Welcome back to What I Own.
We’re in West Sussex this week – specifically Haywards Heath – chatting to Adi and Oli about getting on the property ladder.
Adi and her partner Oli bought their three-bed flat earlier this year, as first-time buyers.
They put down a £20,000 deposit and used the Help to Buy scheme – this is what they had to say about their experience.
Tell us about yourself, Adi.
We are Adi (35) and Oli (32). I am a product manager in the automotive industry and Oli is a mechanic in a car dealership. My job is mainly home-based with a couple of visits to the London and Hook’s offices per week. Oli is fully field-based.
Our property is in Haywards Heath which is a convenient location for us. With easy access to M23 and M25 and with direct trains to London every 10-15 minutes.
Where is your property? What do you think of the area?
The property is in the residential area of Haywards Heath but only a 20-minute walk from the town centre. I understand it was built on former farmland, with plenty of green and woods around us. The train station is a 30-minute walk or a short car journey. We love the area because it is very peaceful.
Having moved from a town center where there was constant noise from bars and restaurants, we have been truly enjoying the quiet evenings and nights in the new house. With plenty of green spaces in the vicinity, I’ve taken lunchtime walks to another level.
When did you move in?
April 1, 2022.
How much does your property cost?
How much was your deposit?
£20,000 deposit, plus a help to buy equity loan.
What is the monthly cost of living here now; both mortgage and bills?
£1,500 (excluding food, but including all the rest of bills: energy, broadband, council tax and insurance).
How did you save up for your deposit?
It was all personal savings. It took time but also for a while we didn’t know what we were saving for. We just put money aside. It was a dream of mine to have my own property – but not so much a goal. That’s why the savings were only earmarked as deposit savings a year before we bought.
In my head, I saw buying a property as something unattainable, or obtainable at the cost of a lot of stress.
What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you? Did you find any parts challenging?
The buying process was far from painful. We had an appointment with Barratt’s sales office (the home construction company) in the middle of February and by April we had moved in. We didn’t really look elsewhere. We liked the area, we liked the service we received from Pina, who managed the sales process on Barratt’s end.
They recommended solicitors, who we are left in owe with. Yes, there was the stress of entering an unfamiliar process but incomparable to some of the horror stories we had heard. We appointed a mortgage broker to help us source the mortgage.
Everybody in the process gave us clear instructions on what was next so we knew what we had to do. I did some reading and watched some video content to help me understand some of the details before even entering the homebuyer life.
Where did you live before this – were you renting or living with family?
Renting in a town 30 minutes away. Blessed with the best landlord alive, however, it was time for an upgrade.
What made you want to buy rather than rent?
It was only when I calculated how much money went into rent for the years we rented – money that isn’t coming back.
Renting has its limitations too – how you design your space is not always a straightforward thing.
The rental property was a flat and small for family to visit and stay for a few days. The location was great at first but as local pubs changed ownership the nights became unbearable. And after spending lockdown working from home, I felt I needed some outdoor space where I could sit in and escape the kitchen, which I had turned into an office.
How did you find this property? What made you choose it?
Friends had bought in the same development a year and a bit prior to us so they recommended it to us. So far it has been a great decision.
How have you made the property feel like home?
It has some way to go before it can fully feel like home but the simple fact that we are in control of how our home is going to look has given us a head-start.
For starters, I am very much enjoying the absence of the magnolia walls that came with the flat.
I’ve always wanted a light-coloured floor and now I have it. The majority of the furniture is new and it brought joy actually caring about what furniture to pick. It’s not something I worried about while renting. Both our families came to visit and brought flowers from home to plant in the front garden.
What’s the inspiration for your interior decor style?
I don’t quite know what the style is called, but my take on the name is ‘mid-modern bling.’ It is modern but not on the tech level of modern and it has just a little bit of sparkle – but not too much.
What’s your favorite room and why?
That’s a hard question as I like them all. I like the kitchen as it is separated from the lounge, but it is spacious enough for a six-seater table. The living room is coming along nicely too, however, it’d look better once the cheaper-end IKEA furniture is replaced with something better. I enjoy the master bedroom, the white bed will absolutely anchor the room once we can paint.
Do you feel like you have enough space?
For now, yes.
It is a small three-bed, however, there’s enough space to keep the home free of clutter. My only wish is that there was a little more space for more furniture in the master bedroom but certainly not a deal-breaker.
Do you have plans to change the property?
The change has just begun – when moving into a new property it takes time to get a feel for the place and picture how it is going to look.
The walls are yet to be painted, I am a huge fan of Venetian plaster. Shelves and wall art is yet to be put in. The garden will also undergo a lift-up – patio, seating area, and plants. So board the loft.
But we haven’t planned any structural changes to the house. We like it as it is.
Are there any problems with the property that you have to deal with?
Every new build goes through a period where the building settles, so there are small cracks here and there which will get rectified. We’ve been super happy with the level given to us by the site manager Sammi and all the contractors.
The little issues that we have are being rectified. Since we bought off-plan and near completion of the building work, we didn’t get the chance to customize much of the interior of the house so there has been some DIY which we enjoy – eg tiles all the way up to the ceiling in the family bathroom, the downstairs floor, etc.
What do you want people to know about buying a home?
When choosing the home new builds are great. I was nervous because of the stigma attached to new builds, but we couldn’t imagine ourselves going through the stress of renovating an older property. New builds also benefit from Help to Buy, for those who can’t afford to save for a full deposit as quick as the house prices increase.
In the buying process – my learnings from the whole process were: to keep the credit score in good nick; Provision for outgoings above and beyond the deposit – stamp duty, solicitors and brokers fees, customizations of the property, furniture etc – and if you could, give yourself a sufficient time to move, we didn’t and it was exhausting.
When making it feel like home – shop around and DIY. We didn’t buy from any of the high street furniture chains and fitted blinds, and floors, build sheds and wardrobes all ourselves. Fast fashion furniture helps if you easily get bored of one style and like to experiment.
What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing? Do you plan to stay here long term?
Perhaps go for a detached home with a garage but likely buy a new build again. It is too soon to think of how long we plan on living in our current home.
Do you want to feature 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 [email protected]
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 protected]
Shall we take a look around?
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