WHAT I OWN: MY PARTNER AND I BOUGHT OUR OWN HOME BEFORE WE WERE 30 — THROUGH A LOOPHOLE

Welcome back to What I Own – Metro’s property series where we speak to homeowners about getting on the ladder.

For last week’s adjacent What I Rent, we visited Anil at his pad in North West London. Renting in a waterfront neighbourhood, Anil has connected with a community through the events hosted by his building, from cinema nights to gym sessions, all of which proved crucial in building a community after his divorce.

This week, we’re up north, having a nosy around Jake Cohen’s new build in Greater Manchester. Jake and his partner Sean managed to secure a spot on the property ladder before the age of 30 through a strategic loophole that, paired with their efforts to scrimp and save, granted them the keys last autumn.

Here’s what Jake had to say about their property journey…

Tell us about yourself!

I’m 29 years old and I am based just outside of Manchester in a town called Horwich. I work as a Senior UX designer in corporate banking.

Whereabouts is your property? What do you think of the area?

My property is in Horwich and is located at the old Locomotive Works which is where steam trains had been built since 1886.

When did you move in?

October 2023.

How much does your property cost?

£267,000.

How much was your deposit?

£26,700.

What is the monthly cost of living here now; both mortgage and bills?

All bills are split between myself and my partner. The total monthly mortgage payment is £1,174. All other bills and food shopping come to about £900. So split between us a month is around £987.

How did you save up for your deposit?

I have been saving money since 2017. I learned about Lifetime ISAs and got one with Moneybox in 2021 (though I wish I had learned about them earlier!), so I got an additional £4,000 bonus from the government.

I used the lockdown period as an opportunity to push my savings. I was working from home and there wasn’t much we could do, which meant I was spending less.

I also worked on some side hustles to earn a little extra cash (such as paid surveys) and made sure I was getting cashback on all my spending. On top of that, I chased high-interest savings accounts to make sure I was getting the most.

I saved up for a 10% deposit. Thankfully, Bellway provided an incentive and contributed £7,000 towards the deposit. This meant that £7,000 of the money I had saved up for a deposit could be used to buy furniture and upgrades for the house instead.

What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you? Did you find any parts challenging?

I used Moneybox Mortgages as my mortgage broker. It meant that the whole process of applying for a mortgage was relatively straightforward. I had a Lifetime ISA with Moneybox already, so when it came to buying a home, I could just request an appointment in the app to begin discussing the mortgage application.

After a call, we were able to find the best mortgage offer for us and apply. The whole process could be tracked in the app so I never felt unaware of what was going on.

Can you share details on your mortgage (rate/term)?

5.15% with a two-year fix. We decided to opt for a short-term mortgage in the hope that the rates come down just before remortgaging.

Where did you live before this – were you renting or living with family?

I had been renting since I started university in 2013. Myself and my partner then began renting together in 2015. I graduated and started my career in 2017, which is when I began to start saving for a home.

What made you want to buy rather than renting

It’s always been a dream to own a home. I had lived in many rentals before, but they never truly felt homely as decorating wasn’t allowed or felt wasted as it was investing in a property that’s not mine.

Owning a home means we can make the property ours and modify it however we like. It also means we have an asset. 

How did you find this property? What made you choose it?

It’s in the town where I grew up (Horwich) and is local to both of our parents. It’s also close to Manchester city centre which is where we work. It’s surrounded by the West Pennine Moors so there’s lots of great walks and views.

The new build area is part of a multi-million-pound regeneration project called Rivington Chase. There are plans to introduce new green spaces and community areas, so there’s lots of potential for the former industrial site.

How have you made the property feel like home?

Brought our two cats! We slowly started to buy furniture for each of the rooms after moving in and saving up more. 

What’s the inspiration for your interior decor style?

At the minute, minimalist. We have kept things simple with a fairly neutral colour palette. The walls are still white which works well with the smart lighting we have in place. It means we can paint the walls with any colour of light we choose.

What’s your favourite room and why?

I would probably say the kitchen, as it gets lots of sunlight through the French doors. It’s also the room we had bought the most upgrades for, such as premium floor tiles, a hard worktop and delta lights.

Do you feel like you have enough space?

There is a good amount of storage space in the house. We have recently had the loft boarded and shelved too, which is where the majority of things are now being stored. The next goal is to work on the garden space and buy a shed so we can store our bikes.

Do you have plans to change the property?

No immediate plans to change the property, other than to create a good garden space next. 

Are there any problems with the property that you have to deal with?

There are always a lot of horror stories when it comes to new build properties. Thankfully, we have only had minor cosmetic snags, the majority of which have already been fixed.

What do you want people to know about buying a home?

Saving up is difficult and takes time, but it’s so worth it in the end. For me, consistency was key, setting aside what I could each month for the house and almost seeing it as a regular bill. 

Make sure that you are using a Lifetime ISA if you are under 40 to maximise your house savings. 

What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing? Do you plan to stay here long-term?

At the moment the house is perfect for us, so we have no plans to move. We might consider upsizing in the future, though. 

Shall we take a look around?

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing [email protected].

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