What I Own: Katy, who staircased with shared ownership and owns her entire house
It’s Saturday, so you know the drill – it’s time for another What I Own.
This week we are chatting to Katy, who is keen to share her positive story of shared ownership.
She bought her property in 2015 with a 25% share, and has since staircased to own 100% of the house. Katy thinks shared ownership as an initiative is ‘misunderstood’ – but hopes to share how her house is an example of how it can work out.
This is what she has to say about her buying experience…
Tell us about yourself, Katy.
I am 39, I’m a lecturer in drama in a busy college in East London and I live in Newham. I’m also a director and theatre maker.
I live in this house with my husband, two daughters and cat, Trevor. It’s a three-bedroom, three storey townhouse – with a garden, a log cabin at the back, and a community garden beyond that.
Where is your property? What do you think of the area?
The house is in Plaistow. I like it here. People are too quick to focus on the negatives of areas like this, but it’s what you make of it. I’ve got lovely neighbours who all really look after each other, and there’s a real sense of community.
Yes, there are ‘edgy’ bits – but it’s real, it’s diverse, there are lots of shops close by, even ones that are open 24 hours. It’s not gentrified yet, no artisan bakeries and independent breweries – these things seem to be the things people measure the ‘niceness’ of an area by.
I am friendly with everyone in the local shops and businesses and that feels like something people from outside London wouldn’t expect. There’s a lovely park close by and good schools.
The transport links are great and the greenway is close by – you can cycle to Stratford in 15 minutes.
When did you move in?
How much does your property cost?
Seven years ago the property was valued at £375,000 and we purchased a 25% share – as shared ownership tenants. We got a mortgage on that 25% share, and paid rent on the remaining 75%.
Over the last seven years we have staircased up to 100% ownership, this means that over seven years we have gradually bought more shares in the property, until we owned it entirely.
The property has drastically increased in value and we have built up equity of around £170,000.
How much was your deposit?
To buy our first share of 25% we had to give a £17,000 deposit.
What is the monthly cost of living here now; both mortgage and bills?
Our mortgage is £1,400 and bills come to about £250 a month. The house was built with solar panels and it’s so well insulated and this keeps our bills down a lot – so around £1,650 in total.
How did you save up for your deposit?
We rented a cheap house in Leytonstone for five years and just tried to put some money away each month. My in-laws gave us £5,000 and my mum did the same, this helped massively and when added to our savings. We were really lucky.
What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you? Did you find any parts challenging?
It’s time-consuming at first, there were a lot of checks and a lot of waiting around. I became quite good at pestering people with emails to move things along. My mum found us a brilliant mortgage adviser back in South Wales who helped us a lot.
Where did you live before this – were you renting or living with family?
Before living here we lived in a rented house in Leytonstone.
What made you want to buy rather than renting?
I hated being answerable to a landlady, I was heavily pregnant with my second child and got sick of the hassles associated with renting, and a friend at work mentioned shared ownership.
This house was the first place I looked at. I walked down to the building site where they were being built, and said I wanted to buy the house ‘off-plan’ (I’d heard my mum use those words before so I thought it made me sound like I knew my stuff but I didn’t have a clue!).
The foreman of the construction site wouldn’t let me look round due to health and safety, I begged him to let me have a look, and he looked down passed my giant pregnant belly and noticed I was wearing purple Doc Marten boots. I assured him I’d be OK and he snuck me in to look round.
How did you find this property? What made you choose it?
I found it by researching shared ownership properties. I knew I’d never have a big enough deposit to get on the mortgage ladder, but this initiative helped me. I chose it because it was affordable, it was close to work, close to my husband’s work and seemed massive for the price.
I think they were really undervalued at the time, which also worked in our favour. The house came with integrated appliances and the carpets had literally just been laid as we moved in. I remember sitting on the kitchen floor with my baby in my lap and I couldn’t believe how fancy it felt compared to our old place. I felt so lucky.
The development is built in the grounds of an old Victorian primary school, the external design has attempted to maintain the integrity of the old building. There are protected trees that we can see from different windows and I love that. There is an amazing community garden at the back that is safe and enclosed and my kids can play out there freely. It’s just gorgeous.
How have you made the property feel like home?
It’s full of colour, bright fabrics, lots of birds (we like birds!). We collect different pieces of furniture, original art, prints and art and things – so it’s full of interest and it’s eclectic. Clashing colours are great and I love colour in general. It cheers me up. My husband has done some paintings in some rooms and that’s certainly put our stamp on things.
What’s the inspiration for your interior decor style?
We are bold with use of colour, texture and shapes. My husband is a street artist and art specialist in a local primary school. In our 18 years together, he’s definitely made me feel braver with colour and patterns. Lots of people say it’s a really fun house with a bit of theatrical vibe.
What’s your favourite room and why?
I love my bedroom – the windows open out widely and it’s full of light and interesting pieces… but I love all the rooms. I also love The Hutch – that’s a log cabin my amazing friends built for us at the back of the garden, it doubles up as an extra room when guests are coming to stay, or as an extra living room.
Do you feel like you have enough space?
It works for us. At full capacity we can sleep 10 very comfortably, which we’ve done before.
Do you have plans to change the property?
I would like to integrate really comfy booth seating in the kitchen and move some of the cabinets to do this.
Are there any problems with the property that you have to deal with?
The bin men don’t come enough.
What do you want people to know about buying a home?
It’s not as complicated as you imagine, shared ownership is an amazing way to get on the property ladder and allows you to buy a bigger chunk of the property each time you staircase.
Try and be open to exploring different areas and locations to allow your budget to work for you.
It’s easy to forget the additional costs that you incur when buying a house or staircasing – solicitors fees and valuations are costly.
What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing? Do you plan to stay here long term?
We’d like to move back to our native South Wales eventually as our family is there and your money can go a long way in terms of buying a house, but for now, I can safely say we love our home.
It feels really magical – and I love finding quirky bits and pieces in charity shops and car boots to jazz the place up.
I will never be someone who has a colour scheme and matching beige cushions to go with their dado rail. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s not me.
I read somewhere once ‘your home is the stage where you perform yourself’ and that resonates. My home is eclectic, colourful and welcoming and I want to keep it that way.
Shall we take a look around?
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.
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 [email protected]
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