Liam and Laura had dreamed of buying a house where they could build their future together, almost since they first met.
But the couple, who are both 25, had all but given up hope of achieving their dream after they were turned down for a mortgage.
Then a friend advised them to try The Cumberland. Now they are waiting to move into their first home in September.
‘This is a great time for us,’ said Liam. ‘We have the mortgage-in-principle so we have peace of mind, and we are just watching the house going up and knowing it will be ours.’
Liam, a first line manager for DHL at Pirelli in Carlisle and Laura, a primary school teacher, met during a night out in Carlisle and immediately clicked.
‘We talked all night and found we could just speak and laugh and it didn’t seem like there was anyone else there,’ says Liam.
The relationship grew and the couple moved in together at Liam’s rented flat in Annan.
Starting the house buying process
‘We started to think about trying to buy a house,’ says Liam. ‘We both preferred to see our money going towards something rather than renting – we wanted to use it to set up our future.’
Their dream was for a house with three or four bedrooms, though they knew that might be difficult to get as first-time buyers.
‘We wanted a house that we can move into and know we will be there for the next 20 years; we wanted to get it right first time,’ said Liam, who played semi-professional football for Queen of the South and Gretna until an injury forced him to stop, and currently plays Sunday league for Annan Town.
The couple viewed a two bedroomed house near Carlisle but although things initially looked promising, they were eventually turned down for a mortgage.
‘We were told we needed another £10,000 for the deposit. That was a massive blow. We were going to be a few years off that and we had to put it on the back burner.’
Laura and Liam tried to forget about their dream, until a family friend suggested they talk to The Cumberland.
Finding their dream home
‘We went and spoke to Kevin Aitken, the branch manager at The Cumberland on Annan high street,’ said Liam.
‘We felt like we couldn’t get our hopes up. But the way The Cumberland works is a lot more personal.
‘Kevin looked at everything, and said there was no reason why we couldn’t get a mortgage with the deposit we had and our incomes. We went home and said, did that really happen?’
At the same time they spotted the house near Annan, being built by Ian Carruthers Construction and offered under an affordable housing scheme, and they fell in love with it – semi detached with a family sized garden and three bedrooms.
‘When Kevin came back to us and said we had the mortgage-in-principle we went in to sign the documents. We just came out and high fived each other!’ says Liam.
‘We celebrated with a chippy tea! We needed to save so we couldn’t be extravagant - but the smile didn’t leave our faces for days afterwards.’
'It’s hard to explain what getting their first house means', says Liam.
‘It’s a weird feeling. I didn’t know I would feel so excited to get in that much debt! But this is going to be our home. We can envisage our whole life in that house and building memories together and a family. It’s the first step into adult life.
‘We both come from wonderful families and we want to replicate that.
‘We are looking forward to the first night in, on the couch, watching the telly and just knowing that’s our house.’
Although the couple had seen friends struggle with house buying, they say their experience has been positive.
‘It has been far, far easier than we ever anticipated,’ says Liam. ‘Going to The Cumberland was the last swing of the bat for us and we came out thinking how easy that was.’