Clare Wilson, a 42-year-old Operations Manager, has reserved a 2-bedroom apartment with two private balconies at the Portobello Riverside development in Warwickshire.
What attracted you to Portobello Riverside?
It’s in a great location, near to my friends in Leamington Spa, where I can walk to their homes or to meet them for a catch up in the town centre. It’s a dream property, in a lovely riverside location, that I never thought I’d be able to buy – our balcony actually overlooks the river Avon, so it will be a gorgeous view to wake up to. I currently live in Coventry but have always liked the idea of moving closer to Leamington Spa and Warwick.
Have you heard of Shared Ownership before?
No, in fact when I first came across it, I thought it meant sharing a home with a stranger! I separated from my partner during lockdown and, with most lenders wanting a 15% deposit, had accepted that me and my 18-year-old would most probably end up renting a property. When I heard about Portobello and spoke to the agent there , Mary-Ann, she explained that Shared Ownership would mean I could actually own my own home, but only have to pay an upfront deposit of £6,500 for a 25% share of the property.
It’s then up to me if I want to ‘staircase’ later and increase my share if my circumstances change. It almost sounded too good to be true so I got some financial advice and they confirmed it was completely legitimate – it’s just not a tenure that we’re as familiar with outside of London for example where it’s a far more common way to buy a home.
What’s the process been like?
I have our apartment reserved pending the mortgage valuation, but Mary-Ann has made it really simple for me. After viewing a few apartments and layouts, we settled on the 2-bed complete with en-suite, so that me and my daughter have plenty of space for privacy and our own bathrooms.
What are you most looking forward to about your new home?
As an interiors fan, I’m really excited about the Smeg appliances and white goods and stunning Porcelanosa tiles and fittings in the bathroom. I was stunned with the finish on the apartments and high specification, I’d not viewed anything that matched it before.
Would you recommend Shared Ownership?
I’m an absolute convert, now I know about it, I don’t understand why more people don’t use it as a means get on the property ladder. You can buy any percentage share from 25% and then the rent is subsidised on the remaining share – I’ll actually be paying the same amount monthly as I was previously renting. This is a much better investment in my family’s future, and we can’t wait to move in.
Rose Morgan, a 23-year-old accountant, lives in a 2-bedroom first-floor apartment with river views, at the Portobello Riverside development in Warwickshire.
What attracted you to buy at Portobello Riverside?
I used to own a property in Coventry, but I really wanted to move to a quieter, more affluent area, with good connections into Warwick, Leamington Spa and Coventry. A key factor for me was the appeal of both 'town and country', as the apartment offered a feeling of town-living, with the added bonus of easy access into the Warwickshire countryside, too.
The development has great connections on to the A46, which means my commute into Coventry only takes 20 minutes. The apartment is right in between Warwick and Royal Leamington Spa on the banks of the Avon, with both towns within easy walking distance along the river. And whenever I want the lights of the big city, Birmingham is just 40-minute drive away.
I've been here for a few months now - it has certainly given me the ability to enjoy the natural surroundings more over lockdown. It's really easy to forget that you're just five minutes away from both towns given its tranquil riverside-setting.
What has working from home been like on the development over lockdown?
I've been living and working here, throughout lockdown, after I moved into my apartment earlier in the year. As I have a two-bed place, I've been able to kit out the apartment to suit my needs with a home office, so I can focus whilst working from home. A real driver to keep me motivated over lockdown has been the river, on my doorstep, which I've been able to explore on lunchbreaks and make the most of when working, as I have an outside terrace to sit on with my laptop. The landscaped gardens have also been really great over summer to sit out in and enjoy, with the added bonus that they're tended to, so you can make full use of them without having to tend to them yourself!
How did you purchase the property?
Even though I wasn't a first-time buyer, I bought the property on my own, through the Government's Help to Buy scheme
What attracted you to Help to Buy?
I wanted to buy with the support because, as Portobello Riverside is in a more desirable and affluent area to where I was before, it made the apartment more accessible by reducing the amount required for the deposit, compared to if I had bought it at the full market value.
I had an equity loan from the government of 20% of the property's value, so I only had to put down a 5% deposit, with a 75% mortgage making up the rest. In my eyes, it was essentially interest-free money for five years, so was a no-brainer. As well as making the move so much more affordable, the smaller loan amount had the added bonus of giving me the ability to secure a better mortgage rate from my lender too.
Did you have any misconceptions about Help to Buy?
Yes - I thought it was only applicable to first time buyers. I didn't realise it was applicable for me until I had guidance from Clarion that you can get the support if you already own and purchase on a new-build development.
Would you recommend Help to Buy to your friends?
Of-course! It was an incredibly simple process. I essentially opted for it when looking for the property and my solicitors took care of the whole process. As the ins-and-outs were taken out of my hands, I essentially had barely anything to do administratively with the process, so it was incredibly easy.
For more information on the development, or to book an appointment, please, contact Clarion Housing on 0300 100 0309.