Welcome back to What I Own – Metro.co.uk’s weekly homeowner diary series.
This week we chat to 26-year-old Steph who lives with her partner Lance.
The couple put down a deposit on their South East London house last year and have been hard at work renovating the property, to put their own stamp on it.
While they still have a little more work to do, the pair’s efforts have certainly paid off.
This is what they had to say about their buying experience…
Tell us about yourself
I’m Steph, a 26-year-old management consultant and my partner’s name is Lance – he’s a 28-year-old mechanical project engineer.
Lance is originally from South West London and I’m an ex-North Londoner who moved to Hertfordshire. We met at university back in 2012 and last year purchased our first home in South East London.
We actually tracked and vlogged the whole process of buying and renovating our first home on Instagram and YouTube (@hsresidence).
Whereabouts is your property? What do you think of the area?
Our property is on the outskirts of South East London within Zone 6. Neither of us are from this area or have any family or friends in this area, but knew that it had good transport links and was still relatively cheap compared to inner-city London.
The area has a strong sense of community and is still diverse enough for us to get plantain on the high street.
When did you move in?
We completed on our house in March 2020, spent three months renovating and moved in properly in June 2020.
How much does your property cost?
How much was your deposit?
We put down a 10% deposit, which was £37,000.
What is the monthly cost of living here now; both mortgage and bills?
Between us we pay around £1500 pcm, just over £1000 for our mortgage and just under £500 for bills.
How did you save up for your deposit?
We were both fortunate enough to be able to move back in with our parents once we’d finished university in 2015. This meant that we had no expenses that come from living alone (rent, bills etc) and were able to put money into a savings account monthly once we started working.
As we moved around workwise, our salaries increased which meant the money we were able to save increased. By 2020, we had managed to save enough for a deposit plus renovation costs.
What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you? Did you find any parts challenging?
Getting a mortgage was relatively straightforward for us as, apart from student loans, neither of us really had any debts. The most challenging part was probably waiting for the mortgage offer to come through and having to provide a complete breakdown of all of our spending and how we managed to accumulate our savings.
Where did you live before this – were you renting or living with family?
We were both at home living with our parents.
What made you want to buy rather than renting?
For us, we always knew we wanted to own our own property. Generational wealth is something very important to us, and we knew we wanted to start creating generational wealth as soon as possible.
Neither of us had an urgent need to move out of our parents’ home as we both worked in London, which meant we could take our time to save and move out when we felt we could comfortably afford to do so.
How did you find this property? What made you choose it?
We actually found the property on Zoopla. We decided at the start of 2020 that we wanted to buy a property towards the end of the year but I got carried away and booked six viewings for us on the first Saturday of the year.
We weren’t actually expecting to see anything that we liked but as soon as we entered our house, we fell in love. Although it needed a lot of work there was clear potential and we knew that it was fate. It was spacious, had a great layout, and was within our budget. We put in an offer a couple days later and the rest is history.
How have you made the property feel like home?
Renovating the property really allowed us to put our own stamp on our home. Being able to rip out all of the old fixtures and fittings gave us a blank canvas to start with, which meant we could be as creative and daring as we wanted.
We went with dark flooring and white walls and were able to design our kitchen down to a T.
Although our house felt like home from the first time we viewed it, knowing that we chose everything – from the flooring to the position of the lights – really makes it feel like ours.
Do you feel like you have enough space?
Most definitely. We purposely sought a three-bedroom house as we knew that we wanted this to be the house we started a family in and didn’t want the hassle of moving again in a couple of years.
Do you have plans to change the property?
So far, we’ve completed phase one of our home renovation – a full kitchen refurb, stripping out and replacing of old flooring, removing wallpaper, plastering and painting the whole house and replacing electrics.
This year, we’re planning to tackle the bathroom, garden and potentially get rid of our 30-year-old boiler.
Are there any problems with the property that you have to deal with?
Luckily not – fingers crossed it stays like that.
What advice do you give to anyone thinking of buying a house?
At the moment, we’re currently working on materials to share with other first-time renovators who may have no idea on where to start when it comes to renovating.
We’re hoping to launch our website in the next month or two, which will include things such as a first time renovation guide and a budget tracker.
What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing? Do you plan to stay here long term?
In the future, we plan to eventually move onto our forever home, which would be amazing to renovate on a bigger scale – I’m talking extensions, knocking down walls, the works. Until then we plan to hopefully acquire a few more properties, and continue to make our house a home.
This was their property before renovations….
And this is their property now…
How to get involved 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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