I got £3,100 of freebies on my first home including FREE £1,000 cash – here’s how

FIRST-TIME buyer Manuel Molero bagged himself £3,100 worth of perks when buying his first home.

Primary school teacher Manuel, 43, bought his £495,000 flat in a high rise tower in Canary Wharf, London, in October last year.



Buying such a high value flat would have been way out of his price range if he hadn't used the Shared Ownership scheme.

It means that you co-own your home with a housing association – you buy a portion of the property and then pay rent on the part that you don’t own.

The schemes has it's downsides too, so it's worth researching before using it.

To get a deal over the line, developers, builders and housing associations will offer financial incentives if you’re buying a new build property. 

Manuel bagged himself £1,000 in free vouchers which he bought furniture with, and didn’t have to pay any rent for three months, saving him £2,100. 

What freebies you can get varies on a case by case basis – it all depends on who you are buying from and how much they are willing to give to you.

But in some cases, you can get free cash to put towards buying your house worth up to 5% of the purchase price of the house, according to the Mortgage Advice Bureau.

The Sun sat down with Manuel to see how he finally managed to become a homeowner – despite a few challenges along the way – for the My First Home series.

Tell me about your home

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It’s a one-bed flat on the 22nd floor of a high-rise tower in Canary Wharf.

The views over London are great – I can see the Shard from my balcony, which is great for having a glass of wine after work on and to host guests.

There’s lots of storage and a walk-in wardrobe.

There’s one bathroom and the lounge, kitchen and dining room is all open plan.

How did you decide on location?

A friend of mine told me about the scheme.

I fell in love with it straight away when I went for a viewing. 

It’s a great location too – only 20 minutes on the tube to get to where I work.

How much did you spend on it?

The flat was £495,000 – which would have been way too much for me if it wasn’t for the Shared Ownership scheme.

It meant I could buy a 25% portion of the equity in the flat from housing association Notting Hill Genesis – who owns the rest.

That meant I only had to take out a mortgage of £123,750 for it – I took a 27 year term over a five year fixed period of 3.9%.

My mortgage repayments are £594 a month.

I have to pay rent to Notting Hill Genesis on the portion of the property I don’t own.

Rent is £687 per month, and there’s a £164 a month service charge I have to pay too.

The Shared Ownership scheme lets you put down a deposit of just 5% for properties – so I only had to put down £6,187 for mine.

I could have used other schemes to help me buy my first home, such as the government’s Help to Buy scheme.

But I chose to use Shared Ownership, as I would have had to save up longer for a bigger deposit – maybe three or four years more.

Buying just a portion of my flat meant the deposit was smaller and more affordable for me.

I saved for the deposit by myself.

How did you save for it?

The main way I saved for my flat was by cutting back on nights out, eating at restaurants and socialising – I was spending £500 a month on this.

I managed to cut this in half, to £250 max a month.

Cutting my food bill in half was also a big saver for me.

I used to go t oM&S and spend up to £100 a week.

But I then went to Lidl because it was much cheaper – I spent £50 a week on food, saving me £200 a month.

It was important for me to cut back on spending in other areas as my rent bill was £1,000 a month.

I got a number of financial incentives from Notting Hill Genesis when I bought my house, which helped me boost my savings by £3,100.

I got £1,000 worth of Love2shop vouchers, which I put towards furnishing my home.

You can spend the Love2shop vouchers at loads of high street shops – I spent mine on a new king size bed, a mattress, throws and cushions.

I also got a deal where I didn’t have to pay rent to Notting Hill Genesis for the first three months.

That helped me save £2,100.

Were there any complications?

There were a few bumps along the way in my house buying journey.

I was originally going to buy another Shared Ownership home in a completely different part of the city from another housing association.

I put an offer in which was accepted and I was excited, thinking that I would soon be the owner of a 25% share in my own home. 

The bank sent round a surveyor to the property – lenders will usually get the house surveyed before they lend money to you to check it’s worth the amount of money they are planning on lending you.

When the survey came back, it revealed that the cladding on the house was an issue.

If cladding which could present a fire risk is discovered on your home, it could make your house unsafe and unsellable.

Therefore, my mortgage application fell through in the final stages as the bank didn’t want to lend me the money in light of the issues.

I was so disappointed when the sale fell through.

And as I had already put my notice in at the flat I was renting, I didn’t have anywhere to live.

It meant I needed to find a home to buy really quickly, and stayed with some friends while I started househunting from scratch.

Luckily, I found my flat and it only took nine weeks to buy.

Advice for first time buyers?

Give yourself plenty of time to research – make sure you look into schemes like Shared Ownership to see what help is available to you.

Remember that it takes a while to buy so be patient, and things might not go to plan. 

You can buy at any age, it’s never too late – I’m 43 and I’m only just a first-time buyer.

It’s tough but really rewarding the moment you get keys in hand – it was the happiest day of my life.

Here's how one couple bought their first home after being rejected for a mortgage due to a poor credit score.

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