CHRIS BROWN and his girlfriend Alexandria Smuts, both 29, have been renting a flat since moving back to London last year after a spell in South Africa.

But it didn’t take them long to work out that buying their first home as soon as possible would save money being thrown out the window on rent — and allow them to start an exciting new chapter in their lives.

‘We quickly realised that renting in London is very expensive, which makes it difficult to save,’ says Chris, who is South African and works as a tax consultant.

‘Buying was the only option, but we still wanted to live in a well-located area. Almost any property we purchased was going to be pricey. This is where London Help to Buy came in.’

The special equity loan scheme allows creditworthy purchasers to borrow up to 40 per cent of the cost of selected new-build homes in London, and 20 per cent everywhere else.

The price is capped at £600,000 and the loan is interest-free for the first five years. Buyers only need to put down a five per cent deposit, so mortgages are substantially lower, and consequently more affordable, than without this assistance.

Chris and Alexandria found out about Redrow’s 500 Chiswick High Road development in buzzy Chiswick, and after seeing the show home, reserved a stylish one-bed flat, which was fortunately just within the Help to Buy threshold.

‘We’d seen a lot of developments in the area, but 500 Chiswick High Road really stood out,’ says Alexandria, a project manager at a technology firm.

‘The high quality of the specification in the show apartment was a key driver, and gave us the confidence to purchase off-plan. We could see pretty much exactly what we’d be getting.

‘Without London Help to Buy, we wouldn’t have been able to afford a £600,000 home. The scheme meant we only needed a five per cent deposit, which played a huge part in making it affordable.

‘Location was key: we work in central London, so being only a moment’s walk from Chiswick Park station on the District Line was really important. We also love the lifestyle Chiswick offers with its green spaces, proximity to the River Thames, and excellent pubs, shops and restaurants.We’re looking forward to enjoying the riverside walks and pubs at weekends.’

The couple can’t wait to move into their new home later in the year. They will also save a significant amount of money because their monthly mortgage payments will be far lower than their current rent. ‘Our mortgage is going to be about 40 per cent less than what we are paying in rent,’ explains Chris.

‘Although part of the reason for this is because we live in a relatively expensive part of west London, it still highlights the huge difference between renting and paying off a mortgage. It will allow us to save significant sums that we can put towards our future.’

Five hundred Chiswick High Road comprises 59 apartments, seven penthouses and five townhouses — all just a few minutes walk from the trendy cosmopolitan high street. Prices start at £595,000 for a studio apartment.

Do the maths

Full market price: £600,000

London Help to Buy loan: £240,000

Deposit: £30,000

Mortgage: £1,476 pcm

Rent: Nil

Service charge: £221 pcm

Total monthly spend: £1,697 pcm

Launch pad

SCALA, Wembley Park HA9, from £156,000 for a 40% share of £390,000 Thirteen, one, two and three-bed shared ownership apartments in an area undergoing transformation.

ALTON COURT,Copley Hanwell W7, from £339,000 for a one-bed flat. Broadway Living, owned by Ealing Council, offers Help to Buy for 20 houses and flats. And 13 are shared