A COUPLE who bought their home for just Â£1 eight years ago say it’s now worth Â£90k.
Now their three-bed home is already worth Â£79,000 – and they reckon it will top Â£90,000 when they come to sell up.
The couple were among lucky locals able to buy 33 bargain properties offloaded by the council for Â£1, along with ultra-low interest Â£30,000 loans to do them up.
Now they have paid off the loan, the couple are quids-in and eyeing up their next move.
Depot worker Tommy, 63, said: âWe bought the house in 2014 for Â£1 and then were given a virtually interest-free loan to do it up.
âIt worked out at about Â£298 a month, which was nothing compared to the price of renting.
âWe moved into it and it was bare plaster and bare concrete – it was a shell of a house.
âBut all we had to do was decorate and put the carpets up. Everything else had already been fitted.â
Previously Tommy and Carol, 59, were paying Â£450 rent with bills on top.
They signed up to the Â£1 project in 2014 when town hall bosses scrapped a scheme to raze the houses and replace them with new builds.
Tommy said: âWhen this opportunity came along, Carol and I were struggling to live.
âIt has saved our lives getting our own home. Now weâve got two cars, we go abroad three or four times a year and weâve still got a house thatâs going to be worth Â£90,000.
âItâs given us a lift up that we would never have been able to get. Who was going to give a 55-year-old man a mortgage?
âBy the time we sell weâll get triple back – Â£90,000.
âItâs our retirement fund. Weâll go to Blackpool and retire by the seaside. Thatâs our plan.â
When Stoke council launched the scheme, properties were boarded up and the area was a magnet for anti-social behaviour.
With families moving in to the Portland Street area, crime has fallen and a new community group is thriving.
Tommy said: âThis was one of the worst areas in Stoke. It was full of prostitutes, druggies, everything. We knew what we were coming into.
âBut itâs got so much better since people started moving into the houses. The prostitutes are gone and the police are cracking down on the drugs.
âThereâs a good community feel here now and there are more homes waiting to be done up.â
Becky Corrigan, 32, also bought a Â£1 property and moved in last year as part of a second phase.
Previously, she was paying out Â£600 a month to rent a two bed semi in Wolverhampton, Staffs.
She signed up to a Â£42,000 loan which she is paying back over 15 years.
Her home is already valued at more than Â£60,000, according to Zoopla.
Becky, a loss prevention auditor, said: “Trying to get a mortgage by yourself is so hard and this was a great way of getting on the property ladder.
âI didnât have to save up for years to put down a deposit.
âIâm paying the loan back at Â£390 a month but thatâs still cheaper than renting and itâs not dead money.
âThere were a lot of hoops to jump through to prove you can pay back the loan but it was worth it.
âThe council put on a new roof and installed a new boiler, and I didnât really have much work to do.
âI could pretty much just move in.â
The initial 33 houses were originally going to be demolished and the area redeveloped until the government’s Â£1bn national Pathfinder programme scheme was scrapped in 2010.
In 2017, the council then spent Â£1.5m buying empty homes from absentee landlords and then refurbishing them.
Buyers typically take out a Â£60,000 loan to be repaid over 15 years before then becoming the outright owner of the property.
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