A single first-time buyer, looking to purchase a home in London, will need to save for an average of 17 years for a deposit. However, it took Kim Mills, 29, just under five years to buy her first one-bedroom apartment at Leon House, Croydon, which she managed to achieve by flat sharing with friends and the Help to Buy scheme.
Kim, a finance manager for the Walt Disney Company, has lived in a number of London postcodes over the past eight years as a serial flatshare renter. Whilst the carefree continuation of her student days had its positives, Kim realised she needed to take financial advantage of her living arrangements. She said: “While it was heaps of fun living with friends during my early twenties, I reached a breaking point and needed my own space to cook and unwind, so I knew it was time to get serious and start saving.”
By putting aside her unspent income every month and continuing to flat share, she was able to save £40,000 towards a deposit within five years. Despite this achievement, she had resigned herself to either buying an outdated second hand property or being priced out of London.
Kim said: “Luckily, I stumbled across the Help to Buy scheme while I was researching online. I was over the moon to find I could extend my budget and afford a new-build apartment, which was what I really wanted as it would mean that essentials such as white goods would be included and it would all be lovely and new, so running costs would be lower.”
The Help to Buy scheme has assisted over 7,000 first time buyers in London step onto the property ladder. House hunters in the capital are eligible to borrow an equity loan of up to 40%, interest free for the first five years, with a minimum of 5% deposit.
As the first of her friends to own a property, she has been making use of the unique resident only amenities Leon House has to offer, such as the rooftop Sky Garden and private dining room, where she plans to celebrate her 30th birthday. The residential development comprising 263 light-filled apartments built to the London Design Standard sizes, also has a meeting room and co-working facilities that residents are able to use at no extra costs.
A spokesperson for FI Real Estate Management, the developers behind Leon House said: “Croydon is rapidly becoming a cosmopolitan hub for young professionals with an influx of stylish dining establishments and bars opening in the borough; as such we are seeing that it’s now attracting a new wave of would be homeowners looking to find more affordable options to purchase. Leon House offers a one of a kind proposition for buyers as it has a real sense of community, particularly as living spaces are extended with all the additional amenities for residents to use.”
With only a 15 minute walk to East Croydon Station from Leon House and with 27 trains per hour into central London, Kim explains why Croydon is a smart move: “The Thameslink, is right on my doorstep, meaning I can commute to my office in Hammersmith in under an hour. I’m lucky to be able to reap the benefits of living in the capital, without having to pay the extortionate living costs associated with central London.
“What most drew me to Croydon, was the sense of space I felt. I am surrounded by lush green countryside to the South and am just a stroll away from Boxpark and the restaurant quarter. It feels miles away from the city, when in reality, it is just a 30 minute train ride so I get the best of both worlds.”
Prices range from £338,000 for a one-bedroom apartment and from £417,000 for a two-bedroom apartment and are all available with the government’s Help To Buy initiative, to find out more information take a look at our Help To Buy page.