Help to Buy is plain sailing for Merchant Navy Officer Michael

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Michael O'Keeffe 26, is a Navigation Officer with the Merchant Navy. It's his job to navigate the vessel and ensure it stays on course. However, when it came to buying a house not everything went to plan, but Help to Buy was smooth sailing.

Two years ago, Michael and his wife Sarah were living in Newcastle, but after getting married in April 2012, they decided they wanted to settle down and buy a house.

Michael says, "We had lived together in Newcastle for two years but, because of my job, it was hard to make friends, so after we got married we decided to move back home to be closer to our family and friends. We also wanted to start a family and buy our own house, but because we had been renting in Newcastle we hadn't been able to save much, and we knew there was no way we would be able to get a mortgage."

Then they heard about Help to Buy and realised they would have enough for a deposit.

Through the Help to Buy scheme, you only need to raise a 5% deposit and can access the support of up to 20% in the form of an equity loan from the Government. There's nothing to pay on the loan for five years and, best of all, the loan is interest free for that time.

However, at first, it wasn't meant to be.

"In the space of 2 weeks we looked at 109 houses!" Michael explains, "We found one we really loved and was ready to buy it when we found out that you couldn't use the Help to Buy Equity Loan to buy an older house. So we had to start looking at new-build properties instead, and eventually we found this one."

The house they found is part of Gleeson's Knowsley Lane Development in Liverpool.

"We fell in love with the show home and knew that it would be a great family home," says Michael, "And the fact that it's a new-build worked out well as because I'm away a lot, I don't really want a house that needs a lot doing to it."

There were a few more issues along the way, but they found the Help to Buy process to be the one thing that wasn't stressful.

"It was really easy," Michael says, "The process was really straight-forward, and I would highly recommend it to anyone thinking of using the scheme. We wouldn't have been able to buy our home without it."

The couple finally moved into their house and are enjoying the freedom of home ownership.

"It's nice to come home to your own home," Michael says, "We wanted a place to start a family and we can do that now."

If Michael and Sarah have inspired you to find out more about Help to Buy you can call us on 0300 790 0570 or email info@helptobuynw.org.uk.