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First-time Buyer: ‘We queued at 1am to buy’

Off-plan buyers: Laura and Henry in a Fish Island show home

BACK in January, Laura Moore and Henry O’Neill decided that they’d had enough of their rented flat in Angel and it was high time they bought a place of their own.

The couple expected to have to make significant compromises on location, size and type of property, but after looking in various areas, they were delighted to find that a one-bed flat in canalside development Fish Island Village was within their budget. Not only was it brand new and generously proportioned, but it was also in the heart of Hackney Wick, their favourite location.

They were able to afford it thanks to the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, which provides a loan of up to 40 per cent of the purchase price (20 per cent outside London) to buyers who can put down a minimum five per cent deposit. It’s offered on selected new builds up to £600,000, is interest free for five years and repaid out of the proceeds when the property is sold.

Laura, 28, is an estate agent, and Henry, 27, also works in property. ‘Being in the industry ourselves, we’re pretty savvy about the options available to us and wanted to make sure that we bought the right home in the perfect location,’ says Laura.

‘We looked around quite a lot of developments which offered homes through Help to Buy, but none compared to the finish available at Fish Island Village. The fantastic sense of community also really stood out.’

Determined not to miss out on a stylish home with an open-plan living space and private balcony, they queued from 1am on launch day to buy off plan. ‘We were certain other buyers would have the same idea and our strategy worked as we were able to quickly reserve our dream home,’ adds Henry.

The pair decided to only take out a 20 per cent loan, and with a five per cent deposit have secured a 75 per cent mortgage. They moved in a fortnight ago and couldn’t be happier.

‘Both Henry and I have always had a soft spot for Hackney Wick and the surrounding area, says Laura. ‘I regularly visit Victoria Park’s Sunday morning farmers’ market to buy our fresh produce for the week so it’s great to be just an eight-minute cycle away in Fish Island.’

For Henry, a shorter, more relaxing commute is a big attraction, as he explains. ‘My journey used to take just under an hour, but from our new home, it takes me just 15 minutes to cycle and with my route largely following the River Lea, it’s one of the most scenic commutes I could ever imagine.’

Do the maths

Purchase price: £399,000

5% deposit: £19,950

20% London Help to Buy loan: £79,800

Mortgage: £1,250pcm approx

Service charge: £200pcm approx

Total monthly spend: £1,450

■ Fish Island Village, a joint venture between house builder Hill and housing association Peabody, is a new community comprising 434 one, two and three-bed private apartments. 146 one to four-bed homes will be available for shared ownership and affordable rent, and there’s also over 50,000sq ft of commercial space, where the Trampery is creating workspaces for 500 local people. One-beds start from £437,500 and two-beds from £567,500, and homes under £600,000 are available through London Help to Buy, fishislandvillage.co.uk

Key to getting on the property ladder

NEW research from free credit report provider noddle.co.uk highlights the problems millennials face in getting onto the property ladder — with half saying they can’t afford the deposit. Only 14 per cent of the 20-35 year olds surveyed said they own a home, while 62 per cent rent and 20 per cent live rent-free with family.

Nearly two thirds would love a place of their own, yet nearly one in five think that they won’t be accepted for a mortgage. Twelve per cent have given up on the idea of owning a home, while nearly a third believe they don’t earn enough to support a mortgage. Half said they can’t afford a deposit. Fifty-four per cent are tired of reading they would be able to save a deposit if they made changes, such as using taxis less often.

To help, noddle is hosting a free Cred & Breakfast event at the Breakfast Club in Artillery Lane, Spitalfields, on June 6. You can attend one of three hour-long sessions between 8am-11.30am and get expert mortgage advice, giveaways and breakfast. Applications for places close on June 4. Sign up at: bit.ly/2kmmqfA