Some people buy a home based on an instinct or a gut feeling, but not Croydon-based couple Tom Hawkins and Hannah Levene.
It took months of research and whole folders of documents before first-time buyers Tom and Hannah (both 26) settled on their stylish apartment in the Ikon development off Purley Way, Croydon.
Tom said: "Hannah spent months researching the best places to live and I looked into the best ways to protect our investment. It’s really sad, I know, but we wanted to get it right."
The couple chose their two-bedroom apartment "very much off-plan", without ever seeing the apartment in the flesh and before Bellway London had even released computer-generated images of the Ikon site.
But Tom explained: "Our research told us that Bellway is a good builder and they had excellent customer service reviews online. We also knew the new apartment’s floor plan was 30 per cent bigger than our rented apartment in Putney.
"We were also reassured by the two-year warranty provided by Bellway on completion, and the wider 10-year NHBC warranty.
"Croydon was a convenient place for us to live and had lots of open space. And our research showed us it was an up-and-coming area too, with £5.25 billion of investment over the next five years, including the new Westfield Shopping Centre.
"We wanted an apartment that we loved of course – but also somewhere that would be relatively safe in terms of house prices."
Their early decision also gave them nine whole months to plan how everything would work inside their apartment and buy the new or extra furniture they would need.
All very good on paper, but what did trainee doctor Tom and clinical pharmacist Hannah think when they actually moved into their brand-new apartment in January this year?
Tom said: "We loved it. We love the whole apartment and the location is incredibly convenient. We should also say the Bellway staff on site – Joan and Dree – have been fantastic.
"We had previously had concerns that new-build homes, particularly in London, are quite small. Bellway quashed that theory with their homes at Ikon."
Tom and Hannah are particularly pleased with their kitchen, which is half as big again as their old one in Putney.
Tom said: "We both love to cook, so the kitchen needed to be the centre of the apartment. In this apartment it is – it’s as big as a kitchen in a four-bedroom house. And we’ve got a breakfast bar which we’re very pleased about."
There’s also plenty of room in their open-plan kitchen/diner/living room for their dining table and a big new L-shaped sofa.
The apartment has two bathrooms – a main bathroom and an en suite. "The bathrooms are nicely finished with a really warm oatmeal tile," said Tom. "The main bathroom has a big mirror and a key feature for us was the en suite shower which has a waterfall shower and an electronic thermostat that you can pre-set."
As for the bedrooms, the couple are particularly impressed with the size of their second bedroom, which will have room for Hannah’s piano, a sofa bed, and an office desk.
And we haven’t yet mentioned the winter garden. "It’s the apartment’s conservatory," explained Tom. "It’s the size of a small bedroom and completely enclosed and we’re very happy with it and the extra space it brings – much more than we expected. The apartment has a small balcony too."
As for Croydon, the couple are confident that it’s already a well-planned and well-connected part of London, and an area that’s on the up.
"We both moved to London for jobs and really liked the London lifestyle – and the medicine-based opportunities are greater in London," said Tom.
"We absolutely feel that Croydon is part of all that; a great place to be and so convenient – London Bridge is just 12 minutes from East Croydon and 25 minutes from Ikon, while Victoria is around half an hour from the development.
"When we move again, if we can, we’ll re-mortgage and keep our apartment to let."
For more information on the houses and apartments being built by Bellway London, visit bellway.co.uk
*Customer Story supplied by Bellway*