AN accountant from Greenwich who spent a decade saving £28,000 for a house deposit has shared her tips on how to buy a house.
Stacey Daniels, 27, moved to the outskirts of Kent to buy a two-bedroom flat earlier this month with her graphic designer boyfriend Mark Gould, 29 for £280,000.
12 Stacey and Mark moved into their flat only a few weeks agoCredit: Vickie Flores – The Sun
Shockingly, it takes first-time buyers in London up to 17 years to save a house deposit.
But despite living with her grandparents in Greenwich since she was a teenager, Stacey still couldn’t afford to buy in London where the average price of a two-bed flat is £680,377, according to Zoopla.
Stacey knew she could save more by moving out of the city but with jobs in central London moving far away wasn’t going to be possible.
Eventually, the couple settled on Sidcup in Kent – although it’s also in the London borough of Bexley – a 50 minute commute to the office and just 10 miles away from Greenwich.
12 The couple used all of Stacey’s £28,000 savings for a 10 per cent depositCredit: Vickie Flores – The Sun
Over the years Stacey put away between £500 and £800 a month into a savings account and a Help To Buy Isa, by cutting back on clothes shopping and not going on holiday.
She also made sure not to increase her outgoings every time she got a promotion at work to help her save even more.
Stacey met Mark over a year ago on a dating site, and even though he had zero savings, she decided to put the whole 10 per cent deposit down herself – although they own the new place together.
Just weeks after getting the keys, the couple are still in the midst of decorating their house.
We caught up with Stacey for this week’s instalment of My First Home.
What is your property like and what did you pay for it?
We picked up the keys to our two-bedroom flat in Sidcup, Kent, earlier this month so we’re still unpacking boxes.
12 Stacey reckons the block of flats that was built in the 1970s is “quite ugly”Credit: Vickie Flores – The Sun
12 They had to spend £300 on a washing machine after their old one brokeCredit: Vickie Flores – The Sun
The 1970s-block of flats is actually quite ugly! But inside the flat is lovely.
Every room is spacious and there is lots of storage space. The spare bedroom even has a walk-in wardrobe.
There’s a little balcony that catches the sun in the morning so I think we will be having breakfast out there when the weather gets better.
The living room is my favourite. It needed a bit more work – Mark gave the ceiling and walls three coats of paint.
We got a new TV and sofa so it feels really nice and modern.
The garden’s on one side are well-kept and we have a parking space in the basement car park. We are only six-minute walk from Sidcup station which is a plus.
Let’s talk money. How did you pay for it?
We paid £280,000 for the flat with a £28,000 deposit – so that’s a 10 per cent deposit.
12 The spare room has a walk-in wardrobeCredit: Vickie Flores – The Sun
I saved the money myself over 10 years – including £9,000 in a Help to Buy Isa that I’ve been putting money into over the last 5 years.
The government bonus was £2,250 which we used to cover the solicitor’s fees.
I have been very lucky. I have lived with my grandparents for 10 years and paid a minimal rent of £200 a month.
I have never had a strategy for saving – I have just been sensible with my cash.
I never missed out on anything but then again I didn’t spend on expensive clothes or go travelling like most of my friends.
I started out as an assistant accountant on a salary of £18,000 and as I got older I was able to save more as I got little pay rises. I am now on just over £32,000.
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.
I always work out what I need for the month – and for the weekends – and then save as much as I can.
I put away between £500 and £800 a month. It all depends on what I am doing from month to month.
We got a 35-year mortgage for £252,000 with Nationwide which gave us £500 cashback.
Our monthly payments are £860. We also pay a £160 monthly maintenance charge which covers the cost of maintaining the building.
If we were renting a similar property in the area we would pay £1,200 a month so we’re actually saving money by buying somewhere.
You weren’t tempted to buy a bit further out?
We heard from a lot of people that we could get a three or four-bedroom house further in Kent for the same money.
12 They got the news to their first home together at the beginning of this monthCredit: Vickie Flores – The Sun
12 Mark used to be a professional decorator so he’s taking on the cosmetic work himselfCredit: Vickie Flores – The Sun
But we both work in London – I work in Mayfair and Mark works in Canning Street.
A £600-a-month-mortgage might be cheaper but a train ticket could be £800 a month.
You have to really weigh it up and for us we physically couldn’t do it.
When we were looking we were always wanting to know how far the station was and what the commute would be like.
We would rather pay more in mortgage payments, get a smaller place near to London and spend less time commuting than move out to the sticks.
We know quite a few couples who are first-time buyers in Sidcup – it seems like something people are doing. And although it’s in Kent, it’s technically a London Borough.
How did you afford to furnish the flat?
We have had some amazing presents from family and friends when we moved in which has really helped us save money.
My boss gifted us a TV and my grandad bought me a matching footstool for our sofa.
12 They paid for the sofa on 0 per cent finance deal that they will pay off over two yearsCredit: Vickie Flores – The Sun
Mark’s mum gave us all of Mark’s bedroom furniture, a friend bought us a bed and his brother bought us a kettle as a housewarming gift.
We bought a television unit second-hand from eBay for £130 with delivery – I am really proud of that buy as it is still selling for over £500 in shops.
We also paid for a new sofa on credit with a 10 per cent deposit and paying the rest on zero percent finance over two years.
My brother who is a strong guy has been lugging boxes for me so that has saved us some money on a removal firm.
We are quite lucky that Mark used to be a decorator so we didn’t have to pay a tradesman to do the work.
12 Mark and Stacey are saving up £3,000 to renovate the bathroomCredit: Vickie Flores – The Sun
12 It’s a two-bed flat with a lot of storage space and a private balconyCredit: Vickie Flores – The Sun
The building is 50 years old so he has had to do quite a few wall fillings.
He has also given the flat a lick of paint throughout and only has the landing to do. It makes it look and feel like our own.
Our only big spend has been on a £300 washing machine as the one we had broke on us.
We also had to spend £600 fixing a few dodgy windows that the seller wouldn’t agree to fixing before we bought it.
We want to refurbish the flat so our first project will be the bathroom but we’ll need to save £3,000 for that.Did it bother you that you put down the whole deposit?
It didn’t bother me as I’d always been saving to buy somewhere – he’s a lucky guy!
I told Mark in December that he needed to start saving. He has always lived with his parents and only paid £160 a month in rent.
He was never great at putting money away but he transferred £500 to me that month to keep hold of.
12 Mark has painted the whole flat making it look and feel like their ownCredit: Vickie Flores – The Sun
That just kick-started things for him. Since January he has saved £500 a month and now has £3,000.
He thinks it can become quite addictive once you start seeing the money mount up.
We set up a joint account a month ago. He put in that £3,000 and I matched it so we have £6,000 in that account.
We wanted to make ensure money is there if things go wrong – like it did with the washing machine.What was it like finally getting the keys?
I have never been so excited in my life.
12 They home to live in the flat for five years at leastCredit: Vickie Flores – The Sun
We couldn’t believe we went to the estate agent and they passed the keys over. It was surreal.
We really love it too so we’re hoping to be here for another five years at least.Have you got any advice for first-time buyers?
Take your time. You have to see a few properties first to get a feel for what you want.
And I think you do know the right place when you walk in like we did when we saw this place.
Try to find a good mortgage adviser as well. Ours was really helpful and I didn’t feel embarrassed to ask anything.
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No question was too silly to ask which gave me a lot of confidence.
Everyone should open a Help To Buy Isa too, before the November 30 2019 deadline, even if you don’t use it.
The interest if good and you can always use the cash for something else if you don’t want to use it to buy a house.
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