Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

The photo shows Emily Seymour photographed in her apartment in Norwood, south London.

Emily fell in love with an apartment close to her family home (Photo: Daniel Lynch /

When Emily Seymour, 30, started looking for a property to buy in September 2019, a cool location was at the top of her wish list.

She wanted a place close to great restaurants and bars and a little more central than her home in South Norwood.

But with a budget of £ 380,000, she quickly realized she would struggle to find something suitable. “I wanted a period property with two bedrooms with garden, which is really hard to find in London on a limited budget,” she says.

Emily was leading in Zone 2 and 3 areas when Covid-19 hit, and her office job shifted to full-time work from home.

‘My priorities changed quickly. I realized that being close to my friends and being able to walk to and from each other’s houses was more important to me than I had previously thought, ‘she says.

‘Moving to a completely different area where I did not know anyone quickly lost its appeal, especially when I knew I had to live and work alone.’

In September 2020, Emily changed pace. She began searching in South Norwood, where she came across the apartment she now calls home.

The photo shows Emily Seymour photographed in her apartment in Norwood, south London.

Working From Home Emily Rethinks Location (Image: Daniel Lynch)

‘I saw it advertised for £ 365,000 on a local Facebook group and created a view immediately.’

Interestingly, this was the only property that Emily saw in person. Properties were sold quickly due to the stamp duty, so there was little on the market within her budget.

‘It was a much higher spec than any other place I had seen. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was it.

“I had been seeing housing online for a year, so it didn’t feel like a hasty decision,” she says.

Emily let the real estate agent know she was interested and explained that she had more than a 50% deposit, which made her an attractive buyer. She spent the next week getting her finances in order, and a principal loan was agreed with NatWest before coming up with an offer.

The photo shows Emily Seymour photographed in her apartment in Norwood, south London.

The apartment was in good condition (Photo: Daniel Lynch)

She appreciates that she was in a very lucky position when her parents were able to help. Many first-time buyers – about 49% – rely to some extent on the Bank of Mum and Dad helping them take their first steps on the real estate ladder, according to Savills.

Emily considers herself very lucky to be among those whose parents were able to help.

‘My parents gave me £ 150,000 which they themselves had inherited from their parents.

‘I also inherited £ 15,000 from my grandmother, who died in May 2020, and had £ 10,000 on a childhood savings account.’

However, she was also very shrewd when it came to the remaining £ 20,000, which she managed to save herself within four years. “In 2017, I got a new job with a pay rise and finally earned enough to start saving,” she says.

Emily opened a Hargreaves Lansdown Lifetime Isa (Lisa) account, which allowed her to contribute up to £ 4,000 each tax year – with the government adding an additional 25%.

‘I put in £ 300 a month and then filled it up at the end of the year with work bonuses. I would recommend it to any first time buyer as it was an easy way to earn £ 4,000 extra. ‘

The photo shows Emily Seymour photographed in her apartment in Norwood, south London.

‘My parents gave me £ 150,000’ (Photo: Daniel Lynch)

Last September, Emily saw the property for the second time and immediately offered the full offer price – another buyer had made a lower offer and Emily wanted to make sure her offer was what was accepted.

Fortunately, three days later, after a nerve-wracking wait, her offer was agreed and she got the ball rolling and found a lawyer.

Due to the stamp duty holiday, there were some delays with the investigations and both the seller’s and Emily’s lawyers were inundated when dealing with other property sales.

‘We switched first in mid-January and then finished a week later on January 29, 2021.’

“It was a strange day,” Emily adds. ‘I had to personally go to the lawyers to sign everything, and because it was rush hour, I was not allowed to go into their offices – so I had to sign all the paperwork on the street.’ Emily spent the next few weeks moving in her belongings, with her cats Mimi and Atlas being the last to arrive.

She then spent the next six months decorating and filling her house with furniture, which she either bought brand new or used via the Facebook Marketplace.

Emily explains: ‘My father gave me some really good advice: he told me that every room in your home should have a really nice thing that you have carefully chosen and spent money on, and everything else can be cleaned and restored and / or bought used. ‘

After taking his advice on board, Emily invested in a decent mattress for her bedroom, a sustainable desk for her workplace, a comfortable sofa bed when her parents or friends spend the night in the extra bedroom, and a stylish casual chair in the lounge.

Everything else was hand-me-downs or bought used.

Now that she has settled in, Emily can finally reflect on her experience.

“Living in a lockdown helped change my perspective on what really mattered when I was searching for a first home,” Emily says.

“Before, I was very much out and socializing. But when I face the prospect of spending an awful lot of time here on my own, factors like needing outdoor space, living near friends and having a home flooded with natural light were so much more important to me than being within walking distance of cool restaurants. ‘

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