While for many of us owning a house rather than renting it feels like a mad pipe dream, there are some people who’ve managed it.
And we’re keen to know more about how on earth they did it.
While What I Rent looks at the reality of the renting market in the UK (and sometimes beyond), What I Own is a series exploring the ins and outs of buying a home, from saving up the deposit to how owners choose to decorate.
This week we’re in Woolwich, London, with Justin, 35. Justin is an IT consultant who was born in St Albans then moved to Sydney, Australia in 1987, before returning to the UK in 2016.
He previously lived in Canning Town but in September 2017 moved into a one-bedroom flat in Woolwich, which he owns. Welcome in.
Hi, Justin! Let’s talk money. How much did you have to put towards this place?
For the deposit, I pretty much saved most of the deposit, which was about £20,000. This was saved from my working career. I was fortunate enough to also get help from my parents (who are back in Sydney) who assisted me with the remaining amount.
I’m not comfortable sharing the total amount of my mortgage out to the public.
I now pay about £1,500 a month (including bills). This does not include service charges, which are around £600 for six months.
How did you find the flat?
I found this place through websites such as zoopla. I was looking for properties that were good for investment but also good as a temporary home as I wanted to upgrade at later stages of my life.
What was the process of getting a mortgage like?
The process was quite straightforward as I have a great mortgage broker, Nik Patel from Robert Sterling, who assisted me every step of the way.
There are a few checks that need to happen so that banks understand whether you firstly have the deposit funds, an income that is capable of paying back your mortgage and any assets that you may earn. I felt prepared as I have done this process before.
Why did you choose Woolwich?
I chose Woolwich because I believe it is a growing and developing area. The council has invested millions into the growth of the Woolwich community, firstly with the Crossrail and from what I hear plans for a cinema complex and revamping the high street area. It is definitely a great investment area for those in the investment market.
How have you made the property feel like home?
I have put small touches to it like adding a bit of colour such as yellow and reds. I have also added a painting in my bedroom and bought a nice carpet to sit on whenever I read books or watch movies on my projector.
Have you had to spend a lot more on things for redecorating?
The usual expenses such as blinds/curtains and furniture such as tables and chairs. I think this is quite typical for a new home. So overall I would say maybe an extra £1-2k, depending on your budget. I think it’s important for the necessities to be there and as you live and earn, you can buy other non-essentials
Do you feel like you have enough space?
At the moment, yes. But I am looking to buy a two-bedroom flat shortly as I think I would just prefer to have another bedroom for either a study or for extra storage or guest space.
Does owning pose any problems you didn’t have when you were renting?
No, I think there are more problems renting a property. Firstly you are paying off someone’s mortgage when you could easily pay off your own (obviously depending on where you live).
Secondly, owning a property allows you to make modifications to your home/flat (e.g. drilling through walls, making extensions for homes etc). This gives your home your own personal touch.
What are your housing plans for the future? Do you want to stay in this flat forever or are you planning to move again?
I am planning to upgrade to a two-bedroom property. I am looking in the same development, Lovell as I find the service and team there very helpful and amazing to work with.
In addition, I enjoy the community of Woolwich. Eventually I want to buy a house so I can start a family.
Let’s have a look around.
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@example.com.
You’ll need to have pictures taken of your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom, plus a few photos of you in your room. Make sure you get permission for your housemates! 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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