Bristol couple Michael and Maryl Steyn have become the first Bovis Homes customers in the UK to move into their new home using the new Government-backed FirstBuy scheme.
For the two 30-year-olds the shared equity scheme has meant an end to 'wasted' rent money and opened the door to a new life where they can kick back, enjoy the area and start to plan a family.
"We got married about two years ago, and since then have been discussing buying a house, or at least getting onto the property ladder," said Michael. "We were renting a flat in the city originally and always felt our money was just being wasted, although we did have to have a roof over our head."
With the cost of renting rising across the country, the pieces of the puzzle for Michael, a senior payroll technician, and Maryl, a primary school teacher, all fitted into place when the Government unveiled its plans for FirstBuy and the couple then went to visit Bovis Homes' development, The Hollies, in the Speedwell area of the city.
"FirstBuy represented an affordable way for us to get onto the property ladder," explained Michael. "Saving a deposit up to a minimum of 20-25% of the value of the property had been an extremely daunting prospect but FirstBuy gave us the opportunity to buy through the support of an equity loan, with only a 5% deposit needed from us."
Firstbuy is designed to get first-time buyers, or those re-entering the market, onto the property ladder. It works with a joint 20% loan from the Government and Bovis Homes, with the purchaser only needing a 5% deposit and a 75% loan-to-value (LTV) mortgage which will come at a much lower interest rate than higher percentage LTV mortgages in the market place. The buyer has 25 years to pay back the equity loan, of which the first five years are interest-free.
Bovis Homes will steer the homebuyer through the process, offering them access to an independent mortgage broker and Local Homebuy Agent who will check eligibility and talk through all the figures.
"Bovis Homes were extremely helpful and supportive through the buying process, which was great as this can be a really stressful experience for first-time buyers," said Michael. It's absolutely amazing finally having our own home and there's a great sense of freedom - we can do what we want, when we want."
The couple selected a three-bed Portman at The Hollies and have already settled into life there, enjoying their hobbies of cycling and running - and trying out a new interest by starting to grow their own fruit and veg at an allotment just down the road.
"We completely fell in love with the Portman as soon as we saw it," said Maryl. "It had everything we were looking for - a garage, three bedrooms and a garden. There was also a real bonus because it has an extra lounge/sitting room to the original house we looked at, so we can grow our family quite comfortably and settle here for a few years.
"The price was also within our budget and the repayments are just a bit more than what we were paying in rent. We really feel we have settled down and feel so much more relaxed knowing we have our own house. We can now plan things for the future better and just want people to visit us all the time."