‘I bought my first home at the age of 30 after saving up for almost half my life’


Jordon Thompson, now 31, and his partner Cormac O’Donnell, 30, became homeowners in 2020 when they bought a brand new flat in Hounslow

A Londoner has spilled the beans on how he managed to buy his first home in the city with his partner at the age of 30, after saving up for close to half of his life.

Jordon Thompson, now 31, and his partner Cormac O’Donnell, 30, became homeowners in 2020 when they bought a brand new flat in Hounslow .

The pair had to pull together £22,500 between them for their 5 per cent deposit, and used the government’s Help to Buy scheme to take the edge off the amount of cash they needed.

Despite suggestions from Location, Location, Location star Kirstie Allsopp that young people can more easily afford to buy a home if they “just move somewhere cheaper”, the pair were convinced London was the place for them and didn’t want to consider leaving the city.

And with Jordon having started to save when he was a teenager, he was fairly well set up with savings by the time he began thinking about home ownership.

“It started when I was 16,” Jordon told My London , of his saving to buy a home.

“My father had a financial adviser who would come over to help with finances and accounts, and after their meeting I asked: ‘Who was he? What was that about? Should I open up one of those savings accounts?'”

Jordon grew up in Canada, where they have a type of savings account called a Registered Retirement Savings Plan designed to be used for saving for retirement or for large purchases.

“I started that, and my parents were contributing a small amount to it while I was in school, then when I was 16 or 17 I got my first job,” Jordon said.

“I started to put about 10 per cent of my weekly earnings into that, and I put on an auto-enrolment so it just took a certain amount out of my account every month.

“When I moved to the UK in 2016 I opened a Help to Buy ISA, and began contributing to that, so I had my savings in Canada and the ISA over here.”

The Help to Buy ISA is a scheme in which the government will top up any savings in your ISA by 25 per cent (up to £3,000) when you buy your first home. It’s valid on homes with a purchase price of up to £250,000, or £450,000 in London.

Applications for the scheme are now closed, but those who already have the ISA open can claim the 25 per cent bonus until November 2030.

There is also a new Help to Buy equity loan, for which first-time buyers need at least 5 per cent of the sale price of their new-build flat or house as a deposit.

The government lends you up to 20 per cent – or 40 per cent if you live in London – of the sale price, up to the regional limits. In London, the regional limit is £600,000.

You then borrow the rest from a mortgage lender, and the equity loan from the government is interest-free for five years.

Jordon says the Help to Buy scheme was a huge help to him and Cormac, but the main bulk of his deposit came from savings he’d been building on since he was a teenager.

By October 2020, Jordon and Cormac had saved enough to put a deposit down on their first home. Jordon says he was stung a little by the exchange rate from Canadian Dollars to GBP, but he was pleased that the deposit didn’t use up all of his savings.

He was really pleased to have that buffer – helped, too, by the £3,000 he got from the Help to Buy ISA scheme – because he needed to buy furniture and decor for his new flat.

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Jordon and Cormac now pay around £800 a month for their mortgage repayments on their new two-bedroom flat in Barratt London ‘s Hounslow development, High Street Quarter, which is just over half of what they were paying on rent for their previous one-bedroom home.

While houses are certainly cheaper outside of London, leaving the city wasn’t something Jordon and Cormac wanted to consider. Jordon works as a clinical audiologist in Harley Street, while Cormac works as a SEND teacher in a school that’s a 20-minute walk from where they live.

“Things may be cheaper, but not that much cheaper, outside of London,” Jordon said. “And the cost of public transportation in the UK is astronomical.

“You guys pay a fortune for public transport. So any savings are offset by that, and even if you save, I don’t know, 15 per cent [buying outside of London], you pay for that in the time cost of travelling too.”

Jordon says he loves having a home to call their own, with extra space for family and friends to visit from Canada or Ireland, and also knowing he’s got an asset that he’s invested in.

“It’s also nice to have our own space, to do what we want with it,” he said. “We just started painting the walls, and it was nice to not have to think about painting it back to white when we hand it over.”

To others looking to get on the housing ladder, Jordon suggested “ignoring the baby boomers who are like: ‘Stop having your avocado toast’. Avocado toast isn’t breaking the bank. It isn’t the defining factor,” he said.

“But trying to be more money conscious where you can, really asking if certain habits are conducive to or helping you to attain the money goals and milestones that you want to meet,” is important, too, he said.

Jordon also said that having a financial adviser is “very helpful”, and shopping around for the best financial products in terms of interest rates and promotional rates is crucial.

He made sure to pay off his high interest debts first, making sure to use balance transfers for credit cards to pay as little interest as possible, and also ensured that he ‘paid himself first’ on payday – putting aside savings that can’t be touched the moment he got his paycheck to ensure he doesn’t overspend.

“Don’t be remiss to moving a little bit further afield, too – there are some lovely places within Zone 4 and 5 in London that people can take advantage of,” he added.

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