Two years ago, Aveen Kelly, 32, was given the opportunity to learn more about how Shared ownership works, a result of her employer Wandsworth Council's efforts to encourage buyers in the community to consider the scheme.
Armed with her knowledge of shared ownership - which enables first-time buyers priced out of the open market to purchase a share of a property and straightforward monthly payments on the remaining share - she discovered XVII, a new shared ownership development in Tooting, South London, comprising one and two-bedroom homes.
Aveen wasted no time in contacting So Resi by Thames Valley Housing, as the homes were close to where she was renting with friends.
"I found out about XVII long before I could buy, so I saved up hard by sacrificing holidays and saying no to meals out, which was difficult in the beginning," says Aveen. "I could see the progress of the site every day on the way to work, which was a real incentive to keep going – I was adamant that this is where I would buy and how I would get on the property ladder." Although Aveen works for Wandsworth Council, she still had to register her details through a local home buy agent like every other potential buyer in the borough.
Aveen says: "Perhaps I was more organised than most but the application process was so easy! I was determined to purchase at XVII and was thrilled to hear from Thames Valley Housing that I could reserve a one-bedroom apartment with a deposit of £25,200, which I did in 2014. I bought a 60% share for £168,000 and I was so happy to receive the keys to my new home in February 2015."
The homes at XVII are set in an attractive building that curves round the junction of Trevelyan Road and Tooting High Street, and features soft red and stone-coloured brickwork with extensive glazing creating a contemporary feel. The apartments, completed to a high specification, are arranged over three floors above a retail outlet and there's a communal landscaped courtyard is located on the first floor.
After a year of living in her new home, Aveen took advantage of SO Plus, a scheme unique to Thames Valley Housing, which enables shared owners to buy an extra 1% of their home each year, without the cost of arranging a solicitor each time a share is purchased.
"I've gone from renting in London to getting on the property ladder, to now being on the road to owning 100% of my home. It sounds cliché but I have a brilliant quality of life; I'm so thankful for the scheme. I never would have been able to afford a home on the open market and my outgoings are cheaper than if I were renting on my own in a similar-sized property in the area."
But the best thing about owning her own home? "Decorating it!" says Aveen. "Buying brand new means it's a blank canvas - I can just put my own stamp on it."
XVII has now all sold, however, So Resi offers shared ownership on a selection of homes across London and the South East. For more information about SO Plus please visit: www.soresi.co.uk or call 0208 607 0550.