They live with their daughter at Rectory Park in Northolt – an estate which is being regenerated by housing association Network Homes.
Like many first time buyers in London they were faced with “that” decision – whether or not to flee the capital for more affordable options.
But with their daughter already doing so well at school, and family and friends nearby, they didn’t want the disruption of moving away.
Then one night, as Stacy was retuning home from work, she noticed the sales office had opened up on the estate. She decided to nip in and that’s when she discovered a number of shared ownership properties had just come on the market in the new building next to them. It was the opportunity they were looking for.
When they visited the show home, they fell in love with it. “Compared to where we were before – a small two bed flat with tiny kitchen – it just made me want it even more” Stacy says. “I was adamant I wanted better for us. For me this was the perfect option. It was affordable. It was an area I wanted to be in. And I didn’t have to uproot us. It was ideal”.
Stacy and Mark decided to put their name down and were initially offered a 57% share based on their salaries. But they were unable to afford the deposit, so Network Homes agreed to offer them a 36% share of the flat worth approx. £355,000.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing. They were shocked to discover their mortgage application had been rejected. They were told it was due to a black mark on Stacy’s credit history because of an old unpaid water bill. Confused, Stacy contacted the supplier and was horrified to discover it related to a previous tenant who had lived in the flat they rented over five years ago, and the debt had been wrongly applied to Stacy’s name. And to make matters worse it was for a measly £70.
The couple were determined not to give up on their dream. Stacy was putting in daily calls to the water company and after a lot of persistence they agreed to remove the debt from her name. Finally their mortgage application was accepted.
“I just cried” Stacy said. “I was so emotional and happy. I was really excited. I thought it would never happen. I thought we would always be renting and it wasn’t affordable. I wanted to show Megan you can go one step more.”
Mark and Stacy say shared ownership has given them more security for the future than they would have renting. They know they are paying into a home of their own, plus they can buy more shares and staircase at any time, something that Mark says they would eventually like to do.
The family’s living space has doubled since getting their new flat, which they are delighted with. “When we first saw the flat it seemed so huge. We’ve got so much space now – we can actually cook a meal without having to use the cooker as a work top!” Stacy explains.
Being on the fifth floor, they like having a having a balcony which gives them some outdoor space and great views – especially on new year’s eve when they can see the fireworks across London and during Diwali when they can watch the light shows from nearby Southall.
What advice would they give to others in their position, who want to get on the property ladder?
“If you can afford it, do it!” Mark says.
Stacy agrees: “If it’s your only option – don’t pull back. Go for it. There may be some hurdles along the way but don’t give up. It will be one of the best things you will do.”
To find out more, visit the website: www.networkhomes.org.uk