The number of first-time buyers aged 35 to 44 is up from 11% to 21% in the past 20 years*, as aspirational buyers are forced to wait longer before getting their first foot on the ladder because of the ever-inflating property market. 37-year olds Chelsea Bailey-Reardon and Hannah Bailey-Reardon had almost given up on the idea of buying their own property, until Chelsea had a gift of £20,000 from the Bank of Mum and they discovered they qualified for the Government’s Help to Buy 20 per cent equity loan scheme, which enabled them to buy a three-bedroom townhouse at Barratt Homes’ Phoenix Quarter development in Dartford, Kent.
With the couple having rented a one-bedroom apartment for 18 months in nearby Sidcup, after moving out of East London to try to save enough money to buy, they still found themselves spending £1,125 on rent each month. Expecting their first baby this month, they were desperate to buy a family home to settle down in.
Chelsea, who works in the Treasury department for an African bank in Cannon Street, comments: “I had always wanted to buy a home of my own but with both of us still keen to live fun-filled lives, we found it impossible to get together the £30,000 plus deposit that you need to be able to buy these days. We thought that by moving out to Sidcup, we would give ourselves a fighting chance of still having a life but being able to save enough money at the same time, however with our rent over £500 each a month, plus bills and a baby to save for, it was impossible.
Chelsea continues: “In the end my mum gifted us £20,000 as she saw how much we were struggling. We had savings of around £15,000 between us and this covered the costs of our stamp duty and furniture. Help to Buy made a huge difference to us; it meant that we could afford to buy a three-bedroom townhouse, rather than a one or two-bedroom flat, which would have been no use to us long-term for a family. It has made our mortgage payments much more manageable at £942 a month. That is cheaper than our rent in Sidcup, which is crazy, but perfect timing for when I am on maternity leave and have to start paying childcare costs.”
The Government-backed Help to Buy equity loan scheme allows any buyer of a new home up to the value of £600,000 to do so with a 5 per cent deposit. In total, the scheme has benefitted 120,864 homebuyers across the country since it was launched in 2013 and, in Kent, this figure amounts to a total of 4,553. Of these, 3,636 equity loans have been taken up by first time buyers, like Chelsea and Hannah.
Hannah, who is a firefighter with the London Fire Brigade comments: “Having lived in North Kent for almost 10 years and a lot of my friends based in the area, it made sense for us to look at buying here. I know that Chelsea would have loved to stay living around the Dalston or Shoreditch areas, but for what you can get for your money in these areas, it just didn’t make any sense. We would never have been able to afford to buy a three-bedroom house with a garden and off-street parking in London. We both work around Cannon Street and trains only take 45 minutes from Dartford station, plus you always get a seat – unlike on the Central Line!
Hannah continues: “Dartford is definitely on the up – the whole town centre is being regenerated with new wine bars and restaurants opening up all the time and it is only going to get better. Bluewater is just down the road and there are also lots of lovely country pubs on the doorstep, which we are enjoying the novelty of after having lived in London for so long. The amazing schooling options in the area were also a contributing factor, in particular Dartford and Wilmington Grammar Schools for Boys and Girls.”
Half of the homes have now been reserved at Phoenix Quarter with many residents already moved in and a well-settled community taking shape. The development is attracting a number of first-time buyers who are looking for a well-priced home in a good location.
Phoenix Quarter is extremely well placed for the unrivalled Kent Thameside transport network with each home located within a five-minute walk of a Fastrack bus service stop. Dartford station is just under a mile away providing trains to Victoria, Cannon Street and Charing Cross via London Bridge in less than 45 minutes. Ebbsfleet International Station, which connects residents with central London in 17 minutes and Paris in two hours is less than six miles away and also on the Fastrack bus route. The A2, M25, M2 and M20 are all easily accessible, putting Bluewater Shopping Centre, London City Airport, Gatwick Airport and The 02 Arena all within easy reach.
Dartford itself boasts amenities like the traditional Dartford Farmers' Market with fresh produce from the local Kentish fields and orchards. In 2012 it successfully bid to become a Portas Pilot town, under the scheme devised by Mary Portas, and has since seen its high street revived. The town also boasts two popular grammar schools, Dartford Grammar School for Girls and boys’ school Dartford Grammar.
Prices currently start from £377,995 for a three-bedroom house at Phoenix Quarter, with Help to Buy available. To register your interest, call 0844 470 0565 or visit www.barratthomes.co.uk.
FACTS & FIGURES
Purchase price: £363,000
Monthly mortgage payments: £942
Service charge: Up to £1239 per year
*English Housing Survey