With the number of Londoners leaving the capital rising by 61 per cent in the past 10 years, homebuyers are seeking more for their money and looking for ideal locations to raise a family. Lydia Elder (29) and her husband Pete (28) decided to follow the crowd and leave London in search of a better quality of life for their growing family. The couple made the move from their two-bedroom flat in Stratford, East London, to a four-bedroom house at David Wilson Homes’ Castle Hill development in Ebbsfleet, Kent.
Having used Shared Ownership as a way of getting onto the property ladder, Lydia and Pete have experienced first hand the benefits of using a homebuying scheme. Over a period of two years, they increased their original 25 per cent share in their flat to full ownership. Following the arrival of their two children, Teddy (3) and Arlo (1), Lydia and Pete knew that they needed to upsize and looked into using Help to Buy as a way to secure a larger property.
Lydia, an Account Manager for a media agency, comments: “Although we loved the convenience of living in Stratford, we needed to upsize. We had seen Castle Hill from the train a few times as we went to visit family who live in Kent, and were drawn to the beautiful and traditional family homes available. Pete and I had a really positive experience with Shared Ownership and were able to staircase our way to owning the flat entirely, so when we discovered Help to Buy we had confidence in the scheme.
“We borrowed the full 20% equity loan, and put down a 15% deposit ourselves, meaning that we were able to access far better mortgage rates. Amazingly, our mortgage repayments are virtually the same as what we were paying for our flat in Stratford, so we are financially no worse off yet have the added bonus of having a much larger property.”
Launched in 2013, Help to Buy is the government’s equity loan scheme, through which the government lend buyers up to 20% of the cost of their new home. This allows homebuyers to purchase a property with just a 5% cash deposit and a mortgage on only 75% of the property value. Figures show that more than 420,000 homebuyers have benefitted from Help to Buy, with around 1 in 5 of those being second steppers.
Natalie Perry, Sales and Marketing Director for David Wilson Homes Kent, comments: “As house prices in London continue to rise, we are seeing that homebuyers are willing to move further afield to get more for their money, and we expect this trend to continue. Areas such as Ebbsfleet are desirable to commuters, as there are fast connections into London, yet house prices are far more reasonable when compared to a similarly sized property within the city. Lydia and Pete have been able to purchase a much larger home than if they had remained in Stratford, demonstrating the value for money in moving out of London.”
The couple were drawn to Ebbsfleet, having found out more about the area from friends who were also buying here. Attracted to the good school opportunities and excellent children’s facilities, including playgrounds and Swanscombe Children’s Centre, Castle Hill was the ideal place to settle. For Pete, who works in insurance near Liverpool Street in London, his commute is just 10 minutes longer on the train; a worthwhile trade off to secure a larger home.
Lydia continues: “We needed to remain on the commuter belt for Pete to travel for work, and when we realised we could double the size of our property if his commute time was extended slightly, it was an easy decision to make. Castle Hill really does offer the best of both worlds, as it feels like we are in the countryside, yet we are so close to London. The David Wilson Homes team have been fantastic throughout the process, and we are looking forward to our future here.”
Ebbsfleet Valley is set in Kent, offering a range of shops, restaurants, bars and cafes located within the neighbouring towns and nearby Bluewater Shopping Centre. Local leisure centres, including David Lloyd and Swanscombe Leisure Centre, provide gyms, classes and sports clubs suited for the whole family. For those looking to enjoy the outdoors, a free Kent Wildlife Trust family membership is offered to all purchasers at Castle Hill.
Ebbsfleet International railway station is just a 15 minute walk from the development and offers a journey time to London St Pancras in 18 minutes, while London Bridge can be reached in 43 minutes. For international travel, Paris is just over two hours away via train, while Gatwick Airport is a short 40 minute drive away via the M25.
Currently on offer at Castle Hill is a collection of three-, four- and five-bedroom houses. Prices currently start at £354,995 for a three-bedroom semi-detached family home with flooring included. With Help to Buy, this can be secured with a deposit of just under £17,750. Buyers interested in finding out more about Help to Buy or the homes at Castle Hill should contact 0844 777 0057 or visit www.dwh.co.uk