‘I strug­gled and saved for six years’

London Evening Standard (West End Final B) - ES Homes and Property - - First-time Buyers -

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

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