A route onto the property ladder for a keyworker in Reading

Originally from Birmingham, midwife Sophie had spent five years building her life in Reading, but never thought that she would be able to afford her own home, until a visit to L&Q at Huntley Wharf changed her mind.

As Sophie explains, “I used to drive past L&Q at Huntley Wharf on the way to work for years and had watched it being built, so I was aware that there were new homes coming soon. However, as they were right in the centre of Reading, close to the train station and town, I never thought that I would be able to afford one on my single income.”

Noticing an advert for a brand-new collection of one- and two-bedroom homes on the hoarding of the development, Sophie finally decided to enquire inside. She recalls, “One day I decided to go into L&Q’s marketing suite and see what I could find out about the homes. I had managed to put away some savings during Covid, and after that initial discussion with the sales team, I realised that I might have enough for a deposit through the Shared Ownership scheme.”

Shared Ownership is a part-buy, part-rent scheme which enables eligible first-time buyers to purchase a percentage share of a property, whilst paying rent on the unowned share. Deposits are often as low as 10% of the share bought, providing an affordable route for buyers onto the property ladder.

Sophie purchased a 25% share of a one-bedroom Shared Ownership apartment at L&Q at Huntley Wharf, making use of L&Q’s 5% deposit incentive.

Speaking about her buying process, Sophie says, “I was able to use one of L&Q’s recommended independent financial advisors, Censeo, who were brilliant and supported me throughout the eligibility process – I honestly could not believe that I could get onto the property ladder in Reading on my own, just a twelve-minute walk from where I work.

I bought my home off-plan, meaning that I only saw it the week before I moved in! Perhaps I should have had more fear about not seeing my apartment before I bought it, but I had viewed the lovely show home at L&Q at Huntley Wharf and the sales team were helpful in showing me floor plans and listings of fittings, so I could picture what it would be like. When I finally walked into my apartment, any doubts were instantly eased in my mind – it was beautiful!”

Since moving into her home in February 2022, Sophie explains how she’s found having her own home so far. “Despite there being delays due to Covid, it was an amazing feeling when I was able to move into my home. The development is so peaceful, and my apartment overlooks the communal gardens, which is nice and quiet for when I need to sleep before night shifts.

I couldn’t believe how big the open-plan living space was – coming from a very small one-bedroom rented flat, where I could barely fit my sofa and TV, it was incredible to suddenly have a huge space for entertaining.”

Commenting on the surrounding area, Sophie expectations have been met for living in the heart of Reading. She says, “The location of L&Q at Huntley Wharf is ideal – we have the perfect mix between urban life and lots of nearby green spaces. Being able to walk to the hospital where I work has massively cut down my commuting time and the opening of the Elizabeth line is going to make things much easier if I need to pop into London.

Plus, a major draw of L&Q at Huntley Wharf were the plans for developing the river area next to the development. We’re going to have a new social hub with restaurants, a shop and gym which is so exciting and will be so convenient.”

Looking toward her future in Reading, Sophie comments, “Over the next five years, my plan is to staircase so that I can own a higher share in my property. But, for the time being, I’m enjoying making my apartment my own with new furniture and putting up photos – something I could never do when I rented. I now even have my first pets, two housetrained rabbits, Chewie and Stewie, who absolutely love the open-plan kitchen – another amazing thing about finally having my own home!”