Rowann & Rudi's story

A chance conversation at the school gates leads to a family buying their first home

Rowann Benton and her partner Rudi Hilomen-Morante, who will soon be moving into a new shared ownership house at SO Resi Camberley, Surrey, had just about given up on the idea that they would ever own their own home. They had been saving for years, but every time they thought their goal was within sight, they needed to dip into their savings for something else.

It had happened yet again when Rowann, 33, took maternity leave from her job as a supermarket sales assistant for a year when she had her son Coby, now one. “I thought we would have to build our savings back up again after the maternity leave before we could think about it again,” says Rowann.

But then a casual conversation while she was waiting for her older son, Noah, 5, to come out of school, changed everything. “One of the mums at my son’s school started talking about how she was buying a home through shared ownership and gave us lots of information. Her situation was almost exactly the same as mine, so I thought it was worth finding out more about it. Once I made the first call, everything happened really quickly and we found out that we were eligible!”

Rowann and Rudi, 31, who is a car salesman, were living in a rented two-bedroom apartment at nearby Frimley Green and wanted to stay in the same area as it was convenient for work and Noah’s school. “When we looked on Google maps we didn’t realise just how close SO Resi Camberley was – it’s less than three miles away from Frimley Green so the location was perfect," says Rowann.

Initially, however, the couple went away disappointed, as there were only apartments available and they were really hoping to get a house. It was only a matter of weeks, however, before SO Resi rang them back to say that five two-bedroom houses were going to be released at the development, if they were they still interested. “We went to see the show house, which was lovely, and they sent us the floor plans of the two-bedroom houses – when we got the tape measure out it was much bigger than our rented place, and best of all, it had a garden,” says Rowann.

They were able to buy a 30% share of the home, which had a full market value of £350,000, putting down an £8,000 deposit. Their monthly costs will be around £1,200. “It’s a bit of a jump from what we are paying now, but we were going to have to get a larger place anyway - I couldn’t stand the thought of spending another Christmas in such a tight space with two boys, so we would have been looking at that sort of amount in rent for a larger home.”

As they are buying off-plan, Rowann and Rudi are waiting for their new home to be built, and they hope to move in May or June time. Their landlord was happy for them to go on to a rolling contract rather than having to sign up for another year, so now it’s just a question of waiting – and, Rowann admits, occasionally driving past the site to see how the building is going! She admits that she was nervous at the prospect of buying a home. “It’s really quite terrifying in a way, as we are putting all our money into it, but it’s also exciting and we just have to go for it. I’m 33, with two kids, but I’m finally starting to feel like a grown up!

“It will make such a huge difference to the boys to have our own garden. We have communal gardens where we are renting, which are very nice, but Noah can’t play outside on his own. Here he will be able to go into the garden whenever he likes, and I’ll even be able to have a rotary line outside to dry the washing which is quite exciting. We are on the first floor at the moment, and I’m definitely looking forward to never having to drag a pushchair or bags of shopping up the stairs again! It will also be good to be able to have friends and family over to visit without it being so cramped.”

Kush Rawal, Director of Residential Investment at SO Resi, says: “UK house prices have risen on average by £33,000 in the past year alone, leaving many would-be first time buyers feeling priced out of local housing markets. In these unpredictable times, we know how hard it can be for families to save up a large enough deposit to get on to the housing ladder. One of the huge advantages of using shared ownership is that you need as little as a 5% deposit on the share you are buying, and can simply buy a share that you can afford at the time.”