It’s Saturday, so it’s time for another episode of What I Own.
This week we’re in south London chatting with Steven who bought his flat in Deptford last year.
He shares the ups and downs of his property buying journey and reveals some of the issues he and her husband, Santi, have faced since moving in.
Here’s what Steven has to say about getting on the ladder…
Tell us about you.
We are Steven (32), Santi (40) and Chichi (12) – our dog. We have been married for 13 years and have lived together in London for almost nine years. One of us runs a design agency and the other is a materials engineer. We are currently based in South East London.
Where is your property? What do you think of the region?
We are based at Deptford Foundry, very close to New Cross station. We slowly fell in love with the area: it’s full of character and really cool. There’s a sense of change and transformation in the air, we’re pretty sure this area will be unrecognizable five years from now.
When did you move in?
We moved in early summer 2021.
How much does your property cost?
We bought our flat for £600,000 – £30,000 below asking price.
How much was your deposit?
We ended up paying a deposit of £60,000.
What is the monthly cost of living here now; both the mortgage and the bills?
I would say around £2,000.
How did you save for your deposit?
The lockdown has helped in many ways. Having to stay at home saved us a good amount of money and, from a business point of view, things took a turn for the better as soon as the first lockdown began.
How was the process of getting a mortgage for you? Did you find any difficult parts?
It was scary at first, especially since one of us is independent. We heard many horror stories about the process and expected the worst. The reality was that it was much easier than we had imagined.
The biggest challenge was the constant waiting, sometimes feeling like there was no progress. Then, suddenly, everything will fall into place in a day or two.
Where did you live before that? Did you rent or live with your family?
We rented an apartment in East London.
What made you want to buy rather than rent?
We realized that it was much cheaper to pay a mortgage each month than to pay rent. We were spending over £2,500 a month on rent plus bills. We also found ourselves with disposable income and decided to invest in our future before spending it all once the lockdown ended.
How did you find this property? What made you choose it?
We spent a lot of time looking for a property. It has become an obsession. Many times we thought we had one, but we were never really sure.
If you live in London you know the rivalry between one side of the river and the other, so south of the river was never an option for us. But we ended up accepting, out of curiosity (and desperation), an estate agent’s invitation to view a property in Deptford.
Once we walked in and saw the sun hiding behind the Shard and the most amazing views of London from a 15th floor – and we knew it was a 12 minute ride to London Bridge – it was An evidence. We both grabbed our hands and looked at each other: that’s it.
We have always been told that when you find the property for you, you will know it. It is very true. We knew it right away.
How did you make the property feel like home?
It’s all in the little details that bring your personality to life. We are very picky about the decoration and the smell of our house (candles everywhere!).
Our plants are a very important part of our home, they love the constant daylight we get in this apartment. Our Monsteras are almost as big as those in our home country of Colombia.
What is the inspiration for your interior design style?
Mid-century modern with a kitsch twist is how I would describe our (current) decorating style.
What is your favorite piece and why?
One of us is still not above views. You can see all London has to offer from our balcony. All. So the balcony has to be up there, especially at sunset.
During the winter, our studio is where we can have the most fun, especially with our colorful artwork and decor. It’s the only place I’m allowed to be messy(ish).
Do you feel like you have enough space?
Does anyone ever feel like they have enough space?
The reality is that we’ll always need more space, especially for clothes and shoes – but we can’t complain just yet. We’re pretty happy for now, as long as we don’t have a kid or another dog anytime soon.
Do you have any plans to change ownership?
Our plan is to buy a house at some point, something where we can raise a family.
Are there any issues with the property that you need to deal with?
Last November, one of our (very heavy) windows fell due to high winds. We live on the 15th floor and it could have been a very different story if someone was in the room at the time.
We are still dealing with the developers and the property management company to get it fixed, it has been nine months.
What do you want people to know about buying a home?
There are many theories and horror stories about how hard it is to buy a home, especially if you’re self-employed or have a small deposit.
As first generation immigrants and early home buyers this whole process was uncharted territory for us, our advice is to make sure you speak to a good mortgage advisor, there are many options that people don’t know about.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and remember that (most of the time) buying a home isn’t as scary, difficult or expensive as people make you think.
What are your plans for the future in terms of housing? Do you plan to stay here long term?
We plan to stay here for at least another three years and then we’ll see where life takes us.
Shall we take a look?
Want to be featured 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 want to share your story, please email [email protected]
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If you are a tenant, you can also participate! What I Own runs alongside What I Rent, which is the same series but is about renting. Again, if you would like to get involved, just email [email protected]
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