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Engaged couple Jen Carter (26) and Luke Bradley-Driver (25) had been living separately with their parents so they could save a deposit for a home together. Knowing that they wouldn’t be able to afford a full mortgage made shared ownership the perfect option for them to get on the property ladder. Now they’ve moved into their own two-bedroom apartment at Castle View on the edge of Newbury, and the couple are happier than ever.

When Jen heard from her sister that Sovereign offered shared ownership homes, it didn’t take her long to search the Sovereign website to find new homes in the area.

“We originally applied for a two-bedroom coach house on the site,” recalls Jen, who works as a support worker. “We just missed out on being allocated a home by West Berkshire Council, but luckily for us one of the sales fell through on an apartment and we were first reserve.”

“The whole process with Sovereign was very quick and everyone was very helpful. We rang up a financial advisor at First Xtra who found us the best deal on a mortgage and broke all the payments down for us,” says Luke, a sales consultant for Three in the town centre.

The couple put down an £11,000 deposit with Leeds Building Society on a 40% share of their home and pay a monthly rent of £268.75 on top of their mortgage repayments, plus a service charge for the upkeep of the communal areas.

Luke says the couple is already setting into their new home.

“Everyone is super friendly, and we’ve met everybody apart from one flat who hasn’t moved in yet. We’re always having a chat in the corridor, it’s just like being in Friends – all we need is a coffee shop now to finish it off, although there is a Costa at the garage across the road! We’ve all agreed we’re going to have a building BBQ on the communal grassy area outside the apartments to celebrate moving in.

“One of our friends bought their home with shared ownership and it seemed to work for them, and Jen’s aunt is still in the same house she bought with shared ownership 20 years ago. It’s a good way of getting on the property ladder, and we’re getting a bit more back than if we were renting. It’s much more affordable than Help to Buy as you still need to be able to get a large mortgage if you buy that way.

“We were a bit unsure of buying off-plan as we couldn’t view it before we committed because it was still under construction. We looked at plans but it would have been nice to gauge the size of the apartment and the rooms, but now we’ve seen it we’re very happy. It’s really quite spacious; my favourite room is the bathroom as it was the first room to be completely finished.”

So far living together for the first time is going smoothly, and as Jen works late hours, Luke still gets to have the lads round occasionally.

“Hopefully in the future we’ll have some twins (Jen is a twin), although we’ve only got room for one at the moment. Maybe we’ll eventually move into a bigger place now that it will be easier to move up the property ladder,” says Luke. But for now they have their tropical fish to keep them occupied – and their wedding to plan!

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