Father-of-three Trevor Lepley had no idea he could afford a bigger home for his children until he discovered the government-backed Help to Buy mortgage scheme.
So he was “over the moon” when the financial support lifted him from renting a two-bedroom apartment in Brentford to owning a four-bedroom semi-detached house at Linden Homes’ Northfields development in Colchester, Essex – with just a five per cent deposit.
“I thought I would be renting for a long time unless I won the lottery or something,” explained Trevor, a performance analyst for JP Morgan. “Help to Buy is fantastic, it’s what people need. House prices are not cheap now. If someone had told me a year ago that I would be owning a four-bedroom house now, I would have laughed at them.”
Northfields is a contemporary mix of stylishly designed one and two-bedroom apartments and two, three and four-bedroom houses. Surrounded by green spaces, it is within walking distance of Colchester train station.
“I first spotted Northfields on Rightmove,” continued Trevor “To be honest, I had been looking online for about the last year or so but I was not really aware of the fact that I would be able to afford a house.
“My lease was up in May and I wanted to find somewhere bigger so the children, who live with their mother, would have more space when they come to stay with me. I stumbled across Linden Homes and arranged to come and look around Northfields.
“I loved the properties. I think the kitchen attracted be the most. I’ll be cooking a little more now – it used to be freezer food! Looking at the size of the kitchen, that was the key attraction.
“I looked around and actually at this point I was not thinking I could afford the property, I was just being nosey! But I spoke to one of the sales advisors and she gave me the finance help number – it was only when I spoke to them that I realised it was realistic that I could afford one of those homes.”
Help To Buy is open to all qualifying home buyers of new-build properties in England up to the value of £600,000 – not just first-time buyers. Under the scheme, the government provides an interest-free loan for the first five years of up to 20 per cent of the property value.
This means that, with a minimum deposit of five per cent, a new home can be secured with a 75 per cent mortgage. The government loan can be repaid at any time or on the sale of the property.
It was just what Trevor needed to buy at Northfields where he can still commute by train into the City from Colchester via Liverpool Street Station. The journey is just 15 minutes longer and he is now closer to his children and his brother. He also only pays £80-£90 a month more on his mortgage than he used to pay in rent.
“When I found out it was definitely going to happen it was amazing, but I decided not to tell the children at first,” said Trevor. “So when I said we were going to view a house they said, ‘On no, not another house you’re not going to buy.’
“But when we got there I said, ‘Welcome home’, and they said, ‘What do you mean?’ I told them I’d bought it and they were screaming with excitement, buzzing around and jumping up and down.
“They were running around the house as if they’d had fizzy drinks and sweets, running up and down the stairs and saying things like, ‘This is my room’. They could not look around quickly enough!
“I liked it because of the way they had done up the show home, it looked fantastic. I thought if I could make my house look like that I would be very happy. It was the lay out that was good too. It had a nice feel to it. It felt very homely and spacious and like somewhere I could live.
“The lawn is big enough for me and the kids to sit out and have a barbecue. We have a west-facing garden for the sun in the afternoon. It’s very nicely landscaped with a patio and steps going down to the shed – it’s elegant and simple.
“When I first drove past the properties I thought at the time it looks nice,” said Trevor. “It’s got a mix of styles and rather than just brick you have got wood and different colours. It’s nicely thought out. It looks like there will be really nice communal areas too.
“Another attraction for this place for me is that High Woods Country Park is very close by; the entrance to is just 300 yards from me. My brother lives two miles away from me too, and it’s a beautiful area.”
Colchester enjoys excellent train links into London as well as straightforward road routes further afield. Northfield's location puts the cosmopolitan town centre within easy reach, and there is a wealth of open spaces and characterful conservation areas.
Trevor concluded: “I’d been renting a flat for two years. I was finding it a struggle to save for a deposit. There’s only an increase of £80-£90 a month between the place I was renting and the four-bedroom house I now own. The difference between owning this and renting feels amazing.
“Friends and family love it. My dad’s so happy for me. I had all my brother’s family round last weekend. The kids had a sleep over so the second night in the house I had six children round – I was exhausted!
“I’m looking at putting my own touches to the place and I’m looking forward to getting fully unpacked – but it already feels like home.”
Interested buyers who move now could even be in their new home by the end of June.
To find out more visit the sales centre open daily 10am-5pm or call 0844 488 3430.
For further information, contact Claire McCowan or Emma Cox at Remarkable Group on 01962 893893.
11 June 2013
All images are used for illustrative purposes only and are representative only. They may not be the same as the actual home you purchase and the specification may differ. Images may be of a slightly different model of home and may include optional upgrades and extras which involve additional cost. Individual features such as windows, brick, carpets, paint and other material colours may vary and also the specification of fittings may vary. Any furnishings and furniture are not included in any sale. Please check with our sales representatives for details of the exact specifications available at the development(s) for each type of home and the associated prices.