Laura is finally on the property ladder

We caught up with Laura who bought a 2-bedroom home with shared ownership in Oxfordshire. For Laura, shared ownership means that she could finally own a home, which has been a dream of hers for a long time “I’m so happy to finally be on the housing ladder and looking forward to buying more shares of my home”.

I always thought it would be impossible to buy within the area as houses in Oxfordshire are very expensive and only seem to be going up, so I knew I would need a very large deposit between £35k - £45k if I was even thinking about trying to get on the ladder. It would have taken me years and years trying to save up that much to buy on the open market, it felt impossible and out of reach!

Shared ownership had always been on my radar as an option, but never truly considered signing up. However, after renting in Woodstock for the past six and half years, my husband and I decided it was time to consider getting on the property ladder; however due to his current credit report situation it wouldn’t allow him and myself to apply for a full joint mortgage. I’d be applying for the mortgage on my own, which I knew would be impossible for a full mortgage, but the shared ownership scheme would allow us to take our first step on the ladder.

The shared ownership processes

In the process of buying my first home back in December 2020, I signed up with Help to Buy agent and registered my interest in the development. The next step of the buying process is to contact a mortgage advisor for a financial assessment and solicitors to deal with the process, which I chose from Sovereign’s recommended panels. To get the process rolling, I made sure I was organised and gathered all required documents including identity documents, bank statements and copies of my payslips.

In mid-February, I was contacted by Sovereign to say I had been unsuccessful with my application as I had registered slightly later than other customers, and the available properties had already been allocated. Two weeks later, I received an unexpected call from Rachel. I remember so vividly looking at my phone thinking why is Rachel calling me? I must admit I had glimmer of hope that she may have some good news for me which to my delight she had, informing me that the property had become re-available and asked if I was still interested. I was so unbelievably happy, overjoyed and in total shock!

Rachel, my sales consultant, was wonderful and supportive throughout the entire process of buying my first home. We were in contact a lot from the beginning of my application to the very end to ensure that everything was going smoothly with the solicitors, and she kept me updated on any delays caused by COVID19. Rachel arranged a couple of viewings so I could look around the house and take measurements before moving in!

I currently own 40% share of the property, with the goal of owning 100% within the next 4 years, if not sooner.

Money saving tips and advice from a first-time buyer

Start saving as soon as you can, even if it's just a bit here and there it’s good to get a pot going ready just in case a property becomes available in your area. I opened a savings account and set myself a target to save a x amount within a certain time. I already had some savings put in over the years before signing up which enabled me to be prepared.

I’d advise to sign up to your local Help to Buy agent as soon as possible. The sooner you sign up, the better your chances of getting allocated a house. This also gives you access to see any new developments coming in your desired area.

Making a house a home

When it comes to making our house a home, I use Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration and also like to browse websites such as Next, Dunelm and John Lewis for interior styles. I always knew I wanted a funky downstairs toilet, so I had already planned the entire look of the room before we had even moved in! We’re also looking forward to making the garden our own by extending the patio, adding flower beds, a greenhouse, and a vegetable patch in the upcoming year!

My favourite part of our house is definitely the living room because of its large windows as it lets so much light in plus my dog, Benny, enjoys soaking up the sunshine! The views are so beautiful as it looks out over a lovely green space with a large pond, and we have seen partridges enjoying the space too. In the summer months the garden will also become a favourite space once the works we are planning to do are complete as we love spending time outside.