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First Time Buyer: A key worker incentive scheme helped this couple’s money go further

Signed, sealed, delivered: Peter and Sam outside their new Mulberry home

WHEN Peter Sharpe, a medical engineer for the NHS, and Sam Bradfield, a college deputy head teacher, reserved their first home together at Mulberry Homes’ Brunswick Gate in Lower Stondon, Bedfordshire, they were delighted to discover that they were eligible for the developer’s key worker scheme. It enabled them to upgrade their kitchen and have carpet fitted throughout their four-bed home.

However, not in their wildest dreams could they have imagined that they would be moving into their new home in the midst of a global pandemic.

Peter and Sam, who are both 35, reserved the property off-plan last November, and were legally contracted to buy it when lockdown was announced in March.

‘We were anxious that we wouldn’t be able to move but Mulberry did everything they could to make it happen for us,’ says Peter, who used his previous flat in St Albans in part exchange. ‘Most things were done over the phone and online and when it came to moving day, the team followed social distancing measures and they’ve been on hand remotely ever since to help with anything we’ve needed.’

Peter has been going out to work, providing vital maintenance for hospital equipment -including the ventilators at West Herts Hospital Trust being used to care for Covid-19 patients — while Sam has been based at home, providing support to her college to ensure continued learning through online tuition for the students ahead of them returning in person.

The house has given the pair all the space they’ve needed to cope with lockdown: they’ve converted one of the bedrooms into a study for Sam, and another has been transformed in a games room for Peter. And the transition from a flat to a roomy house in a semi-rural setting has meant that they’ve been able to make the most of their own private outside space and enjoy countryside views while stuck at home. ‘We feel so lucky to have made it into our first home together and we are really making the most of the location,’ says Sam. ‘We have the best of both worlds here.’

Mulberry Homes’ Key Workers Scheme is available to staff in schools, hospitals, doctors’ surgeries, emergency services and armed forces personnel, and has recently been extended to include all essential and critical workers, as defined on gov.uk. On offer to first-time buyers and people who are looking to move up the property ladder, it provides a contribution of up to £500 for every £20,000 of the purchase price, and can be put towards stamp duty, legal, survey or mortgage broker fees — or, as Sam and Peter have done, used to pay for flooring or other upgrades. The maximum contribution is £15,000 and the scheme is available on selected properties at developments in Leicestershire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire.

Key workers will also receive a gift of £1,000 to spend with local businesses of their choice.

Brunswick Gate consists of three, four and five-bed houses in a secluded spot looking out over farmland, from £459,950, mulberryhomes.co.uk

Do the maths

FOR A FOUR-BED HOUSE

Purchase price: £532,950

10 per cent deposit: £53,295

Estate charge: approx £12 per month

Mortgage: approx £1,961

Monthly spend: approx £1,973

New homes for our new heroes…

Oaklands Heath, Birchencliffe HD2

From £374,995

A range of four and five-bed homes in a charming village with fast access to Huddersfield and the M62. NHS employees receive a £5,000 discount and £1,000 in vouchers to spend on upgrades from Harron’s Excellence range, harronhomes.com

The Spinneys, Cawston CV22

From £239,995

These three, four and five-bed houses are less than two miles from Rugby town centre and are convenient for the M1 as well as schools rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. Key workers get £500 off for every £25,000 they spend plus flooring worth up to £3,000,lindenhomes.co.uk

Barratt @ Heritage Grange, Edinburgh EH17

From £249,995

Only 15 minutes from the centre of Edinburgh, these three and four bed-houses provide the perfect balance between city and countryside living. Barratt is offering NHS staff a five per cent contribution towards their deposit up to a maximum of £15,000, barratthomes.co.uk

■ All these offers run until December 31; Key workers can benefit from fee-free mortgage advice from an independent mortgage company. Find out more at keyworkerdiscounts.uk