Buy a new home with just a five per cent deposit

The Government's NewBuy scheme has given hope to its first young buyers
Luke Thornley and his girlfriend Samantha Dewhurst are trendsetters. They have just joined the ranks of the first young house buyers in the country — and, it is thought, they are the very first in London — to get on the property ladder with the help of the NewBuy scheme, the Government's flagship attempt to help first-time buyers previously priced out of the market.

Luke Thornley and Samantha Dewhurst (left); apartment blocks at Waterside Park, near Canary Wharf (right)
Luke and Samantha used the NewBuy scheme to move to Waterside Park, near Canary Wharf

The two key workers have just moved into a one-bedroom flat in the Barratt London scheme Waterside Park at Pontoon Dock, about 10 minutes from Canary Wharf.

Luke, 25, is a dentist, and Samantha, 26, is a nurse. The couple had been sharing a flat with a friend in Canada Water and spending £1,200 a month on rent.

They were keen to stop "throwing away" this money, but although they could service a mortgage they were struggling to save a deposit.

NewBuy allowed them to circumvent this, since they only needed to raise a five per cent deposit under the scheme. Their flat cost £219,000 (watersideparklondon.co.uk), meaning that they had to put down £11,000 in deposit.

"The London property market is out of reach for many first-time buyers, and prices are rising all the time," says Luke. "The NewBuy scheme makes buying an option for people like Samantha and I who are starting out in our careers but haven't managed to save up large deposits yet. Even though we both have good jobs we would never have been able to save a 20 per cent deposit."

The downside for being granted 95 per cent mortgages is, according to critics, that NewBuyers are being charged high interest rates.

Luke and Samantha are paying 4.19 per cent, and their monthly mortgage costs are no more than their previous rent, so they are delighted with their deal. "It makes 100 per cent sense," says Luke.

And while critics have concerns about NewBuy, developers are loving it and the number of participating developments is increasing.

One of the most recent additions is Emerald Square in Roehampton. The scheme has 116 one- and two-bedroom flats set around a central square, most with a balcony, terrace or private garden. Prices start at £305,000. There are also some four-bedroom houses, which will be priced at about £725,000.

Emerald Square (berkeleygroup.co.uk/st-james/emerald-square) is about a mile from the station, shops and cafés of Barnes, from where you can be at Waterloo in just over 20 minutes. Work on the site is ongoing, and is due to be completed in 2014.

Berkeley Homes has signed three of its major London schemes up to NewBuy and a spokesman says that more will follow.

City view from a flat at Marine Wharf near Canada Water
From £407,500: two-bedroom flats at Marine Wharf near Canada Water, available from April 2013 through Berkeley Homes

Marine Wharf, close to Canada Water, is a development of 454 flats close to the banks of the Thames, on a site that will also have cafés, restaurants, shops and a new linear park when it is completed in 2019. This is early days, though, and the first phase of the scheme, Sirius House, contains 71 flats, each with either a private balcony or terrace — the higher the flat, the better the view of the City and Canary Wharf.

Prices start from £407,500 for a two-bedroom apartment, although the first homes will not be completed until next April (marinewharf.co.uk).

Some other Berkeley options include the latest phase of the massive Royal Arsenal Riverside scheme. Prices for studio flats start at £155,000, and one-bedroom flats start at £252,000. The site, where more than 2,000 new homes have been built over the past decade, has a gym, car-sharing club, pub, café and supermarket.

It is due to be completed in 2022. The nearest station is Woolwich Arsenal overground or DLR, which is just 300 yards away. Trains to Charing Cross or Cannon Street take less than half an hour (royalarsenalriverside.co.uk).

Barratt London (barrattlondon.com) is also embracing the NewBuy concept with hundreds of homes in 11 of its schemes now eligible.

Flats and townhouses at Nascot Grange, Watford
From £250,000: two-bedroom flats and townhouses at Nascot Grange, Watford (CALA Homes)

Go out of town and CALA Homes (cala.co.uk) has a good-looking scheme just outside Watford, Hertfordshire. Flats and townhouses at Nascot Grange start at £250,000 for a two-bedroom apartment, with four-bedroom townhouses at £499,950.

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