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No holidays, Starbucks or nights out - How young couple got on housing ladder

PUBLISHED: 07:05 01 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:27 01 March 2020

Emily McGregor and Ian Rayner, who bought their own home in North Walsham after making changes to their way of life. North Walsham Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Emily McGregor and Ian Rayner, who bought their own home in North Walsham after making changes to their way of life. North Walsham Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Archant

The age when we can afford to buy a home is creeping slowly higher. STUART ANDERSON spoke to one young couple about how they managed to finally get on the property ladder.

Cutting out coffees, giving up on going out and foregoing holidays.

They're the kind of sacrifices many of us would be reluctant to make.

But clamping down on spending has paid off for Emily McGregor, 27, and Ian Rayner, 32 - who can now call themselves homeowners in north Norfolk.

"My two biggest things were coffee - from Starbucks - and lunches," Mr Rayner said. "I used to buy lunch all the time, and that was £15-£20 a week.

Emily McGregor and Ian Rayner. Picture: BRITTANY WOODMANEmily McGregor and Ian Rayner. Picture: BRITTANY WOODMAN

"You start looking back at all the stuff you bought that's kind of a waste. I sold loads of things on eBay and stopped buying things like DVDs - things you don't really need."

Buyers are now having to wait longer to get on the housing ladder.

According to the Office of National Statistics, the average age for first-time home buyers is now 33, up from 30.9 in 2007.

HSBC has suggested that once the government Help to Buy scheme ends in 2023 this could go up to 40.

But despite the rise of the so-called 'middle-aged first-time buyer,' it is still possible to own your own home at a young age if compromises are made, as Miss McGregor and Mr Rayner has shown.

For this couple, who previously rented in central Norwich, it meant buying on a new estate on the outskirts of North Walsham.

Their three-bedroom home in Roper Way cost £182,000. Construction was finished just days before they moved in last June.

Miss McGregor said it was the first property they viewed, and a combination of value-for-money, a wish to move out of the city, and location made it perfect for them.

Emily McGregor and Ian Rayner bought their first home on a new estate in Roper Way, North Walsham Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANEmily McGregor and Ian Rayner bought their first home on a new estate in Roper Way, North Walsham Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

She said: "We'd been living together for about six years before we bought the house. It got to the point with rent where we felt like we were just throwing money away.

"Living in the centre of Norwich is nice when you're younger, but we thought it made sense to move out a little bit further.

"This is central to everything - 15-20 minutes away from our family, work, friends.

"One of my sister's friends bought pretty much the same as this but slightly smaller in Sprowston or Rackheath and it was about £30,000 more for the same thing."

Emily McGregor and Ian Rayner bought their first home on a new estate in Roper Way, North Walsham Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANEmily McGregor and Ian Rayner bought their first home on a new estate in Roper Way, North Walsham Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Mr Rayner works at Sainsbury's Longwater store and Miss McGregor works at Yorkshire Building Society in central Norwich.

Their home-ownership journey began when Mr Rayner got a bonus from work.

He said: "I put it straight into a help-to-buy ISA and I put money in every month for two/three years.

"I saved around £4,000 and I got an extra £1,000 out of that when we bought our house."

New help-to-buy ISA accounts ended in November last year. But there are still ways to build up a nest egg.

For Miss McGregor, it was a matter of spending discipline.

She said: "I worked out exactly my spends and started writing everything down. I worked out I'd have £33 just to spend on whatever I wanted each week.

"We stopped going out for dinner or going out with friends.

"Instead we'd invite them around or we'd take some food and drink around theirs.

"We always try and go away in the summer for a week or so but you're looking at the best part of £1,000 once you've booked your holiday and then you've got your spending money. So we sacrificed that for one year."

The government's Help to Buy scheme means you first-time home buyers need as little as a 5pc deposit, but Miss McGregor said they ended up thousands more on loan through the scheme.

She said: "We ended up having £10,000 ourselves and we got around £35,000 through the government Help to Buy.

"For the first five years you don't pay any interest on that, only a small admin fee, and after that it's a small interest rate and you've got up to 25 years to pay it off."

Through a broker, they got a 2.13pc rate for the rest of their mortgage.

And surprisingly for this couple, paying off a mortgage can be cheaper than renting.

Miss McGregor said: "Buying a home is a scary thought because you think it's going to be so expensive.

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"But we pay £460 a month on our mortgage and it were paying around £600 renting, so we have a lot more disposable income now."

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