How to buy a home at just 21

It’s natural for a 21-year-old to want to move out of their parents’ house and into their own home, but with rising rents and house prices this can seem like an impossible dream. Shared ownership has enabled recent graduate Maisy Watkins to buy a house at Sovereign Living’s Saxon Gate development in Leonard Stanley, Gloucestershire – moving into her dream home just 42 days after applying.

How did it start?

“I lived with my parents and sister in Stroud, but felt I was ready to move out,” says Maisy, a sociology and criminology graduate who now works for a charity based in Gloucester that supports vulnerable women and girls in the community.

“I’d enquired into full ownership, but as a single graduate I was unable to afford the mortgage payments, let alone any other bills. I didn’t know how I was ever going to be able to leave home and get myself on the property ladder.”

Maisy heard about shared ownership from her cousin, who has lived in his property for five years, but was unsure of how to go about applying. Then a family friend told her she was going through the shared ownership process, which inspired Maisy to enquire more about it and the different stages it involved. She then registered online for Help to By South, which told her about the properties being built in her local area of Leonard Stanley, following which she registered with Sovereign Living.

Going through the process

“The process is pretty self-explanatory, and the team at Sovereign was fab in supporting me through it,” Maisy remembers. “They even send you a six-week breakdown of what you can expect through the process, while ‘progress chasers’ make sure everything goes smoothly and completes by the date chosen. Sovereign’s sales consultant Hope Bailey was the most helpful, motivating person I could have ever had contact with. She kept me going through the little hiccups that I faced in the process, and helped me rationalise, then overcome them.”

One of the hiccups Maisy mentions was that due to an inconsistency between the different deposit calculators available online, which meant that having initially been accepted for the property she chose, she was then told she would need a bigger deposit to progress. “It was only because I was in a position to be able to acquire more money that I could proceed, whereas many people wouldn’t be so lucky,” she recognises.

Once the properties at Saxon Gate had been built, Maisy took a look and – as she says – fell in love. “I chose my plot as it’s at the end of the development, which means it’s extremely quiet. But the location is beautiful as well. Every morning I wake up to birds calling and animals making their noises, and there’s also a little stream running opposite my front path. The second reason I chose my property is that it’s close to my family, and in the most beautiful village.”

Maisy contributed quite a large deposit for the property, which she was able to do thanks to an inheritance and some help from her parents. She found that it was important to account for extra costs such as solicitors’ fees. “Things can quickly add up,” she says.

Moving fast!

Within just 42 days of registering, Maisy had moved in. “I couldn’t have wished for anywhere better,” she says. “Everyone who has seen the property has fallen in love with it too. It’s so quiet, and the community spirit is strong, even though it’s a new development. My neighbours are so lovely – I came home the other day, and one of them had mowed my front lawn – and the local amenities are just a stone’s throw away. All of the kids play together out on the front driveways, and you get a wave or a hello from everyone. I feel like I could knock on anyone’s door and they would be happy to help.”

Maisy believes that enquiring about shared ownership was the best thing she’s ever done. Not only is she now in her own dream property, but she also has a foot on the property ladder.

“Shared ownership is probably the only affordable way young people like me are going to achieve that,” she says. “Wages are not keeping up with house prices, and those without massive deposits or well-paid jobs don’t really stand a chance. I recommend shared ownership to everyone I know who’s looking to get onto the property ladder.”

Maisy plans to stay in her home for as long as possible. “I want to have a family here, and spend many happy years here.”