'We spotted our Help to Buy home in a copy of Metro'

After months of unsuccessful viewings, university sweethearts Samuel Higginson, 26, and Joe Alvarez, 27 were reading Metro when they spotted an advert for Countryside’s Feature 17 development in Walthamstow.

Although they were convinced they wouldn’t be able to afford to buy there, they booked a viewing and were impressed by the high specification and volume of natural light drenching the apartments.

‘We thought it was something for the future but after arranging a viewing, we realised it was perfect for us and, with the use of London Help to Buy, everything fell into place,’ says Joe.

Help to buy enables first-time buyers who’ve saved a 5% deposit to take out a government-backed loan of up to 40% of the cost of a new-build priced up to £600,000.

Joe and Sam used the scheme to buy a spacious three-bed, fifth-floor apartment with a balcony.

Do the maths: How Help to Buy made their flat affordable

For a two-bed apartment in the same development as Sam and Joe

Purchase price: £505,000
5% deposit: £25,250
40% Help to Buy loan: £202,000
Service charge: Approx £127pcm
Mortgage: Approx £1,042pcm
Monthly spend: Approx £1,169

Before buying, they’d been renting across the river in Vauxhall but Joe was very familiar with Walthamstow as he has family locally – and had lived there when he was young.

‘I knew the area well from coming to visit aunts and uncles,’ he says. ‘I’d brought Sam here a few years ago to show him Walthamstow Village and the flat I lived in as a baby, so it’s kind of crazy that we’ve bought our first home together in the same place.’

A straightforward commute was high on the couple’s wish list, and the development is a short walk from Wood Street train station, which has regular trains to Liverpool Street.

Joe, an NHS worker, is based in Hertfordshire and benefits from the North Circular and M11 being so close as he travels by car, while Sam has an easy journey to his retail job in Paddington. He grew up in the countryside and a big attraction was the proximity to open space – including 8,000 acres of ancient woodland in Epping Forest.

‘I’ve always needed to be surrounded by greenery, so having Epping Forest on our doorstep is amazing,’ says Sam.

‘You instantly feel like you’re outside of London and there is so much to explore. We also nip out to Essex in the car to enjoy the countryside, too – it’s so easy.’

They are also enjoying getting to know their neighbourhood, which is a hub of creativity and renowned for its independent pubs, microbreweries, cafes and restaurants.

‘We love the food culture in Walthamstow – so much so, we created our own Instagram page to celebrate all the cuisines,’ Joe adds.

‘And it’s such a welcoming part of the capital. We are proud owners of a lovely three-bedroom apartment in London. It was fate – I’ve still got the newspaper clipping!’

One and two-bed apartments, all with a private balcony or terrace, are currently for sale at Feature 17, where the couple bought. The development includes an on-site Co-op supermarket, a newly opened multi-use games area and plenty of outdoor space. One-beds are from £399,950, two-beds from £505,000 and Help to Buy is available. countrysideproperties.com

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