When Godwin Nettey and his wife Nancy first visited Gravesend, Kent, to view a four-bedroom home it was the quiet that struck them first. The couple had been viewing houses every Saturday with children, Camille - nine and Jude - six years old but hadn’t found a space that met the needs of their growing family. They were up to viewing number fifteen but this time, it was love at first sight: they were charmed by the spacious garden, the great-sized rooms, the conservatory, the local parks. And the quiet.
Nancy describes the contrast to their London neighborhood: “sometimes the noise was loud enough that you couldn’t sleep with your window open. But here, you can open your window and hear a pin drop. It’s just quiet. We love it.”
Covid-19 brings new challenges
Godwin and Nancy had settled in Surrey Quays and spent the last ten years in a two-bedroom flat. Camille and Jude shared the second bedroom. The young family had for some time found the flat restrictive, particularly the lack of a garden, and the situation was only made worse by the Covid-19 lock-downs with both parents working from home. Nancy - a Repairs and Administration Manager - spent Wednesdays at home while Godwin - a Product Manager with Moneygram - was working full time from home, a situation that was increasingly difficult. He laughs “I’d signed a contract to work from home so I needed a good office space, where these kids would not disturb me on a call. Most of the time they would just walk in and crash my calls.”
Finding a new base
For the children’s part, Camille and Jude enjoyed house hunting and dreamt of a new home where they’d have their own bedrooms and more outside space to play. Nancy says “The kids actually found it fun, going into houses, seeing places that are completely different to theirs and having the hopes and dreams that one of these places would be ours.” After ten years, Godwin was more than ready for a change: “we were fed up with flats and sharing communal areas with neighbours. We needed a new environment, a new garden for the kids to play about. A new space”.
Limited mortgage options with low loan-to-income
But while the Saturday viewings presented tantalising new house possibilities, Godwin and Nancy were soon confronted by a gap between their ambitions for the family, and the amount of home financing they could secure. Godwin explains “we did a lot of research and we first went with a high street lender. They gave us an offer but it didn’t match the houses we were looking for. There’s no way we could have afforded the houses we wanted”. Next, trying another bank, the couple were offered a better rate but, again, the mortgage amount wasn’t enough to get them the home they wanted. They could move from a flat to a house, sure, but it would be a two-bedroom house and not enough to give the family what they needed.
Godwin says “I thought there should be a better alternative out there so I did some competitive research and guess what, StrideUp came up first”. Godwin and Nancy felt let down by the banks. Despite both having permanent, full-time jobs, the couple weren’t able to secure a suitable mortgage from the banks they’d used as customers for twenty years.
The experience with StrideUp was different from the outset.
The StrideUp difference
Having experienced impersonal and confusing customer service from the banks, the first surprise was a prompt phone call after submitting their application through the StrideUp online portal. Godwin says:
Someone actually called me. I wasn’t even expecting someone to email me back. I thought ‘Oh this is a real person, not a machine’.
While the couple had done research around shared ownership and StrideUp’s model, it was still a relief to be able to discuss the process in simple terms:
It was revealing to hear someone actually explaining something you could understand rather than the bank using confusing mortgage terms. You have no clue what they’re saying. Whereas with StrideUp, it was so easy. They used plain English: simple, clear, concise.
The Nettey family quickly received a Decision in Principle and arranged to visit the Gravesend home. “The agent showed us around”, says Nancy, “and we said this is it for us. We loved everything about it. The kids were mesmerised, we were mesmerised, we loved every facet of that property.” The house’s asking price had also been recently reduced so they wasted no time in putting in an offer. From there, the process went by in a flash. Godwin describes how surprised they were: “it was so quick. Once the viewing was done and the offer in, I was expecting it to take 4 weeks to get an acceptance letter. But then they came back a couple of days later and said we’re accepting your offer. I was like wow, that was quick.”
The kids were mesmerised, we were mesmerised, we loved every facet of that property.
A speedy sale
One of the reasons the sale went through so quickly was StrideUp’s online portal that allows much of the home-buying administration to happen online without lengthy delays for physical signed documents to be sent back and forth. Godwin says “the portal was amazing. I work in the financial industry so giving me a portal where I can download and communicate with the team was great. I think every company should have a portal…it saves all the back and forth communication. It cut about 80% of the email.” StrideUp customers get up-to-date status updates through the portal and can download as well as sign key documents using Docusign.
Nancy says “I downloaded all the documentation that was needed into the portal. It was quite easy to use. I loved it. It allows you to click, and it’s gone.”
What are the children most looking forward to with their new home? Nancy says “to play in the garden, to have their own room, and to play in the park. There’s just so much space and so much to do.” Added to that is the school is a minute down the road while Nancy has halved her commute into King’s Cross with the fast train to London. The family have recommended StrideUp to their friends and family and hope they can get the most of StrideUp’s shared ownership model as well. Godwin concludes: “Every StrideUp representative is genuinely interested in you as a person, your circumstance and how they can make it better for you.”
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