, high-end designer kitchen. “We got what we wanted – and much more.” Emily Lyle, 24, landed a job after tough competition as a graduate trainee at BP and bought a Weston Homes apartment in Feltham to be near her office. Anticipating her buy, she had recently completed an interior design course and was thrilled with her new home. Moving in early, she had a choice of tiles, floor and kitchen colours and many more fixtures and fittings. She was pleased with the wood-effect floors, fully fitted carpet in her main bedroom, huge wardrobes and big windows for natural light. And the kitchen was fully fitted with

Emily Lyle and her mum Caroline

Megan and Panny

all the white goods and so many fitted cupboards. She chose a stunning midnight blue for her cupboards and selected trend-setting silver matt handles for the units. There are 30 cupboard colours to choose from, in matt, gloss, shaker or other contemporary styles. “I wanted a layout that gave me a spacious living area in the middle and the bedrooms to the left and right – separating the guest bedroom for privacy. Mum says it is like coming to stay in an hotel. The bathrooms have so many cupboards, big steam-free mirrors, high-tech taps and even a built-in digital clock.” Jade, a trainee lawyer, and Jake are both 25. They had planned to go travelling never thinking they could afford a home until they found their apartment on the second floor at 1023 West, a small attractive development of flats in a quiet residential area of Brentwood, Essex. The one they fell for had a large balcony overlooking a landscaped grassy bank. It was close to the old market town of Brentwood in Essex and near important transport links. They moved in with a cat called Franco, a borrowed sofa, curtains and a storage bed. “We were blown away, we could not believe the price,” Jade says. “We made sure to look around at other new build properties in the area. We saw about 10 other flats but nothing compared. With all the extras, our

Jade and Jake with their cat Franco

flat is the same price, and it has a smart shared entrance hall and carpeted hallways that are well looked after. When they visit, all our friends are impressed.” 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

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HOTspot Ponders End

Once associated purely with industry, Ponders End has been revitalised in recent years. New developments capitalise on its riverside location, and the grassy surrounds of the Lea Valley, to offer affordable homes to those looking to buy their first home in Enfield



1 New homes transforming the area 2 Lee Valley Leisure Complex on the doorstep 3 Wandering the local waterways 4 Locally brewed beers from Camden Town Brewery and Beavertown Brewery’s Beaverworld 5 An easy holiday getaway with direct trains to Stansted!



Located to the west of the River Lee Navigation, and centred on the Hertford Road, Ponders End was industrialised through the 19th century. This budding area of south east Enfield, north London, has a population of over 15,000 and with exciting new developments popping up in the area, is growing fast in popularity. First recorded in 1593 as Ponders Ende, meaning the “end or quarter of the parish associated with the Ponder family”, Ponders End’s straight road and waterway network made it perfectly placed for industry. By 1906, over 2,000 people were employed in local factories and during the first world war a huge munitions factory, the Ponders End Shell Works, was built in Wharf Road. Wright’s Flour Mill, the oldest working industrial building in the borough, remains as testament to the area’s industrial past. Ponders End railway station is in Zone 5, on the Greater Anglia Line, with direct trains to Liverpool Street, Hertford East and Stansted. Commuters can be at London Liverpool Street in

just 17 minutes. There are also a good number of local bus services, including a night bus. Ponders End now largely features streets lined with suburban terraced housing built in the 19th and early 20th centuries, as factories and warehouses have slowly given way to housing estates. Families fill the modern terraces and tower blocks that characterise this diverse area. Large-scale regeneration is now well underway with the high-rise Alma Road Estate having undergone demolition to rejuvenate the area and provide luxury homes. New development in the area means there are now high-quality homes available to meet the needs of both families and young professionals looking for a quick commute at an affordable price.

Ponders End is not known for its shopping, but you’ll still find everything you need locally. Enfield has a thriving high street and Palace Shopping Centre with high street favourites including TK Maxx, H&M, M&S and Next. Enfield retail parks are also on the doorstep and are perfect for getting your new home kitted out – stores include Dunelm, The Range, Matalan and DFS. You also have your pick of the supermarkets with ASDA on Ponders End high street and Morrisons, Aldi, Tesco and Sainsbury’s all within a five to 10-minute drive. Living in Ponders End, you are of course perfectly placed to enjoy everything the capital has to offer, but you’ll be pleased to know you don’t have to go far at all to find quality food. The Meeting Bar and Restaurant offers delicious Thai food or head to Enfes Ocakbasi for a traditional Turkish grill. Alternatively, you can’t beat The Harvester at The Navigation for a cheap and cheerful breakfast or lunch on the waterfront. Fancy curling up on the sofa with a takeaway in your new home? You are spoilt for choice, with everything from fish and chips to Caribbean right on the high street. Come the evening, The Goat is a popular pub with the locals, or head

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Average property price in Enfield (October 2023) – £450,106 Property breakdown* Detached − £ 1,124,550 Semi-detached − £719,369 Terraced − £483,784 Flat − £300,617



*According to the Land Registry House Price Index

FAMOUS RESIDENTS • Actor Stephen Mangan • TV personality, quizzer and "Egghead" Christopher Hughes • Musician Dave Peacock of Chas & Dave • Olympic sprinter Chijindu "CJ" Ujah • The late politician Lord Norman Tebbit

further into Enfield for a wider selection including O’Neill’s and The Cricketers, a cosy venue with regular pub quizzes. Look out for beers from Camden Town Brewery and Beavertown Brewery, which both brew in the area! There is plenty to tire the kids out locally too – we recommend heading to Jump In Trampoline Park or to the playgrounds at Jubilee Park or Ponders End Park, which also has a football pitch, basketball court and climbing areas. Alternatively, head to the Odeon Luxe to catch a movie. Ponders End is conveniently located just a short walk from Lee Valley Athletics Centre, the largest indoor and outdoor athletics centre in the south of England, which hosts a wide range of activities and classes for all ages and abilities. You also have Lee Valley Golf Course here – just one of many locally if you’re a keen golfer! For anglers, fishing is allowed on the River Lee Navigation upstream and downstream of Ponders End Lock (information available from the River Lea Anglers Club).


Coming soon! A new development from Newlon Living – Nexus comprises 28 one and two bedroom shared ownership apartments. Each of the apartments is decorated in stylish, neutral tones, with a bright living area. Contemporary fitted kitchens and modern bathrooms complete the look and each apartment benefits from having its own private outside space. Built around landscaped gardens and play areas, these superbly presented homes form part of the third phase of this popular development and are due to be launched shortly. Enfield town centre is a short distance away and with Ponders End station so close by, journey time to Liverpool Street is just 17 minutes. For shopping and leisure, Westfield Stratford is only 30 minutes away where you’ll be spoilt with over 300 shops, 50 places to dine and an 11-screen cinema. Westfield Stratford City is one of the biggest inner-city shopping malls in Europe and a prime lifestyle destination for east London. Register your interest at

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MAKING 2024 YOUR YEAR SO WHAT DOES 2024 HAVE IN STORE FOR YOU? For many people, this year will mark a milestone move out of their parents’ house, signalling an exciting next chapter of independence. For others, they will be stepping on to the property ladder after years of renting, securing their first home that brings comfort, stability and security. Leading housing provider Southern Housing New Homes, committed to creating communities that allow people to flourish, is currently marketing a range of exciting new shared ownership homes to suit every need. Whether you are seeking a slick city pad surrounded by vibrant energy or dreaming of life by the coast and fresh sea air, Southern Housing New Homes has the home for you, with the deep-rooted assurance of quality and sustainability as standard.

With property portals Rightmove and Zoopla always reporting their busiest day of the year on Boxing Day, it’s clear that people across the country are thinking about what 2024 looks like in terms of their home moves

ROOFTOP COCKTAILS Nestled in Bethnal Green and shouldering buzzing east London, Corner Place offers stylish one, two and three bedroom apartments with everything on your doorstep. Enjoy convenient access to central London, and an eclectic mix of upscale bars, restaurants, amenities and nightlife in the local area. Old Spitalfields Market, Brick Lane, Bethnal Green Gardens and Weavers Fields are all close by, offering residents the very best in city living, including rooftop cocktail spots in abundance, but with easy access to facilities and tranquil green spaces. The development itself also boasts a stylish rooftop garden. Office workers can enjoy easy access to the City and London Bridge, living a mere four-minute walk away from Bethnal Green station, while hybrid workers can benefit from a range of flexible workspaces and buzzing coffee shops on the doorstep.

GREEN FINGERS Nestled on the outskirts of Chichester in West Sussex, in the charming village of Woodgate, the Wings Wood development offers a range of two and three bedroom homes that combine modern living with the beauty of the local West Sussex landscape. Each home comes with


Wings Wood

a spacious turfed private garden, providing an oasis to relax in, as well as forming the ideal blank canvas for aspiring gardeners to make their mark. Whether cultivating attractive flowerbeds for summer, potting new plants or even growing food in your own veg patch, Wings Wood gives those with green fingers the chance to flourish. Each home also comes with allocated parking, some with EV charging points, as well as a range of eco features that ensure energy bills are kept to the minimum.

COASTAL CHARM Situated on Hove’s seafront and only a two-minute walk away from the beach, Grand Avenue has been designed to create a welcoming community and has a relaxed seaside feel, with two bedroom homes ready to move into now. The development features landscaped grounds and a private residents’ courtyard, while all homes benefit from clean and airy designs, high specification throughout and Bosch and Hoover integrated appliances. Hove is known as the slightly more

Grand Avenue

relaxed, sophisticated neighbour to Brighton, home to interesting boutiques, cafes, bars and restaurants. However, should you wish, the buzz of Brighton is only a seven-minute cycle ride away. Jane Williams, Head of Sales at Southern Housing New Homes, comments, “The start of the new year represents an exciting time, filling many with fresh optimism and motivation to see their homeownership dreams come true, and we are thrilled to be welcoming many first time buyers and young professionals into quality Southern Housing New Homes in 2024. “With homes in vibrant city hotspots like east London to the beautiful Sussex countryside, we truly have options to suit every lifestyle and budget. Our modern, thoughtfully designed open market sale and shared ownership homes enable people to put down roots in neighbourhoods they may have only dreamed of living in before. From contemporary fixtures and finishes to energy-efficient features, our homes are crafted with care to create welcoming communities. Residents can expect to find like-minded neighbours, landscaped green spaces to mingle in, and a real sense of belonging.” To find out more, and benefit from the incentives being offered on selective homes to help get you moving, please visit

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Navigating the housing market as a first time buyer can feel daunting at the best of times – and the constant changes in interest rates certainly haven’t helped calm the nerves of many house hunters, particularly in the capital where prices are often much higher Hoping to reassure buyers is Home Reach, a shared ownership provider with a wide range of part-buy, part-rent developments available across the whole of the country – including Dover Court, located in well-connected Southall. An exclusive development of one and two bedroom shared ownership apartments offering spaces fit for modern living, Dover Court is ideal for prospective purchasers in search of the ultimate city base. Featuring contemporary, open-plan kitchens complete with integrated Hotpoint appliances and quartz worktops – ideal for hosting friends and family – and spacious bathrooms complete with Hansgrohe showers and underfloor heating, the apartments also offer access to a balcony or terrace, as well as a residents’ landscaped garden. Dover Court’s excellent west London location offers a regular service into the capital – ideal for commuters and weekend explorers alike. Residents can easily access central London via the Elizabeth Line at Southall station, an 11-minute walk from Dover Court, which reaches Paddington in just 18 minutes – ideal for a quick trip into town, and beyond. For those looking to stay closer to home, Southall’s buzzing neighbourhood has a fantastic range of amenities close by, with residents spoilt for choice. From a range of Indian and South Asian restaurants, supermarkets and stalls, to jewellery stores and boutique shops, Southall’s high street is within easy walking distance. With an impressive array of green spaces including Osterley Park, walkable in 30 minutes, buyers at Dover Court can enjoy space to relax and unwind away from the buzz of the city. There are also two conveniently located gyms, The Gym Group and Featherstone Sports Centre, along with the nearby West Middlesex Golf Club – ideally situated to elevate the lifestyle of Dover Court residents.


As one of the largest homeownership programmes in the UK, Home Reach aims to make housing across the UK more affordable and accessible for aspiring homeowners. This Government-backed shared ownership scheme is available to eligible first time buyers. With shares starting from 25% and minimum deposits of 5%, Home Reach is giving first time buyers the opportunity to step on to the property ladder for a fraction of the price compared to the open market. As a guide of how this would work with Home Reach’s Dover Court development, it means that for a property which has a

full market value of £300,000 with shares beginning from 25%, a mortgage of just £71,250 is needed. With 5% deposits starting from £3,750, buyers require a much smaller deposit than when 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. Prices for a one bedroom apartment at Dover Court start from £75,000 for a 25% share (full market value of £300,000), and deposits from £3,750. For more information, visit

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Our brand new Shopwyke View development brings modern, spacious and thoughtfully designed homes to Chichester. What’s more, with shared ownership available exclusively on these homes, you could be moving sooner than you think WHY PLACES FOR PEOPLE? Places for People started more than 50 years ago and today we’re building happy, healthy and inclusive communities right across the country. Our high-specification new homes offer generous and light-filled living spaces together with efficient heating systems and energy-saving technology to help keep running costs to a minimum.

CHICHESTER – THE VIBRANT GATEWAY TO THE SUSSEX COASTLINE Shopwyke View brings a superb collection of one, two and three bedroom homes to the eastern outskirts of Chichester. This is an area that offers the best of both worlds – the tranquillity of living by the lakes and a nearby Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, coupled with the bustling atmosphere of neighbouring Chichester, recently named Best Place to Live in the South East in the Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide. Living here means you will be close to handy amenities such as shops, a post office, GP, pharmacy, schools, and a good choice of pubs and restaurants. There are also weekly activities such as pub quizzes and exercise classes, which make for ideal social settings. A wider choice of amenities is readily accessible in Chichester centre, with the Novium Museum, Festival Theatre and, of course, Chichester’s famous cathedral, all well worth exploring. For some traditional


seaside fun, Bognor Regis is less than a 20-minute drive away, while further afield you will be able to explore Sussex’s beautiful, rural landscape – the ideal backdrop to modern coastal living.

SPACIOUS AND WELL-APPOINTED NEW HOMES Thanks to the Government-backed shared ownership scheme, you will be able to buy a brand new home for less at Shopwyke View, with an affordable deposit starting from just 5% of the share you buy.* These lovely homes have been built to the highest standard and feature a contemporary, well-appointed Symphony kitchen with integrated fridge-freezer, single oven and chimney hood, making this the perfect space to cook, eat and entertain. An additional benefit to buying new is the fact your home comes with flooring included throughout, including Amtico flooring to the hallway, kitchen, bathroom and separate downstairs WC. With generous living space to live life your way, these attractive one to three bedroom homes enjoy a contemporary layout and private rear garden – perfect for having friends and family over. In addition, each home has been designed and built to use less energy

and save on running costs, allowing you to live more sustainably for less, without compromising on either comfort or quality.

BRING YOUR HOMEBUYING PLANS TO LIFE The shared ownership scheme is an achievable way to bring your homebuying plans to life in 2024, since the lower deposit and mortgage repayments make it easier for you to get on to the property ladder sooner rather than later. The scheme works by enabling you to purchase an affordable share (usually between 25% and 75%) of your new Shopwyke View home and pay a subsidised rent on the remaining share. Your deposit starts from just 5% of the share you buy (not the full property price) so it’s smaller and easier to save up. Your monthly mortgage payments are also smaller. It’s a simple and cost-effective way of buying a new home and you have the option to buy more shares in your property later, as finances allow. Plan to buy your perfect first home in 2024 at Shopwyke View with shared ownership? Visit *T&Cs apply – please see our website for details

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DISCOVER THE HARMONY OF CITY AND COUNTRYSIDE LIVING WITH SNUGG HOMES If you’re seeking the perfect blend of city buzz and serene countryside charm, look no further than Stonecross Vale, the latest gem from shared ownership specialist Snugg Homes

Located in the desirable town of Winsford, this sleek development in the heart of Cheshire provides a semi-rural sanctuary for you to call your own.

ELEGANT LIVING SPACES Step into one of Stonecross Vale’s 38 two, three, and four bedroom energy-efficient homes, carefully crafted to the highest specifications. Here, you can revel in the allure of open-plan living, where French doors invite in floods of natural light to illuminate your home. From spacious bedrooms to contemporary bathroom suites and a convenient downstairs WC, each property even comes complete with a private garden and off-road parking.

offers a wide range of nearby local amenities, including supermarkets, restaurants, bars and local stores all within walking distance. The town also benefits from strong transport connections across the North West so whether you prefer the train, road, or local bus routes, here you can travel with ease. Winsford is not just a haven for homeowners but is also an ideal setting for growing families, with several local schools all highly rated as either Good or Outstanding by Ofsted. You can also explore the idyllic countryside as abundant green spaces, cycle tracks and hiking routes make this the perfect spot to explore the nearby Whitegate Way, the River Weaver, and the majestic Delamere Forest.



Just 17 miles from Chester and the nearby vibrant cities of Manchester and Liverpool, Stonecross Vale brings you closer to the heartbeat of urban life. Situated in Winsford, this development

If you can’t quite afford the mortgage on 100% of a home, buying a shared ownership property with specialist Snugg Homes could be an easier way to get on to the property ladder.


Here, you can buy a share of your home (usually between 25% and 75% of the home’s value) and then pay rent on the remaining share. You will even have the opportunity to buy more of your home at your own pace through the staircasing model, meaning you can eventually purchase your property outright. The shared ownership scheme is open to anyone aged 18 or over, assuming the household earns less than £80,000. To be eligible, you need to meet the specified criteria and not own another home.

HERE TO HELP 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 that’s at Stonecross Vale or any of our other stunning development schemes. To register your interest, please visit our website You can also follow us on @SnuggHomes on Twitter or @snugghomes on Instagram and TikTok

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GET ON TO THE PROPERTY LADDER IN 2024 WITH SHARED OWNERSHIP! Last year no doubt posed some challenges for first time buyers, but with the prospect of the days now warming up and spring traditionally providing a natural bounce in the property market, we have plenty of reasons to be positive for 2024, says Kevin Sims, Director of Sales and Marketing at SO Resi First time buyers have had to combat interest rates, stubborn house prices and the cost-of-living crisis, as well as the cost of renting rising by the fastest rate ever. There is, however, a glimmer of hope this year, with Zoopla forecasting that house prices will continue to fall well into 2024, meaning deposits could be lower alongside decreasing interest rates too¹. Market activity is also set to have a more positive outlook, with mortgage rates predicted to come down. With a General Election looming upon us too, there may be some housing policies introduced with the aim of swaying the younger generation… Our goal at SO Resi is simple; to support as many people on to the property ladder as possible. One way we do this is by providing accessible homes in places which are often unattainable for buyers, often due to a combination of low availability of affordable homes and high house prices. An example of this would be our SO Resi Whetstone development, which has provided 17 one and two bedroom homes in the heart of Barnet. The average price of a property in Whetstone is £727,000 according to property portal Rightmove², which of course is well out of reach for those looking for a starter home. This, coupled with the fact that the average deposit for a first time buyer in London is a whopping £144,500³, makes the prospect of buying at SO Resi Whetstone very attractive, as buyers can put down just a £5,000 deposit to secure a 25% share of a one bedroom apartment – which is much more achievable. Another location we have identified is Farnham in Surrey. Being one of the traditionally more expensive places in the home counties, the average property price here is £557,4284 – far out of reach for most first time buyers. The area also lacks starter homes, with the majority of homes on offer being detached properties more suited to families, widening the affordability gap here. Offering a fantastic selection of 72


SO Resi Whetstone, Barnet: Perfectly poised in the leafy borough of Barnet with a range of amenities, SO Resi Whetstone has recently welcomed a sales suite to the development last year. With a mixture of one and two bedroom apartments available, all coming with spacious balconies, just seven remain from £100,000 for a 25% share. Properties are only available to those living or working in the borough of Barnet. SO Resi Farnham: Located in Surrey, this is an exciting new collection of one and two bedroom apartments, each with an allocated parking spot, within walking distance of the town centre. Farnham station, with services to London Waterloo in an hour, is also a few minutes’ walk away. Brightwells Yard, a shopping centre with a six-screen cinema, is right on the doorstep and there are good schools and attractive open spaces close at hand. Prices start from £67,500 for a 25% share of a one bedroom apartment with a full market value of £270,000 and a deposit of just £3,375. SO Resi Hendon Waterside: An array of 42 studio, one and two bedroom apartments, and two and three bedroom duplex homes, are all available with shared ownership, with prices from £84,375 for a 25% share. This development forms part of the wider £9.6bn north west London regeneration scheme by Barnet and Brent borough councils, and sits close to the Welsh Harp Reservoir which offers scenic trails, waterside footpaths and green sheltered woods. one and two bedroom shared ownership apartments, SO Resi Farnham has been popular with first time buyers and those looking to move to more desirable areas at a fraction of the cost. Buyers here only need to put down a £3,375 deposit for a one bedroom apartment, (5% deposit of a 25% share valued £67,500, full value £270,000). Shared ownership offers buyers flexibility and our homes are designed to fit different circumstances as buyers’ needs change and their finances grow. Staircasing allows buyers to purchase more shares in their homes whenever financially viable, allowing them to own more of their home over time as their budget allows. SO Resi also pioneered the 1% staircasing initiative, which has since been rolled out nationally by the Government. The scheme allows buyers to staircase at a gradual pace by purchasing an additional 1% share each

year, which can be done at the touch of a button with no solicitors needed, making the ultimate goal of homeownership that little bit more achievable. Knowing this benefit is available to our customers throughout their shared ownership journey with us is a huge benefit to the service we offer, and in a cost-of-living crisis, the ability to purchase as little as 1% can make a world of difference in the long term. We have plenty in the pipeline here at SO Resi for 2024, so as usual, watch this space... 1 2 3 to%20Zoopla%2C%20the%20average,down%20a%20 deposit%20of%2033.99%25. 4

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A change in the year brings reflection and reaffirmations of our goals – we take stock and plan for the future. Whether it’s pulling up our socks on previous resolutions, or making new ones, mastering new skills or finally getting on the property ladder Imagine that feeling when you get the keys to your own front door, stepping through the threshold into a space that’s yours, relaxing and doing as you please with no one to answer to. So, if your aspiration for 2024 is to have a place to call your own, then shared ownership could help you on your way. With shared ownership, you buy an initial share of a home’s full value and pay a subsidised rent on the remainder. The deposit required is typically much

smaller because it is calculated against the percentage of the share you purchase. Through a process called staircasing, you can incrementally increase your share of the property to 100% over time should you wish to. Whether you’re looking to experience the buzz of London’s hotpots at Royal Wharf, in east London or White City, west London, capture the flavour of London or build a life away from the hustle and bustle, Legal & General Affordable Homes

Trent Park, Enfield, London EN4 0PS Surrounded by over 400 acres of north London parkland, Trent Park is a green oasis offering uninterrupted views across vast green spaces – think walks, runs, paddling pools and even horse rides with an equine centre nearby. With Cockfosters and Oakwood underground stations a short walk away, Trent Park offers the tranquillity of country living, while also staying within touching distance of central London. For a limited time, LGAH is contributing up to £6,500 towards your new home at Trent Park.

East River Wharf, Newham, east London E16 2AX High-spec apartments at East River Wharf come with amenities including a swimming pool, spa and gym. Residents benefit from the perks of living in one of London’s revitalised communities, with access to the city’s culture and easy connections within and outside the city with Royal Wharf’s many transport links.


(LGAH) has a wide range of homes on offer to perfectly match your desires. What’s more, Legal & General Affordable Homes is contributing up to £9,000 (T&Cs apply) towards your new home, bringing your dream of getting on the property ladder that bit closer to reality. Have a look at the selection here to see what could suit you. Find out more about Legal & General Affordable Homes’ shared ownership properties at

Acer Apartments, White City, London W12 7RQ Located in vibrant White City, Acer Apartments is surrounded by world-class retail, entertainment and leisure facilities including Westfield London within walking distance. Its central location and setting within eight acres of parks and gardens also means you’ll be well connected and there’s plenty of space to unwind and relax. For a limited time, LGAH is contributing up to £9,000 towards your new home at Acer Apartments.

Carter Meadows, Latchingdon, Essex CM3 6JR Surrounded by the beautiful Essex countryside, Carter Meadows gives you open green spaces to relax and breathe. Away from London’s busy streets but close to Essex’s vibrant cities of Chelmsford and Southend-on-Sea, there’s plenty to discover and explore. All houses at Carter Meadows have open-plan living areas full of natural light and come with a private garden.

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Comet Rise is situated in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, in a desirable location combining the convenience and excitement of city living with beautiful green landscapes surrounding the town – an easily accessible location with amazing travel connections

A collection of 86 stylish, one and two bedroom apartments for shared ownership, the homes at Comet Rise have been designed to enhance the experience of daily living. Spacious interiors allow for natural light to flow freely, creating a bright, airy atmosphere. Each apartment boasts its own outdoor space with private balconies as well as a shared rooftop garden offering skyline views of Hatfield. The convenience of modern life is embodied through stylish fitted kitchens supplied by Howdens. Handleless grey kitchen cabinets perfectly complement the marble-effect worktops, offering a seamless and modern appearance. The open-plan layout encourages socialising, and truly allows the space to be optimised and perfectly tailored to your needs. As the night draws in, cosy yet spacious bedrooms offer the perfect place to relax and unwind. Parking is offered to selected apartments with some benefiting from EV chargers.

LIFE IN HATFIELD Hatfield is a bustling, vibrant town packed full of a variety of restaurants, shops, cafes, bars and more. With a mix of modern amenities and historical charm, Hatfield provides an ideal setting for all. Neighbouring towns include Welwyn Garden City and St Albans; with easy access into both, you’ll discover parks with historic backgrounds, grand architecture and charming streets lined with perfect spots for lunch and catching up with friends. Hatfield and St Albans have a vibrant nightlife scene, from cosy, atmospheric restaurants to lively bars – even live music venues to dance the

night away! You’ll discover hidden gems and popular hotspots day or night. Step into history and explore life in the 17th century as you discover the remarkable garden landscapes of Hatfield Park. The breathtaking country house set in idyllic gardens surrounded by woodland is enjoyed by all. Enhance your experience and enjoy live music and delicious food in the Coach House Kitchen. With warming and modern decor, the restaurant plays a perfect host to your social events. Explore independent retailers set in the grounds of Hatfield house and discover hidden treasures. Commuting is easy, with Hatfield railway station providing direct links into London in less that 30 minutes, and the A1(M) providing consistent and quick road links to both north and south locations.

WHY BUY FROM SETTLE? As the name suggests, we want to help you settle in a new community – by delivering new homes that meet local needs and creating diverse new neighbourhoods that let you live the life you choose. At settle we are proud providers of high-quality, affordable homes across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. We provide a variety of tenures to suit everyone’s needs, including offering social rent and shared ownership options. For more information, including prices, floorplans and to arrange to view the show home visit


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MOVING HOME: THE ULTIMATE FIRST TIME BUYER CHECKLIST By David Hnyda, Sales and Marketing Director, Places for People From dreaming to planning to owning, many first time buyers will be seeking to step on to the property ladder in 2024. Planning is everything when it comes to turning a property ownership dream into reality, so we’ve rounded up 10 things to consider when making your move in 2024 1. MAKE YOUR MONEY WORK FOR YOU Start by mapping out your moving budget. Buying a home is about more than just saving a deposit, so budget for the survey, Stamp Duty, professional fees, insurance, moving costs, decorating costs and any big-ticket items you’ll need to buy. Make use of savings accounts with high interest rates and find a savings method that works for you.

2. THINK ABOUT HOW TO BUY There are different ways that you can approach buying a property, depending on your needs and the size of your deposit. If you have a smaller deposit, shared ownership could be a sensible route on to the property ladder. You might be pleasantly surprised by how little you need to save for your deposit in this way.

3. FIND AN INDEPENDENT FINANCIAL ADVISER Engaging an independent financial adviser (IFA) can be an excellent way to find the mortgage that’s right for you. There are hundreds of mortgage products aimed specifically at first time buyers. A financial adviser can take the heavy lifting out of sifting through them. They may seem expensive but remember they can help you understand the process and save you money in the long term.

4. SEEK OUT SAVINGS If you’re buying a new home, ask if there are any incentives available. Mortgage contributions, Stamp Duty contributions and other financial incentives could help you save money when buying a new build.

5. RESEARCH THE LOCAL AREA Don’t just find a property you love, find a whole area. From shops, restaurants and

leisure amenities to green spaces, sports clubs and schools, it’s important to know what’s going to be on your doorstep once you move. The Places for People website is a great place to start; we include detailed location information for every property we sell. Finding a home where you can walk to work, or with great public transport links, means you can cut down on car journeys and enjoy the eco-friendly benefits of living locally.

6. WRITE YOUR NONNEGOTIABLES LIST What’s on your dream floorplan? Whether it’s space to work from home, a downstairs cloakroom or an open-plan kitchen/living space, be clear on what’s non-negotiable versus what’s nice-to-have. But be realistic too – check the local market to see whether your wish list marries up to reality.

7. THINK ABOUT INTERIOR DESIGN Owning your own home means you can fill it with bright, bold colours or pale, muted tones – or anything in between! It’s never too soon to start thinking about your style and how you’re going to create personalised spaces you’ll love. Start a mood board for each room to track your ideas and see how they work together. Find inspiration in the world around you, in magazines, on social media… capture anything and everything that inspires you.

beds and sofas until you’re sure of your room sizes!

9. ENGAGE A GOOD SOLICITOR A proactive solicitor who is easy to contact and keeps you updated regarding the purchase process can take much of the stress out of moving. Ask friends for recommendations and vet potential solicitors thoroughly online before choosing. Be sure to find one who can help you cut through the jargon.

10. BE POISED AND READY When you find your dream home, you’ll know. The more paperwork you have ready in advance, the faster you can move, so you stand the best chance of snapping up your ideal home. Finally, remember to enjoy the journey. Much is made of how stressful buying a property can be, but it can also be a really exciting process, particularly when you’re buying your very first home. So, seek out the joy as you plan your dream move and buy the home you’ve always wanted.

8. PLAN YOUR SPACE Start thinking about how you plan to use the property and your storage needs, to work out how best to utilise the available space. Remember that newly built homes are often designed to be more space efficient. Check your measurements carefully for each room – don’t buy

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HOTspot Winchester



1 Ancient capital of England 2 Noble and rich history 3 Winchester Cathedral 4 Perfect balance of city and country living 5 Vast green spaces to explore on the doorstep

A perfect blend of heritage, culture and natural beauty; Winchester’s widespread appeal is clear. This historic cathedral city invites first time buyers to settle in and enjoy the area’s rich and proud past, while securing their own exciting future

UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT Nestled in the heart of southcentral Hampshire, Winchester is 60 miles south west of London and 14 miles from the nearest other city, Southampton. The beautiful city of Winchester lies in the valley of the River Itchen and serves as a haven for those seeking a mixture of historic charm and modern convenience. The area around Winchester has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and by the beginning of the third century was one of the Roman Empire’s largest towns. There is evidence of this rich history everywhere you turn – the remaining Roman walls and gates, the castle, and The City Cross (which dates to the 15th century and features 12 statues of the Virgin Mary, other saints and various historical figures) to name but a few. But the jewel in Winchester’s crown is Winchester Cathedral. Completed in its earliest phase in 1532, it is one of the largest in Europe. The spectacular building may be familiar from period dramas, perhaps most notably the Netflix series The Crown. The



prosperous area is also famed for being the last residence of world-renowned author Jane Austen and the first place to open a public library in England, in 1850. Today, families with children of school age race to find a new home in Winchester, which should come as no surprise as the education and schools in the area are excellent. Higher education is also available locally with several great universities nearby. The city serves commuters exceptionally well too, with trains to London Waterloo taking just over an hour and to Southampton in 15-25 minutes. Winchester is also conveniently located on the M3, an hour from the M25 and just half an hour from Southampton or Portsmouth. Winchester offers historic homes in abundance − the Fulflood and Hyde areas are particularly popular for period properties. However, they come at a premium so it is well worth considering a modern home if you want to get more for your money.

Follow in the footsteps of the greats like Jane Austen, discovering her connections to the city at every turn; wander through the Winchester City Mill, a working watermill offering an insight into the city’s industrial past, visit The Great Hall, part of the remains of Winchester Castle, or learn all about the history of this vibrant city at Winchester City Museum. Stop for lunch at the Wykeham Arms – right near the cathedral and a fantastic Fuller’s pub – or simply start working your way around the city’s extensive offering of eateries, including Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant – his first to open outside of Cornwall, back in 2014. A wander through the winding streets of Winchester will lead you past big-name brands, nestled comfortably alongside independent shops. Winchester is stylish and sought-after in equal measures and, despite being steeped in history, you really get the best of both worlds here. If high street shopping is your style, The Brooks Shopping Centre is located between Middle Brook Street and Upper Brook Street in the city centre, but Winchester has some outstanding local boutiques too and the area is home to three of the quaintest and most energetic market towns in Hampshire – Alresford,

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Average property price in Winchester (October 2023) – £536,405 Property breakdown* Detached – £892,834 Semi-detached − £542,054 Terraced − £446,695 Flat − £263,543


FROM £68,750*

*According to the Land Registry House Price Index

FAMOUS RESIDENTS • Author Jane Austen • Actor Colin Firth • Reporter Jon Snow • Actor Amanda Holden • Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

Bishops Waltham and Wickham; charming villages which are a short car journey away. Also just a short journey away is Marwell Zoo, offering the opportunity to visit endangered tigers and majestic giraffes. If you want to explore further, travel west of the city to reach the beautiful New Forest or to the east where the South Downs offer spectacular views and trails to enjoy in every season.


Sovereign presents an outstanding collection of energy-efficient one and two bedroom apartments for sale through shared ownership. Ready to move into, the development is situated just a 10-minute walk from the historic city centre of Winchester. Designed to provide luxury living for a wide range of purchasers, the stylish homes have generously proportioned layouts, a high specification and beautiful finishes. Situated in an elevated position, Knights Quarter offers the best of Winchester living. Residents can take a walk into the city centre to enjoy the wealth of culture and amenities Winchester provides, from fantastic shopping to festivals, the theatre and Michelin-star restaurants. Perfect for commuters, Knights Quarter is a 10-minute walk away from Winchester railway station offering services into London Waterloo, with a journey time of approximately one hour. Prices start from £68,750 based on a 25% share. For further information, please visit

Sovereign recently invited Hampshire-based influencer Daisy Harris-Reid to Knights Quarter, to discover everything that the development has to offer. She spent a day kicking back and relaxing in the two bedroom show apartment learning about shared ownership, before taking a short stroll into the city centre to explore the independent shops, delis and coffee shops on offer. To find out more about Daisy’s day at Knights Quarter, visit her Instagram page, @mum_abouttown Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £270,500

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MAKE 2024 YOUR YEAR WITH AN NHG HOMES SHARED OWNERSHIP HOME It’s not an easy time to be a first time buyer, especially in London. Over the past year we’ve seen fluctuating house prices and spiking mortgage rates, leaving many facing a locked door to homeownership and remaining stuck in the vicious rent cycle But with house prices and mortgage rates beginning to fall – plus the fact that rents are at an all-time high – more people will be looking to start their homeownership journey this year. While December 2023 saw London house price growth fall by 1.5% according to Zoopla, affordability is still a challenge in the capital. Buying with an affordable homeownership scheme like shared ownership could be the way to turn your homebuying dreams in London into reality. In fact, 2024 could well be a great time to buy with the scheme, according to Rupi Hunjan, CEO and Founder at leading affordable homeownership mortgage adviser Censeo. “There’s been a huge rise in demand for shared ownership mortgages in recent months, as more people explore this as a route to getting on to the property ladder. “Now is a great time for first time buyers looking for good rates, as there are more lenders and products on the market than ever before, and that number is set to increase even more over the next few months. “And with the strong possibility that the Bank of England interest rate will be reduced earlier than expected, buyers can start to have some confidence in the housing market. They shouldn’t wait too long to start planning for homeownership and should put in the research needed at this stage in preparation.” With shared ownership, buyers purchase a percentage share of the property and pay a subsidised rent on the remaining share. Buyers can own a property in London with a much lower deposit than purchasing outright and enjoy the flexibility of being able to staircase all the way to outright ownership or sell on their share to a new owner – ideal for first time buyers.


Royal Albert Wharf

Recent Lampton Parkside buyer Srekanth

With parkside, cityside and waterside developments across the capital, shared ownership homes make putting down roots in London much more affordable and attainable. From The Perfume Factory in west London to Kidbrooke Square in the South East, NHG Homes developments offer one, two and three bedroom apartments in some of the city’s most up-and-coming urban hubs. One bedroom apartments start at £93,125 at Kidbrooke Square and £108,750 at The Perfume Factory for a 25% share, and monthly costs associated with shared ownership (including rent, mortgage and service charge) are often cheaper than renting locally. If you are looking to choose London as your home in 2024, new phases launching this year by NHG Homes include homes at riverside development Royal Albert Wharf, and at Lampton Parkside in west London. Apartments by NHG Homes combine sleek, contemporary design with comfort and convenience in fantastic locations

across the city. From on-site parking to onthe-doorstep amenities and private outdoor space – there are options to suit every need. Shared ownership buyers also have the freedom to make their home their own by decorating, choosing furniture and getting a pet – the options are endless. Buying a home is a big step, and the NHG Homes sales team is on hand at all times to offer support and make the process as stress-free as possible as buyers navigate this exciting milestone. Srekanth Nilakanthan purchased a 25% share of a two bedroom apartment at Lampton Parkside, west London, in 2023. Speaking about his experience buying a shared ownership home, he said, “It was a blessing to be introduced to the scheme – without it, I wouldn’t be sat here right now. It meant I could buy my own home, and have my family visit me in London as soon as possible.” As 2024 gets underway, shared ownership is bringing hope to the housing market and helping first time buyers to choose London. If you would like to find out more information, visit or speak to the sales team on 020 4579 6251

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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 ST ARTHUR HOMES UNVEILS NEW BRANDING DESIGNED TO APPEAL TO SHARED OWNERSHIP MARKET

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. Their 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 three 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.

Shared ownership provider St Arthur Homes has unveiled its vibrant new branding, designed by creative specialists AF OLIVER. Featuring soft, muted shades of teal, yellow, salmon, charcoal and white, the branding has been created to position St Arthur Homes as the industry leader it is – posited around the central message, “What would St Arthur do?” Adverts have been created to support the launch, which seek to dispel any remaining stigma around shared ownership, or “the elephant in the room”, telling would-be buyers that although St Arthur is not the biggest shared ownership provider around, it is the biggest thinker. It’s a name that people can trust, one which has been cementing its place as a thought leader in the industry for some time now. Louise Mills, Sales Director for St Arthur Homes, said, “Our new branding reflects who we are – forward-thinking experts that buyers can trust. We want people to know that they can rely on us, that they can turn to us and that they can ask us anything. “There can be some stigma around shared ownership but we are on a mission to change that, and to show how fantastic it can be as an option – not just for first time buyers but those who have already owned a home too. “When people discover shared ownership as an option and explore it further, we really do want them to ask themselves, ‘What would St Arthur do?’ We are confident that we have the answers that can help many on to or up the housing ladder, in a home they truly love.”

For more information, visit

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HOTspot The North West



1 World-class cities 2 Medieval villages 3 Limitless adventure 4 Stunning coastline 5 Strong communities

The North West of England is home to some of the county’s biggest and best cities, as well our most historic towns and unspoilt countryside. A powerhouse of industry with a robust property market and limitless opportunities for adventure – it’s an ideal region for first time buyers to settle and invest



Stretching from the hilly beauty of the Cumbrian Lake District down to Cheshire, the North West of England encompasses some of the country’s best-loved and most economically sound towns, cities and villages. With sweeping Lancashire, Merseyside and metropolitan Manchester at its heart, this part of the country has absolutely everything to offer. Northwestern cities include Manchester, Chester and Liverpool, all of which are globally known for their outstanding universities, sports, arts, forward-thinking industry and populations. According to property experts, the region also boasts the most resilient house prices in England, with optimism around the North West’s market performance. All of these cities lie within the Northern Powerhouse − the vast area of the country that has benefited from Government investment announced in 2016 with the vision of realising the economic potential of the region. As industry continues to invest, opportunities for growth and employment improve. MediaCity is a sustainable, waterside community that’s part of Salford Quays in Salford, Greater Manchester. It’s home to some of the world’s most exciting creative, tech and media brands, including the BBC and ITV. It also has a vibrant residential and social scene with a growing number of bars and restaurants while


MediaCity’s waterfront setting provide the perfect space for events. With a population of more than half a million, Manchester is the region’s biggest city and boasts world-leading education, culture, history and entertainment among its credentials. With four universities in Greater Manchester, the number of students means there’s a youthful energy. Residents love the great transport links, world-class shopping, cafes and bars, as well as easy access to the beautiful Peak District. A number of residential areas in Manchester are attracting first time buyers, including Castlefield and Didsbury, with a good offering of period and new homes. Around the region, homebuyers will find some of the best places to live in the UK. Last year, the Sunday Times’ Best Places to Live list placed Liverpool’s Waterloo and Toxteth as the region’s top areas, praised for their independent shops, architecture and community vibe. Meanwhile, Levenshulme in Manchester, Waddington in Lancashire, Southport in Merseyside and Bollington in Cheshire were also praised. Buyers are seeking affordable house prices, air quality, good schools, green spaces and community spirit − and the North West provides these. Great rail links make things easier for commuters, too.

Starting in the region’s farthest north, in Cumbria, the outdoor adventure is limitless. The Lake District offers simply stunning vistas that can be appreciated all year round. Visit the lakeside towns of Kendal, Keswick and Windermere for a mix of wild nature and quaint village life. They’re also excellent bases for exploring the wider area. People living in these areas cite closeness to nature and outdoor adventure and a sense of community as their reasons for loving where they live. In West Yorkshire, the ancient village of Heptonstall near Hebden Bridge is a must-visit attraction for history lovers. The tiny setting sits atop a hill, with barely a car in sight and beautiful ruins (of the church dating to the 1200s) to explore as well a popular, traditional country pub. It is also the resting place for poet Sylvia Plath. In Manchester, locals love Ancoats – an increasingly popular enclave in the city

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Average property price in the North West (October 2023) – £215,719 Property breakdown* Detached − £380,011 Semi-detached − £232,629 Terraced − £165,348 Flat − £143,906


FROM £66,313*

Bowland Rise

*According to the Land Registry House Price Index

FAMOUS RESIDENTS • Writer Beatrix Potter (Cumbria) • Oasis’ Gallagher brothers (Manchester) • Actor Jodie Comer (Liverpool) • Musician Ed Sheeran (Yorkshire) • Comedian Jason Manford (Salford)

centre known for its independent food and drink outlets, some of which have enjoyed huge success. Manchester’s first community-supported bakery, Companio; the 80s-inspired Hip Hop Chip Shop; Japanese Chaology – somewhat of a local phenomenon which performs a unique tea ceremony – are among the big hitters drawing diners to the area. The Northern Quarter, Spinningfields and Gay Village are also well-established destinations for both daytime and nighttime entertainment. Come the evening, Mancunians are truly spoilt for choice. Live music is a key part of the city’s identity and is easy to come by, while theatre and art are taken care of at the magnificent Lowry Centre, Royal Exchange, Opera House and Palace Theatre. Restaurant culture is big in this city, which has the fastest growth of new restaurants in the country. The North West’s coastline, which extends from the Welsh to the Scottish Borders, is long and truly varied, with vast expanses of rural coast, nature reserves, busy seaside towns and resorts, long sandy beaches and sleepy villages. For natural beauty, head to Sefton in Merseyside, where coastal woodland meets undeveloped dunes. You’ll find pretty Victorian seaside towns in Lancashire, including St Annes, Cleveleys and Fleetwood. While, of course, famous Blackpool is guaranteed to entertain with eateries and going-out options ranging from the sedate to the more surreal.

Nestled within Lancashire’s rolling hills is Bowland Rise, the latest shared ownership scheme by Snugg Homes with Wyre’s incredible scenery right at its doorstep. The three bedroom semidetached homes provide the ideal place to settle into contemporary living as each energy-efficient property is equipped with a large lounge, kitchen and dining room with three well-proportioned bedrooms and family bathroom suite. Thanks to Bowland Rise's elevated location, these special shared ownership homes provide incredible views across the beautiful Forest of Bowland and the Fells to the east. Nearby Garstang also has a lot to offer. Perhaps the most revered attraction is Brock Bottom; this idyllic spot is just eight miles from Bowland Rise and boasts over 40 miles of uninterrupted canal running through this stunning landscape. To register your interest in Bowland Rise, please visit our website You can also follow us on @SnuggHomes on Twitter or @snugghomes on Instagram and TikTok *Based on a 25% share with a full market value of £265,250


FROM £58,750*

Francis Place

Francis Place is a brand new development from Plumlife of 39 contemporary two, three and four bedroom homes available through shared ownership. All homes are spacious, airy and light, with private gardens and a dedicated parking space, and the fully fitted kitchens come with integrated appliances. Around five miles from Bolton and 10 miles from Manchester city centre, Walkden is well connected for commuters plus there is a large supermarket, shopping centre, retail park as well as leisure and fitness facilities nearby. *Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £235,000


FROM £42,500*

The Foundry Monton is one of the fastest growing property hotspots in the North West. These luxury open-plan one and two bedroom apartments maximise space and natural light along with clean modern finishes and high-spec interiors. Monton village is a short walk away which offers a wealth of amenities close by. The bustling high street is full of independent bars, restaurants and boutique shops or take a stroll around the many parks and green spaces nearby. *Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £170,000

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With the introduction of London Living Rent, Peabody New Homes now has more homebuying choices than ever before with shared ownership and private sale completing the trio

Macfarlane Place CGI

buyers a range of cafes, restaurants, and leisure facilities right on the doorstep. Additionally, Westfield London, located just across the road, has ensured White City is a shopping and leisure destination. Whether looking to commute to the office or just get out and about to explore, White City is always connected when you fancy a change of scene. Paddington and King’s Cross St Pancras stations can be reached in just eight and 18 minutes respectively from Wood Lane station.

With a rich history at the heart of the British television industry, White City’s Television Centre is an illustrious part of the west London skyline. Now those looking to take their first steps on to the property ladder can call this cultural landmark home with the upcoming launch of Peabody New Homes’ Macfarlane Place at Television Centre, W12 with one and two bedroom homes available to move in from summer 2024.

SETTING THE SCENE Providing a more affordable option for prospective buyers, Macfarlane Place will be the first Peabody New Homes development offering homes through London Living Rent. The scheme is designed to help buyers save up for a deposit by renting properties at a discounted rate of around a third of local household incomes, to support those looking to transition from renting to shared ownership. Also set for launch this spring, Macfarlane Place will feature a selection of stylish shared ownership homes, with residents able to access either a stunning green podium garden or roof terrace, ideal for relaxing and socialising.

PRIMETIME LIVING Macfarlane Place joins an established community at Television Centre, offering


City Angel CGI

FROM WEST TO EAST Providing another alternative route to homeownership in the capital is City Angel, a stylish collection of studio and one bedroom apartments available through shared ownership in Zone 1, EC1. Built over 200 years ago in 1819, City Road Basin was a bustling destination surrounded by wharves for unloading the range of goods transported across the city by boat. Following an extensive period of regeneration, the surrounding area is once again establishing a thriving community.

URBAN SANCTUARY Set at Berkeley’s iconic 250 City Road development, City Angel provides an urban sanctuary with tree-lined parkland, intimate garden squares with decorative

water features and Wi-Fi-enabled podium gardens. Terence O’Connor, Head of Sales and Marketing North East Region, comments, “City Angel is designed for those looking for balance in life. It boasts all the convenience of London living in a thriving Zone 1 location just a stone’s throw from Tech City and central London.” Angel has a vibrant social scene meaning buyers at City Angel can enjoy everything from vintage boutiques in Camden Passage to classic British pubs and artisanal cafes in Upper Street. For a breath of fresh air or a moment of tranquillity, the Regent’s Canal is a four-minute walk away. Residents at City Angel can enjoy more than just a home with access to a variety of fantastic on-site amenities, including a gym, swimming pool, sauna, yoga studio and residents’ lounge, with additional spaces set to open later this year.

ZONE 1 LIVING City Angel stands just minutes away from Angel and Old Street stations, making it an ideal choice for commuters. From Angel, King’s Cross can be reached in just two minutes on the Northern Line, while those looking to enjoy new high-speed connections on the Elizabeth Line can reach Farringdon in four minutes. Prices at Macfarlane Place are yet to be confirmed. Priority will be given to buyers living or working within the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham. To find out more about the ways to purchase and register your interest, visit macfarlane-place Prices at City Angel start from £117,500 for a 25% share of a studio apartment, with deposits from £11,750. For more details, visit city-angel

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SAY HELLO TO LEVENSHULME New three and four bedroom state-of-the-art homes from £140,000 with shared ownership If you thought that buying a family home in a popular Manchester suburb was out of your reach, then think again. Let us introduce you to Levenshulme, a leafy, thriving community in South Manchester, just a 12-minute commute into Piccadilly from Levenshulme station. Shores Fold is a new development of beautiful three and four bedroom homes, available from just £140,000* through shared ownership Great for aspiring owners craving more space in a thriving Manchester suburb, these energy-efficient semi and detached homes come with all the usual mod cons you would expect, but it’s the bi-fold doors, bay windows, underfloor heating, EV car charging points and solar panels that make these homes enviable. You’ll be blown away by the quality of craftmanship, light and airy spacious rooms and a fantastic outlook on to private gardens. It’s amazing to think that all of this can be achieved with a deposit from as little as £7,000* based on a 40% share.

WHY BUY IN LEVENSHULME? An artsy, multicultural, community-friendly suburb, Levenshulme, (or just “Levy” to the locals) is perfect for those wanting access to the hustle and bustle of the city along with local amenities on their doorstep. The new library is a community favourite, and several green parks provide ideal spots to relax on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Shores Fold sits on the edge of 70 acres of green space at Highfield Country Park, and the Fallowfield loop offers a road-free route for cyclists, runners and walkers. Local schools shine with Good or Outstanding Ofsted ratings. Levenshulme and Heaton Chapel railway stations offer quick access to Stockport and Manchester, with connections further afield; either south to Buxton, the Peak District, the Midlands, or even London.

ASPIRATIONAL Jam-packed with independent businesses, family friendly attractions and aspirational



local schools, Levenshulme has quickly become one of South Manchester’s most sought-after places to be. By becoming a homeowner at Shores Fold you’ll have all this on your doorstep. Why not take new friends to a seasonal brunch at Trove Cafe or tuck into a delicious Sunday roast at the cosy Nordie?

HAPPINESS If you’re thinking of hosting a housewarming to celebrate the happiness of being a new homeowner, then head over to Levenshulme Market. A social enterprise, it’s a great place to pick up some locally made artisan foods to share with family and friends. Fancy heading out instead? Try the monthly night market that has a buzzing atmosphere or enjoy some live music at The Klondyke Club.

SPACE South Manchester is popular for its local green spaces and idyllic walks. Levenshulme is no different. Just a short stroll from your own beautiful space at Shores Fold, both Cringle and Highfield Country Park give you a suburban oasis for a pleasant weekend walk, as well as a

At Gecko™, we’re focused on delivering real value, giving you access to new build homes you want to live in, in desirable locations across Manchester and Cheshire. By building better communities with the shared ownership scheme, we keep our property prices and rents more affordable... so having your own home is achievable, not just aspirational.

family friendly space to run, play or tuck into a picnic.

CREATIVITY As a new homeowner, it won’t be difficult to make local friends through the many community activities in this friendly area. Get creative, growing fruit and vegetables at The Klondyke Community Allotment or join the re-wilding journey of local green spaces for the wellness of the bees, insects, wildlife and the local community at the Bee Sanctuary Movement down the road in Highfield Park. Register your interest today: 0330 995 1333 *Prices advertised based on 40% shared ownership and a 95% LTV mortgage. Homes are bought as leasehold and full terms and conditions apply. For more information, speak to our team

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FINAL CHANCE TO SECURE A HOME AT AWARDWINNING FABER GREEN Surrounded by green parkland, exceptional transport links and vibrant neighbourhoods, Faber Green has transformed previously unused land into a thriving new community in the heart of Northolt. Ideal for those looking to secure an aspirational yet attainable property, Sovereign Network Group has recently launched its third and final phase of homes at the award-winning development Reflecting the welcoming community already being established at Faber Green, the development was presented with the award for Best First Time Buyer Family Home at the First Time Buyer Readers’ Awards last year. Looking to further build upon the success of the scheme, the final phase of homes at Faber Green encompasses a range of stylish two bedroom apartments designed to captivate the imagination and inspire shared owners to create a home of their own. Light flows throughout these spacious and modern interiors, and each home enjoys the added benefit of private outside space. Ana and her partner Diogo bought a two bedroom home at a previous phase at Faber Green. Buying through shared ownership, Ana explains, “When we came down to visit Faber Green, Malecia from the Sales Team made us feel at ease straight away. She explained our options as first time buyers and broke down what the shared ownership process would entail very concisely. We were delighted to discover that the two bedroom home we were looking at was available with shared ownership, making it a much more financially accessible option for us.” All homes are pet-friendly, allowing you to make the most of the green development and adjacent parklands. Carefully landscaped gardens frame the homes, creating a tranquil backdrop. Flowing out on to Northolt Park, residents can effortlessly connect with the wonders of nature. At Northala Fields, iconic earth mounds provide the perfect spot to enjoy impressive 360-degree views towards central London and Canary Wharf.


Faber Green is adding a new dimension to Northolt’s diverse community. The town is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, leisure facilities and schooling, ensuring there is no need to travel far from home. A diverse food scene promises tantalising culinary treats from around the world, ranging from aromatic Asian delicacies to comforting Italian cuisine. The Crown and the Mandeville Arms offer a choice of local pubs. For those looking to establish and maintain a varied fitness regime, Northolt Leisure Centre features two swimming pools and a state-of-the-art gym, as well as an abundant selection of fitness classes. Ealing Broadway is within easy reach and provides even more options for residents to eat, drink and shop; while a little further afield, Westfield at White City offers an extensive range of popular shops, perfect for weekend shopping sprees. Commuters and leisure-seekers alike will love Faber Green’s accessibility. Northolt underground station is a mere

10-minute walk away, offering Central Line services towards Shepherd’s Bush, Oxford Circus and Liverpool Street. Providing further opportunities to explore, Northolt Park railway station is just a 13-minute walk away, with links to High Wycombe and London Marylebone. Summarising life at Faber Green, Ana said, “Our new home is ideally located for us in terms of our work commutes, and the wider development has such a relaxed vibe that we absolutely love, especially when we compare this to the hectic hubbub of central London. We really have the best of both worlds at Faber Green, as we can enjoy a slower pace of life without sacrificing on easy transport connections.” Prices start from £95,000 for a 25% share with a full market value of £380,000*, rent and service charges will apply. Discover more about the final homes at Faber Green by visiting *Prices correct at time of going to press

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A PLACE TO CALL HOME Ticking just about every box, this new collection of 75 one and two bedroom apartments available from Abri Homes through shared ownership, offers contemporary living in a historic landmark. Editor Lynda Clark pays a visit Do you remember drinking Horlicks at bedtime? This milky, malty drink has been the nation’s favourite drink for 150 years. Located on the iconic grounds of the Horlicks Factory, where it was once produced, sit the beautiful high-spec apartments at Horlicks Quarter. When I visited the development in Slough I was intrigued at what I might find and I wasn’t disappointed. From London Paddington it took just 15 minutes on the Elizabeth Line to reach Slough station and then it was only a quick seven-minute walk away. Perfect for commuters and totally stress-free! I immediately felt the strong sense of community where every care has been taken for the residents’ wellbeing. The new homes are set in beautiful surroundings with landscaped gardens and tranquil water features. There will be a day nursery, with plans for a very useful local store and a cafe overlooking the central piazza. What really impressed me was the high specification in the apartments featuring a kitchen/diner with fully integrated appliances, a spacious lounge and luxurious bathroom and bedrooms. Each apartment also has a lovely balcony or terrace to enjoy a morning coffee or a sundowner. There is a stunning rooftop garden, the perfect opportunity to meet the neighbours. For those who want some exercise there is a residents’ gym and I couldn’t think of anything better than watching a film in the comfy on-site cinema room. Since the pandemic, hybrid working is the new normal, so I think the residents’ lounge and co-working space will prove to be very popular. Expecting a delivery? Then there’s no need to worry if you are out and about as there is a 12-hour concierge on hand to help you out. Slough sits in the heart of some beautiful


countryside and is going through a major town regeneration and the most important infrastructure has been the arrival of Crossrail. Renamed the Elizabeth Line, it will take you to central London in minutes – Bond Street can be reached in 32 minutes and Canary Wharf in 46 minutes, yet living here is also close to some of the most picturesque towns and villages in the area. Burnham Beeches Park is only 12 minutes away by car and the perfect destination for a Sunday stroll, or for golf enthusiasts you can play a round at nearby Stoke Park. Or, if you feel like a wander and some excellent shopping, then Windsor takes just 10 minutes by car. Homes at Horlicks Quarter are available through shared ownership, which is a Government-backed scheme where you buy a percentage of the property and pay a reduced rent on the portion you don’t own. This means you only need a mortgage for the part you buy, which requires a


TOP CH R ’ S O ★ ★ ★ ICE O

smaller deposit and mortgage than buying on the open market. Over time you can staircase and buy 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. Prices at Horlicks Quarter are from £100,625 for a one bedroom apartment and £102,375 for a two bedroom apartment (35% share). Shared ownership specialist SOWN is selling these homes on Abri’s behalf. You can contact SOWN on 01753 201 389 or email enquiries@ to discuss your dream home. Overall, I was totally impressed by Horlicks Quarter and if you are looking for a stylish home with great transport links, surrounded by pretty gardens and with a wealth of extras, then this is for you. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough as it truly is the best of all worlds.

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Spotlight on Shared Direction Conveyancing Shared Direction Conveyancing is the only law firm in the UK dedicated solely to acting for purchasers of new build shared ownership properties

We were previously the new build shared ownership department of Direction Law which, having dealt with some of the earliest shared ownership purchases in the late 1980s, grew to become one of the largest specialist affordable housing solicitors in the country. We have large specialist teams across our three offices in the South East, South West and the Midlands and in the 2022/23 financial year acted for over 3,800 new build shared ownership buyers across the country. Now, as a stand-alone niche firm, we continue to work closely with and are on the recommended panels for a plethora of dedicated housing associations and selling agents and over the past year our offices have worked with over 180 different housing providers. We are also recommended by a large number of specialist mortgage brokers with whom we have built close working relationships over many years. Walk around most towns and you will find a firm of solicitors offering conveyancing services. However, the vast majority of these will have little or no experience of affordable housing schemes such as shared ownership. Although it has been around for many years, it is only in more recent years that shared ownership has become more prevalent. However, affordable housing is still only a comparatively small proportion of the overall housing sector, and most solicitors

still see shared ownership conveyancing as more complex than “ordinary” conveyancing. Indeed, those solicitors aren’t wrong, shared ownership conveyancing can be more complicated for a number of reasons: 9 Shared ownership leases contain many provisions that you won’t find in other leases 9 Mortgages must be approved by the housing association the property is being purchased through, and lenders have more detailed requirements 9 The legal paperwork for new build properties is extensive There are some mortgage lenders who only have a limited number of conveyancing firms on their panel that they trust to act for them on shared ownership cases. A buyer who instructs a firm of solicitors which doesn’t specialise in affordable housing may therefore end up paying two sets of legal fees – their own solicitor’s fees for the conveyancing and their lender’s legal fees too. Housing associations, and the mortgage brokers they work with, will also often have panels of solicitors that they recommend who specialise in shared ownership. Buyers can be distrustful of using a firm of solicitors who has been recommended, fearing that they won’t be sufficiently independent. Although this is a natural concern and people may often wish to use a

more local firm, buyers should understand that their solicitor is duty bound to act in their best interests and is acting for them not the seller. Buyers should also keep in mind that, as not all regular high street solicitors are familiar with shared ownership matters, they will probably charge more for the conveyancing and generally take longer when dealing with such cases. Also, because the paperwork tends to be similar for all plots on a development, it is more efficient for a solicitor to act for multiple buyers on a new build estate. Therefore, using a firm which specialises in shared ownership, especially one which is on a “panel” as explained above, means that you will be looked after by an expert who will most likely charge less and generally proceed quicker than if you used a conventional high street solicitor; you are also more likely to achieve the housing association’s purchase timelines. If you are buying a new build shared ownership property, Shared Direction Conveyancing is your ideal choice of law firm to share your journey into homeownership, as we have the experience and expertise to guide you through the process as quickly and simply as possible. For further information visit or for an instant quotation call 0808 273 0273

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Pre-loved shared ownership – resales and staircasing Resales and staircasing are often the forgotten genres of the shared ownership market but perhaps this is due to lack of focus on marketing, or leaseholders not knowing where to start. Hopefully this article will pique the interest of some buyers interested in either a resale property or staircasing. Lucy Owen, Director & Head of Resales at Owen Paulo explains how it works RESALES So, what is a resale property? This is a property where a shared ownership lease has already been granted and the current leaseholder is looking to sell their share. Effectively, new build shared ownership properties become resales after the first owner sells and then every time the share is sold afterwards. The beauty of resales is that they come in all shapes and sizes due to different schemes that have been in place over the years. Not only are there relatively new properties, but also older properties with their own sense of character. Not everyone wants a new build, and this is where resales really come into their own – flats, houses, maisonettes, coach houses etc. Practically speaking, conveyancing of resale properties is similar to open market conveyancing, with the extra addition of housing association involvement. With resale properties, each set of draft contract papers are individual to the property and therefore must be considered individually. In addition, management packs must be obtained, alongside searches, and this can sometimes take a few weeks to issue. This means that a resale transaction can take 12-14 weeks from the date the draft contract package is received, if there are no unexpected issues. In addition, there may be a chain involved as the owner of the shared ownership property may be buying another shared ownership property, or they are buying on the open market. When buying a resale, there is also the benefit that you are buying a property that already exists. This sounds daft I know, but often new builds are sold off-plan (they haven’t been built yet). The bonus with resale properties is that you get to view them in person, and you get a feel for the area and the community. If you live locally, you may even know someone who lives


nearby – always good for an emergency cup of sugar… or glass of emergency prosecco – depending on your definition of emergency!

STAIRCASING Staircasing is where a leaseholder of a shared ownership property purchases further shares from the housing association, which owns the remaining part. The bigger the share the leaseholder owns, the less rent is proportionately payable. You may be aware of the new changes regarding staircasing because of the recent consultation which will now allow a shared ownership leaseholder to staircase in increments of 1%. However, this will take a little while to filter through as this only applies to shared ownership properties delivered through the Home Grant programme 2021-2026. Any existing shared ownership leases will not benefit from this new approach.

The shared ownership leaseholder can buy in minimum tranches (which is normally stipulated in the lease), however as there are valuation and legal fees to pay, a leaseholder would be well advised to buy the largest share they can afford at the time of staircasing, and some housing associations require final staircasing to occur in no more than three attempts of staircasing (as they also have to pay their own legal fees). Once final staircasing has been achieved, then the property is effectively no longer shared ownership, it is owned outright, and therefore the housing association (generally speaking) no longer has any involvement. Owen Paulo specifically specialises in resales and staircasing and is happy to advise on the above. Please email or call us on 0808 196 7020 to obtain a quote, or for advice

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Shared ownership: Barking


Property: Two bedroom apartment Full market value: £348,500 Share: £87,125 for a 25% share Deposit: £17,700 Rent: £597 Monthly mortgage: £400 Service charge: £319

Pastry chef Paulo was renting a room in Camberwell when he decided it was time to take his first steps on to the property ladder. Now, he has a two bedroom apartment to call home after purchasing a 25% share of an L&Q apartment at Barking Riverside, with plenty of space to bake, host dinner parties and wind down after a busy shift


aving rented in London for 15 years, Paulo had always thought getting on the property ladder in the capital would forever be out of reach. Paulo explains, “It still feels like a dream. Now I have my own space, a space that I can decorate and entertain friends in.” Having heard about shared ownership through a friend, Paulo was surprised to find that buying through the scheme was a cheaper option than renting. This made his decision to complete his shared ownership application online through the L&Q website a simple one, and from there he began his search. After discovering that he was eligible, Paulo began looking for properties in the early spring of 2023. He said, “I moved from Brazil to London with my ex-partner in 2007, and have lived in Zone 2 for a good few years now. It can be really hectic living close to the centre of the city, and working as a pastry chef in Westminster is also a very full-on job. I needed to find somewhere in London that has good transport links to commute to work easily, but is also a place where I can wind down after a busy day.” Starting his search with L&Q, Paulo viewed one of L&Q’s shared ownership homes at Barking Riverside. “I was really impressed when I saw the apartment,” Paulo explains, recalling the first viewing. “I just got that instant feeling and knew it was where I wanted to be – it is an amazing development too. Having two bedrooms was ideal because I like to have friends come and stay over, and the feel of the area in general was both exciting but also relaxed.” Once Paulo had decided that Barking Riverside was the place for him, he immediately put down his deposit, and from there the sales process then took less than two months. Reflecting on what convinced him that


Barking Riverside was the place where he wanted to put down his roots, Paulo enthused, “It was the kitchen that really sold it for me. There is so much space to cook and store things. I even have space for a coffee station! I can cool a cake while mixing up the icing, all the while keeping the counters clean and tidy. "I had some friends over recently and I cooked them a big meal. The clean up after was really easy, and the kitchen never felt claustrophobic. I can’t wait to host more evenings at mine.” Paulo was also pleased to note the accessibility of his new neighbourhood. When his friend who uses a wheelchair came to stay with him, he had no problem navigating Barking Riverside. Wide and well-maintained paths meant that accessibility wasn’t a problem, and both Paulo and his friend enjoyed soaking up the scenic riverside views with ease. For Paulo, it was important to find an inclusive and welcoming London neighbourhood which he could call home. A perk of his daily commute, Paulo was thrilled to discover a Brazilian food vendor outside Barking Riverside station. “That was a really great and unexpected surprise. There are always things going on in the area, like coffee van pop-ups, summer events down by the riverfront and more. It’s exciting to know I only need to go for a stroll around the development to grab a

tasty snack or discover something new.” For Paulo, becoming a shared owner meant that he could put his own stamp on his home. He reflects, “I bought some ornaments for inside my previous home three years ago, but never had any space to put them on display, so they just stayed in the box for all that time! One of the first things I did when I moved in here was take them out. I finally have space for them. That felt really good.” Paulo recalls his experience with L&Q, and comments, “Being someone who can often feel quite anxious and shy, moving and buying a home could have been a really stressful experience, but the team I dealt with at L&Q couldn’t have made me feel more comfortable. They answered all my questions and never made me feel silly for asking.” The move in period has been a busy time for Paulo, and he’s looking forward to settling into his new neighbourhood. “The area feels really exciting. It’s great to be a part of something new! I’m hoping that over time I can start to staircase and eventually own 100% of my home – I see myself here for a long time.” This year, L&Q will launch a series of new shared ownership homes at Barking Riverside. Register your interest on the website to keep up to date:


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THE CREAM OF THE CROP Each month, FTB scours the market for the best starter homes for first time buyers. So, whether you’re seeking a starter pad to fit your budget or a brand-new place in the capital, we hope you will enjoy our selection


Shared ownership p86 FA L M E R , W E S T S U S S E X










Affordable homes p88-89

Loving London p90-91

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FROM £80,250*



Bluebell Heights Nestled into the beautiful, hilly surrounds in Stanmer, these one, two and three bedroom homes offer a best-of-both worlds location. The beautiful rolling hills of the South Downs are just moments away, along with a local school, library, pharmacy and shops, while Brighton is reached in around 15 minutes by car, or easily by direct bus or train. This attractive collection of apartments is set across six buildings, which sit in pretty communal grounds. Inside, the homes are stylish and spacious, with open-plan living areas that lead out to a balcony or terrace. Hyde New Homes 0330 054 4927 *Based on a 30% share of the full market value of £267,500


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FROM £51,100*

FROM £260,000


Tudor Reach The market town of Kirton in Lindsey is 10 miles south of Scunthorpe and a 30-minute drive from Grimsby and Cleethorpes. The two and three bedroom homes here are perfect for young families and professionals and include apartments, semi-detached and terraced houses. The houses feature open-plan living/dining

spaces and downstairs WC, as well as allocated parking and rear gardens. The nearby town offers supermarkets, eateries and health practice, while road links to Peterborough, Hull and Scunthorpe and Humberside make travel easy. Platform 0333 200 7304

*Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £204,400


FROM £92,500*

St Mary’s Garden Village Just a mile from the stunning town centre of Ross-on-Wye, residents at this new development will have no shortage of beauty on the doorstep. The surrounds are stunning, with rolling hills meeting the sweeping river, which passes through the medieval market town. There are three and four bedroom houses available here, with several

offered through the HomeReach shared ownership scheme. The homes feature an en suite from the main bedroom as well as a downstairs WC, while open-plan living/dining rooms open to private rear gardens. Edenstone Homes 01291 674 800

*Based on a 50% share of the full market value of £185,000

The Chelsea at Whalley Manor These new two to five bedroom homes are located in Whalley at the foot of the beautiful Ribble Valley. Residents get a taste of the best of country and city living here, with Preston just 30 minutes away by train and Manchester around an hour. The three bedroom houses have been designed with family life in mind, with open-

plan living areas, a utility and cloakroom downstairs, as well as well-sized gardens. Upstairs, there’s a family bathroom as well as an en suite from the main bedroom. The village’s centre is a 10-minute walk for local amenities. Laurus Homes 0125 437 5793



Mallard Meadows at Winslow Located just outside the vibrant market town of Winslow, with the beautiful Buckinghamshire countryside on the doorstep, these new homes enjoy an idyllic location. Once complete, the development will offer homes ranging from one to five bedrooms in a range of styles built in keeping with the scenic surrounds. Plentiful open space is combined with

great travel links to Oxford and Milton Keynes (with a new Oxford tramline coming soon). Residents also have the convenience of having a number of local amenities – including shops, schools and parks − all within walking distance. David Wilson Homes 0333 558 486

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FROM £113,750*




Brent Terrace The leafy London Borough of Barnet is home to this new collection of properties, which sits within what is set to become one of the largest regeneration projects in Europe. There will eventually be close to 7,000 new homes here, along with open spaces, children’s play areas, shops and health facilities, and great links into central London. These new one, two and three bedroom apartments have been designed with modern life in mind; the larger properties are arranged over two floors, with open-plan living areas opening to private gardens, two bathrooms and plenty of storage space. LQ Homes 0333 456 9996 *Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £455,000


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FROM £300,000

The One Hundred A vibrant new waterside community is being created in Alperton. One, two and three bedroom apartments will be available through shared ownership, all with spacious living/dining areas that open to private balconies. Residents here have great access to London’s best offerings, with Wembley's

shops, cafes and bars a short bus ride away. From nearby Zone 3 Stonebridge Park station, tube trains reach central London in around 25 minutes, and the ambitious Old Oak Common transport hub is a few miles east. Guinness Homes 0300 456 0522 *Shared ownership homes available


FROM £112,500*

Urban Picturehouse This new collection of homes in south east London started life in 1935 as an Odeon cinema, and today’s stunning building reflects its art deco heritage, with an emerald-glaze brick facade and large windows. The studio, one, two and three bedroom apartments are bright and contemporary, with modern

kitchens, wooden flooring and floor-to-ceiling windows. Residents will have a range of amenities on the ground floor. Nearby Sidcup offers retailers, cafes and bars, while trains into London take 21 minutes from Sidcup station. Montreaux Homes 020 8092 1279


FROM £141,250*

Higgs Yard Brixton is one of the capital’s most sought-after locations, with young professionals and families drawn to the huge amount of entertainment options, Zone 2 transport links, good schools, wonderful parks (Brockwell being a favourite), independent cinema and bustling high street. These homes make the most of their

location, enjoying wonderful views. One, two and three bedroom properties are available, all with well-sized living spaces, storage and utility cupboards, as well as balconies, perfect for enjoying the urban vistas. Peabody 020 3930 9559

*Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £450,000

Frankham Walk Exploring the city couldn’t be easier from Frankham Walk: trains from nearby Deptford (a four-minute walk) take just seven minutes to London Bridge, or reach Farringdon in 18 minutes. There’s plenty on the doorstep, too, with a bustling market, galleries, bars and leisure centre moments away. Just a few two

bedroom homes remain available here, while private sale properties will soon be released to the market. With the Thames and world-famous Greenwich close by too, it’s easy to see why these homes are proving so popular. Peabody 020 3411 7894

*Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £565,000

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V33 RENOVATION PAINT ALLOWS FIRST TIME BUYERS TO ACHIEVE A WHOLE NEW WIN LOOK FOR WALL TILES ! V33’s Renovation Wall Tile & Panelling Paint is perfect for first time buyers who simply want to be able to refresh the look of tiles in the bathroom or kitchen instead of having to spend more on ripping them out and replacing them. Outdated wall tiles can be painted to give the bathroom or kitchen a brand new look. And there’s no need to call in the professionals, because V33 has made this an easy DIY job thanks to no undercoat being needed HOW TO ENTER Answer the following question:

What is the name of the brand that is offering this remarkable Renovation Wall Tile & Panelling Paint? Send your answer with your full name, address, telephone number and choice of colour to: Please mark your email "V33 Competition" Closing date: 5 March 2024

THE PRIZE… FIVE LUCKY WINNERS HAVE THE CHANCE TO WIN TWO 2L TUBS OF V33 RENOVATION WALL TILE & PANELLING PAINT IN A COLOUR OF THEIR CHOICE WORTH £80 T&Cs • This competition is open to UK mainland entrants only. • The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternatives can be given.

The key to making this type of task a success is to choose a hard-wearing paint that is resistant to repeated contact with water and cleaning products, and is durable in the face of hot and cold water temperatures. It must be flake-free and, of course, available in a range of on-trend shades. In addition, the chosen paint must be ultra-washable. V33 Renovation Wall Tile & Panelling paint fulfils all of these requirements. It comes in a lovely choice of shades including: White, Cotton, Soft Grey, Charcoal Grey, Powder Pink and Lagoon Blue. The paint is available in either 750ml or 2L tubs, priced at £27 and £40 respectively. The former covers approximately 10 square metres and the latter covers approximately 24 square metres. Thanks to its Aquaresist technology, the paint can even be used in shower cubicles. Here’s how to apply the paint correctly: Preparation of the surface is essential. Wash the surface with a soda-based or sugar soap cleaner, focusing on the grouting. When the tiles are washed, allow them to dry. Application: Apply the paint at room temperature between 12°C and 25°C and avoid draughts. Empty the additive (the sachet that is placed under the lid of the container) into the paint. Stir the paint for


five minutes, working around the bottom of the tin with a wide stick to mix it well. Work on small surfaces. Apply from one end to the other. Follow with successive cross strokes. Do not start a second coat while the first is still drying. Leave to dry for six hours and apply a second coat in the same way. A third coat may be required. V33 Tips: To clean the painted surfaces, use a gentle detergent and non-abrasive sponge. Treat the finished surface gently for the first 20 days after application. This paint is also formulated for use on panelling and makes easy work of transforming wooden panelling to complement room decors. For more information about V33 visit V33 can also be found on Facebook at @V33UK.

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FIRST HOME, FIRST MEAL Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge has created these warming and hearty pot pies filled with succulent chicken, chestnut mushrooms and artichokes in a delicious creamy sauce flavoured with mustard. The filling takes a bit of time, but it’s well worth it once you break into that crispy pastry topping and see all your efforts inside! INGREDIENTS Serves 4 750g chicken thigh fillets  500ml chicken stock  5 black peppercorns  4 sprigs of thyme  2 bay leaves  2 tbsp olive oil  200g baby chestnut mushrooms, halved  2 banana shallots, finely diced  2 garlic cloves, finely chopped  150g chargrilled artichoke hearts, quartered  50g butter  50g plain flour, plus extra to dust  1 tsp Dijon mustard  1 tsp wholegrain mustard  1 tbsp tarragon, finely chopped  100ml creme fraiche  1 tbsp sherry vinegar  500g packet ready-made puff pastry  1 large free-range egg, lightly beaten with a pinch of salt








To cook the chicken thigh fillets, put the chicken stock, peppercorns, thyme and bay leaves into a medium saucepan over a high heat and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken thighs, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 15–20 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic, stir and cook for 3–4 minutes or until softened. Remove from the heat, stir in the artichokes and set aside. Remove the chicken thighs from the stock and set aside on a tray. Strain the stock. Leave both to cool slightly. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Now gradually whisk in the chicken stock and continue to whisk over a medium heat until the sauce thickens. Stir in both mustards, the chopped tarragon, creme fraiche and sherry vinegar, then the mushroom mix. Cut the poached chicken into bite-sized pieces and fold through the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste and leave to cool slightly. Divide the pie filling between 4 individual pie dishes and place in the fridge to chill. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 5mm thickness. Cut out 4 rounds, 2cm wider than your pie dishes. Brush the edges with egg then lay a pastry round, egg-washed edge down, over each pie dish. Brush the tops with egg wash and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/ Gas 6. Cut a couple of slits in the top of each pastry lid, to let steam escape during cooking. Bake the pies for 30 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and deep golden brown. Let it stand for a few minutes before serving, with green veg and mash on the side if you like.

Taken from Pub Kitchen by Tom Kerridge (Bloomsbury Absolute, £27 Hardback)


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HOME TIPS Save! Save! Save! Saving for your first home deposit can seem like an overwhelming and daunting task, especially in today's current climate. The cost-of-living crisis has not made it easy for those trying to save, with food and energy costs that have been on the rise the past few years it has seemed almost impossible to save. FTB has some helpful tips for you to consider to start filling up your money pot!

1p Saving Challenge

30 50 20 50% 30% 20% Rule The 50/30/20 rule is a guideline for managing your personal finances. It suggests allocating your salary into three main categories: 50% for needs: So, half your monthly income goes on things that you cannot live without such as rent and bills, food and transport. 30% for wants: This 30% should be allocated to things you desire but don't need, including entertainment, hobbies and saving for holidays. 20% for saving: This 20% is put aside for savings. Dividing your monthly income like this can help you manage what portions of your money you should spend and what you should be saving.

This savings challenge is filling up our fyp on TikTok and you can even buy the planners on TikTok shop to help you file your pennies! The idea is straightforward, you start by saving 1p on day one, 2p on day two, 3p on day three and so on throughout the year. On day 365 you would be saving £3.65 and by then you would have saved £667.95. If you were then able to save more than that each day, then think how much that could be by the end of the year. A simple concept to change your savings habit!

Record your expenses Noting down what you spend or need to spend is always going to help with budgeting and saving for a house deposit. There are great apps out there that can help you allocate a budget to different areas of your spending. Online banks such as Monzo or Revolut also help you see clearly, with summaries of where you are spending more, such as food or travel, so that you can cut down where needed.

Meal prep This is a simple method to save on spending on food. Plan your meals for the week, write down what you need to get and be strict with yourself. Making lunches at home and taking these to work along with snacks you have added into your food budget for the week will help you avoid the temptation to spend in the local Starbucks at lunch.

Make savings automatic Understand your financial goals You need to get in the saving mindset. To better understand how to save and budget you need to understand your short and long-term goals. Making these clear is important. Write your goals down, especially if you are visual. You also need to ask questions − are you in a relationship and saving for your deposit together? Are you both on the same page? Have this discussion with your partner and agree on what you are saving and where it's going.

Set up your 20% savings so that when your salary hits your bank account, that 20% can bounce right back out again. By making your saving automatic it eliminates the temptation to spend funds before you have saved anything. Additionally, automatic savings often accompany incentives like higher interest rates or reduced fees, so it's important to check this out and compare where to save your money.

Be positive and live life. With clear goals you will get there. Don't compare yourself to others, you are on your own journey!

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Jargon Busting Buying your first property is an exciting time. Congratulations! Buying and selling houses is underpinned by a vital legal process – conveyancing – that protects your interests in this high-value transaction. You will quickly discover it comes with a whole language of its own. Stephen Ward, Director of Strategy and External Relations at the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, unravels the jargon you might hear from your conveyancer you to contribute to the maintenance of a shared driveway, for example, while a negative covenant prevents you from doing something such as running a business from it or building another structure. Title deeds: The formal documents that show who owns the land. Conveyance: A name often given to the document by which the property is formally transferred (also known as a transfer or deed of transfer). Redemption: This is the official term for repaying an existing mortgage. A redemption penalty is charged by the mortgage provider when it is repaid within a fixed or discounted rate period.

As with many different areas of business and life, the terminology used can seem like a completely different language. However, our jargon buster below should help you navigate the terms you are likely to come across.

THE INITIAL STAGES Conveyancing: The legal and administrative process of buying or selling land or property. Subject to contract: Negotiations are ongoing, but the transaction has not yet been legally agreed. Caveat emptor: Latin for “Let the buyer beware” – this means that while the seller cannot lie about the property, it’s up to the buyer to know what they are buying, such as through a survey, searches or physical inspection. Property information form: A form the seller must complete with information about the property, such as boundaries, neighbours, work done, services and any guarantees.

WHAT ARE YOU BUYING? Freehold: Complete ownership of the land with no time limitation on that ownership. Leasehold: The land is owned by the freeholder and the buyer buys the right to occupy it for a certain period of time – often decades or even hundreds of years – in a lease. Registered/Unregistered land: Most land in England and Wales is registered electronically with the HM Land Registry, a Government body. Its electronic register is definitive evidence of who owns a piece of land, its extent (through the title plan) and anyone else with an interest in it, such as a mortgage lender. Around 15% of land is not yet registered (because it has not been sold for a long time), but there is still usually evidence available via the title deeds as to who owns it. Unregistered land will have paper title deeds and is usually more complicated to buy, so the process can take a little longer as the property will need to



be registered for the first time. Ground rent: A regular payment, usually annual, that the leaseholder must make to the freeholder. The amount of the payment and when it must be paid (and to whom) will be set out in the lease. Be sure that you understand how any ground rent might increase over time so that you know you will be able to afford it in future. Searches: It is the responsibility of the buyer’s conveyancer to organise a series of searches with organisations that have information about the property you are buying, such as the local council, local water authority or coal mining authority. Chattels: Individual, moveable items – such as beds and tables – that are not part of the sale price unless otherwise agreed. Fixtures and fittings: Items that have been fixed or fitted to the property – such as lights and bathroom suites – which are included in the sale.

Exchange of contracts: This is the moment the buyer and seller legally agree the sale of the property and a deposit is paid. After this date, neither party can back out of the agreement without consequences. A completion date is agreed as part of this process. Disbursement: A cost that your conveyancer incurs as part of the process, such as Land Registry and search fees, which are passed on to the buyer. Completion: The moment when the transfer of ownership and remaining payment for the property are formally completed. This is the day that keys are exchanged and the purchaser is able to move into the property.


Do remember though, that this is your purchase, and you must ensure that you understand what you are signing, and be assured that you will be able to use the property in the way that you wish. It is your conveyancer’s job to guide you through the process, so if you don’t understand, be sure to ask your conveyancer to explain it to you.

Covenant: A legally binding obligation attached to the title to do or not do an action – a positive covenant may require

To find a CLC registered conveyancer in your area, you can search via the CLC website

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Know your band

EXPERT COMMENT Councils are having a tough time of it at the moment with many on the brink of bankruptcy. Increasing council tax is one way in which they can try to keep their heads above water, but during a cost-of-living crisis it’s a bitter pill to swallow for residents. There’s also such a vast discrepancy between one area of England and the next. A true postcode lottery. We have to feel for the people of Croydon, for example, who are facing almost a 20% tax increase in just two years. In the past year, the borough’s average

Council tax can be an overlooked price of homeownership and can cost you hundreds of pounds every month. Kay Hill looks at the ins and outs of this property tax

rate has risen by a staggering 13.9%, or £273.90, bringing the current price up to £2,240 and councillors are considering another 5% increase for the year 2024/25. Thurrock in Essex has seen a rise of 9.4%, and Slough an increase of

There are so many important things to think about when choosing the location of your first home, such as public transport and schools, that one really important factor that can make a big difference to the cost of your monthly bills can easily get overlooked – council tax. There are two things you need to know about council tax that determine how much it will cost you. The first is what band the home you are looking at is in. Every home in England is graded from A (the cheapest bills) to H (the most expensive), based on the amount the property was worth (or would have been worth if it had existed) back in 1991. This value takes into account not only the size and amenities of the property, but also the layout, general character and location. In Scotland there are also eight bands, but the cost goes


up more steeply for bands E to H. Wales revalued all its properties in 2003 and has nine bands, and is about to revalue again. For existing homes this is publicly available information, so you can look it up at rather than relying on what an estate agent or homeowner tells you. Make sure that you click through to the full entry for the exact home and check “improvement indicator”. If the entry says “yes” that means that the property has been improved while the previous owner has been living there and it will be automatically revalued when the home is sold, usually going up to a higher band. If you are buying a new home, or buying off-plan, you will need to ask the developer to provide you with this information in writing. The band letter is only half the story,

9.3%. Anyone who is worried about being able to afford rising taxes at a time like this might want to consider checking whether or not they’re eligible for a tax refund. It’s not just the self-employed who could be owed money by HMRC, and you can back-collect for up to four years, so it’s well worth checking out. You could be entitled to hundreds of pounds.

Bradley Post, Managing Director, RIFT

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however. Council tax is paid, not directly to the Government, but to local councils to pay for services such as emptying the bins, social services and keeping the street lights on. As a result, the actual amount you are charged varies according to the council area that you live in and can mean that the owners of modest homes in poorer areas can actually end up paying larger bills than those occupying large homes in affluent areas. Nick Rushton, leader of Leicestershire County Council, recently complained, “A system where a person living in a £1m Westminster property pays just £1,000 in council tax, compared to someone paying £2,500 in a £375,000 property in Coalville in Leicestershire, cannot be fair.” At the moment, the most expensive place in England to pay council tax is Rutland, a rural unitary authority in the East Midlands, famous for the beautiful Rutland Water nature reserve. In Rutland, the average house price is a modest £412,574 but the band D council tax charge is £2,422 a year. It is closely followed by Nottingham at £2,412, both Lewes and Dorset at £2,388 and Wealden in East Sussex at £2,363. By way of contrast, the cheapest place in the country for council tax is Westminster, with an annual charge of just £914 despite an average house price of £1,822,456. Behind Westminster come Wandsworth at £921, the City of London at £1,146, Hammersmith & Fulham at £1,306 and Kensington & Chelsea at £1,442. Nineteen out of the 20 cheapest council tax locations are in London (unless you fancy moving to the Isles of Scilly), so in general it may help to off-set the more expensive cost of homes in the capital. However, you could find by moving your new home search even by a few streets you could still save a fortune each year. Kingston, for example, is the most expensive of the 32 London boroughs, but step across the boundary into Wandsworth and it’s a different story. A band E house in Florence Terrace SW15 3RU, on the edge of Kingston, would cost £2,745.97 a year, but just a few steps away in Roehampton Vale, SW15 3RX, just across the border into Wandsworth, a similar band E home would cost just £1,117.29 each year – putting £135 a month back in your pocket. If you have already chosen a home or fixed location, then it’s worth being aware of some of the council tax exemptions and reductions that might apply. You usually have to ask your local council to apply these, don’t assume it will just happen automatically:  There is no council tax at all to pay if everyone living in the home is a fulltime student.

 If only one person lives in a home there is a single-person discount of 25%.  You can also get a single-person discount if all the other people living in the home are what is called “disregarded persons”. Disregarded people include children, full-time students, student nurses and some apprentices. If you have a disability and your carer (who is not a spouse) lives with you, that carer will be disregarded, and if you have someone living with you who is severely mentally disabled – a grandparent with dementia, for example – they are disregarded.  If your home is in a higher council tax band purely because it has been altered or extended for a person with a disability, the charge can be reduced by one band. You will sometimes see “no win, no fee” lawyers suggesting that it is easy to get your council tax band lowered, but in reality this is seldom the case, and asking to be revalued risks your tax going up rather than down! MoneySavingExpert has a good guide to explain the limited reasons when you might consider challenging a home’s band, at council-tax-bands-change/. You should also be aware that most councils charge council tax on empty properties, so if there is an overlap between you buying a home and ending a rental tenancy you may legitimately be charged twice, especially if you are moving council areas. If you are buying a “doer-upper” you will also have to factor in paying council tax, in some areas even if the home is not habitable. If it has stood empty for a long time, councils can even charge up to 300% of the normal council tax to discourage empty homes, but this is based on the house, not the ownership, so buying a dilapidated wreck that has stook empty for years could be even more expensive! If you are liable to pay council tax and fail to do so, the penalties are severe. If you miss a payment you will be given a notice to pay within seven days, otherwise you will have to pay the whole year’s council tax upfront. Councils can take you to court and use bailiffs or demand that the money is paid by your employer from your wages. You could even end up in prison! If, once you have moved in, you have difficulties paying, you can ask for the payments to be split into 12 monthly payments rather than the usual 10 payments, or apply for Council Tax Support if, for example, you have suddenly lost your job and have little in the way of savings, although the bar is set quite high to receive any help.

EXPERT COMMENT We do recognise that Rutland has one of the highest council tax rates in the country, but the reason is that we receive considerably lower Government funding per head compared to other areas. The funding formula is skewed towards urban and deprived areas, and we score very low on the Government deprivation index – which is part of what makes Rutland so popular as a place to live. We are a small, rural authority with just 41,000 people in total, two small towns and a large number of villages, with a great community spirit. The funding situation is very unfair, and the leader of the council recently wrote to the Prime Minister to express our dismay and ask for improved funding. Rutland receives just £501 per household from the Government which is 40% less than the other unitary authorities, and around half the national average, which is £1,019 a household. If we received the same as other authorities we would have £9m more to spend on our £45m budget, which would make a huge difference. I would urge first time buyers to take a look at the quality of life that Rutland can offer − council tax is only a small part of a much bigger picture. Cllr Andrew Johnson, Portfolio Holder for Finance and Deputy Leader, Rutland County Council

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The Welcome Home to Energy Efficiency campaign unravelled Will the Government’s latest campaign improve energy efficiency in UK homes? Ginetta Vedrickas investigates which should be switched to “eco mode”. Its cost saving predictions for those taking this advice and installing such a device is estimated at £40 per year.

With winter upon us and many households facing costly energy bills, the Government has introduced its latest effort to persuade us to “green up our homes” and save cash in the process. The Welcome Home to Energy Efficiency campaign aims to encourage families to improve their home’s energy efficiency, with adverts across television, on-demand services, podcasts, print and billboards. Under “help for households”, the Government’s website suggests a range of recommended measures as to what you can do around your home. “Whether in your kitchen, bathroom or living room, there are simple actions you can take to conserve energy that add up to large savings on your energy bills.”

room you are heating than if kept at a low setting.” The site also warns that turning off radiators can also cause longer term issues with mould and damp, and suggests that people over 65, children under five and those with pre-existing health conditions are more vulnerable to cold temperatures. The advice is to ensure that you are warm enough and have a minimum indoor temperature of 18°C, setting 2 or 3 on your radiator valves, to make sure that you’re healthy and comfortable. Its cost saving predictions for those taking this advice and turning down radiators is estimated at £50 per year.




The website explains that energy-efficient shower heads reduce the amount of water used by either regulating the flow or aerating the water. These can be bought at any home improvement shop and fixed independently, with some water companies even providing them free. The advice is that they’re not suitable for electric showers,

Tumble dryers are one of the most energy-intensive devices in the home. The Government advises using your tumble dryer less frequently by ensuring you have a full load, around three-quarters of the drum. Or use a clothes airer to dry clothes outside, or inside with a window open for ventilation. You should also avoid overfilling your dryer as this could lengthen the drying time. This could save up to £50 a year.

When you’re not using rooms, turning radiator valves down to a lower setting is one way to cut usage says the Government, which warns however, “Turning off radiators completely in rooms you are not using is less energy efficient as this means your boiler has to work harder to maintain the temperature of a

WASH CLOTHES AT A LOWER TEMPERATURE Modern washing machines can clean clothes effectively at lower temperatures. Changing from 40°C to 30°C means you could get three cycles instead of two using the same amount of energy, depending on your washing machine. This could save you up to £20 a year.

TURN APPLIANCES OFF AT THE SOCKET Almost all home electrical appliances use power continuously unless unplugged. Turn off the power switch at the socket or unplug appliances from the socket when they are not in use. This could save up to £50 a year.

TAKE SHORTER SHOWERS Reducing your shower length to four minutes will save water and money on your energy bill. If your

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water is metered, it will also save you money on your water bill. This could save up to £40 a year.

SWITCH TO ENERGY-SAVING LIGHT BULBS Traditional, or incandescent, light bulbs are very inefficient. By switching to energyefficient bulbs, such as LEDs, you can save money on your energy bills while keeping your rooms well lit. LED light bulbs also last longer than traditional bulbs, saving on maintenance costs. The amount of light, or colour of the light, white to yellow, is not linked to a bulb’s energy usage, so you can get the same light at a much lower energy cost. Switching could save you up to £40 a year.

CHECK YOUR ENERGY EFFICIENCY ONLINE Visit to see how energy efficient your home is and to see if you are eligible for any help. The site will give you estimated costs of how to improve energy efficiency, estimate how much you can save on bills and tell you the next steps if you want to make any improvements. Grants may be available for insulating your home under the Great British Insulation Scheme. You need to enter details such as address, age of the property, insulation and glazing details. Call 0800 098 7950 weekdays 8am to 6pm, or Saturdays 9am to 12 noon for more advice. If you live in Scotland, you might be able to get an interest-free loan or a grant to make your home more energy efficient. If you live in Northern Ireland, you might be able to get a grant to replace your boiler.

energy assessment tool but that more than 80% of those that did found it useful. Which? suggests more should be done to make this information easier to find. Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy explains, “We have previously called for a public engagement campaign to raise awareness of the heat pump and insulation support available, so it’s good to see the Government increasing heat pump grants and launching a ‘Welcome Home Energy Efficiency’ campaign.” Concha warns that, as many aspects of housing are devolved, different approaches are being taken by the Governments in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. “In particular, Scotland has Home Energy Scotland, a relatively well-developed information and advice service and Wales has the Nest advice service.”

There is an urgent need for governments to develop a joined up, comprehensive plan that addresses the barriers that prevent consumers from improving the insulation of their homes. The plan should include a more proactive approach to public engagement and providing information and advice, but in order to have impact and avoid the risk of consumer harm, it must also address the lack of qualified and reliable installers and provide appropriate financial support for those that need it − especially those who are living in fuel poverty. Rocio Concha, Which? Director of

MYTHS AROUND ENERGY USE There are still plenty of myths and misinformation on how to cut energy use. Andy Kerr, founder of boiler installation expert BOXT, explains that measures such as turning up the thermostat to heat rooms more quickly, painting radiators black and the idea that most heating is lost through windows are all myths, “This assertion is entirely inaccurate. Uninsulated walls can account for as much as 35% of heat loss, while windows contribute to only 10% of heat loss.” Instead, he advises using a smart thermostat system so that you can control heating via your phone and installing thermostatic radiator valves in each room, allowing you to regulate the temperature of individual radiators.



Department for Energy Security & Net Zero runs the BUS scheme which was introduced in England and Wales to help with the cost of installing a heat pump via a grant. Last October the grant went up by 50% enabling those eligible to receive an upfront grant of £7,500 towards an air source or ground source heat pump or £5,000 towards a biomass boiler which burns organic materials such as wood pellets. The Government is trying to encourage homeowners to replace existing fossil fuel heating with more efficient low carbon heating systems. The scheme has been extended until 2028, giving people more time to take advantage of the opportunity. Which? research found that a lack of awareness of energy efficiency home heating improvements and the high cost of heat pumps is currently holding consumers back from leading more sustainable lives. It found that only one in five, 21%, found and used the Government’s online home

There are plenty of small measures to take around the home which can cut energy use and save you cash. Jess Steele, heating technology expert at BestHeating suggests turning down your thermostat by one degree as 18°C “should be comfortable enough” and to regularly bleed radiators. She advises placing draught excluders between doors and windows to block any gaps as this will leave the room feeling warmer for longer, “This stops cold air from entering the room you are in as long as the doors are left closed too, and the Energy Saving Trust predict this saves as much as £45 a year.” Don’t block radiators with furniture, is another useful tip, “Blocking radiators with articles such as a sofa, armchair or table, will make a room feel colder and means a boiler has to work harder. Leave at least 20cm to better distribute heat. Think about redesigning your rooms for winter to get the most out of heating.”

Policy and Advocacy

EXPERT COMMENT Switching your boiler on only when hot water is needed is not only more cost-effective but also energy efficient. Employ a timer to heat your water for an hour or two daily, just before your usual usage time and schedule an annual boiler service to maintain peak efficiency. Checking your boiler thermostat is also worthwhile as setting it to maximum can significantly inflate your heating bills. To strike a favourable balance between warmth and efficiency, consider setting it to 65 degrees. Andy Kerr, Founder, BOXT

EXPERT COMMENT Check and replace loft and wall insulation. A quarter of the heat lost from a home is through poorly insulated roof spaces. If your house is old, it may have just 100mm of loft insulation depth, but change this to the recommended amount, 220-270mm, and save as much as £200 on energy bills. Once done this lasts for decades so can be worth thousands over time. Jess Steele, Heating Technology Expert,

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

THIS MONTH’S PA N E L O F E X P E R T S Simon Scott, Assistant Director of Commercial & Property Marketing, Origin Housing

Sue Dance, Sales & Commercial Manager, Grand Union Housing Group

Shared ownership costs


Toby Greenhow, Director and Head of Region, Residential Development Sales, Cambridge, Savills


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.

I’ve spent the last couple of years saving for a deposit for a home and have identified shared ownership as a scheme that could help me get on to the property ladder. However, I’m not totally clear on all the costs associated with buying this way – is there any additional support available for first time buyers like me? Nick Rose, North West London


It’s no secret that first time buyers have been impacted by the turbulence of the property market in recent years, with mortgage and interest rates hitting all-time highs and causing additional financial strains. But you’re right, the good news though is that there are specialist schemes, such as shared ownership, which offer an affordable alternative to privately renting or purchasing on the open market for first time buyers. Through shared ownership, you take out the mortgage on a proportion of the property, while paying rent to a housing association on the remaining share. The shared owner takes out a mortgage for the share they are purchasing, therefore the amount of money required for a deposit is usually a lot lower when compared to the amount that would be required when purchasing outright. This is often around 10% of the share value – for example, on a home with a full market value of £325,000, you could purchase a 25% share for £81,250, with a deposit of just £8,125. For many first time buyers in London, where property prices are notoriously high, this is one of the most accessible ways to get on to the property ladder. Other than the deposit, the other initial costs associated with shared ownership are the reservation fee to secure your home, buying costs including solicitor’s fees, mortgage costs and moving costs and any payable Stamp Duty. Providing additional support for first time buyers like you to cover these costs, we are currently running our Origin Kickstart initiative, giving the chance for hopeful purchasers to receive incentives worth £2,500.* Since you live in north west London, you may also be especially interested in our new scheme, Harrow and Wealdstone Heights, where this exclusive incentive is redeemable. The development comprises a collection of one and two bedroom shared ownership apartments that are available to move into now. Just a five-minute walk away is Harrow & Wealdstone station, meaning the development is an ideal choice for commuters and those seeking swift connections into central London. Those who are interested should visit or speak to the Origin Housing sales team. Prices for available homes at Harrow and Wealdstone Heights start from £81,250 for a 25% share of a one bedroom apartment (full market value £325,000).

Simon Scott Email your questions to:

*T&Cs apply. Only applicable on selected developments. This offer includes legal fees, rent charges and broker fees; it cannot be used with any other offer. Incentives are redeemable upon completion and are limited to one per household. Please speak to a member of the Origin sales team for more information.

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Can I qualify for shared ownership?


Although I’ve been saving for a while and was hoping to buy a small house or apartment, I still don’t have enough for a deposit. I’m currently renting on the outskirts of Dunstable and ideally looking for a two bedroom property in the same area, if possible. Do you think I might qualify for shared ownership, even though I’m on my own so only have a single income? I’m a newly qualified social worker and need to be around the Dunstable area. With prices going up all the time, I’m concerned that I may need to move further away in order to afford my first home. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you. Helen Grainger, Dunstable


It’s very likely you may be able to qualify for shared ownership, as the deposit will be much lower. The good news is we have an affordable scheme called Ashwood Green in Houghton Regis, which is very close to Dunstable. Prices start from £110,250 for a 35% share for a two bedroom house and from £126,000 for a 35% share of a three bedroom house. We can also recommend an independent financial adviser who specialises in shared ownership, to check that you could qualify. Do visit for more information. More good news for potential buyers like yourself, is that the Government has just introduced a new shared ownership product, which will allow the purchase of initial shares as low as 10% on some schemes. Benefits of this new product are that you’ll be

Ashwood Green

able to purchase additional shares as you can afford to do so, in as little as 1% portions instead of the current 10% minimum (this process is known as staircasing). For full details, please take a look at which has all the latest news on the new model, and you can search for properties in your area as well. It’s worth noting though, that the old product will still be in existence for some schemes so you’ll need to check with each provider which products they’re offering. Good luck with your search! Sue Dance

Why buy a new build


My partner and I are currently saving to buy our first home together, but we can’t decide on whether to focus our search on new builds or older, more established properties. What would be the main advantages of buying a new build home? Rob Matthews, Harlow


Buying a new build home can offer a range of benefits. They are often significantly more energy efficient and, therefore, most cost-efficient when it comes to energy bills. For example, in the two years to September 2023, 84% of new homes in London achieved an A or B rating on their energy performance certificate (EPC), compared to just 6% of secondhand properties. Recent analysis from our research team found that purchasing a new build home over a secondhand home can save an average of 55% on annual energy costs (including lighting, heating and hot water) and there are some lenders offering “green mortgages” which grant better interest rates or cashback to buyers purchasing more energy-efficient homes, providing another way to save. While increased energy prices have been a major driver for

buyers looking to save on monthly costs, low maintenance and renovation costs is another – with almost 80% of our survey respondents listing this as a priority for buying a new build. Inflation rising by 17% over the last two years means construction costs have increased significantly – the cost of concrete is up 14.4% on last year (according to ONS). We’re therefore seeing less demand for homes which need improvement work as buyers need to factor in these increased expenses. As such we’re seeing some buyers favour new build homes which are ready to move into and

often come with a 10-year warranty from the NHBC, which adds reassurance. While we expect the housing market to start recovering once the bank base rate starts to fall and inflation eases from mid-2024, the reasons for why people choose to purchase a new build home over a secondhand one are likely to remain, particularly for budget-conscious first time buyers and those looking to maximise their energy cost savings. Whichever way you decide to go, we wish you the best for your search. Toby Greenhow

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

ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR A GOVERNMENTBACKED SCHEME? 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.

BUYING ON THE OPEN MARKET 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.

BUYING A NEW HOME OFF-PLAN 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.

PRIVATE INITIATIVES 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.




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.

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

FUNDING OPTIONS BUYING ON THE OPEN MARKET & P R I VAT E I N I T I AT I V E S To buy on the open market or from a house builder you’ll need to get a mortgage from a bank or

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.

other mortgage lender. To do so you’ll need to save a deposit and meet the provider’s lending criteria.

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

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The ftb process TIPS

APPLICATION 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.

BUDGET 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.

CREDIT SCORE Get a credit report from Experian or Equifax, and make sure there are no default accounts, CCJs (county court judgements) or missed payments. If you are making lots of enquiries to find the best deal, make sure the lenders log your enquiry as a 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.

F, then apply directly to your chosen lender.

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.


FIXED-RATE MORTGAGES 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).


MORTGAGE BROKERS VS LENDERS 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 SET A BUDGET


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

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


Make sure your credit rating is sound and there are no mistakes on your file, and pay off any debts you can.

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.

REPAYMENT OR INTEREST-ONLY 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. DECIDE ON A LOCATION


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


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


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

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Buying a property is a big investment. horough You need to make research sure you buy a home that you can afford and one you will be happy living in.

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

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


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

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

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

VIEWING Once you see a property you like, arrange a viewing. Most people see at least 10 properties before putting in an offer. It’s worth bringing a friend or relative and also arranging a second viewing to check out any bits you may have missed. Don’t get taken in by the furnishings and 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.

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.

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




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

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.


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.

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uying process

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



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


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

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.

EXCHANGE AND COMPLETION Once the mortgage offer is in place, the contract is satisfactory and buildings insurance has been organised, both parties will agree an exchange date. 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.

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



LAND REGISTRY FEES: 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 affect 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 affect 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

STAMP DUTY LAND TAX (SDLT) (UNTIL 31/09/2022): 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

OTHER FEES TO CONSIDER (ESTIMATED, DEPENDENT ON CIRCUMSTANCES): MORTGAGE ARRANGEMENT FEE Expect to pay a fee of at least £1,000 to secure an attractive rate. But some can be £2000+ The lender will usually offer 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.

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

MORTGAGE BROKER’S FEE £0-£500 usually paid at mortgage application

BUILDINGS INSURANCE 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 difference between your home’s market value and the cost of rebuilding your home.

GROUND RENT (LEASEHOLD ONLY) & SERVICE CHARGES £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.


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


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


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.

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.

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




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

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

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


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.

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

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



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

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

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

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

CONVEYANCING The legal process of transferring ownership of a property.

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


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

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

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

LEASEHOLD 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.

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

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

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

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

STAMP DUTY Stamp Duty is a shortened name for Stamp Duty Land Tax, 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.

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

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Leasehold vs Freehold – What’s the difference? When purchasing a property it is important to understand the difference between freehold and leasehold. The difference can be confusing to a first time buyer. Coralie Phelan, Partner and Head of Resales and Staircasing at Prince Evans Solicitors, looks at the key differences between freehold and leasehold properties and what it means for you The crucial difference between freehold and leasehold is who owns the land the property sits on. If you purchase a house, generally this will be freehold, which means you own the house itself plus the land it sits on. If you purchase a flat, the property with be leasehold, which means you own the property “demised” (as set out in the lease) but not the land itself. However if you purchase a house under a shared ownership scheme this would be held on a leasehold basis until you own 100% of the property.

WHAT IS A LEASE AND WHAT TERMS CAN I EXPECT TO HAVE TO COMPLY WITH? A lease is a deed or legal agreement, which tells you how many years you can live at the property. A lease can be a short-term or long-term agreement. Lease terms for flats or houses being purchased are generally 99, 125 or 250 years. It also contains rights granted for the benefit of the property. The deed also imposes obligations in relation to use of the property and reserves some rights for the landlord and other tenants. You would rent the property from the freeholder for a set period. At the end of that period if the lease is not extended the property is handed back to the freeholder. The freeholder/landlord could be a company, housing association, local authority or individual.

HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM FREEHOLD? If you own a freehold property you own the property and the land it sits on. It is possible that there might be some covenants that you have to comply with such as using the property for private use rather than business use or not erecting outbuildings, however, generally there are very few restrictions on the use or enjoyment of freehold properties as opposed to leasehold properties.


SO WHAT WILL I OWN? Leasehold You will own the property itself for the term granted, this usually includes everything within the walls, the ceiling and floorboards but excludes the main structure and common parts which are owned by the freeholder. The freeholder is usually responsible for the maintenance of the structure and communal areas and you would contribute towards the cost of maintenance by way of service charges. If you own a leasehold house (as opposed to a flat), you would be responsible for the internal and external parts of the house including any garden and any drive. It does, however, depend on the terms of each individual lease as to what is included. You should always pay particular attention to the description of the property in the lease to ensure that the property is described accurately. Do also check that the lease includes rights to park or a garage, if you are expecting these to be included. You should also review the lease plan and check it is accurate. Freehold You own the property and the land it sits on. This carries with it responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of the whole of the property and the land itself.

WHAT ARE THE CRUCIAL LEASE TERMS I SHOULD BE AWARE OF? A lease is not an easy document to understand and it is imperative that you instruct a conveyancer who has experience with leasehold properties who can explain the terms of the lease in a way that is easy to understand. It is essential when purchasing a leasehold property that you take the time to read the entire lease along with your conveyancer’s summary of the key terms. There are several key lease clauses to be aware of, as follows:

Obligations and Covenants Important restrictions to consider, which could affect your decision as to whether to purchase, are as follows: 9 Are you allowed to keep pets and if so is landlord’s consent required? 9 Are there restrictions on what you can do with your balcony? 9 What are the restrictions on use of the communal areas such as any communal gardens? 9 Can you erect a satellite dish? 9 What are the restrictions on making internal alterations? 9 Are you allowed to sub-let and, if so, under what circumstances?

WHAT RIGHTS CAN I EXPECT TO BE INCLUDED IN THE LEASE? You would generally expect to be granted the following rights: 9 Access to the property 9 To quietly enjoy the property 9 Support and protection from adjacent property 9 Access to the adjacent property for the purposes of maintaining your own property 9 A right to connect into services 9 A right to use any communal television aerial 9 Use of communal areas. The lease will contain the landlord’s and possibly the management company’s obligations. These generally include a responsibility to maintain the communal areas, to insure the building and to enforce tenant’s covenants against other tenants at your request and cost.

SO HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM FREEHOLD? If you purchase a freehold property there is no lease document setting out rights and restrictions. Your rights come from general law and the title to the property. There

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are usually very few restrictions on what you can do with a freehold property. You should bear in mind, however, that you will have to comply with planning and building regulations if you decide to extend or alter a freehold property.

Rates and taxes – A lease would usually provide that the tenant is responsible for rates and taxes. Mortgage – you would need to make mortgage repayments if you take out a mortgage to fund your home.


Freehold: Rates and taxes – As with leasehold you will be responsible for rates and taxes. Maintenance costs – You would be responsible for upkeep and maintenance of the whole as opposed to part as is the case with leasehold. Mortgage – You would need to make mortgage repayments if you have a mortgage. Buildings insurance – You would

Leasehold: Ground rent – Generally, you would pay a ground rent to lease the property. Your conveyancer will advise as to whether the ground rent review clause is reasonable and how often the ground rent is reviewed. Service charges – this is a contribution towards the landlord’s/management company’s maintenance costs. The freeholder, landlord or management company might employ a managing agent to manage the communal areas and collect service charges. Buildings insurance – Generally, if you purchase a flat the landlord will be responsible for buildings insurance and you will contribute a proportion towards the cost.

insure the whole of the building and be responsible for paying the entire cost of the insurance.

SUMMARY You should consider carefully which option is best for you, as both freehold and leasehold have their advantages and disadvantages. You should ensure you read through all the freehold or leasehold documentation carefully and ask your conveyancer any questions you may have prior to legal commitment. You can then enjoy your new home, safe in the knowledge that you are fully aware of your rights and obligations.

If you are interested in a quotation for Shared Ownership Conveyancing, the Resale and Staircasing team at Prince Evans are on hand to provide a friendly no obligation quotation at rst@prince-evans. or 020 8840 7757

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CHECK WHICH SCHEME IS RIGHT FOR YOU! With a range of Government schemes available to make buying a home more affordable, find out which scheme is right for you.

SHARED OWNERSHIP 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.



A new scheme supporting local first 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.

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 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.

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.

HOME OWNERSHIP FOR PEOPLE WITH LONG-TERM DISABILITIES (HOLD) 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.

PRESERVED RIGHT TO BUY 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).

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



Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a tax on property purchases. First time buyers pay a reduced rate of zero SDLT on the first £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.

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.

OLDER PEOPLE’S SHARED OWNERSHIP (OPSO) 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.

FIND OUT MORE For a more detailed description of each scheme please visit

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20 QUESTIONS Steve Hird is Director and Co-Founder of Edward Thomas Interiors, an award-winning, specialist interior design firm operating exclusively within new homes. Now in its eighth year, Edward Thomas Interiors partners many of the UK’s best-known housebuilders, designing and styling bespoke show homes, sales centres, marketing suites and retirement living spaces. Steve’s longstanding career in new homes includes managing director roles with leading regional housebuilders and national PLCs, meaning he is well-versed in the vital role a show home or complex can play in the sales and marketing process. Steve now leads a 35-strong team of interior design experts to deliver imaginative and memorable schemes where people will want to live

20 QUESTIONS W i t h Steve Hird

What room at home is your favourite? The kitchen. I love cooking and entertaining and have a beautiful kitchen/dining space where I can socialise with friends and family. In my world it really is the heart of the home. What’s your favourite gadget or technology at home? I have a Sonos sound system that I wouldn’t be without. I love having music throughout the home, whether I’m alone or entertaining. We even have a speaker in the downstairs loo! What colour do you think everyone should have in their home? You can’t go wrong with a timeless navy blue. It always looks smart and elegant, and can be dressed up or down. Which three people would you invite for a housewarming party if you could have any guests? I love the theatre, so I’d invite legendary actor Dame Judi Dench and the much-missed comedian and screenwriter, Victoria Wood. Plus, David Attenborough, as I imagine he would have some incredible anecdotes! What’s your favourite memory from your childhood home? When I was five we had a new kitchen fitted and at the same time the back of the house was remodelled with walls knocked down and doorways moved. I remember that we washed up in the bathroom; it was all very exciting! I think this is where I got the bug for building, design and interiors. What interior trend do you hate? Scandi – I’m just not a fan of all the minimalism and prefer more warming colours. Would you rather have a library room or media room at home? A library. I like the look and how it’s evolving. On social media you’ll see everything from wallpaper feature walls with bookshelf patterns to colour co-ordinated books – this appeals to the collector in me! Would you rather have a bigger property or a better location? Now I definitely prefer location but when I was younger, I would’ve sacrificed this for a bigger house. It’s funny how your priorities evolve. Do you prefer modern homes or period properties? In our business, we operate exclusively in new homes so I’m fortunate to experience modern properties every day, but my personal preference is period properties; I love learning about the history.

Would you rather have a garden or a balcony? Garden. I love being outside among nature and country life with our dogs. Would you prefer a luxurious bathtub or a sumptuous shower? Sumptuous shower. Would you rather live in the bustling city or in the country? I’m very lucky to have the best of both; we live in the country but also have an apartment in Berlin. If you were buying a property overseas, in what country would you buy a home? Ha ha, see above! We’ve had an apartment in Berlin for nearly a decade; it’s such a cool city and always changing. Plus, I love the Christmas markets! What is one thing you couldn’t live without at home? The AGA! It’s reliable, stylish and I love the smell when something’s been cooking in there for hours! What’s your favourite way to unwind at home after work? Chilling in the kitchen with a glass of wine, some nice food, my husband and surrounded by our three dogs. What’s your favourite thing about your home? The wildlife in the garden… we have fallow deer and rabbits. Where did you buy your first home? Ossett, near Wakefield. It was an end-of-terrace two bedroom house that needed renovating. I remember removing some wood panelling from the bathroom ceiling and then realising why it was there and what it was covering up! My mum had to lend me the money for replastering! What advice would you give a first time buyer? Save, save, save and get on the ladder as soon as you can. Push yourself with your first purchase as much as you dare, as in time it will become both more affordable and valuable. What are your views on shared ownership? I would’ve loved this option when I was younger. I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for first time buyers to start their homeownership journey, understand the buying process and how to manage running a home. What are your views on the property market? Well, I’ve worked in this industry for over 30 years now so I must love it! Right now, I think the market needs some stability as this will give house hunters more confidence. As interest rates soften, I think this will happen but it needs engagement from the whole chain, from first time buyers to families, sideways movers and downsizers. If everyone is motivated to move then it works like a dream and is a sound investment.

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