Welcome back to What I Own, Metro.co.uk’s weekly homeowner series.
This time we’re talking to Beth – who bought a house in Staffordshire through shared ownership in late 2019.
She’s even started her own Instagram page @solo_ledbury, to inspire other solo buyers on a budget.
This is what Beth had to say about her experience of getting on the property ladder…
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m 28 and I’m a forensic scene investigator for Warwickshire Police – and before you ask, no, it’s nothing like CSI!
Where is your property? What do you think of the area?
My house is on a new build estate in Tamworth, Staffordshire. I’ve lived in Tamworth most of my life, but I particularly love this estate we have moved to.
It’s a lovely area and there is an amazing sense of community here. Everyone is always willing to help each other out.
When did you move in?
We moved here in November 2019.
How much does your property cost?
The property value was £230,000. Due to it being shared ownership, the value of what I own is £80,500 and I pay rent on the rest.
How much was your deposit?
I paid a 10% deposit so it was £8,050.
What is the monthly cost of living here now; both mortgage and bills?
Previously, I paid £650 a month for my three-bed rented property. This was actually a bargain as my rent hadn’t increased in years.
Now I pay £670 for my rent and mortgage combined, so not a huge difference. My bills are all similar too, although I’ve jumped up two bands for council tax so that is quite a bit more expensive.
How did you save up for your deposit?
Saving up for a deposit was difficult due to being a solo buyer and also paying out rent for the last seven years. It took a lot of saving a being strict.
I was also incredibly lucky that my dad gifted me £2,000 towards it. In the end, a lower percentage shared ownership was the most viable option for me, as a larger deposit just wasn’t feasible.
What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you?
Getting a mortgage was incredibly difficult for me. Ideally I wanted a 95% mortgage but very few banks would offer this on a new build shared ownership property. I was also on maternity leave at the time of applying so my income was lower than it would usually be. I found it very frustrating that so many banks were saying it wouldn’t be able to afford mortgage payments that were less than the rent I’d been paying for the last seven years with no issues.
It was a really stressful time and there were so many occasions where I thought this was just never going to happen for me.
Where did you live before this?
Prior to buying my first house, I’d privately rented for seven years.
What made you want to buy?
The penny dropped for me when I added up how much I’d spent on rent over the past seven years – it was over £50,000.
I couldn’t believe I’d paid all that money towards someone else’s mortgage and had nothing to show for it. Nothing to leave my children if god forbid the worst happened. Plus I wanted to freedom to decorate or invest in the property.
How did you find this property? What made you choose it?
I found the property on Rightmove. It was one of only very few shared ownership properties available in the area, especially as I needed three bedrooms. I was worried that I’d very the property and not like it, especially as it was smaller than where I was renting at the time, as there weren’t very many other options out there.
Luckily though, I viewed it and instantly loved it. It felt like home immediately.
How have you made the property feel like home?
I’ve poured most of my time, effort and money into making the house a home over the last 18 months. I’ve always been on a tight budget being a solo home owner and single parent, so I’ve had to be pretty savvy when it comes to decorating and furnishing a new home.
I’ve done all the DIY, painted my own art work and I’m currently doing my first furniture up-cycle. I absolutely love the house and love adding to it. It makes me proud every time I come home.
Do you feel like you have enough space?
Even though the property is actually a lot smaller than our old rented property, I feel like I’ve utilised the space much better and it feels like we have more room. All thanks to a good clear out and then some smart storage solutions, especially when it’s comes to kids toys.
Do you have plans to change the property?
No plans for any massive structural changes to the property, just forever decorating and faffing. I’m obsessed with Pinterest and Instagram for home inspiration so I’m constantly thinking of new things I could be doing. I even created my own page to hopefully inspire other solo buyers on a budget.
Are there any problems with the property that you have to deal with?
We’ve had the usual snags that new builds have, including cracks and a leak into the kitchen. But the housing association and builders have been brilliant fixing everything promptly – there’s been no issues with regards to that.
What do you want people to know about buying a home?
I’d definitely encourage anyone to try and buy a house if it’s what they want to do. Don’t be put off because of a low income or being a solo buyer – shared ownership is a great route to go down if you can’t get a mortgage for the whole property. And there is no better feeling than knowing you have worked hard and own your own property.
Honestly, getting on the property ladder is one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Do you plan to stay here long term?
I absolutely love this house and definitely don’t want to move any time soon. However it is a small house, so I’d imagine once the kids grow up we will have outgrown it. It’s not my forever home but I’d like to be here for 5-10 years.
Shall we take a look around?
How to get involved in What I Own:
What I Own is a Metro.co.uk series that takes you inside people’s properties, to take an honest look at what it’s like to buy a home in the UK. If you own your home and would be up for sharing your story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’ve paid to live there and how you afforded the deposit, as that’s pretty important.
If you’re renting, you can take part too! What I Own runs alongside What I Rent, which is the same series but all about renting. Again, if you’d like to get involved just email email@example.com.