WHEN Priti Vilankar lost her job in July 2019 she was worried that her plan to buy a house with her husband Akshay would be delayed.
But she quickly secured a new role and used the £8,500 redundancy payout to help boost their savings for a deposit for their first-home.
Priti and Akshay, aged 34 and 36, also ditched holidays in a bid to save at least £1,000 a month towards their deposit.
As they had some money in savings, they needed to save a grand a month to get the £24,000 deposit in 15 months to buy their £480,000 two-bed flat in Hounslow, west London.
This meant Akshay took on extra shifts working 16 hours a week at fast food chain Nando's on top of his full-time job. They moved in to their new home in September last year.
By making the most of the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, their mortgage repayments are now just £850 a month.
This is around £500 less compared to the rent they paid previously for a two-bed in the same area.
Priti and Akshay work at a pawnbroker and luxury London hotel respectively, and have a combined income of around £52,000.
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We had a chat with Priti for The Sun’s My First Home series after the couple settled into their forever home.
Tell me about your home
It’s a two-bedroom flat on the ninth floor of a newly built building by Baratt in Hounslow, west London.
The flat has a beautiful view over the whole of London, I can see the London Eye and the Shard from my balcony.
It has two bathrooms and it’s open plan between the kitchen and living room.
How much did you pay for it?
We paid £480,000 for the property and put down a £24,000 deposit.
We borrowed £216,000 through the Help to Buy scheme, so our mortgage is just £264,000.
Thanks to this, our mortgage repayments are now £830 a month, compared to £1,350 when we were renting a two-bedroom flat.
We took out the mortgage over 30 years and at a five-year fixed rate.
How did you save for the deposit?
We reserved the property in February 2019, and then had about 15 months to get our deposit together.
We already had some savings, but then decided to put aside at least £1,000 a month after council tax, rent and everything else was paid for.
Then I got redundant in August 2019, which actually helped as I got a redundancy payout of £8,500 that I added straight to my savings.
I'd been working as a business manager at The Money Shop for six years when I lost my job.
I was initially a bit worried that I wouldn’t find a job, but then started a new job with the same package a day after my redundancy notice period.
I got a job as cluster manager at H&T Pawnbrokers, where I manage a number of stores and teams.
We love travelling abroad and used to travel to different countries in Europe each month.
But when we reserved the property, we decided to stop travelling altogether and save that money instead.
My husband also worked extra at Nando’s earning £9.15 an hour.
So whenever he was off from his main job at Brown’s hotel, he’d work at Nando’s and do around 16 hours a week. That also went straight to our savings.
We also used to save money in India, where we’re from, and invest in property there, but we stopped this too.
This was around £700 a month and we saved this in the UK instead.
We're proud because we haven't taken any help from our family, and we’ve managed to buy our own property in the UK.
We have a combined income of around £52,000 a year.
How did you decide on the area?
We lived in Hounslow before we bought too. My husband was very stubborn that he wanted to stay in Hounslow itself.
Where we live, everything’s closeby. We’ve got Hounslow East station and Hounslow Central station nearby.
The high street is a minute walk away and we’ve got a big 24 hours Asda opposite our building. We wanted to stay in the heart of everything.
Did you have any problems buying the property?
The process got a bit delayed due to lockdown. Initially we were supposed to move in May, then it was June, then July etcetera.
Because we kept on telling our landlady we were going to move, she eventually really wanted us to leave in September.
She had family coming here from abroad for studies.
We weren’t supposed to get our keys until October, but Baratt then let us move in early before everybody else as we’d otherwise be homeless for a month.
How did you afford to furnish it?
We rented our previous flat furnished, so we had to buy each and every furniture when we moved in.
I’m the kind of person who wants everything new if I move into a new house.
As lockdown happened in March, everything was online so I made the most of Easter sales.
I was fortunate enough that whatever I ordered fit in perfectly in the flat.
What help is out there for first-time buyers?
GETTING on the property ladder can feel like a daunting task but there are schemes out there to help first-time buyers have their own home.
Help to Buy Isa – It's a tax-free savings account where for every £200 you save, the Government will add an extra £50. But there's a maximum limit of £3,000 which is paid to your solicitor when you move. These accounts have now closed to new applicants but those who already hold one have until November 2029 to use it.
Help to Buy equity loan – The Government will lend you up to 20% of the home's value – or 40% in London – after you've put down a 5% deposit. The loan is on top of a normal mortgage but it can only be used to buy a new build property.
Lifetime Isa – This is another Government scheme that gives anyone aged 18 to 39 the chance to save tax-free and get a bonus of up to £32,000 towards their first home. You can save up to £4,000 a year and the Government will add 25% on top.
Shared ownership – Co-owning with a housing association means you can buy a part of the property and pay rent on the remaining amount. You can buy anything from 25% to 75% of the property but you're restricted to specific ones.
Mortgage guarantee scheme – The scheme opens to new 95% mortgages from April 19 2021. Applicants can buy their first home with a 5% deposit, it's eligible for homes up to £600,000.
I managed to get 15% off on some items, so I got discounts worth hundreds of pounds from DFS, Dwell and Wayfair and Amazon.
As our move-in date was delayed by three months, we had extra savings from that period so we could buy even more furniture for the house.
Are you planning to stay there for a long time?
I’m never going to leave this flat, I don’t think. I’m really happy with it.
If I buy a second house, it’s going to be in the countryside and my holiday home.
What is your advice to other first time buyers?
I always tell people and my friends to not listen to anyone. Instead, go and do research yourself about the Help to Buy scheme and how to buy a property.
Don’t jump in that well, you won’t know how deep it is.
We never planned to buy a property in this country, but we didn’t realise how easy it is.
I used to pay £1,350 for a rented flat and now I’m paying £850 for my own property. Before I was just paying off someone else’s mortgage.
Switching energy tariff and batch cooking helped another couple buy their three-bed first home.
Meanwhile, a third couple bought a £23,000 house boat as their first home – but they're saving up for a house.
Plus, one family of five bought £3,55 four-bed first home with money from car boot sales and getting rid of a motor.
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