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Amber finds freedom

How buying an MHO Resale home helped a teacher settle in Hackney

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It’s becoming increasingly tough for young people to afford to move out of their parent’s home and recent research indicates that, with the average age of the first time buyer currently at 37, some fear they will be in their late 40’s or later by the time they are able to make the move into a home of their own. Amber Mazzamuto’s experience of buying a home with Metropolitan Home Ownership, however, shows that there are options which provide choice and flexibility which can help younger, single people to move out and gain their independence.

When Amber (32) decided it was time to buy her own home she had a very definite idea of what she was looking for. Through buying a resale home through Metropolitan Home Ownership (MHO), she was able to find something that ticked all of her boxes. Now, Amber is the proud owner of a two-bedroom apartment in Whitmore House, Hackney.

Amber was living with her mother in Ladbroke Grove when she first started to weigh up her options on becoming a home owner. As she had once owned a property she had enough money saved for a deposit, however, London properties were still out of her price range. She did not want to move away and leave her job as a primary school teacher in Bethnal Green and was also put off from setting her sights further afield by the cost of commuting into the city. What she really wanted was to buy a home in Hackney so she could be close to work and to her friends.

Amber decided FIRST STEPS Shared Ownership was her best option and used the FIRST STEPS web site to search for her ideal property. She immediately saw the benefit of choosing a resale property as opposed to a new build as it offered more choice and enabled her to find something that would suit her lifestyle. Amber said:

“I wanted to find somewhere in Hackney with two bedrooms. I wanted to feel safe in the area but also be close to shops and some nightlife.”

To increase the chances of  finding a property in Hackney, Amber stayed with a friend in east London for six months as resale properties are more likely to be allocated to people already living in that area. After viewing a couple of properties and not liking them she spotted Whitmore House on the FIRST STEPS web site and contacted MHO immediately. As soon as she viewed the property she knew it was the one for her.

Delighted with her decision to go for a resale property with MHO, Amber says:

“You have more flexibility on choosing your location and as the properties are older they often have much larger rooms than new-builds. Friends and family have all commented on how spacious my flat is.”

Another reason for why Amber chose a resale is that, at £250 per month, the rental portion can be less than with a newly built property. With FIRST STEPS Shared Ownership, home buyers pay a mortgage on the share of the value of the home that they buy, a rent on the share retained by the housing provider and, on apartments, a service charge for services to communal parts of the building. FIRST STEPS Shared Ownership is designed to make home ownership more affordable both at the time of buying and in the longer term. In Amber’s case it means that Amber’s overall monthly housing costs are approximately £800 a month which compares very favourably to the average monthly cost of buying an average new build two bedroom property in N1, which Hometrack report as being over £2300.

Whitmore House is a refurbishment of a council property in Hackney which was transferred to Canalside Housing Partnership and refurbished approximately ten years ago. Amber’s spacious two bedroom apartment is on the second floor, and she has access to a communal balcony.  Although Amber chooses to walk to work, as it only takes her half an hour, she has plenty of transport options. For example, the new Hoxton overland rail station with Thameslink and the underground is a five minute walk away, Old Street tube station is a 15 minute walk, or she can keep a bike in Whitmore House’s bike shed to make the most of Hackney’s comprehensive network of cycling routes.

Amber was allocated the flat in July 2011 and moved in October 2011. The MHO sales team kept her up-to-date on developments during this three month period. Amber recalls:

“MHO were excellent to deal with. I always spoke to the same person who returned my calls straightway, kept me up-to-date with new information and calmed me down during moments of panic!”

Amber talked about how happy she is in her new home:

“It’s amazing to think this is my own place and I will never be asked to move on. It gives me a lot of freedom and I can decorate it and put my own personality into it.”

“I already feel part of a community. As I work in a nearby school and do voluntary work I know a lot of friends and students who live in the area. It is so nice to go down to the market at the weekend and bump into people I know.”

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