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By Janice Morley

Buying a new home with a friend or family sharing the expense is becoming a popular way of getting out of the rental rut. Lawyer Katy, 28, who is development manager for a legal company, and her younger brother Andreas, who works in data analytics,

Abbey Quay local area, Barking

had both lived in London as university students and when they started work they decided to share a flat in Stratford, east London.
“Our social lives revolved around Zone 1,” says Katy. “We both wanted to enjoy London and renting was easy. We have a lot of friends who cannot afford to buy in central London but can manage to rent. You get in a rut, though – you don’t have any responsibilities but you are always at the mercy of your landlord.”

Katy and Andreas rented together for five years. “With bills, it was a big part of our salaries,” Katy recalls. “A lot of rented houses are not modern. Many old, period homes have bad insulation and all the heating goes out of the windows. And post-war Fifties houses are badly built. I have friends paying £400 a month for electricity who are still unable to heat their homes and dry their clothes.” Problems in badly maintained rented homes are endless, and landlords grappling with high mortgage rates and extra tax can be reluctant to pour yet more money into such properties.


As energy bills began to soar, Katy and Andreas decided it would make the best sense to buy a home to share. They knew they could trust each other with money and that they were both tidy. Neither had a permanent partner – so buying together was a sensible solution. “Putting our money together meant we could afford a bigger property, so we looked for a three-bedroom apartment,” says Katy. The family is Greek and Katy and Andreas’s parents still live in Greece. “And Mum wants her room when she comes to stay.”

They kept their search to new-build homes no more than a 30-minute commute from central London. South London was too expensive, so Katy and Andreas went east for more space and better value. “New-build homes might be a bit more expensive initially but we knew we would save money on bills,” says Katy. “When you move into an old home you always find things that need doing.”

Abbey Quay show home

She loves indoor plants and looked for a home with lots of natural light where they could flourish. Also on her wish list was a balcony big enough to take outdoor furniture, along with good interior storage space. A thorough search took the sister and brother to Barking, where they were attracted to development plans for the area. Billions of pounds in investment is transforming what has been an old and neglected industrial Thames-side town into a fresh Opportunity Area, bringing thousands of new jobs, new homes and a town centre with shops, public spaces and creative design. It’s an ideal place for young Londoners, offering a high-speed 17-minute commute to Canary Wharf.


On a prime site beside the River Roding, Abbey Quay by Weston Homes, a new urban village  of 1,300 homes, each with its own private balcony or terrace, is set in Barking’s exciting new riverside quarter. The wider scheme for Barking involves multiple housebuilders, so Katy and Andreas had plenty of choice. “We looked at a lot of brochures and digital photographs,” says Katy. “But Weston Homes was our choice from the get-go. They had three-bedroom apartments, the measurements were the best, there are big cupboards, extra storage, the living space is open plan, light and airy. I loved the big windows and natural light – and the big balcony is a rare thing.”

Katy immediately fell for the fitted kitchen. “As a first-time buyer, I’d never had to buy an oven. I have no idea how to buy one – or a fridge or dishwasher. I just would not know where to start. But they were good brands, I was told by my friends, and everything was included in the price.”

They were buying off-plan, which was yet another new experience – but in the end it didn’t phase these young buyers. “It terrified us,” admits Katy. “But we looked at all the reviews, we liked the sales team, we felt they had experience of the history of the brand coming from other Weston Homes developments.” Six weeks after their first meeting with the team, the pair signed up. “We felt we had to move quickly, and we were comfortable about it,” adds Katy.

“The first block had already sold out. We got so lucky to get involved at the early stages, and 18 months later we still like Weston Homes best.”


Abbey Quay show home

Katy is the first to admit she is not a natural interior decorator, and suddenly, as a new Weston Homes buyer, she was presented with the developer’s extensive choice of colour palettes, door handles, floor coverings, tiles and more. “One thing I did know was that I did not want beige,” she laughs. “We had rented enough flats over the years to know we wanted to stay away from beige.” She went for a range of cool tones and parked the interiors decision for a while. But now admits: “My mum said the other day it’s about time I started thinking. We have literally no furniture. I thought I would get a mattress.” Make that two. “Yes, I think Andreas will be as confused as me at the beginning… but we’ll get there.”
Their ownership deal is strictly fifty-fifty. “We split everything down the middle. It won’t be that different from the way we live now. We are both tidy. We live separate lives but we know each other very well.” Solicitors strongly recommend that people buying a home together make legal arrangements to protect each other’s share of the property, especially if they are not close family members. “A few of our friends have gone down the sharing route and they do make agreements,” says Katy. “We did the figures before we bought. Our mortgage broker gave us a tool that enabled us to put down all our earnings, how we spend money and be real, so we know where we stand.”

They have an assessment of the running costs of their new home. “Weston Homes has been transparent about everything. And they are so energy-savvy.” The company’s high EU Energy Efficiency Ratings are achieved through its passionate commitment to sustainable homes, with a 25-employee environmental department within its new super-hi tech HQ at Stansted in Essex.

Sensitive decisions have to be faced when two buyers put in equal amounts of money – like who gets the en suite bedroom. “There are three bedrooms but only one en suite,” says Katy. “I’ve always had the bigger bedroom in the past, so I have decided Andreas can have it this time. Nice sister!”

Abbey Quay show home


Now, the scaffolding has been taken down and with their moving-in date imminent, the wait for their new home is almost over for this excited brother-sister team. So Katy, those big buying decisions will have to be made.

“We have a furniture fund,” she says. Well that’s a start. “Yup, making decisions about sofas is low-key terrifying.” And curtains? “Oh gosh, curtains. Well we’ve got a mattress each.”

And something to cook with? Does Katy cook? She grins: “I’m not much of a cook… but I can order in!”