‘I struggled and saved for six years’
SETTLING into her first home, American-born Corina Gardner is well aware that with soaring prices and high deposit demands, she is one of the lucky few able to buy a property in London.
“In some ways it is embarrassing to tell people I am 38 years old and just buying my first home,” she says. “It’s like ringing my parents and telling them I’ve just learned to walk.
“I have a successful career, I’ve been saving for nearly six years, I had a loan from my mom, and this is how long it has taken me to enter the market in London.”
Corina moved to the UK eight years ago and works for an international charity. When she arrived in London she rented with friends, initially in Bermondsey and then in Farringdon. The shared house in Farringdon was a bargain at about £1,000 a month each, including bills.
Last year one friend moved in with her boyfriend, and the other decided to move to a different area. Corina was forced to give up the lease on the house. She stayed with friends and began looking for somewhere else to rent but after struggling to find anything she liked, she looked at the possibility of buying and found she could just afford it. House hunting was time-consuming and frustrating — one sale fell through after she had paid £500 for a survey — but in October she had an offer of £357,000 accepted on a two-bedroom maisonette in an Edwardian house in Hither Green, south-east London, and moved in at the end of last month.
Thanks to her savings and aboveaverage salary, and her parental loan, Corina was able to put down a 15 per cent deposit, keeping her interest payments down.
She will pay about £1,200 a month and plans to get a lodger to occupy her spare room.
“Conservatively, I will be able to get £600 a month for a double room, so I’ll be paying far less on my mortgage than I did on rent,” she says.
A home of her own at last: at 38, Corina Gardner is buying her first place