It’s Saturday, so it’s time for another instalment of What I Own.
This week, we’re in south London chatting to Steven who bought his Deptford flat last year.
He shares the highs and lows of his property-buying journey and reveals some of the problems he and his husband, Santi, have faced since moving in.
This is what Steven has to say about getting on the ladder…
Tell us about yourself.
We are Steven (32), Santi (40) and Chichi (12) – our dog. We’ve been married for 13 years and have been living in London together for almost nine. One of us runs a design agency and the other is a materials engineer. We are currently based in South East London.
Where abouts is your property? What do you think of the area
We are based in Deptford Foundry, really close to New Cross station. We have slowly fallen in love with the area: it’s full of character and genuinely cool. There’s a feeling of change and transformation in the air, we are pretty sure that this area will be unrecognisable in five years time.
When did you move in?
We moved in early summer 2021.
How much does your property cost?
We purchased our apartment for £600,000 – £30,000 under asking price.
How much was your deposit?
We ended up paying a £60,000 deposit.
What is the monthly cost of living here now; both mortgage and bills?
I’d say around £2,000.
How did you save up for your deposit?
Lockdown helped in many ways. Having to stay home saved us a good amount of money and, from a business perspective, things took a turn for the best as soon as the first lockdown started.
What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you? Did you find any parts challenging?
It was scary at first, especially as one of us is self-employed. We’ve heard many horror stories about the process and were expecting the worst. The reality was that it was much easier than what we’d imagined.
The biggest challenge was the constant wait, sometimes having a feeling that there was no progress at all. Then suddenly everything will fall into place within a day or two.
Where did you live before this – were you renting or living with family?
We rented a flat in East London.
What made you want to buy rather than renting?
We realised that it was much cheaper to pay a mortgage every month than to pay rent. We were spending more than £2,500 a month on rent plus bills. We also found ourselves with some disposable income and decided to invest in our future before we spent it all once lockdown was over.
How did you find this property? What made you choose it?
We spent a very long time looking for a property. It became an obsession. Many times we thought we had one, but were never truly sure about it.
If you live in London you’d know the rivalry between one side of the river and the other, so south of the river was never an option for us. But we ended up, out of curiosity (and desperation), accepting an invitation from an estate agent to visit a property in Deptford.
Once we walked in and saw the sun hiding behind the Shard and the most amazing London views from a 15th floor – plus knew it was a 12-minute commute to London Bridge – it was a non-brainer. We both grabbed our hands and gave each other the look: this is it.
We were always told that when you find the property for you, you will know. This is very true. We knew it straight away.
How have you made the property feel like home?
It’s all about the small details that bring your personality to life. We are very particular about the decor and the scent of our home (candles everywhere!).
Our plants are a very important part of our home, they’ve been loving the constant daylight we get in this apartment. Our Monsteras are almost as big as the ones from our home country, Colombia.
What’s the inspiration for your interior decor style?
Mid-century modern with a kitsch twist is how I’d describe our (current) decor style.
What’s your favourite room and why?
One of us is still not over the views. You can see everything that London has to offer from our balcony. Everything. So the balcony has to be up there, especially at sunset.
During the winter our studio is where we can have the most fun, especially with our colourful artwork and decoration. This is the only place where I’m allowed to be messy (ish).
Do you feel like you have enough space?
Does anyone ever feel like they have enough space?
The reality is that we will always need more space, especially for clothes and shoes – but we can’t complain at the moment. We are pretty happy for now, as long as we don’t have a kid or another dog anytime soon.
Do you have plans to change the property?
Our plan is to buy a house at some point, something where we can raise a family.
Are there any problems with the property that you have to deal with?
Last November one of our (very heavy) windows fell off due to strong winds. We live on a 15th floor and this could’ve been a very different story if someone was in the the room at the time.
We are still dealing with the developers and property management company to get it fixed, it’s been nine months.
What do you want people to know about buying a home?
There are many theories and horror stories about how hard it is to buy a home, especially if you’re self-employed or have a small deposit.
As first generation immigrants and first time buyers, this whole process was uncharted territory for us, our advice is to make sure you speak to a good mortgage advisor, there are many options out there that people don’t know about.
Don’t be scared to ask questions and remember that (most of the time) buying a home is not as scary, not as difficult and not as expensive as people make you believe.
What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing? Do you plan to stay here long term?
We plan to stay here for at least three more years, then we will see where life takes us.
Shall we take a look around?
Do you want to feature in What I Own?
What I Own is a Metro.co.uk series that takes you inside people’s properties, to take an honest look at what it’s like to buy a home in the UK. If you own your home and would be up for sharing your story, please email email@example.com.
You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’ve paid to live there and how you afforded the deposit, as that’s pretty important.
If you’re renting, you can take part too! What I Own runs alongside What I Rent, which is the same series but all about renting. Again, if you’d like to get involved just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have a story to share?
Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.