Fancy another one?
This week’s What I Own is in London and we’re chatting to first-time buyers Alfie and Georgia.
The pair are childhood sweethearts who grew up in East London – and last year they took the plunge and bought their first flat in Forest Gate with shared ownership.
Georgia is an A&E nurse at St Thomas’ Hospital and Alfie is an electrician – here’s what they had to say about getting on the property ladder…
Tell us about yourselves, Alfie and Georgia.
We’re Georgia Morgan, 24 and Alfie Cook, 25 – and we live in Forest Gate, East London. We met at Earlham Primary School when we were just five years old. Having grown up in the area, we know Forest Gate extremely well.
Where is your property? What do you think of the area?
Both our family homes are just a street away from Earlham Square, and my best friend lives on the same road – so there really couldn’t have been a better location for us to move to. The area also has a great community vibe. We love the pubs and restaurants, and Alfie regularly runs around the Olympic Park for exercise.
When did you move in?
We moved in August 2022 and have been enjoying making the place home.
How much does your property cost?
We purchased a 25% share of a two-bedroom apartment at Earlham Square. We secured a 25% share for £106,250 (full market value £425,000), with an 8% deposit of just £8,500.
The mortgage payment is £404 per month and rent and service charges total at £919 a month – well within our budget and only £300 more than our previous rental property.
How did you save up for your deposit?
We tightened our belts. Being at home during the pandemic helped a lot as we didn’t have any holidays abroad, and we worked lots of overtime.
[Georgia]: For me, as a nurse at St Thomas’ Hospital, there were always extra shifts available during the pandemic and I couldn’t go anywhere to spend anything, so it all got saved.
What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you? Did you find any parts challenging?
The process was really straightforward. The only thing that was challenging was learning the terminology. We were lucky to have a good mortgage advisor who explained everything but it’s easy to get lost in the lingo. The hardest part was waiting.
Where did you live before this – were you renting or living with family?
We were renting a dated one-bedroom flat in Maryland, East London, and were keen to move to a new property at the end of our tenancy lease.
Due to high interest rates and London house prices being the highest in the country, we thought we would have to find another rental property, thinking that home ownership in the capital would be out of financial reach.
But, having both grown up in the area, we were keen to stay in beloved East London.
What made you want to buy rather than renting?
We rented for only a year before we bought, and we knew early on that renting wasn’t for us. We hadn’t decided to buy just yet but our experience with renting was poor. The property we rented was an old Victorian house. There were cracked windows, draughts coming in from all the poorly fitted window frames, as well as damp and mould. It would get so cold, and the boiler was very old and had a leak.
The landlord was impossible to get hold of, and we just knew we didn’t want to spend much more of our time waiting for someone else to deal with issues.
How did you find this property? What made you choose it?
[Georgia]: I spotted Earlham Square – a contemporary shared ownership development in Forest Gate by Gateway Housing Association – when walking past one afternoon in April 2022.
During the visit, we discovered that shared ownership suited our circumstances perfectly – by purchasing a share of a property we could get onto the property ladder in London, and live in a new, modern home.
How have you made the property feel like home?
It felt like home really quickly. We haven’t done much to decorate, but I think getting our little kitten, Lilly, really made it feel like home. It completed our little family.
What’s the inspiration for your interior decor style?
We’ve kept it very bright and white in here. All the walls are white, the cupboards are white, it makes it feel really bright, open and clean. Our furnishings are mostly grey but they are tasteful. We wanted to make the most of the big windows and the amount of natural light we get, so decided it keep it minimalistic.
What’s your favourite room and why?
Our favourite room is the living room. It’s so cosy and relaxing. It’s where we spend most of our time.
Do you feel like you have enough space?
We have more than enough space. There’s so much storage so it doesn’t feel cluttered, the rooms are spacious and we don’t feel like we are under each other’s feet. It’s also great having a large balcony. Outdoor space is so sparse in London, so it’s really nice to be able to get some fresh air without leaving the flat.
Do you have plans to change the property?
We really do love it just the way it is. We have no plans at the moment. We’re now looking into some balcony furniture and decor as we approach spring, but apart from that everything is just how we want it.
Do you want to feature 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.
What do you want people to know about buying a home?
I think people should know that it’s a lot more accessible than you think. I come from a working class family and I never thought I’d ever make it onto the property ladder, but shared ownership is a really accessible way to get your foot in the door.
In the current financial climate there’s no way we would have been able to save £30k+ for a deposit on a home. This suits us perfectly; our outgoings are very similar to when we were renting but we’re getting a lot more for it and something we can call our own. We’ve also got the option to staircase and increase our share if we want to.
What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing? Do you plan to stay here long term?
We have no plans to move. We’ve got the spare room, so when the time comes to have a child, we’ve got the space. We have spoken about retiring to the coast, but that’s way into the future. We’re happy to spend our working lives here.
Shall we take a look around?