A COUPLE in their 30s from Hertfordshire have finally got their first home 10 YEARS after they first started saving for a deposit.
Andrew Bourn, 31, and his partner Alex Clayton, 32, had never even moved out of their parents’ homes before buying their £230,000 one-bed flat in Potters Bar.
Gary Stone Andrew Bourn and his partner Alex Rowe got the keys to their one-bed flat in September last year
It took the pair, who met four years ago, a decade to save up the £40,000 they needed for just over a 17 per cent deposit on the flat they moved into in September last year.
Andrew received a hefty compensation pay-out of £13,000 after a car accident in October 2011, but says the remaining £26,100 came through the couple’s “hard work and sacrifices”.
While both now have “quite well-paid jobs” at graphics and bathroom companies, they saved much of their cash while working in lower-paid customer service roles at gym chain David Lloyd and Sainsbury’s.
Neither Alex or Andrew went to university, and so the couple stayed at home with their respective parents paying just £150 pounds a month each in rent until they were in their 30s.
They also made a conscious effort not to waste money on alcohol, food and nights out.
Gary Stone The pair both lived at home with their respective parents until they saved enough to buy
They also put their money into a Help To Buy Isa and saved over a number of years, meaning they were able to get an extra £4,000 from the Government.
Andrew sat down with The Sun as part of our My First Home series and told us the key to it is never giving up.
What is your house like and what did you pay for it?
We bought our flat in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire in September 2018.
It’s a one-bed flat on the first floor of a 1950s conversion, with a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living room.
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It’s also got a balcony, which is the perfect place to sit with a drink and unwind when the sun is beating down.
We paid £230,000 for the property, which is quite cheap really for what it is.
It’s a good size, and it’s got everything you need. We’re not thinking about kids any time soon so there is plenty of space.
Gary Stone They each took out a Help to Buy Isa to help them save
Gary Stone Since moving in, they’ve spend between £2,000 and £3,000 making it their own
We’ve spent around £2,000 to £3,000 in total since moving in – and we’ve managed to redecorate every room apart from the bathroom.
We’ve been quite clever about it. We didn’t like the kitchen tiles, but we knew it would be expensive to change them – so we went to B&Q and bought some tile paint.
It looks like a whole new kitchen.
We’ve also had some furniture donated, and there were a couple of bits here already – like a wardrobe.
My parents bought us a sofa, which was going to be the biggest expense, so that was helpful.
In fact, my dad has been a great help in general. He’s retired so he’s always on board to help around the house.
Gary Stone It’s the first time the couple have ever lived away from their parents’ homes
Gary Stone Alex worked weekends which helped her curb her spending
He fixed a tap last week, and has been working on a garden patch for the balcony. It’s been a real help.
How did you manage to save so much?
I received a £13,000 pay-out after a car accident in 2013, which was lucky in a way.
I chose to stay at home with my parents, rather than diving into an expensive rental, to try and put away as much as possible.
My job is quite well-paid, but I also sacrificed things like eating out and alcohol to try and put away as much as possible.
Alex was also living at her parents, but managed to save hers through hard work.
Gary Stone The flat has a private balcony which is great during summer
Gary Stone They both put £650 a month into a shared bank account to cover bills and the mortgage
She would work all weekend, she never went out and she managed to save up £20,000 in 10 years.
She was working at Sainsbury’s as a customer service adviser for a lot of the time, so it just shows it is possible if you put your mind to it.
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.
Help to Buy equity loan – The Government will lend you up to 20 per cent of the home’s value – or 40 per cent in London – after you’ve put down a five per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent of the property but you’re restricted to specific ones.
“First dibs” in London – London Mayor Sadiq Khan is working on a scheme that will restrict sales of all new-build homes in the capital up to £350,000 to UK buyers for three months before any overseas marketing can take place.
Starter Home Initiative – A Government scheme that will see 200,000 new-build homes in England sold to first-time buyers with a 20 per cent discount by 2020. To receive updates on the progress of these homes you can register your interest on the Starter Homes website.
We also got an extra £4,000 from the Government’s Help-To-Buy Isa, which was a big help.
Has it been expensive since moving in?
Aside from the money we’ve spent decorating it, the monthly costs are manageable – and probably less than if we were renting somewhere.
Gary Stone The couple have never rented anywhere because they wanted to own their own home
Gary Stone It was nine months between making an offer and getting the keys
Loads of people warned us about crippling mortgage repayments, but ours really isn’t too bad.
Alex and I each put £650 into a shared bank account every month, and that covers all of our living costs – from the mortgage, to food and expenses.
I pay an extra £20 a month for Sky Sports, but it’s really not as bad as I was expecting. It’s very manageable.
We are lucky I suppose, as Alex is doing really well at her job and has had a good pay-rise – and my job is quite well-paid. So it’s very manageable for us.
Was it an easy process?
It took a lot longer than we expected and at times it felt like the estate agents messed us around a bit.We said we wanted to put an offer down as soon as we viewed the property, but it took ages for people to get back to us.
It felt a bit like we weren’t a priority, because we were only buying a one-bed flat for £230,000, rather than a million-pound house.
Gary Stone The couple couldn’t afford to replace the tiles so instead they painted them
Gary Stone The flat cost them £230,000 and they used £40,000 for a deposit
Gary Stone The couple reckon anyone can do it as long as they save hard and “make some sacrifices”
Sometimes we would go weeks without hearing anything, it felt quite touch and go at points. It would always be us contacting them, and not the other way around.
In the end, it took about nine months between putting in an offer and getting the keys.
Trussle, the fee-free online mortgage broker, was a huge help – it made the whole process much more stress-free, and it could take control of things when we weren’t sure what to do.
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We also felt Trussle kept us informed throughout the process, when the estate agents were hard to get hold of.What would you advise others who want to buy their first home?
I’d say just do it. People used to say things to me like “are you sure it’s the right time” and “maybe you should wait”, but there’s never a right time really.
If you have the savings, and you think you can do it – then just go for it.
And it’s hard, but it’s possible to save up for a deposit. You just have to make some sacrifices.
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