Tobias Obergfoell and Stephan Duerrnagel had almost given up on the idea of home ownership after a deal to buy a two-bedroom home in Streatham Hill fell through in 2013.
"It was devastating," says Stephan (34), a restaurant manager. "The deposit was in place, the mortgage was in place but it all fell through at the last minute when the seller pulled out."
Disheartened from going through the process again, the couple nevertheless decided to look into home ownership once more, before ever-increasing house prices meant that they would be priced out of the market for good.
The couple did some research on the Share To Buy website where they read about shared ownership and the properties at 243 Ealing Road in Alperton, a development of 441 homes within seven colourful buildings situated on the banks of the Grand Union Canal by Network Homes and Hill. The development forms the first residential phase of the wider Alperton regeneration masterplan.
The tenure blind homes were available to buy through a variety of purchasing options: outright sale, using shared equity (funded by the Mayor's Housing Covenant), shared ownership or Help to Buy. The choice meant that Londoners with a range of budgets were able to purchase at the scheme.
"We didn't know what to expect from a shared ownership apartment," says Tobias (37), a retail manager, "but we were very impressed with the specification, which was very similar to the apartments for private sale." The couple bought a 50% share in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment priced at £185,000 (full market value £370,000), with a deposit of £30,000.
The move made perfect financial sense as their monthly outgoings (subsidised rent repayments of £423, mortgage repayments of £570 and service charges of £149) are less than their monthly rent of £1,500 at their previous home – a two-bedroom terraced house in Tooting.
First time buyers often have to make compromises so the couple was surprised to find how much they got for their money. All homeowners at 243 Ealing Road have their own private balconies or roof terraces, or can relax in one of the many communal gardens. For peace of mind, there's an Estate Manager who monitors the 24-hour CCTV surveillance and can respond to customer concerns. What's more, all residents receive automatic entitlement to one year's free Zipcar car club membership.
"There are definite advantages to buying a newly built home," says Stephan. "We love the stylish external design of the scheme and we haven't had to redecorate or do anything with the apartment because it's just how we want it. We are also impressed with the double glazing, spacious wardrobes and the heating system is very energy efficient."
"On one side of the apartment we have views of the canal, green space and golf course and the other side we have views over London – we really do have the best of both worlds," adds Tobias.
Network Homes has been active in promoting community spirit at the development. There's a communal garden and a diverse range of play areas for younger residents. Union Square – a new public park – is the focal point of the development, with seating, a café and access to the towpath along the canal.
"There's a great community here, we've made lots of new friends" says Stephan. "A lot of the residents are part of a Facebook group where everyone chats, gives advice and swap recommendations on places in the area to visit."
243 Ealing Road's location was a big draw for the couple. The scheme is very well positioned next to Alperton underground station (served by both Piccadilly and Central lines), which will only improve further when Crossrail opens in 2018.
"We love living so close to the canal as it's great for walks," says Tobias. "Also, Alperton is undergoing significant regeneration so it's a great up-and-coming area to be living in."
All the homes at 243 Ealing Road have now sold. However, The Bureau in Colindale - a stylish collection of 33 one, two and three-bedroom apartments – will soon be launching and available to purchase through shared ownership. To register your interest visit https://www.networkliving.co.uk/development/bureau or call 0208 782 4213.