‘When Covid hit last year, suddenly we weren’t just living together but working together as well. My new way of life really pushed me to find my own home,’ she says. ‘London felt so overcrowded, way too expensive and property was unaffordable. I’d never heard of Redhill but after a friend recommended it, I began researching and realised just how close it is. And Gatwick is only 15 minutes away by car.
‘Once I saw The Picturehouse, I knew the development was the one for me. I booked a viewing for the next day and as soon as I walked into my apartment, I could tell it was going to be mine. I didn’t look anywhere else.’
In many respects similar to shared ownership, Home Reach is delivered by Heylo housing in partnership with housebuilders including Crest Nicholson to boost affordability.
Buyers are financially assessed to determine the size of the share they can purchase, which is anything between 25 and 75% of the value.
They need only find a deposit for this share, which is covered by monthly mortgage payments, while they pay rent on the rest to Heylo, and are free to buy further increments later on.
Just like with shared ownership, for eligibility purposes household income is capped at £80,000 (£90,000 in London).
The buying process went so smoothly that Virag was in her new home two months after first clapping eyes on it. She admits she wouldn’t have been able to step on the ladder so quickly without Home Reach.
Do the maths: How Home Reach helps you buy
The Picturehouse is a collection of 133 one and two-bed apartments in the centre of Redhill, a half hour’s commute into London Bridge. All homes have open-plan layouts with fully fitted kitchens and sleek bathrooms.
Selected properties are offered with Help to Buy or Home Reach, from £130,000 for a 50% share of £260,000.
50% share: £130,000 (full market value £260,000)
5% deposit: £6,500
Mortgage: *£500 pcm
Rent: *£298 pcm
Service charge: *£133 pcm
Management fee: £20 pcm
Monthly spend: *£951
* Approximate figures
‘Owning a property had always been my dream, but I hadn’t saved up much money,’ she says.
‘The scheme meant I didn’t need a large deposit and I was able to get onto the property ladder a lot sooner. Right from the start, Crest Nicholson offered personalised advice about Home Reach and mortgages. I immediately felt safe in their hands and they were so helpful throughout the whole process.’
She now works from home full-time, and feels that her one-bed apartment and its location are absolutely perfect.
‘It is so spacious, allowing me plenty of room for a desk with my monitor, a corner sofa and a big TV in the lounge,’ says Virag. ‘Being on the fifth floor also means I’ve got a great view overlooking the trees and I get the morning sunshine.
‘The high street is on my doorstep with every shop you could possibly ask for, and if I walk up the hill for five minutes I’m in the middle of a forest with a little pond and marshes which I really enjoy. Working from home all the time means it’s especially nice to get out and relax in nature.’