First-time buyers reveal how Help to Buy allowed them to nab their ideal homes

First-time buyers reveal how Help to Buy allowed them to nab their ideal homes

There’s just time to take advantage of the equity loan scheme, but you’ll have to be quick.

With the initiative ending in the next few months, it’s time to take advantage if you’re planning on doing so.

But if you’re undecided about whether Help To Buy is right for you, then you’ve come to the right place.

Along with a handy guide detailing the process, firsthand experiences of those who’ve done it will help you feel confident getting on the ladder.

We spoke to some of the first-time buyers who snapped up their first homes with help from the government scheme.

From the benefit of added space to needing a base with great transport connections, this is why they signed up to the scheme – and how it helped them save money.

Tayla: ‘I started looking in February and by July I’d signed on the dotted line’

The frequent trips to LA involved in her job as a TV industry executive meant that finding a home convenient for Heathrow airport was the number one priority for 31-year old Tayla Santillo.

‘I’m from Suffolk originally, and moved to London in 2013,’ she explains.

‘I rented all around, from Battersea to Stratford, but then had to give up my place because I was travelling so much. Staying with friends and family when I was in the UK made me realise I needed my own London base. I wanted to be in west London, close to Heathrow and on the Crossrail route.’

Tayla was drawn to Berkeley’s The Green Quarter in Southall due to its great location. ‘The last thing you want to do when you get off a long-distance flight is to travel an hour or two home,’ she says.

‘Heathrow is only 15 minutes by car, and the rail links are also very quick, made even better with the arrival of Crossrail. I loved the apartments at The Green Quarter straight away: the design and layouts were all stunning, and the kitchens are so clean and chic. Other developments in the area just didn’t compare to the quality or design.’

Having made up her mind that this was where she wanted to live, Tayla used Help to Buy to purchase a two-bedroom apartment for £519,350, paying the deposit of just over £25,000 with savings she had accumulated over the past five years.

‘When I started looking, I wasn’t even set on buying but I’d heard about the Help to Buy scheme,’ she says. ‘It’s often difficult to get on the property ladder without a huge deposit or help from parents, which I didn’t have. The fact that I could get a five-year interest-free loan from the government was a huge help – I couldn’t have done it without Help to Buy.

‘I started looking in February last year, and by the end of July, I’d signed on the dotted line.’

Tayla moved in January, and is already thinking about the future.

‘When I bought here I wanted a base for now, but also something that would increase in value over time,’ she says. ‘I knew that this area had huge potential. The plan is to stay for the long term and when the next phase is complete, I might even upsize to a three-bedroom.’

Some 3,750 homes, delivered in phases over the next 25 years, are being built at The Green Quarter, which is set to be one of the UK’s most biodiverse new housing schemes. The site will include parks and wetlands, and amenities such as a gym, concierge, a co-working space, restaurants, cafes and bars.

Two-bedroom apartments with balconies are for sale now, from £502,500 for a two-bedroom, and Help to Buy is on offer.

Do the maths: a one-bedroom apartment at The Green Quarter

Purchase price: £345,000

40% Help to Buy loan: £138,000

5% deposit: £17,250

Mortgage: approx. £914 pcm

Service charge: approx £121 pcm

Monthly spend: approx. £1,035

Vernon and Hazel: ‘We could leave our cramped studio apartment behind’

After renting a pricey studio in West Kensington for a number of years, Vernon Johnson, 31, and Hazel Fernandes, 29, wanted a place of their own with more space.

Their search led them to Hounslow, which is undergoing huge regeneration, and they ended up buying a one-bedroom flat at Barratt London’s High Street Quarter.

‘We were questioning whether to move to an outer borough as we loved Kensington – it was extremely convenient for work and had access to shops and open green space,’ says Vernon, a credit controller.

‘However, High Street Quarter gives us all this and more and the location was a massive pull for us both. There are two Tube stations – Hounslow Central and Hounslow East – under ten minutes from our front door that take us into central London in less than 40 minutes.

‘Having lived in Hounslow briefly before, we knew this was where we wanted to start our lives and buy our first property.

‘We were surprised to find out that such a spacious apartment was within our budget and added benefits like the large balcony meant we could leave our cramped studio apartment behind. I can honestly say we haven’t looked back.’

The couple were able to take advantage of the London Help to Buy scheme, putting down a 5% deposit of £17,050 to secure a one-bed apartment priced £341,000.

‘We hadn’t previously heard of Help to Buy, but after the positive impact it had on our experience, we’ve now recommended it to plenty of our friends,’ says Hazel, a corporate reception manager.

‘Even though we upsized from a studio to a one-bedroom apartment, our mortgage is less than our rent used to be. We’re investing in our future with every mortgage payment.’

High Street Quarter boasts a mix of one, two and three-bed apartments, each including a private balcony and an open-plan living area, and with shops, cafes and restaurants on the doorstep. Help to Buy is available on one and two-bed homes, starting from £326,000.

Do the maths: a two-bedroom apartment at High Street Quarter

Purchase price: £502,500

40% Help to Buy loan: £201,000

5% deposit: £25,125

Mortgage: £1,331

Service charge: £238

Monthly spend: approx. £1,569

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