Buy with a friend to get on the fast track to home ownership Guest blog by Andrea Dean

Edge - show apartment

Nothing beats the moment when you get the keys to a place of your own. You no longer have the insecurity of renting or dealing with difficult landlords, you can paint it and hang pictures, and you’ll be investing in your future rather than paying off someone else’s mortgage. Even though mortgages are more expensive than this time last year, owning a home is cheaper than renting. Halifax has found that across the UK, homeowners are nearly £500 better off per year than renters and that the greatest difference is in London, where owners save nearly £3,000 compared with those renting similar properties. With steep rental rises forecast to continue, the gap is set to widen further.

Teaming up with a friend to buy your first home will ease the financial burden, boost affordability and get you on the property ladder much sooner than when going it alone.  By joining forces, you’ll have a larger deposit and qualify for a bigger mortgage, and monthly payments and household bills will be halved. According to research by estate agent comparison site, buyers on an average UK salary can currently secure a mortgage of 4.5 times their income, equating to just over £150,000. However, co-buyers can borrow four times their combined income, pushing the figure up to more than £267,000 and substantially increasing purchasing power

Countryside’s developments are ideal for friends who are buying together, as they are spacious and well-designed with plenty of storage and room for entertaining. They’re well-located for commuting, and big enough to accommodate work-from-home, private and shared spaces. You’ll find them throughout London and the home counties. Take Greenwich Millennium Village, an established and welcoming community situated on the Greenwich Peninsula next to the Thames and a short walk from the O2. Canary Wharf is one stop away, London Bridge can be reached in eight minutes, and an ecology park and a shop, spa, hairdresser and vegan café are all on-site. One, two and three-bedroom homes in the current phase, The Galleria, have large open plan kitchen/living/dining rooms opening out to a balcony or terrace, integrated Bosch appliances including a dishwasher, and a freestanding washer/dryer out of sight in the hall cupboard. Most bedrooms are doubles, and some of the two-bedroom apartments incorporate an en-suite shower room as well as a bathroom.  

Edge in leafy Hainault provides the perfect work/life balance, as it’s close to two country parks – Hainault Forest and Fairlop Waters – yet only half an hour from the City via the Central Line from Grange Hill or Hainault stations, which are both in walking distance. Each of the one, two and three-bedroom apartments comes with integrated kitchen appliances, a smart bathroom with chrome fittings, high-speed wifi and a private balcony accessed via fully-glazed doors in the open plan kitchen/living/dining area. Luxury flooring is fitted throughout, and the two-bedroom homes currently for sale include a second bathroom.

Another option for buyers is Beaulieu, a thriving development with a long history as it’s set around a parkland estate that was once owned by King Henry VIII. Today it comprises several individual neighbourhoods that connect seamlessly with the surrounding countryside. It’s fantastic for commuters as the fastest trains from Chelmsford station take only 32 minutes to Liverpool Street, and the A12 - which links to the M25 and runs into London - is two and a half miles away. The commute will be even easier in the future as work has begun on a new on-site station. The first to be built on the Great Eastern main line in over 100 years, it’s scheduled to become fully operational in 2026, so buying at Beaulieu could be a very wise move. One-bedroom homes are currently available in Lapwing Apartments at Beaulieu Gate, the latest addition to the district and inspired by its Tudor roots. They feature red-brick detailing, bay windows and contemporary interiors with open plan layouts, hotel-style bathrooms, fitted bedroom wardrobes and parking. Those on offer in adjacent Beaulieu Heath include one and two-bedroom houses with allocated parking, patio gardens, high-spec open plan kitchens with built-in appliances, flooring fitted throughout and ground floor cloakrooms.

A huge benefit in choosing a new home from Countryside is that running costs are much lower than in an equivalent older property. Apartments and houses are very energy efficient, featuring A-rated boilers (where possible), LED lighting, smart thermostats and high levels of insulation. Being brand new, you won’t have any expected repair bills, and a 10-year NHBC warranty gives peace of mind.

First-time buyers can also save money by utilising one of a number of schemes aimed at helping them on to the ladder. If it is Bank of Mum and Dad you’re using, where a family member or friend has contributed at least five per cent towards your deposit, you may be eligible for Deposit Assist. Countryside will reward them for their generosity by giving them £2,000 when you complete and at the same time you’ll receive £5,000 (paid as an allowance on legal completion). Or, purchase a designated home and Countryside will pay contribute up to £1,2500 a month towards your mortgage for a whole year, potentially saving up to £15,000 (mortgage subsidy paid as an allowance upon legal completion).