Until Carla Davey attended a Shared Ownership event at Havebury House, she thought buying a property of her own was just an impossible dream.
Carla had been living with her parents in a village just outside Bury St Edmunds for several years, growing increasingly demoralised about her lack of homeowning options. The 33-year-old explained that she works part-time in Topshop alongside running her own business, Kitty Makes, where she creates her own hand-lettered products and illustrations. She said:
“Renting in Bury is really expensive, so it wasn’t a feasible option for me as a single person. And my income isn’t guaranteed because I’m partly self-employed, so buying a place of my own just wasn’t going to happen. I was very deflated, especially as I’m now in my 30s.”
Carla added that she would drive past Havebury’s Hops Court development on her way to work, spotting the signs for Shared Ownership options as the apartments were being constructed.
“I’d always think, ‘I wish I could do something like that’, but I just didn’t think I’d be able to do it by myself,” said the former Thurston Community College pupil.
But, happily, everything changed when Carla attended Havebury’s Shared Ownership public event in February. She said: “I went along to learn more about it and spoke to the team from Havebury and the estate agents. I learned that there were so many different ways to buy a property through Shared Ownership, and it gave me confidence that I would be able to do it myself.
“Soon afterwards, I came to an open day at Hops Court and fell in love with a top floor flat, the first one I saw.”
Havebury’s Shared Ownership team talked Carla through her options, giving her specialised advice in light of her partly self-employed status.
She said: “They were so helpful and answered all the questions I had. They explained that I didn’t have enough financial records from Kitty Makes as I’d only been doing it seriously for 18 months, so I had to apply based on my job at Topshop.
“Because of that, I was advised to buy 25 per cent of the property outright, and pay rent to Havebury on the rest. I also had to write a covering letter explaining that I’d been living in this area all my life; Havebury wanted the properties to benefit local people.”
She added: “I’d been able to save some money by living at home, and my parents helped me with a loan; I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.”
Carla found out that her application had been successful for her dream one-bedroom home at Hops Court on March 13, just before the Covid-19 restrictions began in earnest. But the team from Havebury and Willett & Co Solicitors in Bury kept things moving remotely during lockdown.
Carla said: “Covid did delay things a little, but by about May I was pretty sure everything was going ahead. I eventually moved in properly at the end of July.
“I absolutely love living here; my flat is perfect for me. There is enough room for me to work on Kitty Makes, and I feel really safe because of the security measures, like needing a key fob to drive into the car park and get into the building. I can walk to town in ten minutes, so I’m saving money on petrol and parking when I’m working at Topshop, too.”
She added: “I’m so happy to finally have my own home. Without the Shared Ownership opportunity, it never would have happened for me. And I’m hoping that I’ll be able to buy my flat outright within a few years through staircasing.”
Carla urged anyone thinking of applying for a Shared Ownership scheme to find out more about their options. “People think you have to put a big deposit down, but you don’t,” she said. “It’s really flexible and there are so many different ways to do it depending on your circumstances. I’d say definitely look into it.”