Buying a house is a huge goal, and house prices in London may mean purchasing in the capital seems like a near-impossible aim. With high living costs to cover as well as the average property prices to consider, becoming a homeowner in London is something many in their 20s won’t even contemplate.
Jess Odutola, whose name has been changed, is one of the perhaps rare few who have managed to purchase in the capital in her early 20s.
After saving for a deposit for two years, the 23-year-old first-time buyer moved into her three-bedroom apartment at Trinity Walk in Woolwich, southeast London in October last year.
Jess, who has a career in finance on the foreign exchange markets, has been living in the capital for two years.
She said: “I wanted to be able to buy a place that could be my home for quite a long time.
“The apartment at Trinity Walk has flexible space and gives me a home that I wouldn’t outgrow too quickly.
“Finding a location where I would be able to walk and explore in my spare time and somewhere I would enjoy living was important.
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“Woolwich and Greenwich, with all the history and riverside walks, ticked a lot of boxes.”
Jess bought her 1,000 square feet three-bedroom apartment for £540,000, with a 10 percent deposit.
Over two years, Jess saved nearly £30,000 and received a top up from her parents to reach the full deposit.
Prior to her purchase, she rented in Elephant and Castle on a discounted scheme – something which meant she was able to save more towards her deposit.
“When looking for somewhere to move into after university (my job is in London), I came across the London Intermediate Market rent scheme where you can rent an apartment in the city at a discounted rate when compared to the market,” the first-time buyer exclusively told Express.co.uk.
“The aim of this scheme is to help Londoners to save towards a property and it was definitely a huge help for me.
“In Elephant and Castle, a nice one bed apartment is typically £1,400 per month plus, whereas I was able to rent for just over £1,000 a month.
“This allowed me to save an extra £400 essentially.”
As well as the discount scheme, Jess made a number of sacrifices to get towards her savings goal.
“I lived really frugally during that period,” she said.
“I knew it would all be worthwhile in the end when I moved into my own home.”
It did mean a whole host of compromises during that time, and Jess recalled: “I didn’t go out as often and made sure that I budgeted for everything.
“I made a spreadsheet budget and recorded my income and liabilities – from there I was able to see what I could cut down.
“I set up a direct debit at the start of the month so that I put aside money for food, bills and savings. This helped to ensure that I saved each month rather than splurging.”
As well as working long days throughout the week, Jess opted to earn some extra money on weekends.
“I also got a second job – I worked at an estate agents every Saturday,” she said.
“In my full time job, I work 60 hour + weeks but I was really determined to save as much as possible to achieve my dream of owning my first home.
“I made small lifestyle changes such as catching the bus each day rather than the train, shopping in Lidl rather than the more convenient Tesco Express or Sainsbury’s Local.”
Having saved up the deposit and found the property she wanted, Jess was able to purchase – doing this with the London Help to Buy scheme.
“Due to the generous cap (£600,000) and being able to provide 40 percent of the value of the property, it was a huge help to me and made it possible for me to own a brand new home,” she said of the scheme.
“It meant that I could afford a three bed property instead of one or two.
“It also meant that I could afford a new build rather than an older property which are sometimes just as expensive in London.
“By providing 40 percent of the property’s value, I could afford more room and space. It also meant that I could own my first property a lot sooner than average.”
The timing of her purchase – during the current Stamp Duty holiday – meant she was able to save around £10,000 in Stamp Duty Land Tax too.
She’s now settled into her new home, and said: “Lovell Homes really design their living space very well.
“Features like the light and airy open hall way and having lots of generous storage are what buyers are looking for.
“Having three bedrooms also gives me a separate office so I have the option to work from home during lockdown, as well as having a spare second bedroom.”
Lea Hudson, sales manager at Lovell Homes, said: “Property hunters have been taking advantage of one of the best times to buy an apartment in London we’ve ever seen with low interest rates and the stamp duty holiday.
“We have seen the majority of first-time buyers take up the London Help to Buy scheme which allows them to secure a mortgage of only 55 percent of the value of the property, with only a five percent deposit.”