First time buyer – I bought a £300,000 house with cash I saved for my wedding after splitting from my fiancé
First-time buyer Emily Duncan didn’t think homeownership was possible after splitting from her fiancé after five years.
The 33-year-old business analyst was desperate to find a flat in London to own as quickly as possible within her £300,000 budget.
After being pushed out of the market in South East London, she eventually found the perfect studio apartment in Upton Gardens, London, costing £300,000.
She used the money she had already saved for her wedding to post her £16,000 bail instead.
Emily and her former partner had to cut back on spending to save money for the big day.
They took up meal prep and batch cooking, saving about £40 a week for their grocery store.
Emily also canceled her £35-a-month gym membership and instead did free workouts at home and jogged.
They also threw dinner parties for their friends instead of spending £70 on an expensive meal.
When Emily set her heart on buying her own property, she decided to take advantage of the government’s Help to Buy program.
The government program provided prospective buyers with an equity loan and allowed them to put down a down payment of just 5%.
You can get up to 20% of the value of your property under the scheme – or 40% if you live in London.
The loan is interest-free for the first five years – but bad news for all would-be buyers, the program is now closed.
But there are other programs to help you climb the real estate ladder.
The Help to Build program offers an equity loan to help you build a home or remodel a previously commercial building.
Through the program, the government offers you a loan based on the estimated cost of buying land and building a house or buying a building to convert into a home.
The First Homes program means potential first home buyers in England can buy homes at a price 30% to 50% off the market price.
However, if the homeowner decides to later sell the property, the replacement value discount is also made available to any future buyer.
After living between her mother’s home in Scotland and her father’s home in Cornwall for 14 weeks following the split, Emily was handed the keys to their home in May 2022.
The Sun sat down with Emily to see how she went from saver to homeowner for The Sun’s My First Home series.
tell me about your house
It is a studio apartment in Barratt London’s Upton Gardens development in Newham.
The property is on the site of West Ham’s former Upton Park stadium.
The property is open plan but there is a partition between the living area and the bedroom.
It makes my bedroom feel a little separate from the rest of the space and a little more private.
I also have a large balcony overlooking a shared courtyard.
There is also private parking for residents.
How did you decide on the location?
I originally wanted to stay in South East London but ended up in Battersea.
The cheapest option was £400,000 which was well over my budget.
When I came across Upton Gardens the £300,000 price was much more achievable and it wasn’t far from Stratford which I know very well.
I took this as a sign that it should be and booked a viewing in early November.
The move would take my commute from more than an hour to 40 minutes door-to-door.
From there it all happened pretty quickly – if I put my mind to something, I’ll do it.
how much did you pay for it
The apartment cost £300,000.
I have a £164,000 35 year mortgage at a fixed rate of 2% for five years.
My repayment is €550 per month.
I could only afford to buy the apartment because I had applied for a purchase assistance loan.
It’s a program that helps first-time buyers get up the real estate ladder with just a 5% down payment, even if they’re borrowing enough for a mortgage.
The government provides a loan of up to 40% of the value of the property if you live in London, otherwise you get 20%.
In the first five years, no interest is paid on the repayments.
You have to buy new construction to be eligible for the loan, but that suited us perfectly.
I received a loan of £120,000.
I ended up paying a 5% deposit of £16,000.
How did you save for this?
I previously lived with my ex-partner who owned a two bedroom townhouse that we shared.
I paid him £600 a month in rent which he put up on the mortgage.
Before we split, my partner and I were engaged and we were saving up for a wedding.
When the relationship ended, I put half of the money I had saved for the wedding on my bail.
That was around £7,000.
I increased my saving efforts for the wedding in 2018 for the first time.
To get my finances under control I set up a standing order so as soon as I got paid and some of the money went straight into our savings accounts.
That costs around £500 a month.
To save even more money, we’ve started meal prep and batch cooking.
Every Sunday I would write a menu for the week and cook everything from scratch.
I made everything with only fresh ingredients like veggies, meat, and herbs and spices and avoided buying ready-made or processed foods.
This has reduced the grocery bill from around £100 to a maximum of £60 a week.
Before we started saving for the wedding, we were spending up to £60 each on a meal.
Instead, our circle of friends took turns throwing dinner parties.
When it was our turn to host we spent around £20 on ingredients and a bottle of wine.
This was a great saving over the cost of the meal.
We’ve also avoided expensive holidays, saving between £1,000 and £3,000 a year.
Instead we would visit my mother who lives in Scotland or my father who lives in Cornwall.
That way we would only have to spend around £100 on petrol and we didn’t have to pay for accommodation.
Leaving the gym helped me save £35 a month.
Instead, I used free weights at home and started jogging.
After my partner and I split up, I lived with my mother for seven weeks, then with my father for another seven weeks.
This saved me around £1,000 on my deposit as I had no expenses.
I was also quite lucky as my father also gifted me £3,000 for the down payment to help me reach my goal.
How did you afford to set it up?
Since I was moving to a new build, I wanted all of my furniture to be new as well.
I wanted the apartment to feel like it was mine, so I just continued with the same saving pattern we had before to afford the furniture I wanted.
In total I spent about an extra £3,000 to be able to afford all the furniture I wanted.
Do you have any tips for other first-time buyers?
The prospect of buying a house seemed like a total no-no early on in the breakup, but I found it a no-brainer in the end.
Make sure you do your research because the help to buy an equity loan has really helped me.
Saving is mostly about cutting back on small things and making small lifestyle changes.
Getting a new build was also really easy because there was no chain.
A saver bought her first home by cooking ahead and buying yellow stickers to save cash.
Another saver bought her first home with her MOTHER because of sky-high house prices.
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https://www.thesun.ie/money/10078813/irst-time-buyer-buy-a-home-after-break-up/ First time buyer – I bought a £300,000 house with cash I saved for my wedding after splitting from my fiancé