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the Ultimate Guide to... GETTING ON THE LADDER, THE PROPERTY MARKET AND HELP TO BUY June/July 2018 £3.95







“Getting your finances in place is vital as it's a buyer's market” Amanda Lamb


TV presenter

9 771758 973014

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E D I T O R I A L – 020 7258 0036

Editor-in-Chief SARAH GARRETT Editor LYNDA CLARK Editorial Assistant CHLOE CAIN Junior Editorial Assistant PHOEBE DAWSON-WATTS


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

Welcome After what seems to have been a most unpredictable spell of weather, I am hoping that we will now have a lovely long summer. Our FTB Readers’ Awards were a glittering success and I thank everyone for all their support and for taking the time to vote. Do turn to pages 69-79 where you can see all the highly commended and winners and the highlights of the day. It was a marvellous occasion and has certainly become a highlight in the property world’s calendar – we look forward to celebrating again in 2019. We know that many first time buyers have aspirations to live in a certain area and often find they are faced with unaffordable options. Sometimes it is advisable to look a little further afield where there will be a lot more choice and prices will be reasonable. On pages 22-24 and 30-32 we give you some ideas of great places to consider looking at. Getting a mortgage can be a bit of a minefield and very confusing as a first time buyer. On pages 26-28 Kay Hill looks at some common scenarios and discovers which are the best mortgages available. For anyone looking to buy in the North West we have another Home Show on September 15 at the Lancashire County Cricket Club, so do go to for more details and to register. It is the perfect one-stop shop to find out everything you need to know to get a foot on the property ladder. I hope you find this issue packed full of useful information to help you buy your first home. Until next time, happy house hunting

We were delighted to have raised £5,700 for Macmillan Cancer Support at our FTB Readers’ Awards

Accounts DAVID SELF Managing Director SARAH GARRETT Public Relations RACHEL COLGAN


@firsttimebuyer SUBSCRIPTIONS 020 3874 1649


SWITCHBOARD 020 7258 1777 FAX: 020 7258 1787 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE COMPANY LTD, 37 IVOR PLACE, LONDON NW1 6EA All advertising copy for August/September 2018 must be received before 6 July 2018. Send all copy to: lynda@ The content of this publication, either in whole or in part, may not be reproduced, stored in a data retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without prior permission from the publishers. Opinions expressed in First Time Buyer magazine are not necessarily those of the publishers. © The Ultimate Guide Company Ltd 2008-2018. The Ultimate Guide Company

We will be paying much less on our mortgage than we are on rent and we can personalise our home.

Henry O’Neill, Real Life, Page 66

Anyone starting out should visit their local nursery and ask their advice.

Lucy Glover, At home with, Page 12

Shared ownership is more affordable than buying on the open market. Andrew Peglau, Developer’s Doctor, Page 16

The station is really close, so getting into work would be easy enough.

Look further afield where you can have the lifestyle you want but perhaps with a longer commute. Ross Smith, Spotlight on..., Page 114

Elliott Kingston, House Hunter, Page 14

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Cover Photo © Joel Anderson


What’s in… 61

For sale


Laura Moore and Henry O’Neill thought they would have to compromise on location, size and property type when they started searching for their first home. But, with the Government’s Help to Buy scheme they have managed to buy their dream apartment at Fish Island Village, a canalside community in Hackney Wick, east London.



9 FTB Loves... A round up of our favourite hot buys.

10 Living Enjoy the warmer weather with these bright and colourful accessories for the home and garden.

12 At home with…Lucy Glover Having a complete change of direction in her career, Lucy is now studying for a foundation degree in Garden Design and Plantsmanship. Together with co-designer Jacqueline Poll she won a competition to design a garden at this year’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. She talks to Lynda Clark about the show garden, her interesting life and gives some good advice about planning a garden for the first time.

14 House Hunter We try to find a home for Elliott Kingston and Gurdeep Choudhury,


who are looking for a one bedroom property in west London.

16 Developer’s doctor This month, Andrew Peglau, Head of Marketing at Peabody, answers your property question.


18 The View: Amanda Lamb Amanda has been a well-known presenter for many years and is enjoying great success with the series Selling Homes with Amanda Lamb

for More4. She talks to Lynda Clark about her career, her new luggage and travel range on QVC and gives some excellent property advice for first time buyers.

22 The next up-and-coming places to live!

48 The Rebirth of the Welsh Streets

Where are the best places to consider buying your first home? We look at the locations where it is possible to get on the ladder and enjoy a wonderful lifestyle as well.

The birthplace of famous Beatle, Ringo Starr, the Welsh Streets in Liverpool fell into total disrepair. Now, Plus Dane Housing and Liverpool City Council are regenerating the area and creating new homes and a thriving community.

26 Something for everyone There is never just one mortgage product which will suit every first time buyer. Kay Hill looks at some common scenarios and discovers which mortgage deals would work best.

30 Head for the hills... With ever-increasing property prices, many first timers are looking slightly further afield to find both affordable homes and a better quality of life. We take a look at some of the best commuter hotspots.

52 A little piece of history The prestigious Grade II listed building that was once Acton Town Hall has undergone extensive redevelopment. SiteSales Property Group is launching the Old Town Hall on behalf of Citystyle, part of One Housing. We discover the fascinating history behind this unique building and look at the beautiful apartments featuring stunning period features that are being created.

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Amanda Lamb



Protected by Guardians

READERS’ AWARDS 2018 First Time Buyer Readers’ Awards 2018

40 Hotspot

The winners and highly commended from this year’s Awards plus a round-up of the great day in pictures.




94 Market

We look at Chelmsford as a place to live.

Ginetta Vedrickas discovers what livein guardians are and if it could help you save for your first home.

82 First home, first meal

99 Buyer’s Guide

Head chef at Drake & Morgan King’s Cross, Ben Hughes-Gage, creates a delicious recipe for summer strawberry soup. We test out the best picnic foods from the UK’s leading supermarkets.

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

Competition Win an Indesit eXtra dishwasher worth £349.99.

84 Taking the credit Which? mortgage expert Stephen Maunder explains what a credit rating is, how it could affect your chances of getting a mortgage and how to improve your score.

90 Mortgage Clinic David Blake of Which? Mortgage Advisors answer your mortgage related questions.

104 Legal The rules about Stamp Duty and shared ownership are not that easy to understand. Bill Dhariwal, Managing Director, and Lesley Price, Head of New Build and Shared Ownership, at Lawcomm Solicitors guide you through this complex process.

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

114 Spotlight on... We talk to some of the key players in the property world to get their views and ideas of how to get on the ladder and this issue we speak to Ross Smith, Director at SiteSales Property Group.

92 Finance Kay Hill looks at what costs you can expect to pay in the first year of living in your new home and comes up with some useful tips to keeping the expenditure down.

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Mailbox MORTGAGE REPAYMENT CALCULATIONS I really want to buy my own home, after having spent years renting. I have been saving where I can, making cutbacks in different areas to get enough together to put towards a deposit, yet I have no idea how to work out what I can afford to pay each month in mortgage repayments. How would I calculate this?

FTB: Shared ownership is a great way to get on the property ladder, but it does however come with some restrictions, which will be outlined in your lease. Every housing association has different rules and restrictions. Some are more lenient when it comes to redecoration, but most will require written approval before any structural changes are made. If you are unsure, look back at

First Time Buyer Letters, 37 Ivor Place, London, NW1 6EA

As a first time buyer I’ve recently started looking at potential properties. I’ve found a house that I am completely in love with, but it’s slightly over my budget. Should I make an offer anyway? How set in stone is the asking price? And how close to the asking price should I be making my offer? Alex Munden

FTB: One solution for understanding your potential repayments is to keep a realistic record of what you spend. This means keeping track of your spending each month on everything from food and drink to clothes and transport costs. Keep hold of receipts and when working out your average monthly spending also keep in mind other outgoings like council tax, phone, water and electric. It can be very time consuming but it will mean you can see how much you spend monthly and it is a good idea to have the figures ready before you approach a lender. When you do apply for a mortgage, you will need to provide your broker with this information, as well as payslips, bank statements and tax returns. They will then use all this information to work out how much you can afford to repay each month.

I have recently bought my first home through shared ownership, and I own 35% of the property. I would like to redecorate and change some of the white goods in my house. Can I do this without the housing association’s permission? Toby Hide

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


Angela Beighton



your lease agreement or speak to your housing association before doing any work.

FTB: Essentially no, the asking price is not final. It is often a slight increase on the actual valuation of the property, so there is no harm in making an offer under the asking price. It is sensible to appear flexible, and if you seem willing to up your first offer slightly, the vendor may be more agreeable. However, be prepared for the vendor to reject your offer outright, especially if you can’t negotiate a slightly higher price. Do remember though, you are under no obligation to carry out negotiations on the property simply because you have made an offer.

This issue’s star letter wins a Judge latte milk frother worth £23. Coffee has now become the nations’ favourite drink and to create a delicious hot latte simply add milk to the container and microwave to the desired temperature. Then attach the frothing mechanism and pump to create delicious foamed milk in a matter of seconds. For milkshake repeat the process but omit the microwave stage. The clear glass is scratch and thermal shock resistant and every element can go in the dishwasher. 0117 940 000

WHAT IS A MORTGAGE FEE? I have recently been viewing properties and feel like I am ready to start the buying process for my first home. I have visited my bank to talk about mortgages and was given lots of information and help, but the mortgage they offered me came with a mortgage fee. I was wondering what this fee covers and if all mortgage applications would have a fee? Maisie Barrett FTB: It is quite usual for there to be an arrangement fee which can be anywhere between £500

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

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

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s e v o l FTB

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

Life is but a picnic! What a fantastic idea for long summer days spent outside, Roman at Home has a great collection of picnic backpacks and hampers to accompany you on walks, hikes and trips out with family and friends. The backpacks are spacious enough for you to hold your food, drinks and other picnic delights while keeping your utensils separate. It has two comfortable straps and also a handle so you can carry your picnic securely. A keeper to pull out every year! Backpack picnic hamper for two people, £43.95, Roman at Home

In full bl oom! Normally, Hydrangeas grow outside, but the Magical Hydrangea from Hills Plants, available online from The Little Botanical, is a unique variety that not only thrives indoors but flowers for an amazing150 days in a row. Grown in the UK only by Hills Plants, the variety has beautiful petals that turn from pink to red or from blue to green over the season. They come in a ceramic pot and need plenty of watering! Magical Hydrangea, £25, The Little Botanical

Espresso yourself! With a choice of four on-trend colours and finishes, who couldn’t resist a freshly brewed coffee from a Judge cafetiere? The cafetieres, which are dishwasher-safe, come in two sizes to make either three or eight cups of coffee; a simple, mess-free way to prepare your daily coffee fix! They are also scratch and stain resistant and the mesh filter and plunger are replaceable too. Available in stainless steel, copper, pewter and satin. Judge cafetiere, from £23-£38, Judge

Geometric geniuses! Say goodbye to paper clutter in your home with Red Candy’s new geometric animal memo boards! You have the fun options of a Stag, Swallow, Elephant and Panther to choose from. Made of wire, these cool pieces look great with or without your memos, reminders, shopping lists and notes on. A real statement for something a little different and off the wall! Stag animal memo rack, £35.50; swallow animal memo rack, £31.50; elephant animal memo rack, £35.50; panther animal memo rack, £31.50, Red Candy

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Homepage LIVING

Summertime Vibes


garde e h t n i x a l e R

As we head into the warm summer months, let's embrace nature and all its elements with these lively and vibrant accessories for indoors and out

Grapefruit beach towel, £10, Flying Tiger


Rainbow bistro set, £279, JD Williams

£55 for 2

Ceramic vase, £20; Dunelm

Watermelon deckchairs, pack of 2, £55, George at Asda

Leaf plates, set of four, £14, M&S

Set of four monkey, zebra, leopard and elephant side plates, £10; Calypso side plate, £2.50; dinner plate, £3; rice bowl, £2.50, Dunelm


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Homepage LIVING

Camden bistro set, £89, George at Asda

Parrot mug, £3.50, George at Asda

£45 Voyager mirror, £45, Dunelm

Cactus tealight holder, £3, George at Asda

Watermelon cushion, £5, George at Asda

Space sav

ing ideas

Fence hanging pot, £5, Wilko


Pop-up planter, £6, Wilko

Angled raised planter, £12, Wilko

C ON TA C T S » Dunelm » Flying Tiger » George at Asda » JD Williams » M&S » Wilko

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Homepage LIVING

At home with:

Lucy Glover

Having had a complete change of direction in her career, Lucy Glover decided to study a foundation degree in Garden Design and Plantsmanship. She won a competition to design a garden that was secure and sustainable and together with co-designer Jacqueline Poll, they will be showcasing their garden at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this summer. Lucy talks to Lynda Clark about her passion for all things green, her first home and has some excellent advice for first time gardeners FTB: How did your career begin? LG: I enjoyed biology when I was at school and went on to study Botany at university. When I finished I really didn’t know what I wanted to do but I knew it wasn’t going into research. I had always had a keen interest in business and decided to change direction and went into a career as a project manager, implementing IT systems for companies like BP, Mars and Channel 4. After about 10 years I then decided to run my own consultancy business working as a project manager and on business improvement projects, and most recently I did some work for the NHS. I always enjoyed doing things around the home and garden and felt I was quite creative. My husband and I bought a complete wreck of a house which was really rundown and the garden was just a triangle of weeds, brambles and gooseberry bushes. I decided that I would transform the garden, and worked hard to create the beautiful space it is today. As I so enjoyed working on the garden, I decided to take some time out and signed up to a foundation degree at Capel Manor in Garden Design and Plantsmanship, which I’m really enjoying. FTB: Tell us about your first property? LG: I had been working for about six years and saved up for a deposit and I bought a two-up-two-down Victorian cottage in St Albans with a tiny yard at the back. In those days property prices were nothing like they are today, but I still had to do all the decorating myself and I made curtains and did the garden as well. I had a sofa from a junk shop and a tea chest for a table and I only actually bought a new bed! I have always been into recycling and upcycling so it was great fun. I stayed there for about four years and then moved to a bigger three bedroom Victorian house.


FTB: Where do you live now? LG: My husband and I bought a house in 2013 which was originally built in 1913 and we were the third people to own it in 100 years! It was very exciting as we found a beautiful fireplace which had been boarded up and just needed the tiles replacing, and we opened up the space at the back of the house and converted the loft. I did the garden myself and I read up on some design

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Homepage LIVING

“MOST FIRST TIME BUYERS WILL PROBABLY HAVE QUITE A SMALL SPACE SO IT IS A GOOD IDEA TO CHOOSE PLANTS THAT GROW UPWARDS ON WALLS AND FENCES AS THIS WILL EXTEND THE AREA YOU CAN UTILISE AND LOOK VERY PRETTY AT THE SAME TIME” ideas for awkward spaces before I started. I dug everything out and laid turf and planted it with my favourite shrubs and flowers. As it is triangular it was fairly tricky but it has worked out very well. FTB: Tell us about the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower garden LG: I am in my last year at college and the Metropolitan Police and Secured by Design wanted to sponsor a garden at Hampton Court. There was a competition to design a garden which promoted different security features to put off intruders and also to make the garden pretty and sustainable as well. Together with Jacqueline Poll we won, and are now planning the realisation of the garden, which will be on show from July 2, which is very exciting. It had to be

cleverly thought out and includes things like gravel, clever use of lighting and tall thin trees so nobody can hide behind them. We also chose very prickly plants at the perimeter of the garden – all things that would deter intruders. For sustainability, we have created a shed which is clad in pallet wood and a planter made from recycled scaffold boards. The shed also has a green roof which is planted out. FTB: What are your favourite plants and flowers? LG: I really like perennial planting which is relatively low maintenance. I like gardens to look as natural as possible, and there are also some beautiful grasses which look lovely all through the winter months too.

FTB: What are your plans for the future? LG: I have set up my own garden design company which will also offer where to source everything and I will project manage the work too. The fact that this was my background should really help. FTB: What advice do you have for first time gardeners? LG: Most first time buyers will probably have quite a small space so it is a good idea to choose plants that grow upwards on walls and fences as this will extend the area you can utilise and look very pretty at the same time. I am very keen on recycling, so you can pick up some old garden furniture and paint it which will definitely give it a new lease of life. I also suggest anyone starting out should visit their local nursery and ask their advice about what grows well in the area. I think that choosing two or three plants and repeating several of them works much better than trying to cram lots of different plants into the space. Everyone will make mistakes along the way but that’s half the fun of it, and experimenting with different ideas is great. As long as you are happy with the results then a lot of it is personal taste, but it’s very fulfilling too! RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is taking place from 2-8 July.

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What we found… THE UP AND COMING Remix Helix

FROM £415,000

THE GREEN SPACE Parkside Place, Wembley

FROM £128,000*

This month FTB goes on the hunt with Elliott Kingston and Gurdeep Choudhury who are after a one bedroom home in west London or close by


Names Elliott Kingston, 38, Gurdeep Choudhury, 39 Occupations Office Manager, Facilities Manager Maximum budget £400,000 Requirements A one or two bedroom home in west London, or within an easy commute to west London, with outdoor space, parking and good local amenities

What they wanted… Gurdeep and I currently live in a lovely house in Queen’s Park, west London. We do love it there, but the problem is we’re currently renting it with four other friends! We’ve been together for three years now and really want to buy our own place and finally have some space for ourselves. We think we’d like to stay in west London, but we’re actually quite open-minded, too. We’ve thought about moving closer to my family, who live in Guildford, or maybe somewhere between the two. We both work near Paddington, and know that there are great train connections. We’d really like a modern home that we can put our own mark on. We love entertaining, so we need a good kitchen and living space, as well as a garden or a balcony. I have almost £15,000 from a redundancy several years ago, which we’re adding to our personal savings of around £20,000, and a generous gift from Gurdeep’s sister. Our budget is around £400,000.”

This new collection of one and two bedroom apartments by Hyde New Homes is superbly located in Harlesden, one of north west London’s most vibrant areas. The 34 new homes are all generously sized, with open-plan living/dining areas, good-sized balconies or gardens, and en suites in the larger properties. Residents have off-street parking and communal grounds. From Harlesden, in Zone 3, tubes reach Paddington in16 minutes, while Overground connections run to Euston in 22 minutes. Buses go to Wembley or into central London.

This appropriately named development is surrounded by green space, with several parks within just a few moments of the front door. The new homes here range from one to four bedrooms, and feature bright, open-plan living areas, fitted kitchens with integrated appliances, en suites in the larger properties, and balconies for enjoying some private outdoor space. From Sudbury and Harrow rail station, Marylebone can be reached in just 17 minutes, while Wembley is around a 15-minute walk for an extensive range of shops. *Based on a 40% share of the full market value of £320,000

What they thought… Harlesden is only a couple of stops up the Bakerloo Line from where we already live, so we wouldn’t be moving far at all. We have a couple of friends who live in the area and they really enjoy it – there are some lovely local parks and bars. The apartments themselves are very stylish and exactly what we’re looking for. The open-plan living arrangement is an ideal one for us, as we regularly have friends over and love making the cooking part of the evening.”

This is an interesting location – it’s one we hadn’t really considered, but only because we’ve never been to Wembley or Sudbury. It looks like it’s quite a green area, and we’ve heard lots of good things about regeneration in the town centre. We also know that the shopping in Wembley is supposed to be amazing, which is quite exciting. The homes themselves are really well designed – they’re bright and airy with lots of natural light, and we really like the look of those lovely new kitchens!”

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COUNTRY CONNECTION Chertsey Halt, Chertsey

FROM £259,995

THE COMMUTER’S DREAM Padcroft, West Drayton

FROM £420,000

First choice! THE PARK LIFE

FROM £162,500*

The Staging Post, Hounslow

Located in the pretty Surrey town of Chertsey, this new development is home to a range of one and two bedroom apartments and two to four bedroom houses. The two bedroom apartments, which start from £319,995, feature an en suite from the master bedroom, built-in storage, sleek fitted kitchens and private balconies. The homes are in a tranquil spot, with landscaped grounds that include grassland, trees and wildflowers. Chertsey rail station is just a few minutes on foot, with train services into Waterloo taking around 50 minutes.

West Drayton, located 15 miles west of central London, is fast becoming known as a property hotspot thanks to its speedy commuting times, which will soon become even better with the arrival of the Elizabeth Line. From 2019, commuting into Paddington will take just 20 minutes, while the West End will be only 24 minutes away. The two and three bedroom homes here are beautifully designed, with plenty of natural light coming through the French doors that open from the open-plan living areas to a private balcony or terrace.

Chertsey is a lovely town – I know it quite well because I grew up around 10 miles away in Guildford. I had friends in the area and used to go there a lot. We really like the look of this development and like that there are houses as well as apartments, as it means there’ll be a real mix of people living there. We would be able to afford a two bedroom home here, which would be particularly useful for having our London friends coming to stay over.”

These apartments are very stylish indeed. We really like the architecture of the building itself, as well as all the bright spaces. The kitchens and the bathrooms are gorgeous. It’s really interesting to hear that the transport links are going to be so good – and it feels like it might be a great investment to buy in the area. We really like the look of the communal garden – it would be lovely to have a grassed area as well as a balcony, as it would give us some variety on those lovely summer days.”

pton Park, nd on the doorstep at Lam With 40 acres of parkla ng some a perfect spot for enjoyi these new homes are in two and , . The contemporary one green space in London a range h wit ed e been design three bedroom homes hav t open on tha as are g livin n-plan of layouts and feature ope connections vel Tra . ace terr or y con to a either a private bal Piccadilly nt; Hounslow Central, for from the area are excelle rt stroll sho a just is s, in 30 minute services to central London be can ort airp row ath travel, He away. For international s. minute reached in around 10 e of *Based on a 50% shar

the full market value of



“We are very interested in these beautiful apartments and have already been to have a look around the area, which looks lovely. Gurdeep has started the ball rolling with registering our interest, and we’ll be speaking with a mortgage adviser soon to get a mortgage offer in principle, as this will help to speed up the process. Our fingers are crossed!”

We love the look of these apartments and especially like that they are practically in the park! For us, having access to such a great open space would be amazing, as we love going jogging and cycling. We can just imagine having our friends over on a sunny day and ending up having a game of frisbee in the park – it would be like having a 40-acre back garden! The station is really close, so getting into work would be easy enough, and the town centre is also easy to get to – and we hear there’s a new cinema planned, which is quite exciting.”

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Developer’s Doctor Andrew Peglau is Head of Marketing at Peabody, one of the largest housing providers in London and the South East with 55,000 homes. Peabody has more than 150 years of history, experience and expertise, and creates and invests in great places where people want to live. Peabody has an ambitious housebuilding programme to deliver at least 2,500 homes every year

Question… I am a first time buyer and extremely eager to get on to the property ladder so I can own my own home and stop my money going down the drain on rent. I’m commuting into London but would ideally like to live in an area where I can save on my travel costs and benefit from the perks of living in a desirable location of my choice, ideally in Zone 1 or 2. I’m struggling to find a realistic option that would suit my financial situation, as I’m on a single income. Shared ownership has been recommended to me, however I’m not sure how I feel about it; is it not lower quality type homes on the outskirts of London? Also, if I am not buying it completely will I ever own my own home?

Answer … Shared ownership is one of the best ways for first time buyers to get their foot on the property ladder within prime locations across London. With shared ownership you do not need to make sacrifices on either your lifestyle or the quality of your home. It is a general misconception that shared ownership is a low-quality product; but it is quite the contrary, with high standards for living, storage and outdoor space. I can see that you’re extremely keen to buy in an area that offers not just a home, but a lifestyle and community environment. Location is so important, and with shared ownership, the areas you thought you couldn’t afford to live in – such as Zone 1 and 2 prime London locations – could be within your reach. If you’re eager to live in a central location with great transport links and connectivity, the choice is yours. Some developments may have eligibility restrictions, which means priority will go to those who live or work within the area, but


often people outside the area are able to buy too. Shared ownership is more affordable than buying on the open market. You can buy a home with a lower deposit than usual (as low as 5%) and pay rent that is lower than the market rate. You benefit from the best of both worlds – you buy a share of your ideal home, while efficiently saving more than you would if you were renting altogether. Another common misconception about shared ownership is that you won’t ever be able to own the entire property. Shared ownership is designed to give you flexibility to buy further shares when you can afford to, and eventually own your home in full

Andrew Peglau, Head of Marketing, Peabody

when the time is right for you. This is called staircasing, and Peabody has a dedicated team to help guide you through this process. Last year alone we helped 280 customers buy more shares in their home, many staircasing up to 100% ownership. Peabody is one of the oldest housing associations – it has been serving Londoners and providing homes for more than 150 years. Peabody prides itself on providing affordable and accessible homes that are focused on communities. A couple of examples of our developments that might suit you are West View, located in Battersea, and City Angel, located in the heart of Zone 1 in Islington.

WEST VIEW BATTERSEA Peabody has just launched 54 one and two bedroom shared ownership homes at West View Battersea, as part of Berkeley’s Vista development at Chelsea Bridge. Located on the cusp of Zone 1, overlooking the renowned 200-acre green space at Battersea Park and within proximity to the iconic Battersea Power Station, West View Battersea invites buyers to see London from a new perspective and welcomes you to make the most of London living. Prices start from £191,250 for a 25% share of a one bed apartment, making it possible for first time buyers to purchase high quality homes in a much sought-after neighbourhood.

THE CITY ANGEL The City Angel at Berkeley’s 250 City Road will launch later this summer; a desirable collection of 70 studio and one bedroom apartments, all available through shared ownership. Situated in a prime Zone1 location, the development prides itself on connectivity, with easy access to the City and beyond. The City Angel development is both aspirational and desirable thanks to its city centre location, situated just a five-minute walk from Islington’s Upper Street, the gateway to independent quirky eateries, pop-ups and cocktail clubs. The tech start-ups of Old Street and the social scene of Islington are also in close proximity of the development. For more information or to register your interest, contact Peabody: 020 7021 4842

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A Very k o o l t u O y n n u S 18

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Amanda Lamb is well known as a TV presenter on A Place in the Sun and for her popular series, Selling Houses with Amanda Lamb on More4. For 10 years she was also the face of Scottish Widows. She talks to Lynda Clark about her fascinating career, her property experiences and gives some sound advice for first time buyers Photos © Joel Anderson When I meet Amanda she is busy making a PowerPoint presentation for a talk she is giving at the Ideal Home Scotland. “I’m a real dinosaur when it comes to technology and even my nine-year-old daughter gets exasperated with me!” But when it comes to property and television presenting, Amanda is in her element. Her story starts in Portsmouth where she was born. She left school at 15 and got her first office job in an estate agency. She was able to go on viewings and discovered a natural ability to spot a good property. “I am a great believer that if you want to sell your property the best thing to do is de-clutter. Most potential buyers view a property and struggle to imagine what the space could look like. It’s so easy to go to IKEA and buy a shed-load of boxes and stash it all away while you are trying to sell the property. "Also, first impressions mean a great deal, and I am a firm believer that as you walk up the path, your first instinct will be right. So vendors should make sure the front of the property looks good and inviting. I remember a really funny story when I went to see a place we were trying to sell in Southsea, which was owned by a guy who lived in London during the week and only came back at weekends. When I went in I was shocked as it was a complete tip. There were empty curry cartons, cigarette butts and general mess everywhere. I decided that I would sell it even if it killed me, so I went out and bought some bin bags and cleared it all up. I hadn’t been told it had already been sold, so when the owners turned up they must have wondered who the cleaning fairy was!” When she and a girlfriend decided to go to the Clothes Show in London they were approached by four different model agencies that were scouting for new faces. She was flattered but very sceptical. “I really didn’t know what to do, but I was young and obviously it was an amazing opportunity. I decided to give it a go as I thought that the estate agency would

always be there but this chance might not happen again. I told my mum that I would give it six months and if it didn’t work out I would come home.” Amanda moved to London and decided to buy her own property with her then boyfriend when she was just 21. “We bought an apartment above the Pizza Express in Wandsworth for £70,000. It had two bedrooms but its big selling point was the roof garden. Unfortunately, I split up with the boyfriend and I just wanted to leave. I ended up walking away, so I didn’t do too well from my first step on the ladder. I then got married and we bought a house, again in Wandsworth. But we divorced, so I bought a lovely apartment in east Twickenham in a mansion block right by the river. It was beautiful and I really enjoyed my time living there.” Eventually her big break came when she was offered a huge deal to appear in the Scottish Widows adverts. “They were really lovely ads and the image of the woman in the cloak is very iconic. It was the real turning point in my life. After that, I had decided that I would give it all up and become a teacher; but my agent persuaded me to make a showreel before I left. A Place in the Sun needed a presenter with property experience and I was asked to go for a screen test. I got the job for a six-part series but it continued and just ran and ran!” At that time an increasing number of British people were buying properties abroad, so the show was a massive success. Amanda travelled the world and had many wonderful experiences finding people their dream home overseas. She then met her now husband, Sean, and they decided to buy somewhere together. “Sean isn’t like me when it comes to making a quick spontaneous decision. So I had to lure him to the area on the pretext that there was a great restaurant there and a farmers' market, but I knew the house that I had fallen in love with was around the corner. It had been


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“WHEN I BOUGHT MY FIRST HOME I WOULD HAVE LOVED TO LIVE IN FULHAM OR CHELSEA BUT I JUST COULDN’T AFFORD IT, SO I WENT TO WANDSWORTH WHICH WAS ONLY A 10-MINUTE BUS RIDE FROM FULHAM, BUT WAS MUCH MORE AFFORDABLE” on the market for about seven months but I knew it was my dream home. Luckily, Sean liked it as well and we decided to buy it. It’s a three-storey Victorian semi, but it was in need of a lot of renovation. It was very scruffy inside, but I knew that the house had potential and luckily we looked at a house a few doors down which was also for sale and realised that we could make it into something very special. When we moved in, I was four months pregnant and Sean, who is a cameraman for A Place in the Sun, and I were off to Australia for six weeks. So while we were away we arranged to have the basement gutted so that all the dust and mess would be gone by the time we got back. My goal was to get the bedroom and living room finished as soon as possible as I had lived in hotels for 10 years while filming and my own bed is very important to me.” They love their home which is on the doorstep to a wonderful park, and as Amanda says, “It is a real family home – Willow is now nine and Lottie is four and they both love living here – so it’s perfect. We have dug out the basement and put in a new kitchen and have created a lovely family space and an area for the children to play in. But as the children get older I am having to re-think the space as Willow enjoys inviting her friends around and like all children they have so much ‘stuff’ so I am always sorting and tidying.” Amanda has the best of both worlds as she can also spend time at home with the children. She has been very busy filming the latest series Selling Houses with Amanda Lamb for More4 and has some other interesting projects in the pipeline. “The series is fascinating, as it helps people who may have had their homes on the market for a year or two and they can’t sell them. I help three homeowners improve their houses before one buyer comes round to view them and decide on their favourite. The homeowners get the chance to snoop around each other’s houses before going head-to-head in competition. Having sized up the rivals’ properties they get lots of


advice from me, plus £1,000 and one week to make all the improvements. Sometimes it is tough to hear criticism and their rivals’ comments don’t always go down well, but with a tight budget and the time restriction they have to make the most impact. When you live in a home it can be very hard to be objective. Often places get cluttered and need some serious sorting and storage, or they have enormous pieces of furniture in them like large wardrobes which fill the room. Sometimes it can be just a simple lick of paint and new flooring but every home is different.” Amanda is always very busy and will be presenting a talk on How to Fall Back in Love with Your Home at the Ideal Home Scotland. “It is so easy to fall into the trap of keeping all those bits and bobs and suddenly your home is full of clutter and mess. I always advise people to tackle one room at a time, or decide that today you will sort out your clothes or books, so that it doesn’t become too overwhelming. "It’s so easy to get overrun and not know where to start. This week I am going to start on my wardrobe as I have about eight pairs of black shoes which I never wear and I aim to be quite ruthless. I regularly donate books I either don’t like or will never read again to a hospice or a charity shop. Fearne Cotton once said, 'If your house is a mess, your head is a mess' and I totally agree with this. I am on a mission to help people learn how to deal with it.” Amanda is always doing some work to her house and has recently painted her downstairs cloakroom in a Farrow & Ball paint called Railings which is a soft black with blue undertones. “I have really started to embrace colour and everyone thought I was crazy to paint a small room so dark, but it really works – particularly with the children as it doesn’t show up the jammy fingermarks! Homes evolve, and even if you don’t want to paint the entire room in a bright colour you can add a pop of colour with accessories or just paint a feature wall.” With all of Amanda’s experience, she has some excellent advice for first time buyers.

“Firstly, make sure you can afford it. Using a financial adviser is worth its weight in gold as they are the experts and can often save you money in the long run. Also, ask anyone you know who has already bought for any advice they can give you. "Many first time buyers set their hearts on living in a particular area, but sometimes you have to compromise. If you move slightly out of the area you want, you may be able to afford a larger property. When I bought my first home I would have loved to live in Fulham or Chelsea but I just couldn’t afford it, so I went to Wandsworth which was only a 10-minute bus ride from Fulham, but was much more affordable. "If you are buying with a friend, partner or husband/wife then I think it’s a great idea to write a list of your top 10 requirements – such as how many bedrooms you would like or the location – and then swap lists and compare. When we moved, my husband was not keen on onstreet parking and he really wanted a shed in the garden, but we both agreed that the location was perfect so we compromised. "Getting your finances in place is vital as it’s a buyer’s market, so if you are ready to go then first timers will have the upper hand. The latest trend is to have an open house where everyone who is interested turns up at the same time. It creates a frenzy and everyone feels the pressure of saying they want to buy it without really thinking things through. So, don’t be hassled into making the wrong decision.” There really is never a dull moment for Amanda, and apart from all her television and presenting work she now has her own range of luggage, travel accessories and bags which are available on QVC. “I’ve lived out of a suitcase ever since I was 19 and started working, so I think that more than 25 years’ experience means that I know what makes a good case. Oh yes, and I am an expert packer too!”

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THE NEXT UP-AND-COMING PLACES TO LIVE! With pockets of cost-effective housing across the country, first time buyers looking to get on the property ladder should consider these hotspots where it is possible to buy a great affordable home Many first time buyers despair when it comes to buying their first home, but there are some really positive things that should be taken into consideration.  The abolition of Stamp Duty for properties up to £300,000 has made quite an impact on the general finances involved when buying a home.  Shared ownership is a very affordable way for first time buyers to get on the ladder. With only a 5% deposit needed, you buy a share of the home (which can be anything between 25%-75%) and pay a subsidised rent on the share you don’t own, which results in lower monthly costs than renting on the open market. In time, you can buy more shares, called staircasing, right up to 100% and outright ownership.  A Help to Buy Equity Loan is another way of assisting ftbs to buy their own place, but the property must be newly built with a maximum price of up to £600,000. The Government lends buyers up to 20% of the cost of a new home (up to 40% in London). This means that buyers only need a 5% cash deposit and a mortgage makes up the remainder. The loan is interest free for five years and then there is an interest fee of 1.75% of the amount of the Equity Loan at the time you purchased the property, which will increase each year after that by the increase in the Retail Price Index. The loan is repayable after 25 years or on the sale of the property if earlier.


Reading Gateway

FROM £55,982*


Arkwright Place, Gorton Arkwright Place is a development of 131 new homes with two, three and four bedrooms and seven different house types on offer. Homes are being built by Seddon for Cube which is the private arm of Great Places Housing Group, and Plumlife will be selling them on behalf of Cube. Homes are a mix of detached and semi-detached and have space for parking and a private garden. Gorton has undergone significant regeneration over recent years and is only three miles outside of Manchester City centre with its nightlife, restaurants and culture. Arkwright Place is ideal for commuters; Ryder Bow train station is an eight-minute walk away and the journey takes 11 minutes to the city. There are also some lovely parks and green spaces close at hand, such as Highfield Country Park and Crowcroft Park, plus shopping and amenities on the doorstep. For sport lovers, the Belle Vue Sports Village, Sport City and the Etihad Stadium are all nearby. *Based on a 35% share with a full market value of £159,950


FROM £309,950

Reading Gateway from Bewley Homes is offering 47 two bedroom apartments and coach houses plus 76 two, three, four and five bedroom family homes. All are designed to a high specification to maximise space, light and luxury with the apartments having an open-plan living space with kitchen, and an en suite shower room to the main bedroom. Ideal for commuters, it takes just 23 minutes to get to London Paddington from Reading station and Crossrail is due to open in 2019.  Bewley is offering a first time buyer exclusive apartment offer with Stamp Duty paid*, legal fees up to £1,000 paid*, surveyors fees paid up to £500*, £500 towards mortgage repayments every month for a year and flooring included.   *terms and conditions apply



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MANCHESTER Widely recognised as one of the UK’s fastest growing cities, Manchester is the northern delight in the North West of England that is turning heads in the property sphere. Considered in recent years as the best UK city to live in (Economist Intelligence Unit), Manchester is a prime example of where regeneration has improved a city's status. Thanks to the widespread investment of the Government’s Northern Powerhouse initiative, Manchester’s economy is thriving and property prices are booming. Described as a ‘global gateway’, Manchester is home to the largest airport outside London. With £13bn being invested in Manchester’s transport facilities over the coming years, it’s set to get bigger and better, with extensions being made to the MetroLink tram system. There are three mainline train stations in the city centre, providing very good rail connections, with journeys into London taking around two hours. In the future, residents can also look forward to a transformation in the North’s rail connectivity with High Speed Two (HS2). Manchester benefits from a huge student population with the highest proportion of 25-29 year olds in the UK. This lively and vibrant area has something for everyone, with the famous Northern Quarter serving as Manchester’s creative and digital centre, with art galleries, coffee shops, music venues and even an immersive theatre. Food lovers will enjoy the Curry Mile and Chinatown, and those in need of some retail therapy can head to the Arndale Shopping Centre or the Trafford Centre, which has the added perks of its own aquarium, ski slope and golf course. With a new BBC Media City, plentiful career opportunities, widespread housing developments and one of the best-performing property markets in Britain, Manchester is set to have an exciting 2018.

CHELMSFORD Proving why it gained its city status in 2012, Chelmsford, the suburban Essex hotspot, continues to excite. With first-rate schooling, impressive retail and leisure facilities, thriving nightlife and vast green spaces, there is something for everyone. Whether you're a young professional or a family wishing to get on the property ladder, Chelmsford is a desirable location, offering the amenities of a prosperous city at an affordable price. Reaping the benefits of being in the commuter belt, Chelmsford sits within a 30-minute drive from Stansted Airport, provides a direct service to Liverpool Street in just 35 minutes and with the introduction of Crossrail, residents have even greater transport options into London with Shenfield Station 12 minutes away by train. The area’s regeneration scheme has transformed the city centre, with Bond Street providing high street stores, restaurants, and a luxurious Everyman cinema. Chelmsford has a rich cultural history as the birthplace of radio, and the city is never at a loss for entertainment, with its own cathedral, museums and dance and theatre spaces.

READING A renowned commercial hub, Reading, situated in Berkshire, has gained a reputation as the capital of the Thames Valley, boasting a strong technological business base. This has not only boosted the successes of Reading’s economy, providing excellent career opportunities, but it has also landed Reading the status of having the highest wages in the UK outside of London (Centre for Cities). And there is no intention of slowing down, with the Reading 2050 Vision pioneering a smart and sustainable future for the whole area. But for now, residents can enjoy Reading for its vibrant retail centre that provides a generous mix of high street favourites, independent businesses and monthly street markets. These lifestyle perks are accompanied by an array of art galleries such as the Madejski Gallery, comedy clubs including The Olympia Ballroom, live music venues like Hexagon, theatres and even historical ruins in the Abbey Quarter, all combining to make this a rich cultural space. Residents can also look forward to the arrival of Crossrail by December 2019 which will provide a direct route into central London locations such as Canary Wharf, Liverpool Street and Bond Street in around an hour. This is to build upon the already excellent transport services in Reading, which have connections to Waterloo, Paddington, Heathrow, and Gatwick. Situated at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, Reading provides all the trappings of a dynamic urban lifestyle, while offering respite in the form of quaint pubs, country spaces, and annual regattas hosted at this riverside location. This is not one to miss out on.


FROM £439,995

Eagle Rise at Channels Eagle Rise at Channels offers three, four and five bedroom new homes in Chelmsford set among the lush Essex countryside near Little Waltham. Each property is finished to a high specification and interior design upgrades are available. Some homes feature vaulted ceilings and most have garages or off-street parking. Chelmsford centre is a short drive away and is home to two shopping centres – Meadows and High Chelmer – which have a variety of stores and cafes, as well as a regular market. For a taste of the great outdoors, head to one of 22 parks located across the city. Ideally situated for travel into London, Chelmsford railway station is less than 10 minutes’ drive from Channels and from there frequent train services run into Stratford and London Liverpool Street, with a journey time of around 35 minutes. Help to Buy is available. Continued on page 24 First Time Buyer June/July 2018 23

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CROYDON Concrete jungle turned south London property hotspot, Croydon, has gained much attention over the years with significant development projects giving this area a new lease of life. As part of a £5.25bn regeneration programme – Croydon Vision 2020 – the area can enjoy its newfound status as a centre of business, culture and retail, with a wealth of new residential property and a £1.4bn Westfield shopping centre set to begin its build in 2019. Along with this, the council has pledged to improve the already outstanding transport connections, which includes its own Tramlink service and three mainline train stations. Located in Zone 5, Croydon provides Thameslink, London Overground and Southern services with connections into London Bridge and Victoria in 25 minutes, as well as direct trains to Gatwick in 15 minutes. Croydon has gained recognition over the past years as a growing tech base, reinventing the area as a technology and business hotspot. The arts and culture scene has also seen great developments. Gaining prominence as the new street art capital of London, Croydon has recently been shortlisted for the Mayor of London’s Creative Enterprise Zones to develop its emerging arts quarter, pioneered by artistic grassroots establishments such as TURF and RISE Gallery. Already home to the prominent Brit School, Croydon has also renewed its rich musical legacy, with £30m developments on the distinguished Fairfield Halls, as well as the arrival of trendy pop-up mall and music venue Box Park. Where a Starbucks may once have been the height of luxury in this area, Croydon is now emerging as the up-and-coming spot south of the river.


FROM £352,000

Leon House

Located in the heart of Croydon, Leon House is an iconic part of the town’s landscape. The 20-storey former office block has been regenerated into a fantastic collection of sleek one and two bedroom homes with unbeatable views over the surrounding area and beyond. Residents will have access to a communal sky garden and modern co-working space with free Wi-Fi. Transport links from nearby East Croydon station take under 20 minutes to London Victoria, and Brighton and the south coast can be reached in as little as 45 minutes. Help to Buy is available.


WOOLWICH Trinity Walk

FROM £360,000

Trinity Walk from Lovell Homes offers a collection of one, two and three bedroom apartments and three and four bedroom houses just a mile from the new Crossrail station which will provide quicker journeys to central London with travel times to Canary Wharf in eight minutes, Liverpool Street in 14 minutes and Bond Street in just 22 minutes. The new homes are part of the £400 million Trinity Woolwich regeneration scheme which is providing new green areas, office spaces and amenities. All the homes are built to a high-quality specification and Help to Buy is available.


Greenwich’s best kept secret, Woolwich is the small riverside locale that is making headway as an up-and-coming place to live in London. With a rich history as an ex-military and naval town, Woolwich is home to the Royal Arsenal which played a key role in the munitions industry for more than 200 years. With spots such as The Dial Arch pub set in an old munitions factory, the area continues to champion its vibrant heritage and retain a great sense of community spirit, even with widespread regeneration, providing Woolwich with a luxurious residential update. A commuter hotspot with trains to Charing Cross, London Bridge and Cannon Street in under 30 minutes, Woolwich also has the forthcoming addition of the Elizabeth Line Crossrail to look forward to. And for those who enjoy a more unconventional means of transport, the historic Woolwich Ferry transports you across the River Thames at no cost at all. Woolwich is a charming area with pubs, independent shops, bakeries and a monthly farmers market creating a traditional and close-knit community experience. With regeneration only adding to this, the latest plans for a £32m Cultural Quarter will transform some of the areas historical buildings into art and performance spaces, rehearsal studios and an exciting new theatre. With a promising future set for Woolwich, you will want to get your hands on one of the few remaining affordable London postcodes.

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Something for everyone

No two first time buyers are alike, so there’s never a deal that’s perfect for everybody. If you have a high income and a big deposit you’ll need a very different product to someone with no deposit at all who’s relying on the Bank of Mum and Dad. Kay Hill looks at some common scenarios and what is available on the market at the moment MR AND MS AVERAGE According to Halifax, the average first time buyer in the UK is 31 years old and buys a property for £212,079 with a mortgage of £178,749 and a deposit of £33,339. The Office for National Statistics notes that more than 80% of first time buyers purchase as a couple, although only about a third will have tied the knot. The average national income for a UK adult working full time is £26,728, which would give our averagely happy couple an annual income of £53,456 – enough to secure that size of mortgage with many lenders, provided they don’t have heavy outgoings. If one of them earned slightly more, around £32,800, almost all lenders would agree a 25-year mortgage with an 84% loan to value. (Monthly payment figures courtesy of Principality Discount Variable – initial rate 1.65%, set-up fee £25, initial monthly payment £727 for 26 months, then moving to standard variable (SVR) currently £1,007 a month (but with a modest early repayment charge of £145, this would be the time to remortgage). Barclays Fixed until 31-07-20 FTB – initial rate 1.98%, set-up fee £35, cashback up to £500, initial monthly payment £755 for 27 months then SVR currently £925. Early repayment charge £80 after fix period ends. M&S Bank 2-year Variable FTB – initial rate 2.19%, no set-up fees and up to £1,000 cashback, initial monthly payment £774 for 24 months then SVR currently £924. No early repayment charge.

LONDON HIGH FLYER The average London first time buyer now pays £422,580 and takes out a mortgage for £309,977 with a deposit of £112,604, which would require an annual salary in excess of £60,000 a year. A London buyer with a smaller, 10% deposit of £42,258, would need to earn at least £76,000 a year to get this size of mortgage. With the larger deposit, giving a LTV of 73%, our high flyer has some good options. Skipton Building Society 2-yr Tracker – 1.43% for 24 months, then SVR (currently 4.74%), no product fees, monthly payment £1,229 for 24 months, then £1,720. Hanley Economic Lifetime Discount Variable – 1.75% for term (3.44% discount from the SVR, currently 5.19%) product fee £700, monthly payment £1,276. Coventry Flexx for Term – 1.8% for term, £999 product fee, monthly payment £1,284.


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BANKING ON MUM AND DAD First time buyers with little or no deposit or an insufficient income for the home they want to buy can find a variety of ways that willing relatives can help. If a parent wants to assist, but isn’t in a position to just gift the money, various schemes offer different ways in which they can utilise their income, savings or the equity in their own homes to help the first time buyer. There is a financial risk to the parent if the first time buyer defaults, so it’s important that everyone is fully aware of the implications of these schemes. Barclays Family Springboard – buyers need no deposit, but a family member locks away the equivalent of 10% of the purchase price into an interest-paying savings account for three years. 2.75%, fixed for three years, no product fee, not available on new build homes. Tipton & Coseley Building Society 100% Family Assist – buyers need no deposit, but 35% of the mortgage amount is secured on a family member’s property (which must have at least 40% equity). 3.24% variable (1.75% discount from SVR for whole term, SVR currently 4.99%), no product fee but two valuations and legal fees required. Post Office Family Link – brand new from the Post Office, this comprises two loans: the first time buyer takes a 90% LTV mortgage against the property they’re buying, then with a parent or relative they take out an interestfree, 5-year mortgage for the remaining 10%, secured against the assistor’s mortgage-free home. The ftb must be able to cover the costs of both loans, while the assistor must be able to pay the loan on their house if the buyer defaults. 4.89% fixed until 31/08/2023, no product fee, up to £500 cashback, not available on new builds. For example, a 35-year mortgage for £200,000 would cost £896 for the main loan and £333 for the assistor loan, total £1,229, for 60 monthly repayments, then SVR (currently 4.49%) at £855 a month. The Post Office has also launched a new guarantor mortgage called First Start, available on loans up to 95% LTV, 2.094.08% depending on deposit.

THE SHARED OWNERS Shared ownership schemes are becoming more and more popular, especially in areas where house prices are high in comparison with local incomes. Larger families may also find it a particularly useful way of buying a family home for what they might otherwise spend on a cramped apartment. Far fewer companies provide these mortgages, so our shared owners will probably want to use a broker to get the best deal. Halifax Intermediaries Affordable Housing FTB Fixed Rate – from 1.76% until June 2020 then SVR (currently 3.99%), £999 product fee. Also available as a 5-yr fix from 2.25%. Via broker only. The Melton Shared Ownership – 2.79% rate for three years followed by SVR, currently 4.99%, up to 95% LTV, £880 product fee. Leeds 2-year Shared Ownership Fixed Rate – 3.35% until June 2020 then 1% discount on SVR, currently 4.69% until June 2023, £999 product fee. Also available as a 5-year fix, 4.84% with no product fee.

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BUYERS USING HELP TO BUY The Government’s popular Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme to help people buy new build homes has seen 144,826 sales since its launch in 2013, with 81% of these being to first time buyers. According to UK Finance (formerly known as the Council of Mortgage Lenders) an average of 9.6% of first time buyers use the scheme, although this percentage seems to be rising, with the most recent figures showing almost 15% of first timers making use of it. Buyers using the scheme need to use a mortgage that is specific to Help to Buy, so it might be worth using a broker.

EXPERT COMMENT A lack of affordable housing

Santander Fixed 1.49% – 1.49% until 2.7.20 then SVR, currently 3.75%, £999 product fee. Via brokers only. TSB Shared Equity 2-year fixed – from 1.69% with a £995 product fee or from 2.04% with no fee, fixed for two years, then SVR. Leeds 5-year fixed rated Help to Buy Equity Cashback – 2.34% fixed until April 2020 then 1% below SVR until April 2023, free valuation, £999 product fee, £1,000 cashback on completion. Also available as a 2-year fix at 2.04%. Via brokers only.

continues to remain a serious issue for the majority of first time buyers, and although Government initiatives are helping, there is still a significant group of would-be homeowners who struggle to step on to the property ladder. Buyers can unfortunately hit a few bumps in the road, for example an unexpected illness, bill or divorce, and can often be deemed ‘high risk’ for missing one or two payments. Lenders are still unwilling to provide credit to these borrowers, even though this decision is often based on outdated and inaccurate assumptions. However, many borrowers with a less-than-perfect credit score are not repeat offenders, and the good news is that greater innovation within the mortgage sector means there’s a much wider range of options available. If this is your situation, I would encourage you to speak to a broker to discuss all the options. In some cases, they may recommend a specialist lender, which will help you find an affordable mortgage solution based on your financial circumstances. Specialist lenders like these assess each case individually – they look beyond simple metrics like credit

THE TINY DEPOSIT GO-IT-ALONERS Not everyone with just a small, 5% deposit wants to use Help to Buy: Equity Loan – perhaps our couple want to purchase a used property, or see themselves having to move on relatively quickly and want the freedom to rent out their home? Higher LTV mortgages are more expensive as they represent a greater risk, but there are still some good options for 95% mortgages, even if you don’t have access to the good old Bank of Mum and Dad. The Melton Building Society 3-year discounted rate – 2.79% variable (2.2% discount off SVR, currently 4.99%, for three years), no product fee, £250 cashback. Monmouthshire Building Society 2-year discounted rate – 2.99% (2% discount off SVR, currently 4.99%, for two years), no product fee, free valuation, £250 cashback. Yorkshire Building Society 2-year fixed rate – newly released 3.19% two-year fixed rate mortgage, product fee £495, free valuation.


scores in order to assess how much borrowers can actually afford. As an industry, we need to reassure these borrowers that there are solutions; this way, the housing market can be open for all.

Steve Seal Director of Sales and Marketing, Bluestone

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Head for the hills...

Soaring property prices are driving first time buyers to seek fresh air and a better quality of life in out-of-town areas in their search for more affordable homes. We take a look at some of the best places to live to get more for your money with a short commute to central London


FIND YOUR BEST COMMUTER TOWN Based on the findings, TotallyMoney has built an interactive tool –



commuter-hotspots – to help find the best commuter town for your personal needs. You can input your house price budget, how much you’re willing to spend on a season ticket and how long you are prepared to travel for, to reveal the towns that are the most suitable. TotallyMoney Head of Brand and Communications Joe Gardiner said, “Like so many life decisions, finding your perfect home is about balancing what’s important to you. “While house prices have a massive impact on where people buy, it’s not the only influencing factor. We hope our research will open people’s eyes to locations they might not have thought of previously.”












Waltham Cross















Greater London

































9 10



then ranks 116 towns in order of the most desirable commuter location to least. Three Essex towns — Purfleet (close to Lakeside Shopping Centre), Laindon, and Grays — sit in the top 10, ranking first, sixth, and eighth respectively. All three have journey times into London of less than 40 minutes and have reasonably priced season tickets, both factors contributing considerably to their top rankings. They do well for life satisfaction too, with all three towns scoring 7.77 out of 10.







High Wycombe




























Leighton Buzzard

































7.88 7.77






















Watford Junction







Potters Bar




















Table courtesy of

There are many plus points for buying your first home outside of London’s Zones 1-6 and commuting into central London. For many aspiring homeowners, moving out of London is the only way to afford to buy a home and often you will get more for your money and will be able to buy a bigger property with possibly some outside space too. But before taking the plunge, the obvious things to consider are commute times and the cost of a season ticket. TotallyMoney has recently done some research which defines commuter hotspots by looking at average house prices, the length of the commute time into London by train, the cost of an annual season ticket and the town’s life satisfaction score. It

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FROM £187,995

Highland Park

Available in a variety of styles, Highland Park comprises one and two bedroom apartments, and two, three and four bedroom houses. Built to a high specification, all homes incorporate high-quality fittings and modern design features, with open-plan living spaces and en suite shower rooms. Some of the apartments include the luxury of balconies and private parking, while all houses have gardens. Highland Park is only half a mile from the closest railway station, offering a 43-minute journey time to London Waterloo. Residents will be spoiled for choice at Lakeside shopping centre, only a 12-minute drive from the development. The neighbouring retail park also offers a wealth of high street chains, as well as a multiplex cinema, cafes and restaurants. A number of independent boutiques, bars and restaurants can be reached within a 10-minute walk. Set in the surrounding idyllic countryside, Highland Park is also close to parks and public open space, such as Belhus Woods Country Park. The nearby Belhus Park Leisure Centre has a swimming pool, gym, exercise studios and an 18-hole golf course and a driving range.


FROM £264,995

Ebbsfleet Green Redrow is building up to 900 new homes at Ebbsfleet Green as part of Ebbsfleet Garden City. There are one and two bedroom apartments plus two, three, four and five bedroom houses with plenty of surrounding open space for residents to enjoy. Alongside the homes, a pub, hotel, primary school, community centre, shops and sports facilities are also being built, providing the new community with plenty of local amenities on the doorstep. Ebbsfleet International train station connects with London St Pancras in around 17 minutes. Currently, two bedroom apartments are available with en suite to the master bedroom, a separate family bathroom and open plan kitchen/ living area. Two bedroom houses are also available priced at £379,995 and come with a garden and the two double bedrooms, both of which have their own en suite. Continued on page 32

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The Quarry

FROM £420,000

The second phase of properties at The Quarry offers family three bedroom homes from £420,000 with Help to Buy available. The Quarry is a collection of 600 new homes, and a primary school is also being built on the former Erith quarry site. All homes have outdoor space and will generate their own renewable energy. Contemporary kitchens come with integrated appliances, underfloor heating will run throughout and there is also undercroft parking facilities. The Quarry, from L&Q, was recently awarded highly commended in the Best Show Home category at the First Time Buyer Readers’ Awards.

Countryside has just launched the second phase at Atelier, a new collection of one, two, three and four bedroom homes. Atelier offers residents a charming village life, surrounded by beautiful Essex and Hertfordshire countryside yet only 34 minutes by train to London Liverpool Street. There is a range of amenities close by including chic cafes, restaurants and boutiques. Help to Buy is also available.

Tony Ukachukwa and his wife Chibuzo had been renting their home in Lewisham for several years, but the arrival of their baby daughter, Stephanie, made them long for the security of a home they could truly call their own. Now, thanks to shared ownership with Orbit at its Erith Park development, the family have the space and stability they craved. The hard-working couple were an economist and a midwife, respectively, in their native Nigeria, but were unable to use their qualifications in the UK without retraining, so Tony now manages a garage, and Chibuzo works as a healthcare assistant, while studying for her British nursing exams. Their combined income made them eligible to purchase an equity share of a new home through the shared ownership scheme, which is open to people with an annual household income of up to £90,000 inside London (or up to £80,000 elsewhere). After hearing about shared ownership from Chibuzo’s brother, the couple set about looking for suitable properties in areas that allowed easy access to their workplaces. They discovered Erith Park after seeing an advert on social media, quickly deciding that this was the ideal location for them, but unsure whether their dream home was within their budget. As Tony explained, “It can be very demotivating when you are saving up your deposit. It can seem like you are simply never going to get there.” However, they were pleasantly surprised to discover that with shared ownership they only had to save a deposit for the equity share they were purchasing, so their target two bedroom apartment was certainly within their sights. The surprise turned to delight, when a week after visiting the Erith Park sales suite, they received a call to tell them that there was actually a three bedroom home available to them, and they could afford to buy a 40% share. Under shared ownership, purchasers are able initially to buy the percentage of their home that they can comfortably afford, and a Government-subsidised rent is paid on the remaining portion. The equity share can be increased over time, via a system known as staircasing, (as circumstances change, or the household income increases), up to 100% ownership. Tony commented, “We are very much looking forward to increasing our ‘owned’ share of our home in a couple of years’ time, when Chibuzo returns to the midwifery profession and our financial situation improves.” Tony and Chibuzo chose Erith Park for its easy transport links to central London, but also for the community that Orbit has created there. Tony added, “Despite needing to be near London, we wanted to live in a peaceful and safe place for our daughter. Here, there is plenty of green space for Stephanie to play in, and the neighbours are all lovely, respectful people. The atmosphere is calm and friendly, and we are so very, very happy that this is our home!”

SWANLEY Downs View

FROM £239,950

Downs View is a collection of three and four bedroom homes and one and two bedroom apartments in Swanley, Kent. Ideal for commuters, the development is situated just a short walk from Swanley railway station with trains taking around 33 minutes to London Victoria. Within easy reach of Kent’s stunning countryside, there are excellent shopping facilities nearby as well as a weekly market and Bluewater shopping centre is just over eight miles away. The Glamis one bedroom apartments feature a spacious bathroom, open-plan living/dining/kitchen area and an allocated parking space.

HARLOW Atelier


FROM £270,000

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SECURE A ROUTE TO HOMEOWNERSHIP AT CITY PARK WEST Recent research has revealed that more than 40% of first time buyers are adopting extreme funding solutions to save for a home deposit¹. The alternatives included 22% considering selling shares in their future property, 19% embracing crowdfunding, 9% selling a ‘bond’ to investors and 8% selling raffle tickets for an equity share in the property once the deposit total is reached. However, buyers looking for a more secure and conventional route on to the property ladder without taking to such alternative measures, can use the shared ownership scheme Notting Hill Genesis’ award-winning development, City Park West in Chelmsford, Essex, is soon to launch the highly anticipated second phase of shared ownership apartments, where purchasers can secure a new home to call their own with a deposit of just £9,450, making this route to homeownership an even more affordable choice. Recently named in The Sunday Times Best Places to Live 2018², City Park West is superbly located in the heart of Chelmsford. This second phase of homes will comprise a stylish selection of one and two bedroom apartments offering the best of everything for the modern lifestyle. Residents will be able to enjoy living within a vibrant new community, with so much to enjoy only a short walk from home. As well as being just a few minutes’ walk away from Chelmsford railway station and a town centre buzzing with both day and nightlife, City Park West is well located to enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle with a number of Green Flag Award-winning parks within easy walking distance. Central Park, Chelmer Valley Local Nature Reserve and Admirals Park are all less than one mile from the development, perfect for enjoying a leisurely riverside stroll or biking along one of the many cycle paths linking these green spaces with Chelmsford town. Sarah Butler, Commercial Director of Genesis, commented, “Once complete, City Park West will deliver 645 new homes across a number of tenures. Residents will benefit from having easy access to a selection of new retail openings, offices and community space, all centered around a brand new public square. With Chelmsford


town having undergone an extensive programme of regeneration in recent years, it is rapidly growing in popularity among young professional buyers who want an affordable home without compromising on style, quality or access to good local amenities, that’s still within a commutable distance of London. By offering the shared ownership scheme, purchasers have the opportunity to buy a home with a deposit amount that is much more achievable than on the open market.” The contemporary interiors of City Park West include engineered wooden flooring, floor-to-ceiling windows for a light and spacious feel throughout all the rooms, and sleek fully fitted kitchens with integrated Bosch appliances. There is ample storage space, and master bedrooms come with built-in wardrobes and en suite bathrooms. Residents can also enjoy other features including underfloor heating, video entry system and a 24-hour on-site concierge service. Many apartments have access to private balconies and there is also secure underground parking available. City Park West is perfectly located to enjoy a superb range of amenities and a wide selection of restaurants and cafés, including American steak house Grand Central, moments from the development. For commuters, Chelmsford station is less than a five-minute walk from the development, with services running into London Liverpool Street in around 30 minutes. Just 10 minutes away at Shenfield station, residents will be able to access the new Crossrail route, due to open later this year. There is a bus station with a large number of routes located within walking

distance of City Park West. Access to road links couldn’t be easier; the M25 is less than a 20-minute drive away via the A12. Both Stansted and Southend airports are approximately 30 minutes away by car. Prices for the shared ownership apartments start from around £81,500 for a 35% share of a one bedroom apartment with estimated household incomes required to buy starting from approximately £34,000. For further information or to arrange a viewing please call 01245 806 484 or visit 1 2

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Aurora Point

Lewisham, dubbed as one of the fastest growing boroughs in London, is undergoing a period of regeneration and is set to become one of the best new areas to buy properties in the capital.¹ Currently at the forefront of a large regeneration project, which will see a re-vamp of the town centre, Lewisham looks likely to become one of the best new areas to buy a property in London. Helping contribute to this project is Peabody, one of London’s leading providers of affordable housing Peabody has chosen Lewisham for three of its excellent shared ownership developments, Aurora Point, Vale Apartments and Lucent Point. With the area being located in a prime Zone 2 location, it is the perfect place for first time buyers looking to get a foot on the property ladder, and also makes for an excellent investment opportunity further down the line. Aurora Point is situated in Plough Way, just a short walk from the glorious green space of Southwark Park. The scheme offers first time buyers a selection of one, two and three bed apartments and duplexes. With excellent transport links on offer, such as nearby Surrey Quays Overground station and bus routes running between Canada Water and Trafalgar Square, this development is the ideal dwelling for families and young professionals alike. Secondly, Vale Apartments is a development of 12 homes: six one bed and five two bed apartments and a three bed apartment. The development rests on the corner of Algernon Road and Loampit Vale, one of the roads leading towards the centre of Lewisham. Ideally positioned for commuters, Vale Apartments is just 0.3


miles from major public transport links at Lewisham rail, DLR and bus stations, seamlessly and efficiently connecting residents to and from the city. Finally, there’s Lucent Point, a stunning contemporary collection of one, two and three bed shared ownership properties, where all apartments come complete with a high specification fully integrated kitchen and Zanussi appliances, perfect for entertaining guests. In addition, the development is in a hub of activity, with the recently refurbished Leisure Centre just a 10-minute walk away, while sitting equally as close is Lewisham Shopping Centre, home to all the big-name brands. There are local amenities to suit everyone, from a variety of high quality educational institutions, such as Ofsted ‘outstanding’ rated Grinling Gibbons Primary School, to a plethora of independent eateries, including an Italian delicatessen and pizzeria and two Turkish restaurants. For those who like to cook healthy meals at home, the local daily market sells fresh fish, fruit and vegetables, alongside other goods such as locally designed clothing and materials.

Lucent Point

Lucent Point interior

Andrew Peglau, Head of Marketing at Peabody, commented, “Peabody is proud to provide first time buyers with a unique opportunity to live in Zone 2 at a reasonable price. Lewisham is an up and coming area, which is why we chose it for three of our developments. Having seen the work that is going on with the regeneration project, first time buyers will not only be benefiting from the investment opportunity, but also the lifestyle that the area has to offer.” For further information on each of these developments, please visit 1

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When it comes to buying your first home, the decision of whether you want a new build or an older property will be one of the first things that a buyer typically thinks about

The debate generally comes down to personal choice. However, many think that this choice is taken away from them by using shared ownership, and that only newly built homes are available with this scheme, when in fact, some pretty special ones can be bought through resale programmes run by housing associations like So Resi. At So Resi, we sell our existing shared ownership homes when the owner decides to move on. The scheme works by you buying the share from a current owner of an existing property with us. This market is thriving, with increasing numbers of people looking for slightly older properties. At any given time, we have about 100 homes on the market and most sell within weeks. This is due to several reasons including:

CHARACTER AND NEIGHBOURHOOD Craftsmanship and individuality are appealing, and the character of an older home can make it unique. A property’s history can also be a big selling factor and older properties are typically found in a ready-made, long-established community, rather than a brand-new development where everyone else has just moved in too.

PRICE Often the purchase price of an older property is cheaper, as you’re not paying for all the latest mod-cons.

WIDE CHOICE We currently have homes for sale across several prime locations such as Reading, Reigate, Richmond, Walton-on-Thames, Battersea, Guildford and Twickenham, where you might otherwise be waiting a long time for a new development at your right price point to be built.

UNDERSTAND BEFORE YOU BUY You also get the opportunity to meet the current owner and find out the experience of being a shared owner and understand what the home is like to live in before you buy.


However, first time buyers may prefer new builds for these reasons:

OPPORTUNITY TO PERSONALISE If you reserve early enough, you may be able to personalise your home, by choosing finishing touches and specification details such as your kitchen colour scheme, worktops and bathroom tiles.

THERE FROM THE START By being there right from the start of a new community, strong friendships can be built as you bond over getting to know the area together and building up a new neighbourhood together.

PEACE OF MIND Most new homes are covered by the National House Building Council’s (NHBC) 10-year warranty and insurance guarantee.

BLANK CANVAS A new build property gives you the chance to put your own mark on your home, exactly the way that you want, and you don’t need to worry about having to undertake potentially costly renovations.

CHEAPER TO RUN New homes are designed to be more energy efficient, which makes them much cheaper to run than an older property. We incorporate the very latest heating systems in our properties, as well as excellent wall and loft insulation and double-glazed windows to help reduce your bills.

KEEPING THE COSTS OF BUYING DOWN TOO All our homes come with the appliances, flooring and often wardrobes in the main bedrooms, to help keep the costs of buying down too.

ACCESS TO SO RESI PLUS When buying a new home with us, you can choose to sign up to So Resi Plus, which provides much more flexibility. You can choose to buy 1% extra of your home each year at a price you know from day one, with no extra costs to worry about including solicitor’s or valuation fees. To find out more about how shared ownership works on new or resale properties across London and the South East, visit

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So Resi Wokingham offers a contemporary collection of shared ownership three and four bedroom family homes open to applicants from all areas. One and two bedroom apartments are coming soon. Part of the larger Matthews Green Farm development, once complete, residents will be able to take advantage of on-site shops, a brand new primary school, landscaped open spaces, new play areas and pathways and cycle tracks. Each of the houses benefits from a privately enclosed garden – perfect for families or for entertaining, and the properties also come with either a garage or car port. Four bedroom houses are available from £145,000 (based on a 25% share of the full market value of £580,000). So Resi monthly payment and service charge also apply.

*Based on a 25% share with a full market value of £580,000


FROM £90,000*

So Resi Fleet offers a contemporary collection of one and two bedroom apartments and three bedroom houses for shared ownership. At this charming development the first floor apartments feature balconies, the ground floor apartments have access to outside spaces and all the houses enjoy enclosed gardens. Each home benefits from allocated parking. Excellent transport connections and beautiful surrounding countryside help make So Resi Fleet a fantastic location to live.  One bedroom apartments are available from £90,000 (based on a 40% share of the full market value of £225,000), two bedroom apartments from £118,000 (based on a 40% share of the full market value of £295,000) and three bedroom houses are available from £158,000 (based on a 40% share of the full market value of £395,000). Monthly So Resi payments and service charges also apply. *Based on a 40% share with a full market of value £225,000

FROM £96,875*


So Resi Sydenham

Set around private landscaped gardens, these homes in leafy Sydenham are the perfect escape from busy London life. The one and two bedroom apartments form part of the popular Dylon development. Inside, the homes are bright and airy, with open-plan living/dining areas, fitted kitchens with integrated appliances, and doors opening to private balconies that overlook the pretty gardens. From nearby Lower Sydenham station, train and Overground services reach London Bridge in just 15 minutes. *Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £387,500

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HOTspot Chelmsford – The only way is Essex


Average property price (February 2018) – £333,242 Property breakdown:* (Chelmsford) Detached – £572,467 Semi-detached – £354,264 Terraced – £288,580 Flat – £213,981 *According to the UK House Price Index, February 2018

FA M O U S FA C E S FROM ESSEX • Comedian Russell Brand • Actor Dame Maggie Smith • Actor Chiwetel Ejiofor • Artist Grayson Perry • Reality star Gemma Collins

With speedy links to London, country life on the doorstep, top education facilities and a brand-new shopping district, Essex’s first city is a hotspot that has it all As part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012, the historical Essex town of Chelmsford was officially granted city status. Located 35 miles north east of London, the city is a hotspot for commuters who relish the fast travel times into the capital. But that’s not the only box ticked for homebuyers. Among its many other accolades, the city is listed as one of the safest places to live in the UK, as well as being the second healthiest in the country. It is also home to Anglia Ruskin University – which recently opened Essex’s first school of medicine – as well as some of the country’s best schools. Meanwhile, the city centre has been the subject of continued improvements and regeneration. In short, this new city continues to bloom on a daily basis. Hylands Park


The bustling city centre has excellent amenities, shopping centres, restaurants and historical sights – including the beautiful cathedral. And with the countryside on the doorstep, and London and the Essex coast both reachable in under 40 minutes, the city is ideally located for first time buyers looking for a new home that has something for everyone.

HOMES AND RESIDENTS The last Census showed Chelmsford’s population to be reaching almost 170,000, with residents split between the main city, the second major town of South Woodham Ferrers, and the many outlying villages. Unsurprisingly, with the city so close to countryside, the scenery and homes range from urban to rural. The city centre and surrounding area is home to several newbuild developments, which are especially attractive to commuters who like to be close to the station. A short drive from the centre takes you to pretty villages such as Writtle and Chignal St James, where homes range from contemporary apartments and family homes to medieval cottages. Chelmsford continues to attract Docklands and City workers and young families, while the

university ensures a youthful population in the city centre, as well as good employment opportunities.

OUT AND ABOUT For a special night out, visit the Blue Strawberry Bistrot in Hatfield Peverel and sample the highly rated British-inspired cuisine with drinks on the beautiful terrace. Be sure to try the Sunday lunches and the sumptuous chocolate sponge. The Cuckoo is another must-visit for dinner. The gastro pub has an excellent menu, and with room for just 35 indoors, has a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. In the city centre, there’s a huge variety of cuisines to choose from. Try Lek’s Thai Food for delicious Thai, Olio Restaurant for award-winning Italian, and Zorba the Greek for a taste of the Mediterranean – don’t leave without trying their grilled halloumi and melitzanosalata. If you’d like to experience an Essex nightlife institution, reserve a table at Faces Kitchen & Bar, where you can enjoy cocktails and live music (their tribute act nights are a favourite) by the waterside. The glorious Essex countryside sits right on the doorstep, while in the city itself there are plenty of parks and waterways to

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LOCATION Chelmsford Market, located next to High Chelmer. The covered market runs five days a week, with traders selling a range of goods from fabrics to flowers. Foodies will love High Street Market, which runs every Friday and Saturday, and sells tasty fresh produce and homemade treats.

TRANSPORT explore – so it’s a perfect spot for enjoying the great outdoors. You can have an excellent family day out at Lathcoats Farm in Galleywood, where you can pick your own summer fruits, enjoy the grounds, and have lunch in the Bee Shed Coffee House. In the city centre, the recently revamped Central Park runs alongside the river and makes a pretty spot for summer walks and picnics. At Hylands Park, which has 500 acres of green space to explore, you can catch large music events including the RiZE festival, successor to the V Festival. To get a bit more active, water lovers can explore the meandering River Can by canoe or kayak, while you can try outdoor swimming at Trifarm any time of year. For some sporting action, head to Riverside Ice and Leisure Centre, where you can watch the city’s very own Chelmsford Chieftains compete in an ice hockey derby.

SHOPPING For shopping, choose from the excellent range of shopping centres, markets and high streets. In the city centre, local favourites High Chelmer shopping centre and The Meadows are home to most high street staples, as well as a cinema and plenty of restaurants and cafes. The newest shopping area, Bond Street, has also proved extremely popular with shoppers. The contemporary open-air mall is home to a huge John Lewis, as well as restaurants and an Everyman cinema. Away from the malls, the shopping streets shouldn’t be overlooked. For independent outlets, try Moulsham Street, where you’ll find quirky furniture, gifts and contemporary art shops, as well as a farm shop and independent cafes. If you like a bargain, head to the long-established

The town has fast and easy access to the capital. Trains reach Stratford in 25 minutes and London Liverpool Street in just over 30 minutes. Mainline services also reach Ipswich in 40 minutes, and Norwich in just under 90. A number of bus routes operate in and around the city, and enable easy travel between the various locales, such as Springfield and Moulsham, into the city centre. Services also run further afield to Colchester, Lakeside and Stanstead Airport. 5 REASONS WE LOVE… …CHELMSFORD

1 Amazing commuter links 2 Endless outdoor activities 3 The pretty River Can 4 Great restaurants and pubs 5 Anglia Ruskin University

HOMES on offer in the area… MARCONI EVOLUTION Chelmsford




FROM £245,000


FROM £105,000*

FROM £199,995

Created on the site of the historic Marconi factory, this collection of one and two bedroom homes has a prime spot close to the town centre. The homes are finished to a high standard, with tiled bathrooms, attractive fitted kitchens and private balconies. The two bedroom properties have an en suite from the master bedroom. Residents also have access to an on-site gym as well as private parking. Chelmsford, with its many amenities, restaurants and bars is under a 10-minute walk away, along with the rail station for speedy services to London.

The second phase of this major new development has just launched a number of one and two bedroom homes available through shared ownership. The contemporary homes feature bright, open-plan living spaces, with engineered wooden flooring and stylish kitchens with integrated appliances. When complete, the development will be made up of almost 700 new homes, creating an exciting new community space. Historic Chelmsford town centre is a short walk away, for a wide range of shops, eateries and iconic sights.

This new collection of homes – converted from a former office block – is due for completion in 2019. The 66 new one and two bedroom homes are in a fantastic location, right in the heart of the city, close to the new Bond Street shopping district and just over a mile from the railway station. The new apartments will be finished to a high specification, with spacious open-plan living areas, bedrooms with built-in storage and sleek, kitted kitchens. Secure on-site cycle storage as well as courtyard parking is also available to residents.

*Based on a 35% share of the full market value of £300,000

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Barking Riverside is a brand new east London riverfront town on the site of a former power station, and is one of the largest regeneration projects in the UK. It will become an innovative, healthy and wellconnected place to live, made unique by its heritage, ecology, riverfront location and by its community The ambitious Barking Riverside development will ultimately deliver 10,800 new homes, with a target of 50% to be affordable, housing an estimated 29,000 people, plus shopping, schools, worship and leisure facilities, all in a 443-acre site alongside the Thames. The force behind the project is Barking Riverside Limited, a joint venture between L&Q and the Mayor of London, and from the outset the plan has been to create a sustainable community, with minimal impact on the environment. In particular, the development, masterminded by leading architecture and urban design practice Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, aims to tackle the problem of waste in a forward-thinking way. Instead of an estimated 19,000 traditional bins being emptied by eight industrial vehicles, the new development will use a revolutionary system called Envac, which literally sucks waste away at more than 40mph through a subterranean pipe network. Instead of having to put their bins out at a particular time, residents can simply deposit mixed recycling or residual waste whenever they like into one of 446 Envac waste inlets, steps away from every home. When the underground storage becomes full it will go through an automatic collection cycle that will whizz away the waste to a processing plant. The automatic waste collection was pioneered by Envac in Scandinavia in 1961 and has already been used successfully around the world, including the UK’s first installation at Wembley City in London. The waste system at Barking Riverside will be the largest of its kind in the UK. Alongside reducing the need for commercial vehicle movements, the development has also been designed to minimise the need for cars. Cycle paths and footpaths run throughout the development, and there is a range of public transport options. At the moment, there are three bus routes serving Barking Riverside. The recently approved plan to extend the London Overground network to Barking Riverside will reduce journey times into the heart of London to just 22 minutes. Construction is now underway, with the first trains expected to run on the 4km extension of the Gospel Oak line in 2021. The new



EXPERT COMMENT Barking Riverside is one of the UK’s most exciting new developments.

Barking Riverside Station, which will also have a bus interchange, will then link directly with the existing Barking Station, served by the c2c rail service from Tilbury to Fenchurch Street and the District and Hammersmith & City underground lines. In addition, Transport for London is working with MBNA Thames Clippers to develop the river boat service further along the Thames, with piers proposed for Wapping, Rotherhithe, Greenwich, Beckton and Barking Riverside, providing an alternative commuter route into the city. For those who still feel the need for four wheels, an Enterprise Car Club base is planned for Barking Riverside. As the development includes 65,000 sq m of commercial space, many people won’t need to commute outside of the development at all. Barking Riverside is part of the larger Thames Gateway redevelopment zone which will ultimately provide tens of thousands of jobs. The commercial space at Barking Riverside will include seven schools; nursery, primary, secondary and SEN schools, four of which have already been delivered, retail areas including restaurants and cafes, a health centre and pharmacy and leisure facilities, all of which will provide new jobs for the area. Barking Riverside is designed to retain and nurture the unique ecology of a brownfield site with the inclusion of parks

Exceptional detail was undertaken from the early stages of planning to ensure modern quality homes suitable for today’s discerning buyers are achieved with some character. This includes capturing the past by refurbishing old buildings and honouring the history in street and building names. This is not just building homes – it’s creating a community and will be a spectacular development to call home within one of London’s most affordable boroughs. Tony Harker Sales and Customer Services Director for L&Q’s East Region

and public spaces within the development and a protected wildlife area on the riverbank. The development is surrounded by approximately 60 hectares of open space; this provides is a wide mix of habitats, ranging from urban, to wetlands, mudflats, creeks, brooks, ponds and the river itself, and the resident wildlife includes 40 species of breeding birds, water voles, as well as common seals.

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OFF TO THE MARKET AND ON TO THE LADDER Newman Court is affordable housing expert Orbit’s new West Sussex development. Launching in late summer 2018, it is superbly located in the historic market town of Horsham. Beautifully designed, yet accessibly priced, the one and two bedroom apartments are situated in an impressive, classically styled new building in the burgeoning Parsonage Road area, and are available to buy through shared ownership Horsham is hugely popular with homebuyers, thanks to its fast and easy commuter routes to London and the South Coast. It offers a thriving market town vibe, juxtaposed with historic buildings and the chance to revel in the joys of the beautiful surrounding countryside. Newman Court’s residents will have just a 15-minute walk, through the picturesque town centre to Horsham rail station, which offers regular services into London Bridge that take from as little as 59 minutes at peak times. The town is a dream when it comes to work/life balance and repeatedly makes it into top 10 lists of the best places to live in Britain. This is why it may come as a surprise to discover that you can get your foot on Horsham’s property ladder, via shared ownership, from around as little as £78,750 for a 35% share of a one bedroom apartment. Once launched, market prices at Newman Court are expected to be in the region of £225,000 for 100% of a one bedroom property and from £295,000 for the two bedroom options. (This means a 35% share of a two bedroom apartment will be around £103,250.) Shared ownership is a Government initiative, which means buyers with a household income of £80,000 a year or less outside London can be eligible to purchase a 25% to 75% share of a new build property, and pay a subsidised rent on the remaining portion (buyers in London can earn up to £90,000). As well as the advantage of only needing to find a deposit for the purchased portion of their new home, buyers are saved the huge costs of the damage deposit and three months’ rent in advance usually required by landlords on lettings. For those who look forward to the halcyon days of rent-free living, shared ownership buyers can increase their equity share over time, through a process known as staircasing, allowing them to reduce their rent payments proportionately, so they can eventually own their home outright, when their mortgage is paid off. Newman Court’s desirable location, just on the outskirts of Horsham town


Newman Court

Horsham Market Square

centre, means residents are perfectly placed to make the most of living in one of Britain’s loveliest areas. As well as easy access to London and other key commuter destinations, the town and its surroundings have plenty to offer foodies, shopaholics, culture-vultures, sports enthusiasts, and lovers of the ‘great outdoors’ alike. As well as regular traditional markets, Horsham boasts a John Lewis and Waitrose superstore, plus a vast array of high street names and independent retailers. In addition, the town has far more than its fair share of excellent restaurants and cafes,

offering world cuisines from sashimi to traditional cream teas. Horsham Park hosts free Sunday afternoon concerts from May to August, with ‘Pavilions in the Park’ offering a swimming pool, gym and soft play area, as well as a range of fitness classes. Should you ever wish to escape the excitement of central Horsham, the surrounding countryside is perfect for ramblers and cyclists, and the idyllic Warnham Local Wildlife Reserve is a just a few minutes’ walk from the town centre. For further flung adventures, it’s only 20 minutes by train to Gatwick Airport. Horsham’s lively cultural scene focuses on the Capitol Theatre in North Street, which offers a comprehensive programme encompassing theatre, arts, cinema and live music, enhanced by annual music, food and Italian festivals, the last of which sees the town’s streets lined with a dazzling array of classic cars, from Fiat 500s to Lamborghinis. If Horsham sounds like the perfect place for your first time buy, you can find out more about Newman Court and shared ownership with Orbit by visiting or calling 0845 600 4072

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The birthplace of Ringo Starr, the Welsh Streets in Toxteth, Liverpool, have taken on iconic status. Having fallen into total disrepair, Plus Dane Housing and Liverpool City Council have announced plans to regenerate the area. A pilot scheme of six homes will be completed this summer and work has also just begun on a further 93 homes It is the beginning of a new era for the famous Welsh Streets in Liverpool, which many local residents view as an inspiring conclusion to a very long story. They were originally constructed by Welsh builders for immigrants seeking work and housing who had moved from Wales, and there were more than 20,000 Welsh builders working in Liverpool by 1850. The land in Toxteth was leased for housing development and in excess of 4,000 houses were built during the 1870s. Named after Welsh towns, valleys and villages, the streets include Wynnstay Street, Rhiwlas Street, Powis Street and Pengwern Street and the homes were well constructed and extremely popular. Then in the early 2000s plans were announced to demolish the housing estate and build new, but fewer homes in their place. But the funding was withdrawn in 2010 and the demolition never took place. Since then there has been a long and bitter dispute about what to do with them, but because of their long heritage and popularity some local residents fought hard to save them. Eventually plans submitted in 2013 suggested that 150 houses could be built and 40 refurbished, including the one where Ringo Starr was born. However, the plans also would have seen the demolition of homes from other surrounding Welsh Streets to be replaced by semi-detached


Voelas Street in 2011

properties. Once again, these plans ultimately fell through and the Victorian terraces stood empty and in disrepair. After many years of endless disputes, finally things started to happen. In 2017 a pilot scheme was launched involving the refurbishment of houses in Voelas Street by Placefirst. All of these properties were snapped up by local residents within the first weekend. The renovations included remodelling some of the floorplans and

6 0 S A RT S C E N E

Toxteth is an inner city area of Liverpool located to the south of the city centre and has the famous postcode of Liverpool 8. This was a very Bohemian area in the 60s giving rise to many alternative poets like Roger McGough and Mike McGear who is the brother of Paul McCartney, who lived and frequented this area.

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The famous Welsh Streets were used as a location for filming the highly popular BBC drama Peaky Blinders. Although the story is actually set in Birmingham, the Welsh Streets were the perfect backdrop for filming a lot of the scenes, particularly recreating the Shelby home which was on Powis Street.

knocking through to adjacent homes to create some larger properties, while still retaining some of the original houses. Now Plus Dane Housing and Liverpool City Council are embarking on a £17.4 million regeneration project and will be launching the first of their exciting new homes in a matter of months. Barbara Spicer, Chief Executive of Plus Dane housing said, “Our involvement in the Welsh Streets spans decades. Following lots of disappointments for our tenants and other people living there we have remained committed and determined to supporting the much-needed improvement of the area. Residents have been consulted on the latest plans and will continue to have a genuine voice to ensure the homes meet their needs and expectations. We are excited to be able to finally bring forward these plans which will play a significant part in the wider Welsh Streets regeneration and make a positive difference to the area. “Our plans complement those of Placefirst perfectly and will result in a vibrant, sustainable community. It is important for us to ensure there is a mix of affordable options for our tenants and people who may want to live here in the future, so we will be offering a combination of affordable rent, rent-to-buy and shared ownership in the new Welsh Streets

Plus Dane tenants who currently live in the Welsh Streets will move out while the work takes place, but can return to a newly refurbished home if they want to. It is expected that the transformation of the Welsh Streets will be completed in 2021. Councillor Frank Hont, Cabinet Member for Housing at Liverpool City Council, said, “The regeneration of the Welsh Streets is a great example of how the city council is working with numerous housing partners, like Plus Dane, to bring vacant properties back into use. In the past four years alone, we’ve managed to convert 1,500 vacant units into homes and aim to breathe new life into 3,000 more over the next four years. “I’m delighted that Plus Dane is now in a position to begin rolling out this programme. This is a fantastic community, and the residents have been very patient and understanding through all of the hurdles that have had to be negotiated to get to this point. The standard of the pilot homes is outstanding and despite the inconvenience of these works, the end result is going to make a huge impact on quality of life both for families and for the wider community.”

CREATING EXCITING NEW HOMES The Welsh Streets consist of traditional, small Victorian terraces with limited living space and only a downstairs bathroom. To create homes that are more suited to modern-day living, in some instances two properties will be knocked into one, bathrooms will be moved upstairs, kitchens will be increased in size and upgraded and outdoor space will be improved. The current terraces will be replaced with a mix of two, three and four bedroom


Ringo Starr of The Beatles was born in 9 Madryn Street, where he lived until he was four before moving to Admiral Grove. The threat of demolishing the home was announced in 2003 and prompted uproar among fans around the world. A proposal was made in 2005 to take the house down brick by brick and rebuild it as a centrepiece for the Museum of Liverpool Life. Ringo said at the time that it was not worth taking it down simply to re-build it elsewhere as it would then not be his birthplace.

homes which will have new roofs, re-wiring, new heating systems, new windows and replacement kitchens and bathrooms, plus new damp proof courses and insulation. Placefirst is leading the refurbishment and remodelling of empty homes on Kelvin Grove, Wynnstay Street, Voelas Street, Rhiwlas Street, Powis Street, Madryn Street, the north side of Kinmel Street, alongside a number of properties on High Park Street. In total, Placefirst expects to deliver a total of 295 homes at Welsh Streets. Plus Dane will build 99 new homes by regenerating Gwydir Street, Pengwern Street, Treborth Street, South Street and the south side of Kinmel Street.

WHAT IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE? There are two shared ownership properties in the initial pilot scheme for sale. The two bedroom home costs £42,000 for a 40% share with a full market value of £105,000. The three bedroom home costs £50,000 for a 40% share with a full market value of £125,000. They feature fully fitted contemporary kitchens with integrated Zanussi oven, hob and extractor and fridge/ freezer. They will also have fully paved outdoor space to the rear accessed via French doors in the sitting room. To register your interest or find out more visit or call 0151 708 4631

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AT YOUR SERVICE Property management fees can seem like one more troublesome expense when you’ve just moved into your first home – but do you realise just what you get for your money? Joaquim Fillola, MD of estate management company Encore, explains what it’s all about As well as the cost of your mortgage each month, becoming a property owner brings with it a whole host of other responsibilities. If you own a leasehold property you will find yourself having to pay ground rent, and on most new developments, whether you are a leaseholder or a freeholder, you will also have to pay something towards the upkeep of the communal areas. You might find it referred to as a property management fee, maintenance charge, estate fee or service charge, but the point of the payment is that it represents a way of dividing up the cost of maintaining shared amenities fairly among all the residents. In the past, homeowners were often forced to work out among themselves how to maintain unadopted roads or deal with patches of green space – and it often resulted in furious arguments among neighbours, access roads full of potholes, and waist-high grass. A professional management company not only makes sure that facilities are properly maintained for everyone’s benefit, it also ensures that everyone makes a contribution. What your charge will be, and what it will cover, depends on the facilities that are available and what has been agreed legally. If you are buying a leasehold property, then the details of the property management will be set out in your lease. If you are buying a freehold property on an estate where a maintenance contract will apply, then the details will be set out in the TP1 form that is part of the conveyancing process. This form lists any positive covenants (things you agree to do) such as contributing towards the cost of maintaining communal areas, as well as any restrictive covenants (things you agree not to do) such as keeping pigs or parking a truck in your garden. Occasionally, homebuyers have complained that they were not aware that they would have to pay a charge at all – usually when they haven’t taken the time to read all the documentation supplied during the conveyancing process. However, at Encore


we know that no one likes that kind of surprise, so we provide information packs for developers to give to potential buyers setting out exactly what is included and how your payments are calculated. If you are buying a luxury apartment, you might find that the charge covers the maintenance of high-end facilities such as a gym, swimming pool or sauna – so if the cost appears high at first glance, remember that you are effectively enjoying the benefits of a fancy health club at your own home. Your apartment block or estate might also enjoy the benefits of a fulltime porter or concierge who will receive and store your parcel and post deliveries, handle your outgoing mail for you, and let in tradespeople, as well as undertake routine cleaning and maintenance. If this is the case, your charge will reflect the extra services and security you receive. A good property maintenance contract will also include regular inspections of the site and a firm plan for future maintenance, including putting aside some of every resident’s contribution into a ‘sinking fund’. The purpose of this is to ensure that residents aren’t faced with sudden large bills – so it will take into account the need for regular major maintenance works such as repainting the external walls or window frames, as well as putting something aside for unforeseen emergencies. At Encore, our aim is ‘to care for your property as though we lived there’, and one of the ways we do that is by employing our own uniformed, multi-skilled caretaking staff, who you will see regularly around the estate, cutting grass, cleaning, touching up paint or checking on health and safety matters. If a more specialised job needs doing, then we take on the timeconsuming responsibility of checking that all contractors have up-to-date insurance, accreditations and risk assessments, and can provide good references. In addition to all

Buyers of freehold properties, or of leasehold houses rather than apartments, can be surprised at what they need to contribute to; but whatever your type of tenure your property management charge will be contributing to some or all of the following tasks:  Mowing lawns, pruning shrubs, checking trees for safety, sweeping up leaves and general gardening  Sweeping, maintaining and repairing the paths  Litter-picking  Maintaining and cleaning waste and recycling areas  Inspecting and maintaining any children’s play equipment  Health and safety, including the provision and spreading of salt and grit in bad weather  Managing car parks, bike racks and security gates  Provision of an emergency helpline In addition, if you are a leaseholder in an apartment, the charge you pay will normally also cover:  Cleaning halls, stairways, landings, lift and other communal areas  Cleaning windows  Maintaining and redecorating communal areas, including replacing lightbulbs when needed  Maintaining lifts  Testing and maintaining emergency lighting, fire alarms and security devices  Cleaning the gutters  Painting, maintaining and repairing external walls and the roof  Providing your buildings (but not contents) insurance

the practical work that takes place on site, you should also bear in mind that an effective managing agent needs a complete understanding of complex landlord and tenant law, building construction and maintenance, health and safety regulations and finance to ensure that everything really runs smoothly. There’s a lot more to it than just cutting the grass…

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A LITTLE PIECE OF HISTORY The prestigious Grade II listed building that was once Acton Town Hall, home to civic splendour since 1901, has been extensively redeveloped. SiteSales Property Group is launching The Old Town Hall on behalf of Citystyle, part of One Housing. On offer are 58 beautifully converted apartments, all with a fascinating history and stunning period features, plus 13 new build apartments situated in a carefully designed extension, right in the heart of Acton town centre 52

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Bringing together the very best of old and new, The Old Town Hall development with its heritage setting and elegant façade offers modern-day convenience alongside stunning old-style grandeur. Many of the converted studio, one, two and three bedroom apartments have retained the features of the original building, which was built in two phases in 1910 and 1930 in the style of a Baroque palazzo. These include original wood panelled walls, decorative ceilings, cornicing and stately fireplaces. The new build homes are equally as beautiful but much more contemporary in design and will feature a balcony or terrace. These unique homes are available to buy via outright sale, shared ownership and the Government’s Help to Buy scheme and are

priced at around £400,000. The white gloss kitchens come with integrated oven, hob, cooker hood, microwave, fridge/freezer and dishwasher, with a washer/dryer located in the hallway cupboard. There is engineered oak flooring in the kitchen, hallways and living areas and wool twist carpet in the bedrooms. The master bedroom comes with a mirrored wardrobe. There is also a lovely landscaped communal courtyard for all the residents to enjoy. Murray Smith, Managing Director of Site Sales, said, “We have already seen a great interest in The Old Town Hall development, not only for its location, but also for offering the very best of old style grandeur combined with modern-day living.”

LOCATION, LOCATION Citystyle, part of One Housing, is an innovative property management company that owns and manages more than 5,100 homes, including leaseholder, shared ownership and market rented properties. It is the private sale arm of One Housing and the money raised from the homes it builds, sells or rents is reinvested to build affordable homes and offer services to vulnerable people.

Acton is a bustling and lively location with a real sense of community. There’s a major supermarket plus an array of independent shops, bars, restaurants, cafes and pubs, and Acton Market in the town centre is open four days a week. If you are looking for open space then Acton Park is an 11-minutre stroll away and offers a bowling green, tennis courts, children’s playground and cafe. With London on the doorstep, Acton Central station is just a six-minute walk away and Acton Town tube is 15 minutes away which

SiteSales Property Group provides a range of services to developers, housing associations, local authorities and registered charities. Operating in and around London it advises clients on all aspects of housing including site appraisal, the planning process, detailed design, specification, construction and sales, marketing and after-sale service.

will take you to Kings Cross in half an hour and Piccadilly Circus in 22 minutes.

HOW IT ALL BEGAN Acton Town Hall originally opened its grand civic doors on 10 May 1910. In addition to housing the offices for the council’s staff, the hall had a grand Council Chamber and an expansive committee room. Originally designed with the intention of being extended, Lord Rochdale – the Lord Lieutenant of Middlesex – officially opened the renovated town hall on 24 June 1939, famously declaring the extension as “very noble and thoroughly English”. For more information about The Old Town Hall development go to

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MAKE HERTFORDSHIRE YOUR HOME Origin Housing’s QE2-15, a collection of high specification homes, is now available through shared ownership in the commuter haven of Welwyn Garden City Offering five one and two bedroom apartments, the homes are set within large open spaces which echo surrounding woodland. The properties are part of a significant new development for the area – Bellway at QEII – close to the newly refurbished QEII Hospital.  Simon Scott, Head of Sales and Marketing, comments, “We are pleased to be offering shared ownership in this highly commutable part of Hertfordshire. Earlier this year, a report by Halifax showed that prices in Welwyn Garden City have risen by 67% in the past 10 years – more than any new town in the UK. This highlights the need for schemes like shared ownership, which are essential in helping first time buyers on to the ladder in the area.”  Inside, homes are completed to the highest specification – including high gloss fully fitted kitchens, cleverly concealing a wide range of Zanussi appliances, and set within attractive open-plan living spaces. Bathrooms come with pristine white sanitaryware. All houses have landscaped private gardens, and come with a garage or allocated parking space. Encouraging green travel, all apartments are equipped with cycle storage.   Ideal for families, the area offers a number of well-regarded schools – with Commonswood Primary and Nursery School just a 10-minute walk from Origin’s QE2-15, and Stanborough School easily reached by car in around five minutes. Sports fans won’t be disappointed, with the 50-acre Gosling Sports Park just a short drive away – which has a dry ski slope, gym, football pitches, an athletics track, velodrome, swimming pool, tennis and squash courts, as well as children’s play areas.   Recent purchasers include Carmen and Joseph, who heard about shared ownership through friends. Carmen commented, “We wanted a home that we could call ours, and shared ownership allowed us to realise that dream.” Having moved back in with her mum, Carmen, her husband and their two children wanted a home to themselves, with


separate bedrooms for their kids to grow up in. Through shared ownership, Carmen and Joseph were able to buy a 25% share of a three bedroom home at QE2. “I have always lived in Welwyn Garden City and I now work for the local council, plus my children are settled in nearby schools, so I was really desperate to stay in the area. It was fantastic moving into a brand-new home. Everything from the immaculate kitchen, the generous sized bedrooms and the large garden makes it perfect for us. Origin went that bit beyond other developers to ensure the finish of the home was top quality.”  Because they got in the process so early, Carmen and Joseph were able to see the fixtures and fittings before they were in place and make adaptions to suit their family’s needs. 

“We wanted to change the flooring of the home to carpet, to make it more childfriendly, and the team at Origin could not have been more helpful when we brought in specialists to measure the space and install our chosen flooring.” With high property prices in the area, shared ownership was the only way Carmen and her family could afford to buy in Welwyn Garden City. With only a 5% deposit required, the amount they needed to save was considerably lower than if they had tried to buy on the open market. Carmen and her husband plan to staircase to 100% as their children grow older and childcare costs reduce. Perfect for commuters, Welwyn Garden City is just 20 minutes from London Kings Cross by train. The attractive town centre offers a plethora of shops and restaurants in the Howard Centre shopping mall and surrounding streets. For culture vultures, there are two cinemas and a theatre. The nearby picturesque Welwyn Village and surrounding countryside offer the best of both worlds – seamlessly blending town and country living.   Prices for the remaining homes at QE215 start from £80,625 for a 25% with a full market value of  £322,500 For further information, visit or contact Origin’s new homes team via their Twitter feed, @OriginNewHomes

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According to recent research, blue spaces in the form of lakes, fountains, oceans and rivers are linked to higher levels of physical activity, and have a particularly positive effect on reducing stress levels and improving overall wellbeing¹. Aspiring buyers seeking an affordable home that introduces a breath of fresh air and calming river views into their busy London lifestyles should look to Royal Albert Wharf in London’s Royal Docks by Notting Hill Sales Offering a stylish collection of homes available to buy with the Governmentbacked shared ownership scheme, purchasers looking to take their first steps on to the property ladder can enjoy a new home that forms part of a buzzing new waterside district, while still being within easy reach of the vibrant and cosmopolitan culture of the capital. The shared ownership scheme gives buyers the chance to purchase a share of a property, usually between 25% and 75%, paying a subsidised rent on the remainder. Purchasers can increase their share at any time, all the way up to 100% and outright ownership. For a limited period of time, Notting Hill Sales is offering purchasers who exchange contracts within four weeks the chance to pay no rent for their first three months (terms and conditions apply). Currently available within this first phase at Royal Albert Wharf is a contemporary selection of two and three bedroom apartments, located in a prime east London position and carefully designed to provide purchasers with hassle-free access to a wide selection of amenities. Residents can relax with a coffee and enjoy riverside views at the recently opened Lock Side Kitchen, or for those wanting to absorb more of a fine dining experience, there is a selection of restaurants and gastro-pubs only a couple of stops away via the DLR at nearby Canary Wharf. For those who simply want to take in the atmosphere with a leisurely riverside stroll without venturing too far from home there is a compilation of intimate green squares and places to discover. As well as the cafes, shops and bars that delicately line the docks, the homes here perfectly complement the urban waterside backdrop at Royal Albert Wharf. Jenny Murphy, Head of Sales and Marketing at Notting Hill Sales, said, “This area of east London is fast realising its true


potential, and Royal Albert Wharf is very much a part of that. The current phase of homes has proved very popular with not only young professional buyers looking to buy their first home, thanks to the shared ownership and London Help to Buy schemes, but also with young families who need access to good transport links into the city without sacrificing their lifestyles. “Royal Albert Wharf provides purchasers with a fantastic place to live, together with a lively waterside atmosphere. There is high anticipation for phase two at Royal Albert Wharf due to launch this June, along with more amenities and facilities coming over the next few years. This will inject further retail, employment and education opportunities into the area, enhancing what is already available.” All of the homes at Royal Albert Wharf enjoy a modern and chic specification throughout. The full-height windows and doors flood the rooms with an abundance of natural light, while most enjoy access to a paved terrace or private decked balcony. Manhattan kitchens are complemented by a range of integrated appliances, and bedrooms are complete with fitted

wardrobes and many include en-suite shower rooms. Bathrooms and en-suites feature white Ideal Standard sanitaryware, and Grohe chrome fixtures and fittings, including heated ladder-style towel rails. Commuters are well catered for at Royal Albert Wharf; Gallions Reach DLR is only a few minutes’ walk from the development, with services into Canning Town in just 11 minutes, offering quick access to Canary Wharf (19 minutes), London Bridge (22 minutes) and Waterloo (25 minutes) via the Jubilee Line. Opening later this year, Custom House will enable city workers to travel into central London with ease via Crossrail, reaching Liverpool Street in just 10 minutes. Prices for a two bedroom shared ownership apartment at Royal Albert Wharf start from £110,000, for a 25% share of the full market value of £440,000. There is also a selection of homes available to buy with London Help to Buy. For more information, contact Notting Hill Sales on 020 8357 4579, or visit the website at 1

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FOR SALE THE CREAM OF THE CROP Each month, FTB scours the market for the best starter homes for first time buyers. Whether you’re looking for your first property on a budget, or a bigger space for a growing family, we hope you will enjoy our selection.





G SET★T★IN ★ Affordable homes p62-63

B U T T E R L E Y, D E R B Y S H I R E






Family homes p64-65

Help to Buy p66

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Orleans House These sleek new apartments have been built within a Grade II* listed former warehouse in the heart of Liverpool’s bustling commercial district. The 71 new studio, one, two and three bedroom homes have been thoughtfully designed, with bright, spacious living areas, fitted kitchens with integrated appliances and pretty, tiled bathrooms. Excellent restaurants, bars and shops can be reached in moments, while Lime Street and James Street stations are a short walk away. The developer, Forty/8, is offering to cover the cost of the first year’s mortgage on these properties, as well as at its new developments in Manchester and Leicester. Forty/8 0151 236 7777


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FROM £359,000

FROM £262,250


Grange Park The latest phase of this development just outside Loughborough has proven so popular that just a few homes remain. The four bedroom properties feature a separate kitchen, spacious living room opening to a garden, and a utility and cloakroom on the ground floor. Upstairs, the master

bedroom has an en suite, while three of the bedrooms have builtin storage. Loughborough, with its thriving arts and entertainment scene and great shops is two miles away. London can be reached in 90 minutes by rail. William Davis Homes 01509 231 181


Verto At 18 storeys high, this new landmark development is Reading’s newest – and tallest – residential tower. With excellent views over the river and town, and with three stunning residentsonly landscaped gardens, these new homes are set to be a hit with first time buyers. As well as the number of great amenities

close by, it’s also an excellent spot for commuters – and good connections to London will get even speedier in 2019. From Reading, trains will reach Tottenham Court Road in 55 minutes. Haslams and Savills 020 8390 9265


FROM £115,500*

So Resi Sydenham Set around private landscaped gardens, these homes in leafy Sydenham are the perfect escape from central London. The one and two bedroom apartments, available through shared ownership, form part of the popular Dylon development. Inside, the homes are bright and airy, with open-plan living/

dining areas, fitted kitchens with integrated appliances, and doors opening to private balconies overlooking the gardens. From Lower Sydenham station, train and Overground services reach London Bridge in 15 minutes. Thames Valley Housing 020 8607 0550

*Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £387,500

Rutherford Fields This new collection of two, three and four bedroom homes has been created on the former site of RAF Stanbridge, close to the pretty town of Stanbridge and just over 1.5 miles from the town centre at Leighton Buzzard. The stylish homes have been created with modern living in mind, with bright open-plan living areas,

contemporary fitted kitchens and sleek engineered wood flooring. Though the homes sit in a peaceful, rural setting, the capital can be reached in just over 30 minutes from the station at Leighton Buzzard. Catalyst Housing 0300 456 2079

*Based on a 35% share of the full market value of £330,000

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B U T T E R L E Y, D E R B Y S H I R E




Deer Park Located between Ripley Town Centre and the stunning Derbyshire countryside, these new homes are superbly located for enjoying town and country life. There are just 30 three and four bedroom homes here, created in a range of styles. The three bedroom semi-detached properties feature the bedrooms on the first floor, and a separate living room and kitchen downstairs, with doors opening to a private rear garden. The town centre has a range of excellent shopping and leisure facilities as well as a number of schools, while Derby and Nottingham are less than 15 miles away. Ginnis New Homes 01773 880 788


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FROM £400,000 H A R R O W, L O N D O N

FROM £475,000

Nova Collection The 29 premium apartments here occupy the top floors of Croydon’s latest landmark development, Innova. All of the one, two and three bedroom apartments are beautifully finished, with engineered oak wood floors, white gloss kitchens and under-floor heating. The three bedroom duplexes feature


spacious terraces. Residents can use a ground-floor residents’ lounge as well as a sky lounge. The homes are superbly located for enjoying Croydon’s many facilities, while East Croydon station for services to London and Brighton, is a 10-minute walk. Inspired Homes 020 8688 6552

Spire Court at Lyon Square With one of London’s prettiest towns on the doorstep and great commuting links within a short walk, these new homes enjoy a great location in historic Harrowon-the-Hill. The 28 two bedroom apartments are finished to a high specification, with spacious interiors that feature open-plan living/dining areas that open to

FROM £41,248* L A U N C E S T O N , C O R N WA L L

a well-sized balcony or terrace. Residents also have access to an on-site gym, concierge service, landscaped gardens and play equipment. From Harrow-on-theHill rail station, Metropolitan Line services reach central London in around 20 minutes. Redrow 020 3811 6226

FROM £76,000*

Silverhill Gardens This new selection of three bedroom homes is in an ideal setting for family life. Located around two miles north of the city, there are great amenities, schools and parks, as well as the docks, coastline and countryside nearby. The homes are arranged over two floors, with a spacious living room and separate kitchen

downstairs, and the bedrooms upstairs with an en suite and family bathroom. Preston can be reached in just 15 minutes by bus, while services from Preston rail station run direct to London, Manchester and Edinburgh. Home Reach 020 3744 0415

*Based on a 25% share of the full market value of £164,995

Gwel-an-Hay These charming new family homes lie just outside the historic Cornish town of Launceston, home to a castle, as well as plenty of independent shops, market, cafes and pubs. The homes range from two to four bedroom houses. The three bedroom properties feature a bright kitchen/dining area

with doors opening to a private garden, and two private parking spaces to the front. With the A30 in close proximity, there’s excellent road access to the rest of Cornwall, as well as to Exeter and Plymouth. Home Reach 020 3744 0415

*Based on a 50% share of the full market value of £152,000

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Help to Buy: Hackney Wick, London E3 In the lead up to buying their first home, Laura Moore and Henry O’Neill thought they’d have to make significant compromises – on location, property type and size. After searching in a variety of areas, they have secured their dream first home in their favourite location, thanks to a helping hand from the Government’s London Help to Buy scheme. The couple have just purchased a one bedroom apartment at Fish Island Village, a vibrant canalside community in the heart of Hackney Wick, east London Laura, a 28-year-old estate agent, said, “Henry and I have always had a soft spot for Hackney Wick and the surrounding area. On Sunday mornings, I often make my way from our apartment in Angel to Victoria Park farmers’ market to buy our fresh produce for the week. I can’t wait to be just an eight-minute cycle ride away in Fish Island.” For Henry, 27, also in the property industry, the short commute to work is one of the reasons he loves the area. He said, “My current commute from Angel takes just under an hour, but from our new home it will only take me 15 minutes to cycle to work. And with my route largely following the River Lea, it will be one of the most scenic commutes I could ever imagine. I’m so excited I have even joined my company’s Cycle to Work club!” The couple currently live in a ground floor one bedroom apartment in Angel, Islington. Having rented for three years, they decided three months ago that it was the right time to buy their own place, which is when they discovered Fish Island Village, a joint development from top 20 UK housebuilder Hill, and Peabody, one of London’s oldest and largest


Current value: from £432,500 Purchase price: £399,950 Deposit: £20,000

housing associations. “Being in the property industry ourselves, we’re pretty savvy about the options available to us and wanted to make sure that we bought the right home in the perfect location,” he said “We looked around quite a lot of developments which offered homes through Help to Buy, but none compared to the finish available at Fish Island Village. The fantastic

sense of community was also something that really stood out to us – particularly when we saw the artwork created by local artists and heard about the workspaces available at The Trampery. We love the idea of the square outside our apartment buzzing with creatives throughout the day.” The first time buyers fell in love with their one bedroom apartment, complete with a


balcony and open-plan living space. “We were determined to secure the home we wanted, so we queued up at 1am on the day of the launch. We were certain other buyers would have the same idea and our strategy worked perfectly as we were able to quickly reserve our dream home,” said Henry. Utilising Help to Buy, the couple saved a 5% deposit of £20,000 and were supported with a 20% equity loan from the Government, a 75% mortgage and some help from the Bank of Mum and Dad towards Stamp Duty. Henry added, “We can’t wait to move in now. Not only will we be paying much less on our mortgage than we currently are on rent, but we can finally personalise our home, making it ours for years to come.” Fish Island Village is a vibrant canalside community comprising 434 private one, two and three bedroom apartments, as well as more than 50,000 sq ft of new commercial space. Workspace facilities for 500 people from the local community will be provided through The Trampery. Prices for one bedroom apartments start from £432,500 and two bedroom apartments are available from £557,500. All apartments under £600,000 are available through the London Help to Buy scheme. There will also be 146 one, two, three and four bedroom homes available for shared ownership and affordable rent. For further information on Fish Island Village call 020 3906 1950 or visit For further information on Hill visit

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WINNERS’ SUPPLEMENT The FTB Readers’ Awards 2018, held at the Waldorf Hilton, London, were a huge success. They are the highlight in our busy calendar and as it’s wonderful to see so many inspirational homes being built for first time buyers. This year, competition was fierce as we had so many more entries than ever before and the standard was extremely high. Hosting for the first time, Jonnie Irwin, one of television’s most versatile lifestyle presenters, welcomed the highly commended and winners from each category on to the stage to present them with their award. On the following pages, we showcase the day, so you can see who won. Most importantly, we would like to thank all our readers who took time to cast their all-important votes. This year, our chosen charity was Macmillan Cancer Support, which raises money to help fund their increasing range of services, including Macmillan nurses, a range of cancer information services and practical help at home and help with money issues. We were delighted to have exceeded all expectations and raised the amazing amount of £5,700 for this very worthy cause. The money will certainly help this wonderful charity whose services are in greater demand than ever. We had some fabulous prizes this year so a big thank you to everyone who donated. Congratulations to you all and we look forward to seeing you at the FTB Readers’ Awards next year.


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

Winner Family Mosaic | Lennard Road Highly Commended Southern Home Ownership | London Lane


This award was presented by Chris Browne, Sales Director of New Homes at ZPG.

Winner L&Q and London Borough of Barking & Dagenham | Weavers Quarter Highly Commended Higgins Homes | Clissold Quarter


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

Winner SiteSales & Barnardo Developments Ltd – Barnardo’s Garden Village Highly Commended Leon House Croydon – Leon House

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

Winner Metro Property Highly Commended Square Mile


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

Winner Lawcomm Solicitors Highly Commended Prince Evans


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

Winner Joseph Homes | 43 Durnsford Road Highly Commended Clarion Housing Group | The Atrium at East City Point


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

Winner Catalyst | St Bernard’s Gate Highly Commended St. Modwen Homes | Locking Parklands


This award was presented by Lesley Hickmott, Marketing and Communications Director at Space and Time.

Winner Plumlife Highly Commended Miller Homes


This award was presented by Peter Hunt, Partner at Hawke Financial Services.

Winner Peabody, Hill and Lyndon Goode Architects | Fish Island Village Highly Commended Taylor Wimpey East London | Aspext

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

Winner Oracle Group & The Media People | Shared Ownership Week Highly Commended Thames Valley Housing | So Resi


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

Winner Broadway Living | Alton Court Highly Commended L&Q and the Anderson Group | The Quarry


This award was presented by Rachel Pedigrew, Head of Sales at Redwing Living.

Winner Lovell Partnerships Ltd | The Mill Highly Commended Octavia Living | Gladstone Village


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This award was presented by Joanne Bonnington, Sales and Development Manager at Snugg Homes.

Winner Riverside Home Ownership | Silverbirch Highly Commended Lovell | New Acres


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

Winner Peabody & Hill | Fish Island Village Highly Commended Barratt Homes and VIVID Housing | Chapel Gate


This award was presented by Helen Jones, Director of Marketing at Allison Homes.

Winner SiteSales Property Group Highly Commended Belvoir Bromley

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This award was presented by Rebecca Henderson, Account Manager at Oracle Group.

Winner Regenta Highly Commended Magna Homes


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

Winner Thames Valley Housing Highly Commended Peabody


This award was presented by Murray Smith, Managing Director at SiteSales Property Group.

Winner Kush Rawal | Commercial Director, Thames Valley Housing Highly Commended Lisa Westerman | Group Head of Sales, Plumlife


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Chore no more!

HOW TO home ENTERhumidity free with the latest hybrid Keep your Answer the following dehumidifi er question: from Ecoair




What is the name of the accessory that comes with the Indesit eXtra dishwasher? A) BabyJungle B) BabyFarm C) BabyZoo Send your answer with your full name, address and telephone number to: lynda@firsttimebuyermag Closing date: 9 July 2018

THE PRIZE… AN INDESIT EXTRA DISHWASHER WITH DEDICATED BABYCARE CYCLE WORTH £349.99 T&Cs • 1 Test performed by an independent institute eliminating 99.9999% of bacteria • 2 For total sterilisation of your baby items, Indesit recommends an additional clean using a sterile solution • The prize will be delivered to a UK mainland address only • There is no cash prize alternative • One prize of: 1 x Indesit eXtra dishwasher with dedicated BabyCare Cycle (DFP 27T96 Z UK) • Dimensions H 850 x W 600 x D 600 mm • Installation is NOT included in the prize • Removal of prize winner’s appliance is not included • Indesit is not responsible for any kitchen alterations should the prize not fit (ie in nonstandard designs) • The promoter of this competition is Indesit

Make light work of the household chores with this Indesit eXtra dishwasher with a special BabyCare programme and BabyZoo accessory

When you move into your first home there are so many more exciting things to do than the washing up! But with the help of a dishwasher you will gain more precious moments to enjoy relaxing in your new home or being with friends and family. The Indesit eXtra dishwasher is perfect for families with babies and toddlers. It features a dedicated BabyCare cycle, a unique programme that eliminates 99.9999% of bacteria1 to ensure optimal cleaning and drying results of your baby items2. The Indesit dishwasher comes complete with an adorable BabyZoo accessory. The BPA-free BabyZoo is designed to stack, secure and wash baby items easily, including teats, dummies, cups, bowls and cutlery in the dishwasher without any fuss. The dishwasher is dynamic and flexible to meet the needs of a hectic family life. The top basket is height-adjustable and can be easily removed to maximise loading options. The eXtra cycle allows you to wash large items, such as baking trays and woks, in just one hour. Plus, the high-grade stainlesssteel interior liner is hygienic and hard wearing and offers superb drying performance. Boasting an impressive ‘A++’ energy rating, the dishwasher keeps those utility bills in check. It also has a start delay, making it ideal for running when cheaper energy tariffs are available at night, and thanks to it being very quiet, it won’t disturb or wake the little ones, or the rest of the household! See the full range of Indesit dishwashers at

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FIRST HOME, FIRST MEAL There is nothing better than indulging in a bowl of delicious strawberries during the summer months and Ben Hughes-Gage, Head Chef at Drake & Morgan has created this inventive summer strawberry soup which is the perfect dish to enjoy on a warm day

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

150g mascarpone 75ml double cream 500g strawberries 30g sugar Pinch black pepper Small basil leaves Vanilla pod Lemon zest

 1 2 3



Cut the green off all the strawberries then place 375g of them into a metal bowl. Add the sugar and half the vanilla pod and cover with cling film. Put this bowl over a small pan of simmering water, take off the heat and leave for 2 hours. Next, place a sieve on top of a mixing bowl and then strain the fruit to extract all of the strawberries' natural juices. Leave this to cool in the fridge. While the juice is cooling, scrape the other half of the seeds from the vanilla pod into a bowl with the mascarpone, cream, pepper and a pinch of sugar. Whisk until it all comes together and is smooth, but be careful not to over whip as the cream may split. To serve, place a spoonful of the whipped cream mixture into a bowl and arrange any remaining strawberries on to the cream to decorate. Gently pour the now cooled ‘strawberry soup’ around the cream and place a few small basil leaves on top. Season with a small grind of black pepper and a touch of lemon zest, to cut through the sweetness perfectly.



If you have a small chef’s blow torch to hand, before step 4, gently torch the strawberries for 5 seconds to really bring out the natural flavour.

Currently Head Chef at Drake & Morgan, King’s Cross, Ben HughesGage has over 20 years of experience in the kitchen. Brought up on a farm in Wales to a farming and butchering family, food was always going to be a big part of his life. Serving in the RAF as a chef for several years shaped his cooking style, giving his food an organised flow with well-paired flavours. His military career also saw him travel a great deal, allowing him to hand pick the best techniques, tips and inspirations from around the world. In his role as Head Chef at Drake & Morgan, King's Cross, he is responsible for the day-to-day running of the kitchen and the kitchen team, as well as for creating innovative and exciting menus.

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FTB’S FAST FOOD What better way to make the most of the summer sunshine than by going out for a picnic? We tried a selection of picnic food from the UK’s top supermarkets to see which made the tastiest alfresco meal PICNIC FOOD






World Deli sweet potato falafels, £3; World Deli avocado smash with a twist of lemon, £2.60; smoked salmon and spinach quiche, £3.99; crustless green vegetable & feta quiche, £3.49

Chicken & chorizo pastries, £2.50; mozzarella and slow roasted tomatoes, £2.50; Continental meat platter, £2.50; Spanish olives with cheese, £2.50

Crestwood mushroom arancini, £1.69; Crestwood chicken empanadas, £1.69; Specially Selected maple bacon & gruyere quiche, £2.19; Specially Selected vintage cheddar cheese & caramelised red onion quiche, £2.19

Raspberry croissants, 99p; Irresistible maple bacon and vintage Somerset cheddar quiche, £3.50; Irresistible Scotch egg , £1.39; spinach & feta parcels, £2.39

FTB SAYS: Tesco provides a good range of picnic foods that everyone

FTB SAYS: The Co-Op provides a good selection of picnic food. The

FTB SAYS: All of the Waitrose food

can enjoy. The chicken and chorizo

FTB SAYS: The Aldi range is

bacon and cheddar quiche had a

that we sampled was of an excellent

pastries were a real winner. The

excellent value for any picnic lover.

slightly thick pastry but the filling

quality. Probably our favourite was

filling is tasty and is complemented

The mushroom arancini tasted a little

had a good amount of cheese and

the sweet potato falafels which

well by the thin fatayer pastry. The

like a mild stuffing and can be eaten

a nice texture. No picnic is complete

had a very nice flavour with cumin

mozzarella balls are refreshing

hot or cold, although they tasted

without the classic Scotch egg and

spiced onions, currants, coriander

on the palate and as they are

better when heated. The bacon

the Co-Op provides a satisfying

and lemon zest. The avocado smash

marinated in garlic and oregano

and gruyere quiche was bland; the

one, although the meat was a little

is a great dip that would work well

they have a good strong flavour. The

bacon was a little fatty and there

dry. The spinach and feta parcels

with a variety of different foods

meat platter includes a dry cured

could have been more cheese.

could have done with a little more

and the hint of lemon really comes

prosciutto crudo ham, mild garlic

In contrast, the cheese and onion

filling, even though they tasted

through well. The green vegetable

salami Milano and spicy Spanish

quiche was very cheesy and this

pleasant. The croissants are very

quiche is packed full of broccoli,

chorizo which will work well with

worked well with the caramelised

sweet and would be a nice way to

edamame beans, spinach and feta

salad or perhaps on some bread.

red onion.The chicken and chorizo

end a picnic or satisfy anyone with

cheese and would make the perfect

The mixed olives pack a punch in

empanadas have a very good filling

a sweet tooth.

vegetarian option. The salmon and

terms of colour and taste and will

but the pastry was slightly thick and


spinach quiche had a crisp, buttery

brighten up your summer spread.

not very crusty.

pastry and would give a touch of



class to any picnic.



You’ve bought all that lovely food, so the next question is, how should you serve it? If you are fed up with paper plates and are concerned that your best china ones might break, then look no further than Lakeland’s party-proof tableware. All items have the look of a dinner service but are made out of Melamine which shrugs off stains, resist scratches and won’t break the bank in the process. All items are covered in a lovely floral design that will brighten up your picnic party and you can bring them out summer after summer without a worry.

Lakeland Lemon Grove party-proof tableware, from £3.79

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TAKING THE CREDIT Which? mortgages expert Stephen Maunder explains what a credit rating is, how it could affect your mortgage chances and steps you can take to improve your score The ways in which mortgage lenders decide who to lend to can seem like a dark art – but it’s actually all based on fairly straightforward, if strict, criteria. One of the most important factors in whether your mortgage application is accepted is your credit score. So, what is this and how can you change it to improve your chances of getting a mortgage?

WHAT IS A CREDIT REPORT? A credit report is a bit like a financial CV. It contains information that helps lenders confirm your identity and decide whether you’re a reliable borrower. Credit reports include several key pieces of information related to your finances. First of all, they itemise any money you currently owe and your record of repayments – so any late or missed payments on credit cards or loans will show up here. There will be details of whether you’ve had any County Court Judgments (CCJs) made against you, if you’ve entered into an Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA) or if you’ve been made bankrupt.


Your report will also include your address, date of birth, whether you are on the electoral roll and any financial connections – for example the name of the person you share a joint account with. Currently, credit reports don’t automatically include evidence of you paying your rent on time. However, if you’re keen for your regular rental payments to count towards your credit score, you can choose to sign up to the Rental Exchange scheme which sends your payment records to Experian, one of the biggest of the credit report agencies. As well as presenting your financial situation, credit reports include an overall ‘credit score’ based on your level of debt and how you manage it. Lenders will look at your credit score when you apply for a mortgage to get a snapshot of your overall financial health. The three biggest credit report agencies – Callcredit, Equifax and Experian – each use a different scoring system, so you may find that you have a better score with one than another. Some lenders will use data from just one of these companies while

others may use two or more, so it’s worth checking your score with each agency.

HOW TO CHECK YOUR CREDIT SCORE Before applying for a mortgage you should take a look at your credit report – and the sooner you do this the better, as it’ll give you more time to iron out any issues before applying. By law, you can view a copy of your report for £2, but this will only offer a snapshot and won’t tell you your actual credit score. The three main credit agencies all offer a more comprehensive monthly report including your score for a fee, but there are usually ways of accessing this information for free by taking out a trial – look online for the latest offers.

WHAT IF THERE’S A MISTAKE ON YOUR CREDIT REPORT? Mistakes on your credit report can range from an old home address to inaccurate information being provided by a bank

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or one of your utility providers – or even attempted fraudulent activity by a third party. If you spot a mistake, you can contact the company directly or raise a dispute with the credit reference agency. Once you’ve raised a dispute, the agency has 28 days to decide whether it is removed, amended or left as it stands. If the agency doesn’t authorise the amendment, you can add a ‘notice of correction’, where you are able to explain why you think the information is inaccurate.

YOUR CREDIT SCORE: THINGS TO BEAR IN MIND Applying for any form of credit – whether it’s a credit card, mortgage or loan – can all have an impact on your credit score, so it’s best not to apply for any credit you don’t really need in the run-up to applying for your mortgage. Mortgage applications will also show up, whether they were rejected or accepted, so it’s worth getting your credit rating into the best possible shape before applying for anything. You should also use a wholeof-market mortgage broker who’ll be able to recommend the lenders most likely to accept your application. One really quick, easy step you can take to improve your credit rating without taking out any credit is to ensure you’re on the electoral roll at your current address.

IS DEBT BAD FOR MY CREDIT SCORE? Not necessarily. When lenders work out how much you’re likely to be able to afford to pay back each month (known as an affordability assessment), they take a whole host of factors into account – including the type of debt you have, your payment history and the effect of any outstanding debts on your overall finances. Banks will often use debtto-income ratios, which show how much debt you have as a percentage of

your income. There’s no magic number – but, as you might have guessed, the lower your ratio the better. Lenders also assess the whole ‘spread’ of your credit, and some loans are seen as being lower risk than others. For example, a car loan that you pay back every month might not present a major issue, but a history of using payday loans will be a major red flag to lenders – in fact if you’ve recently used short-term credit like this you may not be able to get a mortgage for at least a year. If you are in financial difficulty and your debts are no longer manageable, it’s important to contact your lender as soon as possible to inform them and ask for help. It’s better for you to be upfront than to repeatedly miss loan or credit card repayments with no explanation.

SHOULD I TAKE OUT A CREDIT CARD? Having a credit card isn’t in itself a bad thing. Lenders will look at a variety of elements of your credit card usage before deciding whether or not it’s something to be concerned about. Missed and late payments can cause significant issues, especially if they’re recent, while only paying the minimum off each month could also be a sign that you are struggling. But, as crazy as it might sound, having no debt at all could also have a negative impact on your credit score. This is because lenders look for evidence that you can pay back what you borrow – so if there’s no record of you having successfully paid off debt, this could potentially count against you. Having a credit card that you pay off in full each month will show lenders that you can be trusted to pay back what you’ve borrowed. It’s worth bearing in mind that banks will take your ‘credit utilisation rate’ into account when considering your application. This basically involves dividing your current credit card debt by your available credit limit. Again, there’s no hard-and-fast rule

for an acceptable credit utilisation rate, but it’s generally recommended that you keep yours below 30%. That doesn’t mean that you should keep dormant accounts with high credit limits open if you’re not using them, as in some cases high credit limits – even if they’re not being utilised – could harm your chances of getting a loan.

GETTING A MORTGAGE IF YOU HAVE A BAD CREDIT SCORE Few of the major high street banks will consider applications from people with bad credit histories, but a handful of the larger building societies and a range of more specialist lenders will accept those with poor credit scores. Of course, there are caveats. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be offered a deal with a good interest rate, and you may need a deposit of up to 20% before a lender will consider your application. With this in mind, it can be helpful to seek advice from a whole-of-market mortgage adviser such as Which? Mortgage Advisers (0800 980 3824), which will look at all the deals available (including mortgages only available to brokers but also ones you can only get by applying directly), in order to find the very best option for your individual circumstances.

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR MORTGAGE CHANCES While having a poor credit history can certainly be a significant barrier to getting a mortgage; don’t be disheartened – there are steps you can take to improve your chances in the future. First of all, give it some time and repair your credit history. Your more recent credit history will be of the most interest to lenders, so if your financial situation has begun to improve, continue to maintain consistent on-time payments and use any credit you have responsibly. Finally, if you possibly can, keep saving in order to build a bigger deposit. Having a larger lump sum to put forward will help you access better deals and allow mortgage lenders to see you as a more appealing person to lend to. To find out more, visit Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage

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STAR ATTRACTION With Kush Rawal, Commercial Director of Thames Valley Housing (TVH), picking up the inaugural ‘Judges Special Award for Dedicated Service to First Time Buyers’ at our recent Awards, we look at the contribution Kush has made to the market Born and raised in Twickenham, part of Kush’s passion for first time buyers comes from his childhood. Growing up in a house with his extended family, after they emigrated from Kenya in the 1980s, his mum and dad sought help from the local authority and were able to buy a shared equity home, giving Kush and his brother more space to grow up in. Kush appreciates the positive impact that social housing has had on his own life. Kush admits that initially a career in social housing was something completely out of the realm of his experience and knowledge, as he studied Business at Brunel University and planned a career in finance. However, he quickly realised that it was about more than simply building homes, it was about improving people’s lives. Taking a graduate marketing assistant position with TVH, Kush witnessed firsthand how much more the business did for people than providing them with a home; whether it was improving a person’s education or helping them start a new career. Moving into a sales role, Kush experienced for himself what people were looking for and helped those struggling to find a housing solution. Around this time Kush got married, and by this point he was well educated around shared ownership, so his first marital home was bought through shared ownership too. One of Kush’s most exciting periods in his career was rather surprisingly during the recession. Kush led on the creation and delivery of Homebuy4u – a seven-day-a-week one-stop shop in Surrey for anyone wanting to know about shared ownership, as TVH was still committed to providing affordable housing options during this time. Progressing on to Sales Director, Kush faced one of his biggest challenges yet, but his passion for social housing was the driving force behind him. In 2013, Kush launched TVH’s SO Plus scheme following award-winning research with the University of Cambridge to look at innovating the traditional shared ownership model. The research showed that once people had bought the first percentage of their home, some owners were unable to afford to buy more. Developed to address this problem, SO Plus enables customers to buy an extra 1% of their home each year at a predetermined price. TVH is still the only housing association to offer this. Over time, Kush decided he wanted to study more, so took on his MBA. One of his other passions is health service provision, as he was born with a cleft lip and palate. Kush noticed throughout all his interactions with the NHS, that despite all the pressure the staff were under, they still provided fantastic care. This motivated him to want to help NHS staff, who like most today face housing pressure. Kush wrote his thesis about how health and housing can work together. He achieved an MBA with Merit in Construction and Real Estate from the College of Estate Management last year. Kush’s current role as Commercial Director is enabling him to put some of the findings of his studies into action. Part of his remit is to speak to the NHS and look at ways they can work more closely together. Kush is focused on delivering new housing that will provide long term benefits, whether this be for staff accommodation or the ongoing care for patients and helping to relieve some of the pressures faced by a shortage of hospital beds. Responsible for spearheading TVH’s So Resi brand in 2017, which was designed to promote the benefits of shared ownership, driven by his passion and own experience, Kush continues to go one step further than most in helping improve homeownership for first time buyers.


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I am sure you will have heard about the tragic events at Grenfell. It is vital that the property and construction industries learn lessons and all work together to ensure such an event cannot happen again. Over the years there have been other incidents, but each one is forgotten as time moves on. We cannot let that happen this time The repercussions and actions are varied depending on the perspective of your position. There are around 130 privately owned residential blocks of flats including hotels and student accommodation that have ACM cladding. This is the cladding that was on the exterior of Grenfell Tower. There is a lot of time being focused on who should pay for the replacement of cladding, and the provision of waking watches at buildings at risk. A waking watch is where security cover is provided 24 hours a day to patrol the buildings and keep watch for any fires or incidents. Not a cheap solution, but one the fire service considers necessary for a building at high risk with flammable cladding. The Government has provided extra funding to Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE) and we have established a team dedicated to advising on building safety policy. LEASE can advise if you have questions or concerns on your building or a building you are thinking of moving in to. We are undertaking outreach events for leaseholders, local authorities and other interested parties. From the few

organised so far, the response and reaction has been very positive. So, if you have concerns or questions then please check out our website at and if you want to speak to an adviser follow the details online. You can never be too careful about safety, and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has recognised the need for delivering advice to flat owners by extending the remit and reach of LEASE in this arena. There are some simple measures that you can take on board and everyone should be alerted to. Smoke detectors have a life span and should be changed every 10 years. That is not just the batteries that need checking and keeping up to date, it is the actual smoke detector

Roger J Southam Leasehold expert and adviser

units which need replacing. It is worth checking the renewal date when you buy your home as it is possible they are older than the property. I found this in my home which was built in 2010 but the detectors were dated 2007 and so needed changing in 2017. The date of replacement will be on the rear of the unit, and taking it down and checking is well worthwhile. If you are buying an existing flat, then it is worth checking in the survey if there have been any changes to doors or to the configuration of the flat. If so, check that it has been done properly and the right fire rating doors used as well, ensuring any changes comply with building regulations. It is surprising how often people will carry out alterations without having them done in accordance with regulations and safety requirements. I would urge you to always get any works you have done carried out by qualified tradespeople to the correct standards. The temptation to save money can be appealing, but when it comes to safety you cannot be too careful. The other thing to be mindful of is the communal nature of your home. Your flat in a block of flats relies on everyone to be responsible and ensure they do not do something that can put the other flats at risk. These items are in your hands and will help you make sure you are safe. The same is true if you live in a house, although generally the impact and effects will not be an issue for other homeowners. Of course, you need to know the building has been constructed properly and in compliance with all the regulations. Do remember, LEASE is ready and waiting to help if you have any queries or questions.


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The Government wants the housebuilding industry to deliver 300,000 new homes each year to help solve the housing crisis – double the current level being built But if builders are going to construct twice as many houses, they’ll also have to sell twice as many. And, as in any business, an increase in sales is only achieved by making and selling what customers want to buy. So – what do customers want to buy? Specifically, what do you want to buy? We’re excited to hear your thoughts on the subject. What are you looking for from today’s housebuilders? Are you looking for a brand new house, or one that’s been lived in by someone else? Are you willing to pay more for an energyefficient home? How far are you prepared to move from your existing location to get your ideal property? And it’s not just about the houses – we’re interested in the whole homebuying process too.

Is the information available to first time buyers helpful, confusing or just difficult to find? How easy is it to get a mortgage? What is your experience of dealing with housebuilders – which companies are providing good service and high quality? To help us to find out more, we’ve launched an online survey at, where you can give your opinions on what is important – and what isn’t – in your search for a new home. Or in your search for an investment property; our research also aims to uncover whether homeowners and landlords have different priorities. So, whether you are currently searching for a house or have bought one in the past 12 months, we’d love to hear from you. And just for completing the survey, you’ll go into a draw to win a £500 cash prize.

IN RETURN FOR THE CHANCE TO WIN £500 If you also agree to take part in a short follow-up telephone interview – where we can ask more detailed questions about what really ‘makes you tick’ when it comes to house hunting – there’s a second prize draw with an additional £500 up for grabs too. Tell us what you think by completing our survey at and you could be in with a chance of winning the cash. All the replies you give will be anonymous and you won’t get any sales calls or emails as a result of taking part. The research is being undertaken by OlsenMetrix Marketing ( working with First Time Buyer and other partners. Survey responses will be anonymous. Names and contact details will be collected only to let you know if you have won one of the prizes and will not be used for marketing purposes. Further information is available on the survey website at

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Mortgage Clinic As the industry continues to innovate, we’re seeing new and different types of mortgage becoming available. In this edition of Which? Mortgage Clinic, I will outline two mortgage products and a Government scheme that might be useful as you take your first step on the property ladder What are first start mortgages, how do they work and how can they help me? First start mortgages, as the name suggests, are generally designed for first time buyers who are looking to buy property in an area they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford with a traditional mortgage. This type of product can also be used by those who have been out of the property market for some time or those whose circumstances have dramatically changed, for example, someone going through a divorce and looking to remain in the family home. A first start mortgage works by adding an additional applicant or applicants (known as sponsors) on to your mortgage (usually the sponsor will be a parent or grandparent). The sponsor’s income is used in conjunction with that of the main applicant or applicants to increase the amount that can be borrowed. The lender is happy with the increased risk of lending more in this way as, in the event that the applicant can’t pay the mortgage, the lender will pursue the sponsor for the mortgage payment. Generally, these products should be taken out with a view to the applicant or applicants taking on the mortgage in full at some point in the future and the sponsor can choose if they want to go on to the property deeds or not. As this type of mortgage set-up can involve the sponsor taking on the risk of a mortgage, with no property ownership to show for it, seeking independent legal advice is something the lender will often insist on and is certainly something that I would advise. What are offset mortgages, how do they work and how can they help me? An offset product is a standard mortgage product like any other but has the added benefit of linking a savings account to your mortgage account. Any money you have in your savings account (offset account) will work for you


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

What is the Government’s NewBuy Guarantee scheme, how does it work and how can it help me?

against the amount you pay towards your mortgage each month. The savings account linked to your mortgage works just like any other savings account. For example, you can have online access and can put money in and take money out as you please. Of course, the more money you keep in your savings account the more benefit it will have against the cost of your mortgage. Offsetting savings can be used in two ways with most providers. You can use it to overpay your mortgage and so reduce how long it takes you to pay your mortgage off, or it can be used to reduce your mortgage payments, keeping the length of time it takes you to pay your mortgage off the same. Generally, offsetting is used to pay a mortgage off faster, however, many lenders will let you change the way you use your offset account which can be helpful if you decide you need to reduce your payments for a few months. For many, offsetting is a very good idea and one that is not explored as often as it should be. With savings rates being so low and the tax efficient nature of offsetting savings against a mortgage, offsetting could save you thousands of pounds over the life of your mortgage.

The Government has various schemes in place to support the housing market. One that you may not be familiar with is the NewBuy Guarantee scheme, which allows more people to buy a new build property when they have a smaller deposit. The Government, in conjunction with house builders, pays into an indemnity fund that can be used to reimburse the mortgage lender in the event the buyer fails to keep up with payments on the mortgage. This layer of security for the lenders means they are more willing to give out mortgages that are a higher loan to value, as much as 95 per cent. To be eligible for NewBuy Guarantee, the property that you are buying must be for sale for the first time, it must cost less than £500,000, and it cannot be used for sub-letting. Critically, the property must have been built by a builder who is part of the scheme. The number of mortgage providers who are lending to those with a 5% deposit against a newly built property is increasing all the time. This is great news, as it gives you an alternative option to using the already popular Government Help to Buy scheme. For further help and advice from Which? Mortgage Advisers, visit ftbmortgages, or call 0808 159 4852

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EXPERT COMMENT The first year of homeownership can be expensive, so it is a good idea to get prepared in the run-up to the move. The list of initial household bills that need sorting may seem daunting, particularly if you haven’t had to deal with these type of bills before. From gas, electricity and water, to broadband, TV, insurance and council tax, I would advise pulling together a checklist ready for the move so nothing essential gets missed. Be sure to shop around for the best deals and remember

What are your first year costs?

to factor any installation fees into your budget too, as these can take people by surprise! To ensure you are continuously getting the best deal on your household bills, keep track of your actual usage throughout the first year. You may

Now you have the keys to your first home, it’s not just the mortgage you have to pay each month. Kay Hill runs through the bills you can expect in your first year and has tips for keeping costs down

be able to save money by switching to a better priced deal that still fits what you need. At first, it may feel like a battle to keep on top of the bills. That is why we developed WonderBill; it’s a simple way to manage household bills in one app, helping these bills be more transparent and easy to track. Technology like this is certainly more efficient than countless paper bills!

Shane Clifford CEO of new household bill management app WonderBill


COUNCIL TAX What you pay: The cost depends on the value and amenities of your home and which council you pay. Homes are banded from A (the lowest) up to H, with the average being a band D. The amount varies wildly around the country and bears no relation to property prices. Although the average is £1,591 a year, the cheapest places in the country are Westminster (£688), Wandsworth (£700), City of London (£931) and Kensington & Chelsea (£1,077), while the dearest are Weymouth (£1,891), East Dorset (£1,861), Purbeck (£1,852) and Nottingham £1,852). Can you reduce it? There’s no getting out of Council Tax; anyone over 18 has to pay, whether you own or rent your home. There

are some discounts available – if you live alone, or share your house with someone who is exempt (such as a full-time student or mentally disabled person) you can get a 25% discount. It is also possible to appeal the banding, but you have to prove that similar properties nearby have a lower band, and only around one in five appeals is successful.

HOME INSURANCE What you pay: The average cost for buildings and contents insurance is around £260 a year. Your mortgage company will insist on buildings cover; contents cover is not compulsory, but imagine the consequences of losing everything you own in a fire!

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Can you reduce it? If your property is leasehold then you won’t normally need to buy buildings insurance as the freeholder will organise it (but do make sure). A larger excess (the first part of any claim that you pay yourself) reduces premiums, but make sure you can afford it. For buildings insurance, remember that rebuilding costs are cheaper than purchase prices as you don’t have to buy the land (you should find the figure on your mortgage valuation or deeds). Never auto-renew or just accept your mortgage company’s quote without shopping around, and consider buying through a comparison site for cashback or bonuses like cheap cinema tickets.

UTILITY BILLS What you pay: The average energy bill (gas and electric) is £1,123 a year and the average water bill is £405 a year (Ofgem/ Consumer Council for Water) Can you reduce it? With gas and electricity you can choose your supplier (there are more than 60), so shopping around is vital. According to watchdog Ofgem, the difference for an average customer between the highest and lowest annual tariff (£1,135/£827 per year) is £308. In general, you will save money by paying monthly, taking gas and electricity from the same supplier and managing your account online. The biggest savings are from cutting what you use – do you remember how when you were a teenager your parents used to nag you to turn the lights off, stop leaving the TV on, put a jumper on instead of turning the heating up? Well there was a good reason for all that… You can’t shop around for water, but if you have moved into an older home without a water meter, if there are more bedrooms than there are people living there, you will probably save money by having one fitted. If you have a meter, try to run dishwashers and washing machines only when full, and invest in a water butt to collect rain for watering plants and washing cars.

BROADBAND, PHONE AND TV What you pay: A TV licence is £150.50 a year, and you need to pay it even if you have a satellite package and never watch the BBC.

According the Office of National Statistics, most households spend an additional £220 a year on satellite, cable or subscription TV, plus around £884 a year on phones and internet. Can you reduce it? Do you need hundreds of satellite channels, or would a much cheaper subscription service keep you happily in box sets for the year? Do you need ultra-high-speed broadband, or would a regular service be sufficient? Do you even need a landline? Mobile phones can be a money pit - check the amount of data and calls you actually use to make sure you’re on the right tariff. Consider whether you need an iPhone X at £110 a month when you could get an SE on the same tariff for under £30 a month or a dull but serviceable cheapie for £7.50 a month?

EXPERT COMMENT It’s so important to get into the habit of checking our bills and


statements regularly. It may seem

What you pay: According to the Office of National Statistics, the average household spends £1,300 a year on furniture and household goods. Can you reduce it? Yes of course you want everything to look lovely in your new home, but the main thing is to pay that mortgage, so don’t get tied up in loans for furniture. Check out Facebook sales, recycling groups, eBay, charity shops, boot sales and jumble sales – that tatty old sofa might look great with a new throw and some cushions. Don’t look down your nose at cast-off curtains or junk shop chairs; you have the rest of your life to get things the way you like it!

important if you don’t, like a

dull, but you could miss something mistake, an overcharge, changes to your product or service, or even fraud. You also need to check your current account, credit and store card spending. It takes some organisation, but regularly reviewing your bills and statements will ensure you’re still on the best tariff, interest rate or premium for your needs and to generally keep on top of where your money is going each month. Paperless bills have become far more common and more often than not, companies won’t email the bill directly, but


email a link to a website where you

What you pay: According to the Office of National Statistics, the average household spends around £447 a year repairing their house. Can you reduce it? You need to upskill, and fast! Buy a good DIY book, or see if your local council’s waste and recycling team offers workshops in basic skills. Tap into the knowledge of parents and grandparents who can show you how to fix it up or sew it up. Remember that you shouldn’t mess with gas or electricity unless you’re qualified, but you most certainly can learn to put up a shelf, fill a crack, or fix a leaking tap, and it will save you a fortune.

yet another password to remember!

have to log in to see it, which is While it’s undoubtedly good for the environment, it can be a hassle, so it’s important to get yourself organised. Set up a filing system for your paperless bills with folders on your PC for each account. Open and save your statements each month – when you get the email saying your statement is available, go online straight away to check it and download it.

Georgie Frost Consumer Advocate, GoCompare

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Protected by Guardians


Standing guard – could it help get you on the property ladder? We’ve all seen the signs on empty buildings ‘protected by guardians, keep out’. The trend for using individuals to protect commercial and increasingly residential buildings is on the rise, but – before you write it off as just one level above squatting – it might just help you save and get on the property ladder HISTORY OF GUARDIANSHIP Property guardianship first came to the UK in 2002, having originated in the Netherlands where it was designed to stop squatters taking over large commercial buildings. Today, developers, local authorities and even individual homeowners use live-in guardians to protect their empty buildings. Ten years ago, just a handful of companies offered guardianship, but today it’s estimated there are around 30 to 40. House-sitting has been around for even longer, but house-sitting companies generally take on older people who are


often homeowners themselves. There are estimated to be between 5,000 and 7,000 people across the UK currently living as property guardians.

WHAT DOES GUARDIANSHIP INVOLVE? Live-in guardians rent spaces in empty buildings through specialist companies such as Live-in Guardians. The firm was set up eight years ago to protect empty commercial and residential buildings by placing guardians to live in them until the buildings were needed again. Guardians keep the buildings safe and secure, paying a monthly

‘license fee’ rather than rent. The system saves building owners thousands of pounds in business rates and stops buildings being squatted or damaged while empty. Livein Guardians says it currently has 600 guardians protecting 60 buildings, with a waiting list of 2,000 registered applicants. It says it has registered more than 15,000 guardians in the first five years of business and that while initially ages ranged from 23 to 35, today applicants are aged 25 to 55.

WHERE COULD YOU LIVE? Becoming a guardian could see you get a prime central London address, although

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MARKET there are also plenty of buildings on offer right across the UK. Live-in Guardians reports that it now protects more than 60 buildings in central London in Zones 1 and 2, with plans to expand to Zone 3. Housing associations, developers, councils and private property companies are all starting to use guardians, so you could find yourself living in a former police station, hospital, pub, office block, school or an individual house on the market. All guardians get their own lockable bedroom, but if it’s a large building you will be sharing communal living quarters. Guardians aren’t on tenancies, as they are on licences and pay rent which is often much lower than privately rented accommodation. The company fits out the empty building to ensure it is fit for people to live in and must make sure that buildings comply to standards such as fire regulations. For each property it protects, Live-in Guardians appoints a property inspector, property manager and guardian managers and it also has an in-house fire engineer and maintenance team.

WHO CAN BECOME A GUARDIAN? Guardians can be anyone from accountants, doctors, graphic designers to teachers and artists. Live-in Guardians says that it has given homes to two barristers and even someone from the Home Office, so each property can have a variety of young professionals looking after it, although under 21s are not allowed. The company stresses that ‘a strong sense of community’ is important and that some guardians have been with them for up to six years, living across different properties. At each development a head guardian is appointed to organise and assign practical work such as cleaning schedules and to organise communal events such as cooking evenings.

WHAT ARE THE DOWNSIDES? With growing numbers of companies offering guardianship, it’s important to do your homework before signing up so you can choose a reputable one. A Google search should show companies which have broken the rules and fallen foul of the law. You should also be prepared to live with strangers and be used to communal living, and be aware that you could get short notice to leave – although Live-in Guardians reports that it typically gives 28 days’ notice. A recent report by the London Assembly found that, because of rising rents – especially in the capital – people are being forced into becoming property guardians, which the report describes as “second class renters”. The report found that, when


Administration Manager Steph has been a property guardian in a school in Finsbury Park, London, since July 2015 and she pays a monthly license fee of £419.34. “When I first moved to London I did so to take up a job offer with a charity. It was a dream role, but being in the charity sector it did not pay very well, consequently I was concerned about whether I would actually be able to afford to rent in London and have a life too. A friend of mine was already a guardian living in London and told me that property guardianship was my solution – cheap “rent” and large living spaces. That was it – I signed up and I’ve never looked back! I’ve been able to live in some awesome buildings and in various parts of London meaning I’ve not just stayed in my comfort zone and I’ve been able to explore the city.

the idea first came about, most property guardians were young creatives taking advantage of live-work spaces in central locations. But today’s guardians, the report believes, come from many different age groups, and are often working on modest incomes. The report says that guardianship is no longer a lifestyle choice, but “a necessity in an over-heated rental market”. When you become a guardian, you get a licence agreement for accommodation instead of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement (AST) which is common in the private rented sector. These licences have fewer legal protections than an AST, for example in the notice you must be given to leave a property. The report also highlighted the conditions that some guardians experience and ultimately it found that guardianship is “a precarious existence” with sub-standard living conditions such as inadequate kitchens.

EXPERT COMMENT Owners of commercial property are also increasingly using our services to ensure their property stays secure and squatters don’t move in. Property caretakers not only act as a vandalism deterrent, but they help reduce the risks of damage from fires, leaking gas or burst pipes. This is a growing area of our business and we can provide a caretaker for any length of time, from a couple of days to a few years. In fact, our longest running commercial sit is now at 10 years and counting!

Alan Irvine Chairman of Homesitters

LEGISLATION AND REGULATION Property guardianship is an unregulated area. The London Assembly’s report made a number of recommendations to the Mayor and Government to “rebalance the relationship between property guardians and the companies that manage the properties”, calling for changes to legislation and guidance to ensure property guardians benefit from improvements made to the private rented sector. The report asked the Mayor and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to provide guidance about guardians’ legal rights and where they can access help. The report also called for the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to ensure that all guardian companies register with a recognised property agent’s redress scheme. They believe that this would allow guardians to raise concerns they might have about a company in what they describe as a “safe space”.

EXPERT COMMENT Guardians are the backbone of our company and we look after them as we want them to remain loyal. All buildings are inspected for safety and guardians can report any repairs by app and track when they will be done. We don’t agree with the report’s findings but we would like to see regulation of the industry as long as it’s sensible for this sector and we’d like an input into that.

Arthur Duke MD of Live-in Guardians liveinguardians. com

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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 Jennifer Hickey Field Sales Manager – Counties, L&Q

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

Natalie Perry Director of Sales & Marketing, Barratt David Wilson Homes (Kent)


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

Good value for money


I’m a young professional desperate to get on to the housing ladder in London, but with property prices continuing to rise, I am seriously struggling to get a 20% or even a 10% deposit together to buy on the open market. I have heard that there are other routes into homeownership, but I don’t really know much about them. What is shared ownership? And is it good value for money?  Alexandra Nowak, Slough   Shared ownership gives purchasers an opportunity to buy a share in a property, usually around 25%, while renting the remaining share from a housing association at a subsided level.    Through this scheme you would only require a minimal 5% deposit of the share you buy. What’s more, it’s usually cheaper than renting on the open market. Eligibility criteria do apply; for example, there is a maximum income level of £90,000 if you are buying in London or £80,000 if you are purchasing outside the capital. You will prioritised if you already live or work in the area. Pricing for shared ownership properties is much more regulated than it is on the open market as they are always valued by an independent surveyor from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). If the property hasn’t sold within three months, it is revalued. Therefore, you can be sure the valuation reflects the current market value.  Remember, when buying any property, either through shared ownership or on the open market, always do your research and make sure you feel it’s the right choice for you. For further information, visit our website, – or tweet us at @OriginNewHomes


Simon Scott


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How does staircasing work?


I am a first time buyer and I’m looking into shared ownership as I don’t have a very large deposit. I am hoping to get a pay rise soon meaning I could afford more in the future. I have heard of something called staircasing, but I don’t know much about it - could you tell me more? Victoria Howdean, Loughton


Shared ownership opens up many doors for people to get on to the property ladder providing that they are able to meet a small number of criteria and afford to buy a minimum of a 25% share of a property. Staircasing is the process by which you are able to retrospectively purchase a larger share of your property, therefore increasing the equity that you own and reducing your monthly rent payment. There is no restriction on when you are able to staircase; it is flexible to suit your needs. Most housing associations will stipulate that you may only staircase a maximum of three times during your ownership of the home, the third time will take you up to 100% ownership. The minimum share you can purchase will be specified in your lease but is usually 10% or 20% (unless it’s the final share, which may be less than the minimum share in order for you to staircase up to 100%). Before making a decision on staircasing or the size of share you wish to purchase, you may wish to speak to an independent financial adviser. Once you have decided that staircasing is right for you, the process is very simple; 1. Instruct an independent RICS surveyor to value your property; this valuation must include a minimum of three comparable properties (similar properties recently sold or on the market close to your home). 2. The housing association would then use this report to determine a price for the share that you wish to purchase.

3. You will then need to instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf throughout your staircasing transaction – it is vital that you choose a solicitor who is experienced in handling shared ownership transactions. Generally, staircasing transactions will take around three months from instruction to completion and there will be an administration fee payable to the housing association, as well as your solicitor’s fees. At L&Q our expectation is that a staircasing transaction will be complete from initial instruction within three months, in order to not invalidate the RICS valuation. Therefore, it is vital to brief your solicitor of your expectations from the outset and work with L&Q Home Ownership or your housing association equivalent to make sure you meet this deadline. For any prospective purchase and staircasing enquiries, please visit the L&Q website at Jennifer Hickey

Built for Life


I am currently looking at buying a new build home and am hearing lots about ‘Built for Life’. Is this something that I should consider when deciding which property I want to buy? Brett Thompson, Canterbury


A home or development that has been awarded ‘Built for Life’ status is the sign of a good place to live with well-designed properties in a friendly and attractive neighbourhood. It should give you the confidence that important design elements, such as car parking, safe streets and access to amenities, have been checked during the planning process. Endorsed by Design Council CABE, which is the Government’s adviser on design in the built environment, the assessment measures new schemes against

12 stringent criteria and ensures that new homes are attractive, functional and sustainable. What this means in real terms is that it should offer a higher quality of life and be a better long-term investment. A good community feel, easy access to transport links and local amenities, attractive streets, car parking and outdoor space are just some of the things carefully looked at. These are most likely factors in

your property search anyway, so Built for Life does the leg work for you and should help you make your decision on where to buy a little easier. At Barratt David Wilson, we care about all the neighbourhoods where we build and take into careful consideration how people will feel living there. Last year, five of our developments across Kent and 30 in the UK were awarded the prestigious Building for Life quality mark. Buying at a Built for Life development has its financial advantages too. People tend to move into Built for Life neighbourhoods and stay because they enjoy living there, making the area more desirable for people moving in, which drives up prices. Consequently, homes are likely to sell better in future on the secondhand market. Good luck with your property search – I hope that Built for Life makes your decision easier. Natalie Perry

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


ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR A GOVERNMENTBACKED SCHEME? The government runs several Help to Buy schemes to help people get on to the property ladder. To be eligible for Help to Buy your household income needs to be less than £60,000 a year. For more details, contact a Help to Buy Agent. Help to Buy Agents are housing associations that handle the application process for Help to Buy products. Details of Help to Buy Agents start on page 106.






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

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


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

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



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

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

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

HOMES AND COMMUNITIES AGENCY This is a government organisation that funds affordable homes including those under Help to Buy.

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


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

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The ftb process TIPS

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


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


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

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

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

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



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


Make sure your credit rating is sound, and pay off any debts you can. or, then apply directly to your chosen lender.

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

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

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


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


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

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

horough research

you’ll be happy living in.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Check online for prices of sold properties in the area, and make sure properties you like fit your budget. You can search for recent sold prices of property in any area at, although be aware that prices have dropped significantly in the past year. If you like a property, aerial shots of the area can be viewed at Before you put in an offer, visit the street at different times to make sure it’s safe. Ask neighbours and local shop owners about the area.

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


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



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

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uying process


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


MORTGAGE FEE £0-£1,000

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

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

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


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

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

Use a recommended solicitor who you know to be reliable and can move fast. Never get pressured into an exchange and completion date without knowing all your finances and documents are in place. If you can’t complete, you may have to pay the seller’s costs. English property law is different to Scottish law: in England, if you put in an offer and then have a change of heart, you can legally back out of the deal or negotiate up until the exchange date. But, in Scotland, an agreed price is binding.


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

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

LAND REGISTRY FEES £50-£920 (depending on the property’s value, e.g., £200 on a property costing between £100,000 and £200,000).


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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



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

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


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

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

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




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

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

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


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

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

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



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

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

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

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

CONVEYANCING The legal process of transferring ownership of a property.

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


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

HIGHER LENDING CHARGE If you take out a large mortgage on a property, some lenders charge you an extra fee. This is because the more money you borrow the more of a risk the lender is taking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Stamp Duty Land Tax and Shared Ownership The rules applicable to Stamp Duty and shared ownership transactions are not straightforward. Bill Dhariwal, Managing Director, and Lesley Price, Head of New Build and Shared Ownership at Lawcomm Solicitors provide a basic first time buyer guide to this complex area WHAT IS STAMP DUTY LAND TAX (SDLT)? Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a tax payable on land transfers (including acquiring a major interest under a Lease) in England and Northern Ireland. Different rules apply in Scotland (Land and Buildings Transaction Tax is payable) and Wales (Land Transaction Tax is payable if the completion date is on or after 1 April 2018). This article will not specifically deal with properties in Scotland or Wales. The current SDLT threshold is £125,000 for residential properties and SDLT is payable on a sliding scale, with the rate of tax rising with the value of the transaction. The SDLT payment will be 0% on values

of up to £125,000, 2% on the next £125,000 (the portion from £125,001 to £250,000), 5% on the next £675,000 (the portion from £250,001 to £925,000), 10% on the next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million) and finally 12% on the remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million).

WHAT ARE THE SDLT RULES FOR FIRST TIME BUYERS? Different rules apply to first time buyers. If you are purchasing your first home, a discount may be available if the purchase completed on or after 22 November 2017 and the price is less than £500,000. This broadly applies to individuals who have not previously owned a major interest in

Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact Bill Dhariwal, Managing Director, or Lesley Price, Head of New Build and Shared Ownership at Lawcomm Solicitors by e-mail on lesley.price@lawcomm. or by telephone on 01489 864 115.

a dwelling or equivalent interest in land anywhere in the world, which includes an inheritance or a gift. Generally, if you are a first time buyer, you will pay 0% on the first £300,000 and 5% on the amount above £300,000. If you purchase a property with someone else, ie a spouse or partner, and only one of you is a first time buyer, SDLT will be due at the normal rates.

HOW DOES SDLT APPLY TO SHARED OWNERSHIP PROPERTIES? When you buy a property through a shared ownership scheme, the SDLT rules work differently to the rules that would apply

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BUYERS’ GUIDE if you were buying a freehold or a normal leasehold property. Shared ownership properties are different because, while you may initially start with a 25% share, you can gradually purchase additional shares and increase your ownership to 100%. Upon reaching 100%, you may also end up owning the freehold of your property, if you have purchased a house, or the full leasehold interest if you purchased a flat. This is called staircasing. If you are, for example, buying a property with a market value of £250,000, but you are only purchasing a 50% share of £125,000, which value is used to calculate your SDLT liability? Unfortunately, the answer is both! You have a choice about when and how you pay your SDLT and you need to consider this carefully, depending on your individual circumstances. You can choose to pay SDLT when you purchase the property at the rate it would be due if you were buying 100% (the full market value), or pay tax in stages, ie on the value of the share you are purchasing. This is called a market value election.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER? When making your market value election, you need to consider if your intention is to acquire additional shares in the future, as your affordability increases. This could also be a consideration to give some thought to for when your fixed interest period expires on your mortgage and you may be considering a remortgage. If you choose to pay SDLT on the full market value you will never have to pay it again, even when you staircase. You should always elect to pay tax on the full market value if it is no more than the SDLT threshold. For example, if you purchase a 50% share at £60,000, the full value is £120,000, which is below the £125,000 threshold and the tax liability is nil. Even more advantageous if you are a first time buyer and the full market value of your property is below the £300,000 threshold. If you choose to defer paying SDLT at the time you purchase the property, then it will be due on the market value of the shares you are purchasing when you reach a share of 80% or above, unless the current rules change.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL – FURTHER COMPLICATIONS!  In shared ownership transactions, if you are a first time buyer, you will not be able to take advantage of the first time buyer discount if you choose to pay SDLT on your share. For example, if you are buying 30% of a property valued at

£450,000, your share would be £135,000. Even as first time buyer, your SDLT on the share would be calculated using the usual formula (2% on amounts between £125,001 and £250,000) and you will be liable for £200 if you chose to pay on the share and £7,500 if you chose to pay on the market value.  Unlike freehold properties, for newly created leasehold properties, SDLT is calculated not only on the price you are paying (the premium or the market value), but also on the amount of rent you are paying. With standard residential leases the rent is usually a nominal figure of £0 to £250, so it has little impact on the tax calculation, but as the level of rent you are paying for a shared ownership property is usually higher, this can have a significant impact on the amount of SDLT payable, even if your purchase price is below the threshold.  Following the same example as above, if the rent for the 70% you do not own is £8,662.50 per annum, this will attract an additional SDLT payment of £1,191. Usually, as a rule of thumb only, if the rent is over £4,000 per annum, this is likely to attract SDLT liability.  The rent figure used in shared ownership transactions includes both the ground rent (rent normally

payable under a lease, such as that for a standard leasehold flat), if this is due before the final staircasing, and the specified rent (the rent payable on the share you do not own).You may think it would always make sense to defer paying SDLT, especially if you are not intending to staircase your share of the leasehold up to 100% before you sell. However, you should note that when SDLT becomes payable later it will be based on the property values, tax rates and allowances at the point you come to purchase the remaining shares. If the market values rise, you could end up liable for more SDLT than if you had paid it at the outset. You should therefore consider this carefully before you decide on how you wish to proceed.

Lawcomm Solicitors offers an award-winning conveyancing service to first time buyers seeking to buy their first property and work as recommended solicitors to several housing associations and private developers on a nationwide basis. Contact us for a no obligation discussion and estimate of costs.

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HELP TO BUY NORTH WEST Tel: 0300 790 0570 1) 2) 3) 4) 5)

Cumbria Lancashire Merseyside Greater Manchester Cheshire

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

1 2

Northumberland Tyne & Wear Durham North Yorkshire West Yorkshire South Yorkshire East Riding of Yorkshire




HELP TO BUY MIDLANDS Tel: 0345 850 2050

Tel: 03333 214044


1) Shropshire 2) Staffordshire 3) Derbyshire 4) Nottinghamshire 5) Lincolnshire 6) Herefordshire 7) Worcestershire 8) West Midlands 9) Warwickshire 10) Leicestershire 11) Rutland 12) Northamptonshire

1) Norfolk 2) Cambridgeshire 3) Suffolk 4) Bedfordshire 5) Buckinghamshire 6) Hertfordshire 7) Essex 8) Surrey 9) Kent 10) West Sussex 11) East Sussex



5 4









Tel: 0800 456 1188 1) 2) 3) 4)

Gloucestershire Oxfordshire Bristol Bath & NE Somerset, Mendip and North Somerset 5) Wiltshire 6) Berkshire 7) Hampshire 8) Isle of Wight





5 7

8 1 HELP TO BUY SOUTH WEST Tel: 0300 100 0021 Cornwall Devon South Somerset Dorset


1 9



1) 2) 3) 4)


6 4


4 2





3 2







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

Map supplied by Help to Buy South

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Help to Buy London

guarantee, please contact the participating lenders

Tel: 0300 5000 996

Tel: 0345 850 2050

0300 500 0996

directly. Shropshire Share to Buy


Staffordshire Derbyshire Nottinghamshire

Please note:

Tel: 03333 214044


Help to Buy agents administer the Help to Buy: equity


loan scheme but not the mortgage guarantee scheme.


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


West Midlands

to purchase a home with help from the equity loan



scheme. The agents make other key decisions during



the purchase process. For the Help to Buy: mortgage







Essex Surrey Kent

Tel: 0300 790 0570

West Sussex

East Sussex

Cumbria Lancashire Merseyside


Greater Manchester Cheshire

Tel: 0300 100 0021


Cornwall Devon South Somerset

Tel: 0113 825 6888



Northumberland Tyne & Wear

Tel: 0800 456 11 88


North Yorkshire West Yorkshire


South Yorkshire


East Riding of Yorkshire

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

ADVERTISE IN THIS SPACE Speak to our advertising team to find out the best ways to give your organisation maximum exposure. Call 020 7258 1777 or email

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Swan Housing

Estuary Housing

Fusion Homes



020 8354 5500

0208 942 4062

0203 675 9933

0300 304 5000

Thames Valley Housing


020 3202 0263


033 3000 4000

0800 783 2159

Genesis Homes


Origin Housing 0300 323 0325

LONDON Catalyst Housing

Family Mosaic


Wandle Housing


020 7089 1315

0303 123 1890

Home Group

Paradigm Housing

0300 2000 116

0345 141 4663

0845 337 4877 0300 456 2099 East Thames

Flagship Homes


Hyde New Homes


Accent Group

0345 606 1221

020 7021 4842

Islington and Shoreditch

Places for People

01603 255 444

0345 678 0555 0300 303 7333

Guinness Partnership

020 8607 0550

LienViet Housing

Aster Group

Estuary Housing


01772 667049


020 7226 3753

01380 735 480 Sanctuary London sanctuary-homeownership.

Chelmer Housing




0800 916 1444

0300 100 0309

0300 304 5000

0300 555 0500 Site Sales

0800 783 2159 London and Quadrant

CHS Group

Family Mosaic

0208 502 5758

0300 456 9997

0300 111 3555 Shepherd’s Bush Housing

020 7089 1315 Metropolitan Home

Crown Simmons

Gateway Housing


020 8996 4200


020 3535 2555

020 8709 4300

01372 461 440 Southern Home Ownership

Newlon Housing Trust Genesis Homes


033 3000 4000

0800 058 2544

Guinness Partnership

Notting Hill Housing


0203 815 0000

0300 555 2171

0303 123 1890 Nu Living Hexagon

0800 819 9390

020 8778 6699

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Metropolitan Home

PA Housing

Southern Home Ownership



01932 235 801

0300 555 2171

0800 783 3097

020 3535 2555 Paradigm Housing

Sovereign Housing

Home Group


0845 337 4877

0300 330 0718

0345 141 1663

0300 323 0011 Peabody


Housing Solutions Group

Nu Living

020 7021 4444

01202 319 119

0800 876 6060

0800 819 9390 Places for People

Swan Housing


Hastoe Housing Association

Aster Group

0300 123 2250

01380 735 480 Knightstone Cornerstone Housing

08458 729 729

01392 273 462 Places for People CURO

01772 667049

01225 366 000

Hyde New Homes

One Housing Group


01772 667049


0345 606 1221

0300 123 9966

0300 303 2500

0800 0421 800

Rosebery Housing

Rooftop Housing Group

01752 856 037

Knightstone Housing



Thames Valley Housing



Elim Housing

020 3202 0263

01372 814 000

0800 131 3348

020 8607 0550

01454 411 172

01934 526 000

Sanctuary Southwest

Origin Housing

Sanctuary South East


Town and Country Housing


0300 323 0325

0800 131 3348

01684 272 727

01892 501 480

01249 465 465

0845 304 1002

Severn Vale Housing

Orwell Housing

Soha Housing

London and Quadrant


Worthing Homes

Guinness Partnership

01235 515 900


0845 712 5530

0300 456 9997

01473 218 818

01903 703 108

Sovereign Housing

0300 123 1890

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Wakefield and District

0345 601 9095

0345 678 0555

Metropolitan Home

Acis Group


0345 8507 507

Westward Housing

0800 027 2057

020 3535 2555

Housing 01202 319 119


NORTH EAST Broadacres

0300 100 1011 Midland Heart

Accent Group

01609 767 900 0345 678 0555

0345 60 20 540 Accent Group

Crucible Homes

Muir Group


0345 678 0555

0114 241 3430

Arcon Housing

Places for People

0344 800 3800


Equity Housing

Erimus Housing Ltd

01772 667049

0161 214 4120

0300 123 1222 Accord

Nottingham Community

0300 111 7000

Housing Association

0300 1234 460

0300 111 1000 Acis Group

Black Country Housing

(Northern Counties)

020 3096 7730


0300 00 44 444

0300 123 1890

Guinness Partnership

0344 736 0066

Headrow Limited

(Northern Counties)

0345 602 1120

0800 678 1221 PA Housing

0121 289 3956

0845 618 5008

0300 123 1890


01768 861 400

0345 155 9029

Equity Housing

Sanctuary North

0300 1234 460

0800 781 0401

Guinness Partnership


(Northern Counties)

Places for People

020 3202 0263

L & H Homes

0300 123 1890

01772 667049

Home Group

Home Group

Places for People

0800 085 2499

0345 141 1663

0345 141 1663

01772 667049 Caldmore Accord

Leeds Federated Housing


Riverside Housing


0300 111 7000


0300 300 1505

0113 386 1000

0345 155 9029


Rooftop Group

01332 346 477

0345 601 9095

Sanctuary North

0845 618 5008

Manningham Housing

0345 141 1663

0800 781 0401


Sanctuary Midlands


0300 123 6000

0800 131 3348

01274 771 144

Friendship Care and Housing

South Staffordshire

Muir Group

Housing Association

08456 019 095

0300 123 1222

0161 610 1000

0800 085 1171

0345 141 1663


01772 667049

WM Housing Group

0300 123 1890 0300 790 6531

Latimer 0845 304 1002


Knowsley Housing Trust


Rosa Homes 0151 290 7000

Accent Group

0845 077 0027

Liverpool Housing Trust

0345 678 0555

Sanctuary North

0151 708 2421

Adactus Housing Group

0800 781 0401

Muir Group

0300 111 1133

Stonewater L & H Homes

Accent Group

01202 319 119


Irwell Valley Housing

Places for People

03448 736 290

0300 111 1000 Association

Waterloo Housing

(Northern Counties)

Association (North East)

0800 435 016

Impact Housing Tees Valley Housing Group

Two Castles Housing

01785 312000 Home Group

Your Housing Group Home Group

0800 0421 800 East Midlands Housing

Riverside Housing Eden Housing Association

0116 257 6716 Bromford Group

Regenda Homes Contour Homes

Guinness Partnership

03333 204 555

Four Housing


Derwent Living Housing

Guinness Partnership

0115 844 3447 0800 027 2057

Progress Housing Group CDS Co-operatives

0300 123 1222

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Ross Smith is a Director at SiteSales Property Group which successfully delivers hundreds of sales each year for its clients across a range of tenures as well as providing advice throughout the entire development process. He started at SiteSales while studying for his degree but has gone on to help the organisation grow into what it is today - a multi-faceted business with a broad skill-set and large resources with a unique offer to its client base. Ross has also been influential in the evolution of Regenta Development, the property development arm of SiteSales that recently won Private Developer of the Year at this year’s FTB Readers’ Awards ceremony. Formed in 2013, Regenta focuses on delivering high-quality new homes across London and the South East and is also pioneering new models of developing genuinely affordable solutions aimed at key workers Tell us a little bit about Regenta Development In 2013 we created Regenta Development after seeing a gap in the market for small to medium-sized developers who could pick up land in the six to 20 unit category where there were not many players of note. We wanted to use our expertise gained through our experience at SiteSales to develop in our own right. Regenta’s roots are all about the smaller schemes but we are now working on solutions for land of up to 80 units. While our homes all have a top tier specification and are finished to a high quality, we ensure they are affordable too and are keen on having part of the programme as genuinely affordable by subsidising buyers' or renters' options. We have developed in London and the surrounding home counties and our geographical coverage is ever increasing as we seek out new land opportunities. What is your favourite development to date and what do you have coming up? I think our Gilpin Mews in Ware project stands out for me, as I have been involved from land acquisition to key handovers which will occur shortly. It is a gated development with intense attention to detail throughout – a scheme that will look good in 20, 30 and even 40 years’ time. We want to leave legacies not just generate


profit, hence the investment in nonessentials that really create a place. We were delighted to see the scheme fully sold out within two months of launching. We paid a lot of attention to the lifestyle aspect of selling the properties and commissioned a video depicting a young couple looking to purchase their first family home, which was very well received and created a real buzz prior to launch. Ware is a beautiful market town, steeped in history. It has great transport links into London while retaining that ever-important countryside feel – a real "best of both worlds" location. We have a few fantastic schemes in the pipeline, including one on an old NHS site in St Albans. The potential scheme will consist of a selection of one and two bedroom apartments in a superb location, close to several highly regarded schools, shops and the famous St Albans Cathedral. We’re looking at giving subsidised priority to key workers as well as creating our own affordable product, wholly subsidised by Regenta, to help these important people purchase their new homes. What are Regenta Development's plans for the future? We want to continue to establish the developer into a credible mid-market operator. By mid-market I mean 12 to 30-

unit schemes which are under £600,000 where we can, but with a social conscience as demonstrated by the St Albans sales/ rent model we are working on. Our goals and ambitions remain the same; to acquire land in desirable locations and create well-designed and well-constructed new homes. Through the relationships established with SiteSales, we are looking into joint venture opportunities with land owners to further expand on our offering for a variety of buyers. What advice could you give to first time buyers looking to buy a home? Predominantly to know and understand the different ways to purchase your first home. Through schemes such as Help to Buy and shared ownership your ability to get on the housing ladder is there, so long as you have the crucial element of a deposit to start with. If you do not, I would look further afield where you can have the lifestyle you want but perhaps with a longer commute. Overground is the way forward as time spent on travel is not necessarily wasted (you get a seat further out so you can work) and these locations can offer great value and potential. Having the right understanding about what you want and need against what you can afford will help ease your search. Potentially start with our panel of financial advisers to discuss this so that you’re totally comfortable about what is affordable for you. It’s important to manage expectations and to focus on lifestyle; what you want your new home to be rather than where you want it to be is a critical mindset. We can all dream, but it’s the living that counts. Dare I suggest you visit the SiteSales and Regenta websites too!

First Time Buyer June/July 2018

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First Time Buyer – June/July 2018  
First Time Buyer – June/July 2018