This is What I Own.
If you’re new here, we take you inside the home of a different homeowner every week. This time it’s the turn of Carl, who moved into his Hertfordshire flat last year.
He was a first-time buyer who used shared ownership to get on the ladder as a single income household.
This is what he had to say about his buying experience…
Tell us about yourself.
I am 32, I’m a teacher at a social, emotional and mental health school and I am based in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.
Where is your property? What do you think of the area?
My property is in Hertfordshire, about half an hour out of London. I love the area, it’s very quiet and the people are friendly. Transport links are good, there’s hardly ever any traffic and most of my friends had moved out of London – so I’m closer to most of them now.
When did you move in?
I moved in June 2021.
How much does your property cost?
How much was your deposit?
What is the monthly cost of living here now; both mortgage and bills?
How did you save up for your deposit?
Lockdown definitely helped as I was able to save more than half of my income a month. As I wasn’t able to go out for almost six months, it was easy to save.
What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you? Did you find any parts challenging?
It wasn’t too bad. I had a mortgage in principle but the company then weren’t able to offer the mortgage as they had oversubscribed the development so it went through about three other companies before it was secured – but I had a broker who dealt with it all, which was great. The process itself was very easy.
Where did you live before this – were you renting or living with family?
What made you want to buy rather than renting?
I had set myself a goal to be a homeowner in 2021 and never even considered renting. I wanted somewhere to call my own.
How did you find this property? What made you choose it?
I used the ‘share to buy’ website and checked it regularly and this was a new-build development and the deposit was reasonable and the expected monthly costs were achievable on a single income.
I looked at four different flats in this development but this one had an en-suite bathroom and had a great view out of the balcony doors. The light that comes in in the mornings sold it for me also.
How have you made the property feel like home?
I haven’t fully put my stamp on it yet. It was all brand new when I moved in so I’ve put in my furniture and some pictures but, in terms of decorating, I haven’t done anything yet.
My plan is to decorate in the summer – after I’ve been here for a year.
What’s the inspiration for your interior decor style?
I’ve kept everything black. I like darker colours, it’s basically an IKEA showroom. I’ve kept it simple as it’s my first home so I don’t really have a style yet – I’m sure I’ll develop one over the next few years.
What’s your favourite room and why?
Definitely my living room. I love my sofas and my TV set-up. The unit houses my rum collection. I also like that it’s open-plan so when I have friends and family round, I can still socialise while I’m cooking. Also, it lets in the most light as I have patio doors and windows on two walls so the view is great, too.
Do you feel like you have enough space?
At the moment yes. My second bedroom comes in handy for guests, as well as my trainer and aftershave collection.
Do you have plans to change the property?
Just plans to decorate within the next few months to add some more personality to the rooms.
Are there any problems with the property that you have to deal with?
I think I’ve been lucky that it has been plain sailing since moving in.
What do you want people to know about buying a home?
It’s definitely a great feeling the day you go to pick up your keys. Also if you can, start buying things before you’ve even found a place you like. I had almost everything for my kitchen at my parents’ house before I even started viewing properties, so when I moved in I didn’t have to buy much as I had almost everything I needed.
Also, sometimes it was a real test of patience waiting for mortgage companies and solicitors but it was worth it in the end.
And measure everything twice. My fridge almost didn’t fit in my front door.
What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing? Do you plan to stay here long term?
I plan to stay here for a few more years, by then I’ll probably be settled down with kids and a dog who knows – so will need somewhere bigger and maybe a little closer to London.
Shall we take a look around?
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]
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