What I Own: Irene, who put down a £400,000 deposit on her Clapham house

This is What I Own, Metro.co.uk’s weekly homeowner series.

Last week we heard from Monika, who pays £1,400 a month for the mortgage on her Berkshire home.

Today we are chatting to Irene – a solicitor who lives in South London. She speaks to us about what it was like to buy her Clapham house, using money from a previous property sale – and how she went about renovating it.

This is what Irene has to say about her buying experience…

Tell us about yourself.

I am 34 years old and a solicitor currently working as an in-house legal counsel. I’m based in London and my husband (38 years old) is an FX sales director.

Where about is your property?

Our property is in Clapham Common North Side. We love Clapham so much. We moved to Earlsfield for four years and then moved back.

When did you move in?

January 2020.

How much does your property cost? 

£1,000,000 purchase price and we spent around £270,000 for building work and furniture.

How much was your deposit? 


What is the monthly cost of living here now; both mortgage and bills? 

£3,200 per month for mortgage and bills is £375 per month.

How did you save up for your deposit? 

This deposit came from the sale of our previous house. To purchase our first house, my mother kindly gifted us the deposit of £150,000, we then sold that property and made a healthy profit to purchase our previous house.

What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you? Did you find any parts challenging? 

The process of us getting a mortgage was relatively smooth. We have an excellent mortgage adviser.

Where did you live before this – were you renting or living with family? 

We lived in Earlsfield before this house. Francis and I first moved in together 13 years ago, into a one-bedroom flat in Camden Town – overseeing the train track and feeling every train.

What made you want to buy rather than renting? 

We wanted to start a family and give the security of our own home to our children.

How did you find this property? What made you choose it? 

We found our property on Rightmove. Francis and I set out parameters that were important to us. We didn’t think that with our modest budget (yes in SW London, £1million is a modest budget – how crazy is that) that we would be able to find a house that ticks all the boxes. Therefore, we decided that it’s important to be near a good school, have an open plan kitchen and a small utility. To get these things, we traded off with a smaller garden and no ground floor bathroom.

How have you made the property feel like home? 

We decorated the walls with pictures of family and our favourite art. Also, I have a specific scented candle that I light almost everyday, for me, that smells like home.

I try to mix ‘professional art’ with ‘home art’. This means that I don’t only want professional art being hung on my walls, I have my children’s handprints and their drawings, too. For us, this feels like home and not a hotel.

What’s the inspiration for your interior decor style? 

Francis is the mastermind behind all the interior design. He’s designed our whole house. Francis does his research online and on Instagram and picks a style that we like. We like the Victorian tiles in our bathroom coupled with modern furnishings – and this is the theme that we have gone with for the bathrooms.

For the kitchen, we went for the shaker style as it’s very popular in our area and it goes well with the exterior of our terraced house.

What’s your favourite room and why? 

Our favourite room is our bedroom, which we spent a lot of time thinking of the decoration and the furniture. We really like the forest green wall and the curtains that we had specially made for the room.

Do you feel like you have enough space? 

Just about. We have two young kids and I feel that we have toys everywhere.

Do you have plans to change the property? 

I think for this property we have done all the work upfront and therefore it’s unlikely we will do more renovations.

Are there any problems with the property that you have to deal with? 

Because we did the work in the beginning, there were no ‘problems’ that we weren’t expecting. The roof was leaking a little but our amazing builders quickly came and patched that up.

What do you want people to know about buying a home? 

It’s a long and emotionally-draining process. People think that it’s a commercial transaction, but it’s so much more than that.

Don’t suppress your feelings, acknowledge the stress and make room for that in your life. For example, try not to have other big milestones when you’re buying a house. Getting a good solicitor is key. I would not recommend going for the cheapest quote you get. If you have friends who have used someone they think is good, go with that solicitor.

What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing?

We have plans to stay at least 2-3 years more in this house. It may be there we might stay for another 10 years. However, if our children get into the schools in Wimbledon, then it’s likely that we will move to Wimbledon to be closer to the schools. If they don’t, it is possible that we may move back to Bath, where we are from – to be closer to our family.

Shall we take a look around?

Want to take part in What I Own?

What I Own is a Metro.co.uk series that takes you inside people’s properties, to take an honest look at what it’s like to buy a home in the UK. If you own your home and would be up for sharing your story, please email [email protected] 

You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’ve paid to live there and how you afforded the deposit, as that’s pretty important. 

If you’re renting, you can take part too! What I Own runs alongside What I Rent, which is the same series but all about renting. Again, if you’d like to get involved just email [email protected]

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