Lee Thompson realised his dream of owning his home affordably, when he received an email alert about a Metropolitan
Shared Ownership scheme in the area of his choice.Lee is 30 and works for the business and financial news network, CNBC. He heads up their international PR and communications team, focusing on the promotion of news content outside the US. He is also a triathlete in team GB. As a communications expert and more than capable writer, it’s great to get the story of how he came to purchase his new home in his own words:
“I moved to London after studying politics at the University of Leeds when I was 21. I landed in Finchley in a shared property which was somewhat “affordable”. I ended up staying in Finchley for the next 9 years, in the same house. Quite a rarity in London, I know. But it was a great location and the rent worked for me. As much as I liked my old housemate, as I approached 30 I decided it was probably time I needed to move out and live on my own.”
“When I began to look at the rental market I was completely shocked. The price of a one-bedroom apartment a month, in zone four, north London, was close to £1600 per month, before bills! This was totally unaffordable for me and I feared I was going to be trapped in shared accommodation for quite some time.”
“I mentioned my predicament to a friend who had just brought a one-bed flat in Surrey Quays, South London. ‘Have you heard of Shared Ownership?’ he asked. I must admit, at this stage I hadn’t. He talked me through the process and it sounded remarkably simple. So I went away and did some research and decided it would probably be a good thing for me to look into.”
Shared Ownership is a scheme open to first-time-buyers who would otherwise be priced out of home ownership. It works by allowing home-seekers to part-buy, part-rent their properties. They begin by purchasing between 25% and 75% of their home – depending on what they can afford – which they pay for with savings and a mortgage. They then pay a subsidised rent on the portion retained by the developer, as well a service charge towards upkeep of communal areas, lifts and other shared services. It makes home ownership more affordable as you only have to put down a deposit based on the share you are buying rather than the full market value and, because the rent is subsidised, Shared Ownership is designed to be more affordable in terms of monthly housing costs than if you were to buy the same home outright or privately rent it.
“As I began to look at properties out there, I realised the majority of the houses available were in South London, and I very much wanted to stay north. I like Barnet, plus, my sister lives in Muswell Hill and my parents are in the Midlands, so it’s easy to jump on the M1 and get home. I set up some email alerts on Metropolitan’s Homematch website with my requirements – the main one being that I wanted to stay in North London.”
“A few weeks later I was in Mexico and got an email to say Metropolitan were launching a development in Totteridge and Whetstone. It looked perfect; it came with a parking space and wasn’t too far away from where I was living in Finchley. As soon as I got home, I called Metropolitan and booked a viewing to go and see the show flat at the open weekend they were holding.”
“The reason I had been in Mexico was to compete at the Triathlon World Championships. I’ve been on the Team GB Triathlon team for the last two years now. This was another key factor in making sure I found a place that was right for me – I needed a car parking space for my car to transport my bike to races. I also needed to find somewhere that left me with some pennies at the end of the month. As incredible as it to be on the GB team, it’s expensive and, as I’m not a professional, I have to self-fund everything myself – from kit to race entry fees to flights and accommodation for championship races.”
“I remember the day I went to see Oakwell Grange – I took my friend along who’d originally told me about Shared Ownership, as support, and to ask any questions I might have missed out on. As a first time buyer I wastotally clueless about the whole process! I remember standing outside before I went in and saying, “I definitely can’t afford this – we’re only going in for a look.
“At Oakwell Grange, Metropolitan are offering a range of one and two apartments and three bedroom houses through Shared Ownership. Each home comes with an outdoor space (a balcony or garden), parking space, fitted kitchens and bathrooms, including Zanussi appliances, heated towel rails and a 12 year NHBC warranty for peace of mind.
“When I entered the show apartment, I met Anita, the sales Rep from Metropolitan. She was lovely and answered all the questions I had. She also gave me a helpful breakdown of how much everything would cost; from the sales process, to my monthly outgoings once I was in the property. She really put my mind at ease. When I went to see the property, I also met with a financial advisor, who was there on the day. After providing him with some information – how much deposit I had, how much I earned – he was able to reassure me I could afford the property and it wouldn’t cripple me month by month.”
“My monthly outgoings have increased (my old house was very cheap), so I’ve doubled my monthly outgoings. However, I’m more than happy to do that given how nice the property is and that it’s mine. I’ve now become the biggest advocate of Shared Ownership out there, telling all my friends about it. Let’s face it – house prices in London are out of control. There’s no way I could afford a property outright anywhere in the near future. Shared Ownership allows you to get your foot on the ladder and begin investing your money in a property that’s yours, not giving away £1,600 a month to someone else!”
“I decided to reserve a property there and then. You choose a plot you like, and more importantly can afford, and then Metropolitan get back in touch to say if you’ve been successful. Two weeks later – I got a call to say my application had been successful. I couldn’t believe it! I was over the moon and couldn’t believe two weeks before I was going into a property saying “I’m definitely not going to be able to buy this!”
“The next few months were a bit of a blur – Metropolitan provided guidance on solicitors and mortgage brokers and that takes a bit of time. I finally completed on January 7th and picked up my keys from Anita at 3pm on Friday afternoon. The whole process took just over three months. It was actually really quick! I can’t describe how great the feeling was to be given the keys to an amazing new home and for Anita to say, “This is yours now, enjoy!” I’ve been in a few weeks now and it’s really beginning to feel like home. Yes, I’ve overdosed on IKEA visits, but it’s been totally worth it.”
“Right now I’m focusing on my triathlons – I have the world championships in Rotterdam in September and the European Championships in Düsseldorf in June. I’m not sure about the long terms plans in terms of Staircasing, but over time I think I’d definitely consider it. Put it this way, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon!”
Staircasing enables home owners who bought through Shared Ownership to increase the amount of equity they own in their home. The greater the share you own in your home, the less rent you pay. If you Staircase to 100% ownership you become the outright owner of your home with no rent obligations.
Jim Munson, Metropolitan Head of Marketing and Customer Care, said “We’re delighted that Metropolitan could help a young professional like Lee to get on the property ladder and gain more independence and space in one of our excellent new Shared Ownership homes at Oakwell Grange, which are a result of a successful partnership project with the Council and developer David Wilson Homes. We wish Lee all the best in his new home, and best of luck for another positive result at the World Championships in Rotterdam!”
Lee adds, “I can’t thank the team at Metropolitan enough for all of their help and support throughout the whole process and making it happen. This home is the best 30th birthday present I could ask for!”
At the time of writing (late January 2017), Metropolitan have just one home still available at Oakwell Grange, with two further three-bedroom houses being developed and due to launch in March.
Buy a share in a brand new or resale home from Metropolitan. You pay a mortgage on the part you own and a subsidised rent on the part you don’t own. Learn more about your buying options here.
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