I’m 25 – astronomical house prices meant I had to buy my £426,000 first home with my MUM

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THE odds are stacked against solo first-time buyers as house prices reach eye-watering highs.

It’s one of the main reasons why Zahraa Al-Afadi ditched plans to buy alone and bought a £426,000 flat in Brighton with her mum instead.

Zahraa bought her home with her mum in April this year

The duo used the Help to Buy scheme to get on the ladder quicker

Zahraa worked overtime to get hundreds of pounds extra per month for her savings

Property prices have rocketed since the Covid crisis and the average home now costs an average of £283,496 – 12.8% higher since last year, according to latest Land Registry figures.

A lack of houses on the market, the stamp duty holiday and high demand have fuelled growth over the past couple of years.

Heftier price tags means bigger deposits – and single buyers can often struggle to afford getting on the ladder.

Pharmacist Zahraa, 25, found she was priced out of the sort of home she wanted on her budget.

Tired of looking around pokey one-bed flats, she decided to pool her savings together with her mum to buy a bigger dream pad.

She and her mum, bio-medical scientist Zainab Kiliddar, 55, are both first-time buyers, so were able to use the Help to Buy scheme to boost their budget further.

Under the scheme, the government lend first-time buyers up to 20% of the property value – or 40% in London – to help them get on the ladder.

After saving hard through the Covid lockdowns, Zahraa was able to split the £21,300 deposit equally with her mum, and they each put down £11,750.

She worked overtime to raise hundreds of pounds extra per month, quit the gym, and cut down on her food costs to boost her savings.

The duo moved into their new flat in April this year.

HOAR picked Zahraa’s brains on how she’s found becoming a homeowner alongside her mum for HOAR’s My First Home series.

Tell me about your house

It’s a new-build two-bed apartment.

We’re on the third floor of a nine-storey block of flats, built by developers Optivo. 

It’s part of the Preston Barracks Regeneration scheme in the city.

We have two bathrooms, and there’s an open plan kitchen, living room and dining area.

There are three balconies – when I come back from work I can go out and try get a tan, as it catches the sun in the afternoon.

How did you decide on location

Previously my mum was living in London with my grandparents and I was in Chichester.

But I’m familiar with Brighton as I used to live around here as a student.

I feel safe there, so looked around new build properties in the area, including Hove.

It’s really easy to get to London, which is great for Mum as she works there.

How much did you pay for it?

I bought the flat with my mum and we split the 5% deposit of £21,300 between us – which meant we both put £11,750 down.

The flat was £426,000, but we used the government’s Help to Buy scheme to help us afford the property.

Using the scheme helped us to afford the home we wanted. It’s interest-free for the first five years.

We decided against using other help schemes like Shared Ownership, where you part-rent, part-buy your home alongside a housing association.

But we weren’t keen on having to pay rent alongside a mortgage too.

We took out an equity loan of £85,200.

Our mortgage is £319,500 over a 22-year term at a five-year fixed interest rate of 1.67%.

Our mortgage repayments are £1,450 a month, which my mum and I split equally between us.

How did you save for it?

I saved my half of the deposit without any help from friends or family – and I did it while renting too.

While I was saving, I was living in Chichester, paying £950 rent a month for my one-bed flat.

The Covid crisis helped me to ramp up my savings as shops and restaurants shut, and I picked up a lot of extra shifts to make more money.

Usually I work 37.5 hours a week, but my hours would go up to 49 hours a week.

This gave me £200 to £400 extra a month.

I realised that with this extra money I could seriously start thinking about buying a place of my own.

I sat down and made a spreadsheet tracking my outgoings so I could make a budget.

A lot of my money was going on takeaways and lunches out, around £300 a month.

I made my own packed lunch and cooked my own dinners to cut this down drastically, saving at least £100.

I also quit the gym as I realised my £30 membership could go towards the house.

I got a few freebies from the developer as well. 

Sometimes if you’re buying a new build, buyers are offered incentives to get a deal over the line, such as cash towards the deposit.

I got around £2,000 of household appliances including a fridge, dishwasher, and washing machine installed, and £1,000 to cover my solicitors fees.

Why did you decide to buy with your mum?

At first, I was looking to buy a place by myself.

I remember looking around one-bedroom flats and wanting something a lot more spacious.

I was also worried about piling all of my savings into a house – and I would have had to save a lot longer to raise the money needed to buy a house solo.

That’s why me and my mum discussed buying a house together last year – she’s a first time buyer too.

She’s always wanted to own her own place and move out of my grandparents house.

We’ve been able to get a bigger place because we’ve combined salaries to get a bigger mortgage.

My mum is my best friend – so it’s worked out brilliantly.

Sometimes when you’re buying a house with another person that isn’t your partner, you sign a cohabitation agreement.

This covers what share of the property each party owns, and who is financially responsible for what.

But we didn’t sign anything like that – if one of us wants to move out, I imagine we’ll put the flat up for rent – subject to Help to Buy conditions.

Advice for first time buyers

There are some great schemes you can use as a first-time buyer.

Make sure you research what help is available to you and see if you are eligible.

Get a good mortgage advisor – mine gave me lots of great information about Help to Buy.

House prices don’t look like they’re slowing up any time soon, so if you have enough cash just go for it.

Otherwise, you might get priced out of the market.

Here’s how one homeowner lost £1,000 due to an ISA loophole – but here’s how YOU can avoid making the same mistake.

While a couple sold their car to help them save up for a £20,000 deposit for their first home.