What I Own: PR director Hannah, who bought her £471,000 Brighton property
It’s Saturday, so it’s time for another instalment of What I Own.
Last week, we spoke to Polly and Thomas who bought their first house together in Shrewsbury.
But this week’s homeowner is a little more experienced, when it comes to property.
We’re chatting to Hannah, who is now living in her third home – after buying, renovating and selling two previous properties.
She lives on the outskirts of Brighton and pays £1,700 a month for her mortgage and bills.
This is what Hannah has to say about her property-buying journey…
Tell us about yourself.
I’m 37. I live in Brighton with my husband and little boy, and I’m a PR director
Where is your property?
It’s in a suburb of Brighton called Patcham, it’s a bit further out, but you get much bigger gardens out here compared to those closer to the sea – and it’s still only a 15-minute drive to the seafront.
I love it here, we have incredible views of the Downs – we can walk onto the Downs in about 5-10 minutes from our front door, and I can now grow vegetables in my very own veg patch.
When did you move in?
How much does your property cost?
We bought it for £471,000 but with the changes we’ve made and the price increases in the property market over the past couple of years, the value will be higher now – probably around £550,000.
How much was your deposit?
What is the monthly cost of living here now; both mortgage and bills?
How did you save up for your deposit?
This is our third house now (moving from one to another, not buying and owning all three).
We bought ‘opportunity houses’ where we could add value by doing them up. Each time we moved, we were able to make some money which we would use to increase our deposit pot for our next house
What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you? Did you find any parts challenging?
At first, I felt overwhelmed, confused, and overloaded with information, but then we found an incredible broker who guided us through the whole thing – we couldn’t have done it without him.
Where did you live before this – were you renting or living with family?
We lived in Hove, by the beach, in a smaller three-bed semi with a tiny patio garden – we owned that with a mortgage.
I’ve not lived with family since I was 18. I rented different flats until I was about 32, then I then bought my first place with my partner Tom.
What made you want to buy rather than renting?
Security mainly and the opportunity to generate value by renovating houses along the way so that, one day, we’ll hopefully have enough for a pension. And so that we can hopefully help our little boy get onto the property ladder when he’s old enough.
Plus, it’s actually cheaper to pay a mortgage than rent an equivalent place, which is just ridiculous.
How did you find this property? What made you choose it?
Rightmove and we chose it because of the space on offer, it has a beautiful big garden, and opportunities to improve it and add value.
How have you made the property feel like home?
We’ve redecorated throughout (two of the three bedrooms are still to be done though) with a new kitchen and carpet – we also painted all the windows, doors and staircase, changed the radiators (style and position) and added new lighting.
When we moved in, they had spotlights everywhere in every room on the ground floor, so we’ve removed all of them and reinstated downlights in the centre of each room. I also completely overhauled the garden as it was just a baron wasteland before.
What’s the inspiration for your interior decor style?
I love combining natural materials with muted tones. I love the modern country farmhouse look with light, neutral and airy spaces, and I’ve definitely gone for that sort of look in the kitchen.
Elsewhere, I love the character you get from restoring pieces of quality wooden furniture rather than buying new stuff. Pretty much every piece of furniture – bar the sofas – is second-hand and I’ve upcycled/restored them all.
What’s your favourite room and why?
It’s between the lounge and the kitchen – the lounge has the feeling of a gorgeous snug with dark grey/green walls and restored furniture and lots of mood lighting – it’s such a beautiful place to relax in in the evening. And the kitchen is such a light and calming room with the patio doors onto the garden. I work from home on the kitchen table and looking out onto the garden really relaxes me.
Do you feel like you have enough space?
Yes, we feel very lucky to be able to have a house like this – if we ever need any more space, we’ll go into the loft.
Do you have plans to change the property?
The master and second bedroom need to be redecorated. For the master bedroom, we’re going with a light grey/green on the walls, with lots of rattan, antique pine and off-white accents. For the second bedroom, this is the spare room (crossed with the home office) and also a music room and home gym. So with such a lot going on, I think I’m going to keep it bright white on the walls, with lots of awesome art dotted around.
We will also go into the loft at some point, creating two more bedrooms and a bathroom up there – but that won’t be for years. And we need to do the downstairs toilet room too – it’s a bit too bling and shiny in there right now, and it’s not my taste at all.
Are there any problems with the property that you have to deal with?
With awesome views come massive hills – Brighton is very hilly, and around here it can get very steep. This is fine if you drive, but walking can get quite tiring.
What do you want people to know about buying a home?
Always, always look past current décor/layout, furniture, colour schemes, and instead just focus on how light the rooms are, how big they are and what the flow is like – if they’re all good, that’s all that matters as everything else can be changed (you can even change the flow if that’s not right too).
What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing? Do you plan to stay here long term?
I think we’ll stay here for another few years, but I love moving house – I love spotting places with opportunities and then renovating them.
I think we’ll probably move another couple of times, and then who knows, maybe I’ll try building somewhere.
Shall we take a look around?
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