What I Own: Manager Paloma, who put down a £30,000 deposit on her Norbury flat

It’s Saturday so you know the drill – it’s time for another What I Own.

Last week, we were in Brighton chatting to Hannah about her home.

This time we are talking to Paloma who bought her first home in Norbury, south London, towards the end of last year.

This is what the 31-year-old has to say about getting on the property ladder…

Tell us about yourself Paloma…

I’m 31 years old and am originally from Spain but moved to London around six years ago. I manage the marketing strategy for a company called Creatio, based in Twickenham, and I am currently living in Norbury.

Where is your property?

My flat sits in between the two Stations at Norbury and Thornton Heath. The area is ideal for me as I am very close to various local transport links and I can be in Central London within 20 minutes.

The south of London is up-and-coming and has loads of potential – probably why so many young people are moving further from Central London, as areas out of London grow and provide more social and entertainment opportunities. 

When did you move in?

I moved in December 2021.

How much does your property cost?

The final offer accepted was £206,000.

How much was your deposit?

My deposit was £30,000.

What is the monthly cost of living here now; both mortgage and bills?

The mortgage comes to around £600, with bills at roughly £400. It’s also beneficial having an energy-efficient house, where the hot water and heating are included in the service charge – as I have the chance to save substantially on bills where I perhaps wouldn’t elsewhere.

Living alone also helps to save some money with the council tax discount. 

How did you save up for your deposit?

I’ve been sensible and organised in managing my monthly budgets for a while, and always set money aside. It was good to have a Monzo account (there are others similar) and keep that account specifically for monthly social expenses.

Also, before buying my flat, I was always lucky to find flat-shares where I would pay no more than £600 in rent. Plus, I guess being two years in lockdown due to Covid-19, and not being able to socialise much, has also helped save and put that extra money aside for the deposit. 

What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you? Did you find any parts challenging?

I initially thought it would be the most difficult part, but I was soon proven wrong as I got the Mortgage in Principle within a couple days, (even though it had to go through underwriters given my lack of credit history in the UK).

Once this was approved, and I found the perfect flat, it took around 2-3 weeks to receive the final mortgage offer and all was ready to go. Big shout-out to my mortgage broker at MAB.

Where did you live before this – were you renting or living with family?

I was renting previously. I have rented all over London to be fair – first in Wood Green, then in Chiswick before I moved to Brixton which is the last place I rented.

Before that, I lived for a couple years in the US with a host family – and prior to that, I was with my parents in Spain.

What made you want to buy rather than renting?

It’s a funny story as I initially got the desire to buy as I really wanted to live on a boat, but given the added difficulties with mortgages for this type of property, I began my search to look for flats.

I wanted to invest my money and stop paying other people’s mortgages.  

How did you find this property? What made you choose it?

The search took me more than six months. I had a lot of up and downs and times where I did not look at any properties as it got exhausting. There was a boom of people buying last year and a lot of properties went for above the asking price – but I never gave up.

So in the summer, I gave it another go and thankfully came across this flat. It was basically ready to move into and perfectly located. I liked that it was a blank canvas and I had a lot of ideas on how to improve it and put my own stamp on it from the first time I saw it. 

 How have you made the property feel like home?

I have completely made it to suit my style, dedicating a lot of DIY hours into it – but I don’t think I am done just yet.

 What’s the inspiration for your interior decor style?

I couldn’t pin-point one style that suits the amount of stuff that I’ve got in my flat. If you walk around the flat, you will see contemporary pieces as I like to play with natural fabrics and wood tones, but I also have a mix of old and new styles, a lot of modern geometric patterns throughout as well as some beachy bohemian statement pieces.

I would credit Pinterest, TikTok and Etsy hugely for the number of ideas given to me.

 What’s your favourite room and why?

I think it must be the bathroom. In my 31 years I have always shared a bathroom. So having for the very first time a bathroom which is only used by me has been great. I have been able to enhance it to make it according to my taste and have enjoyed every minute decorating it.

My favourite part is the floor, which I painted myself with the help of a stencil. 

 Do you feel like you have enough space?

Absolutely. I live alone with my cat, Alastor Moody, and we have more than enough space for the both of us. I believe he enjoys the flat as much (if not more) than I do, as he can happily find nap spots all over it. 

Do you have plans to change the property?

The flat has been updated since I moved, but all I have done are cosmetic changes by painting and a lot of DIY. I would like to fit a new kitchen and bathroom eventually, but for now my next project is to install a net on the balcony for my cat’s security and some outdoor furniture to enjoy in the summer.

 Are there any problems with the property that you have to deal with?

Not particularly as it is almost new, built only 12 years ago, but one of the windows has condensation in between the double glazing that will probably need to be repaired/changed soon and I am not sure I’m ready to hear how much that costs just now.

 What do you want people to know about buying a home?

Patience is your best ally – from looking at properties (which I’ve already said is exhausting) through to dealing with solicitors, which is the most difficult part.

Choosing the right solicitor is difficult but I would make this a priority next time. Not only because you must deal with your own solicitors, but also with the seller’s solicitors and if any of the firms are too busy – the process can be very long and means a lot of waiting and patience.

 What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing? Do you plan to stay here long term?

I am definitely planning to be here for quite a long time. I wouldn’t reject the option to move to a bigger house/flat in the future if I decide to start a family but at the moment that is very far from happening and I am truly happy in life and this flat.

Shall we take a look around?

Do you want to feature in What I Own?

What I Own is a Metro.co.uk series that takes you inside people’s properties, to take an honest look at what it’s like to buy a home in the UK. If you own your home and would be up for sharing your story, please email [email protected] 

You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’ve paid to live there and how you afforded the deposit, as that’s pretty important. 

If you’re renting, you can take part too! What I Own runs alongside What I Rent, which is the same series but all about renting. Again, if you’d like to get involved just email [email protected]

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