Blog homepage   >   Lifestyle   >   How a local couple beat Cambridgeshire's competitive housing boom and got on the property ladder over Lockdown

With the recent stamp duty holidays and working from home becoming a longer-term option for many, counties surrounding London have experienced a surge in people looking to relocate over the pandemic, resulting in a house-moving boom across Cambridgeshire. 

Successive COVID lockdowns have resulted in a four-year high of homebuyers wanting to leave London looking for counties within a commutable distance, affording for more space and greenery - which has made an already competitive market even tougher. 

With research showing average house prices for first time buyers in Cambridgeshire now standing at £210,000, with a household income of more than £46,750 pa needed to get onto the ladder, it’s become harder for young first-time buyers wanting to stay local across the county’s towns.  

For local couple Natasha Fallowfield (27) and Dean Newcombe (28), the property boom in their local town initially posed a challenge for their route to home ownership over the pandemic, especially for Natasha, a recent BEd Primary Education graduate from Hertfordshire University.  

Having grown up in and around Hampton, south of Peterborough, the couple wanted to settle down after university back in their local community, surrounded by friends and family. 

But with nearby Peterborough train station just an hour’s commute into Kings Cross, an influx of people have moved out of the capital and into the area over the last year, which put the couple off buying a second hand home due to fears of bidding wars and collapsing onward chains.  

After living with their parents and long spells of renting, the couple decided they wanted to live together in a home to call their own and set their sights on a new build. 

Natasha recalls: “We absolutely love the community ties we’ve got in the local area, with friends and family living nearby, but we really wanted our own space to settle down in. As a result, we set our sights on staying local and buying a property in or around Hampton.  

“We were initially put off buying a second-hand home, because of the competitive market which emerged across the area during COVID, with people relocating out of London. However, by chance, my dad cycled past Cala’s development at Hampton Lakes and he told us to investigate the option of a chain-free new build property further, as the development caught his eye.” 

After arranging a viewing in August 2020, Natasha and Dean visited Hampton Lakes and were immediately impressed by the development’s sprawling green space, its tranquil lake, and the picturesque surroundings of the Cambridgeshire Fens. They set their eyes on the 3-bed Gosfield home and reserved that same day, before moving into their new home upon completion in Spring 2021. 

Natasha recalls their route to home ownership and gives recommendations for other homebuyers, like her and Dean, who are looking to get onto the ladder. 

‘Help to Buy Was a Lifeline’ 

“We were originally looking to spend £200k on a home, but we were able to afford £239k because we made full use of the Government’s Help to Buy Scheme on the development. It allowed us to put a 5% deposit down on the home, rather than struggling to save for a hefty 10% deposit.  

“We also took advantage of the Government’s Help To Buy 20% equity loan on the property, which was around £40,000; meaning we could own a bigger chunk of the house up-front, and repay the loan interest free in years to come.  

“As a result, we only needed to mortgage 75% of the property’s value, bringing monthly mortgage repayments down significantly, making the move a lot more achievable and allowing us to leave living with the parents and in rental properties well behind.” 

‘Ask for help’ 

“We received a great deal of support from the site team and our mortgage advisor. As I had recently graduated from university and only started my role just before the house purchase, the mortgage offer was quite a tricky one to arrange. But thankfully, my employers were really good to me and wrote a letter of recommendation, which allowed us to secure the property.” 

‘Enjoy the process’ 

“We really enjoyed the sales process and, because Dean is a graphic designer, we’ve got a good eye for interior design detail and loved putting finishing touches on our home. So much so, we actually decided to set up our own Instagram channel in March, @OurGosfieldHome. We’ve already got more than 300 followers and it’s been enjoyable to look back and track our journey to home ownership. 

“We’ve gone for a lot of neutral greys and a bit of an industrial look on the property, which is reflected on our Insta channel. It's been a great way for us to track our progression and see how far we’ve come making the house home.” 

‘Think about how you’ll use the space’ 

“With home working an option for Dean and I, we really wanted to convert our third bedroom into a flexible working space. Dean spends some days in the office and some at home, while I can use the space working on lesson plans on evenings and during the summer holidays. 

“Cala Homes provide all buyers with hyper-fast connectivity for residents when they move in. Rather than having the stress of waiting for internet providers to set up after we got the keys, it was all there and ready to go. As a graphic designer, the speeds were particularly beneficial for Dean, as he often has to download large files when working from home. “ 

‘And most importantly… Make sure you do plenty of research’ 

“We had a lot of previous knowledge of the local area; including its amenities, shops and schools, and researched the development thoroughly prior to reserving, but for those relocating, a thorough look at local communities is a must when buying. 

“There are only a few hundred homes on the Hampton Lakes development, unlike others in the area which have well over a thousand properties. The boutique, individual feel of the properties and the green spaces in between really appealed to us – as well as being only five minutes into town and ten minutes to my work.  

“You can immediately tell that Cala’s homes are really well built but we looked at a lot of online customer reviews of people who also bought through them, who all had similar positive experiences to us, as there were literally zero snags on our property.  

“We asked a lot of questions at the appointment, but the sales team were really friendly and let us go into the house most weekends as we neared completion to take pictures and to measure up for furniture. 

“They explained to us that the nature reserve outside the front of the development and lake to the back would be a key asset, and they’re looking to throw wild flower seeds on the green areas to help insects and pollinators. That emphasis on green space was a real draw for us - and we’ve loved it so far – especially when out walking our bulldog, Lexie.” 

The Hampton Lakes development consists of 350 2 bedroom apartments and 2, 3, 4 & 5 bedroom homes, all showcasing design, build quality and specification. 

Boasting 2,500 acres of green space, including woodland, lakes and a nature reserve, it’s also considered among the most environmentally sustainable communities. With clay deposits dating back to the Jurassic Age, Hampton was at the centre of the brickmaking industry, helping to build many of the country’s big cities, before leaving a unique landscape for wildlife.  

Hampton Vale and Hampton Hargate enjoy a bustling social scene, with a community centre, library, shops, restaurants and waterside pub The Moorhen.  

Extensive paths surrounding the lakes, ponds and canals form part of The Peterborough Millennium Green Wheel, a 50-mile network of cycleways. While Hampton nature reserve has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to being an ideal breeding ground for biodiversity.  

Visit our Hampton Lakes page for more information

Cala News & Lifestyle

The design of a home doesn’t stop at the door... We are passionate about sustainable and inclusive communities. Our homes look good together, mature well over time and sit well within their surroundings.
Housebuilder launches two stunning showhomes in Peterborough

Housebuilder launches two stunning showhomes in Peterborough

Peterborough hitting the heights with new homes

Peterborough hitting the heights with new homes

Hampton Lakes: The Importance of Placemaking

Hampton Lakes: The Importance of Placemaking

Top five things to do in Peterborough

Top five things to do in Peterborough

Arrow up
CALA Homes