Maxine & James' story

A change of plan and shared ownership help family buy their perfect home in Wokingham

The master plan for Maxine Swarbrick, 26, and her husband James, 32, was to get married, buy a house and have a child. However, high property prices in Berkshire meant they had to save up a little longer than expected and change the order of their plan. Thanks to shared ownership their long-held ambition to buy their own home has now come true and the couple, with their one-year old son Owen and 12-year old cat Sadie, have moved into a three-bedroom house at SO Resi Wokingham.

Maxine, who combines raising Owen with working as a nanny, explains: “Not only was I brought up in Berkshire but we’ve been renting here for years so we wanted to stay in the area. Property is expensive around here – James is from Lancashire and couldn’t believe how high the prices are! – and we’ve long known that shared ownership would be the only way we could afford to get on the property ladder and buy the type of house we wanted.”

The couple had been renting a two-bedroom terraced house in Windsor and were looking for a new home with more space for their growing family. They looked at other new developments in the area but were disappointed by the small size of the rooms, until they found SO Resi Wokingham.

James says: “SO Resi Wokingham was just a building site when we first visited but we’d seen another SO Resi development nearby at Hatchwood Mill and were impressed by the quality and spaciousness, so we were happy to go ahead and buy off plan.”

The family’s three-bedroom house, with a garden and garage, cost £450,000. They put down a five per cent deposit of £9,000 and bought a 40 per cent share for £180,000, funded by their savings and a mortgage. Their monthly outgoings are just over £700 for the mortgage and a similar amount in a payment to SO Resi on the remaining share of the home.

Maxine and James are already looking to the future and buying a higher share of their home through So Resi’s unique SO Resi Plus scheme; this allows them to buy an extra one per cent of their home each year at a pre-agreed price for up to 15 years, with no hassle and no extra costs.

Now that they have moved in, the family love their new home. It is perfectly designed for family life with a large open-plan living/dining area that opens on to the garden and a galley kitchen off the living space.

Maxine says: “Our home is amazing – there’s so much space. The layout is very well thought out and there’s masses of storage space, exactly where you need it.”

SO Resi Wokingham is part of the larger Matthews Green Farm development. When complete, it will include a variety of shops, a new primary school, landscaped open spaces, play areas and new pathways and cycle tracks.

It is around a 20-minute walk into Wokingham town centre, with its large retail offer, restaurants and activities to enjoy. Cantley Park is just across the road where Owen can play; it also has tennis courts and other sports facilities, and Maxine is looking forward to taking up her hobby of archery again.

Travel links are excellent. Wokingham station is around a mile away. “My great aunt visits from London and she says it’s a very easy journey taking just over an hour from Waterloo,” comments Maxine.

James, who works as a production manager for Alfa Romeo in Slough, has a straightforward 40-minute drive to work every day. As a motor enthusiast, he enjoys marshalling races at Goodwood at weekends, around a 1.5 hour drive away.

When Owen reaches school age, Maxine and James will be able to take advantage of the new primary school at Matthews Green Farm and the excellent schools in the area, many rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted.

Maxine says: “Shared ownership has worked out brilliantly for us. It’s such a good scheme but a lot of people don’t know about it. A family friend has sold her home in Wales and can’t afford a home in this area, so I’ve told her about shared ownership and she’s already looking into it.”