For some Londoners, working from home has been a boon, sparing them the joys of commuting and office politics.
But for Florian Guitton, access to his workplace is essential. He works for Imperial College as a research associate and his work involves research into the Covid-19 vaccine.
Guitton, 32, has been renting in west London for 11 long years, recently paying £880 pcm for a room in a shared flat on Fulham Palace Road.
It took him, he says, years to save a down payment and in the meantime he researched his affordable housing options online, stumbling upon the Discount Marketplace (DMS) scheme.
The program is available to anyone who lives and works in Hammersmith & Fulham. Residents pay a percentage of the total property value, starting at 42.7%, while retaining full ownership.
When the owner sells the property, it must be sold with the same criteria and at the same percentage of market value as at the time of purchase.
“It meant that I could buy a share in a property while owning it outright and without having to pay rent like the condominium,” Guitton said. “And for me it was better than Help to Buy because there could be a problem when you had to start paying interest on your government loan after five years.”
In October 2020, he moved into a development studio at Fulham Reach in Hammersmith.
The total market value of the flat was £650,000. Guitton bought a 42% share of the property for just over £270,000. His monthly charges include mortgage payments of £920 plus a service charge of £150.
“It’s a bit more expensive than renting, but I’m building capital for myself, not for a landlord,” Guitton said.
Guitton’s trips to work at two Imperial sites in Hammersmith and South Kensington are entirely painless. “Being able to hop on a bus or walk along the Thames to work has improved my well-being so much,” he said.
In his spare time, Guitton can use the on-site gym, pool, and spa, and there’s also a residents’ movie theater, billiards room, virtual golf simulator, and wine cellar.
He also loves the many green spaces in the area, the London Wetland Center is less than a mile from the site.
“Having moved around London a lot, I always found myself drawn to the same streets,” Guitton said. “It’s such a beautiful part of town that feels like it’s in its own pocket of tranquillity. Less than 30 minutes from the city and the West End, it truly has the best of both worlds.
What it costs
Studio in Hammersmith, October 2020: £650,000
42% share: £270,000
Monthly mortgage payment: £920
Monthly service charge: £150
Where to find a house at a reduced price
A new tranche of discounted apartments will be launched in Fulham Reach in January. For more information, see the Berkeley Group website.
Discount market schemes are run by councils and housing associations around London. For more information on opportunities in your area, contact your local council or see the GLA’s Homes for Londoners page.