How we upgraded from a tiny Stockwell flat to buying our family home

The Koteys now have three bedrooms, two parking spaces and a big garden. (Picture: Matt Reading / Barratt Development PLC)

The Koteys now have three bedrooms, two parking spaces and a big garden (Picture: Matt Reading / Barratt Development PLC)

Even with a £30,000 deposit, college tutor Richard Kotey and his wife Alice, a support worker, were unable to afford to buy a home in south London.

They had been renting a one-bedroom flat in Stockwell from a housing association, but the arrival of their daughter Jonette, now two, made them rethink their plans.

‘We wanted to get on to the property ladder, but prices around there just kept going up and up,’ says Richard, pictured above with Alice and Jonette.

‘We’d saved hard for a deposit, and had put away just over £30,000, but couldn’t find anywhere in London within our price range. As we really wanted to buy the whole of our home, rather than opt for shared ownership, we started to look a bit further afield.’

When the couple found Barratt Homes’ Linmere development in Hougton Regis, Bedfordshire, it ticked the right boxes. It offered an easy commute into London where they both work, and by combining their deposit with a Help to Buy equity loan they were able to afford a three-bed, semi-detached house with a garden and two allocated parking spaces for the price of a small flat in the capital.

The Help to Buy scheme provides a government loan of 20 per cent of the cost of a new-build to first-time buyers with a five per cent deposit, enabling them to apply for 75 per cent mortgages. It’s available on selected homes only, and the loan is interest-free for five years and paid back on the sale of the property, though this can be done sooner.

The development

?We moved out of London to get the space we wanted? Barratt Homes at Linmere

It’s so spacious (Picture: Barratt Development)

Barratt Homes at Linmere is part of new mixed-use community set in 90 acres of parkland which will see 5,150 homes with amenities such as co-working spaces, shops, schools, playgrounds, a pub and cafe.

Services to St Pancras take 45 minutes from Leagrave station, a ten-minute drive or 15-minute cycle ride away, and a new M1 junction is close by.

Three-bed houses similar to the Kotey’s have sold out, but one and two-bed apartments are available with Help to Buy, from £217,500 and £268,500 respectively, and four-bedroom houses start at £445,000. Find out more with Barratt Homes.

Different price caps apply across England’s nine regions, ranging from £186,100 in the north east to £600,000 in London, where the maximum Help to Buy loan is doubled to 40 per cent. In the east of England, where the Koteys bought, the threshold is £407,400.

However, Help to Buy ends next March and prospective buyers who plan to utilise it must reserve a home before October 31.

Richard and Alice made the biggest purchase of their lives without a single in-person visit. Distance and lockdown restrictions made viewings difficult, and they bought off-plan.

‘We looked at the online virtual viewing which helped us to see how nicely finished it all was and what it would be like living there,’ says Richard. ‘We had wanted to view, but in the end we didn’t manage it but were happy with everything when we moved here in December.’

They’re happy to have moved to a fast-growing new neighbourhood. ‘The development as a whole is interesting, and when finished it will be a full-blown community so a lot of people will come here,’ adds Richard.

‘Our house is close to the shopping centre and there’s a nursery and a school already open, a Lidl just up the road and a play area nearby. Not everything has been completed yet, but in a couple of years it will all be up and running.

‘The price point was right for us, and we know with all the facilities on offer that the value of our home will go up quickly, so it’s a good investment for the future.’

Do the maths

For a two-bed apartment

Purchase price: £268,500

5 per cent deposit: £13,425

20 per cent Help to Buy loan: £53,700

Mortgage: Approximately £923pcm

Service charge: Approximately £81pcm

Monthly spend: Approximately £1,004

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