A duo in their mid-20s managed to buy a house in East London worth £450,000 without any help from their families or a help-to-buy scheme.
Olamide Soyemi, known as Ola, and Cullen Farleigh, both 26, explained how they were able to earn enough money to buy the house by freelancing and saving money, which made them eligible for a substantial bank loan.
In a video posted to TikTok, the pair said they were able to secure a loan of £500,000 from the bank after establishing themselves as contractors.
READ MORE: Friends renovating home go TikTok viral after uncovering asbestos and falling through the kitchen floor
“Five years ago when we left uni we didn’t have any savings because we took a wild trip to Thailand,” Ola says in the video.
Cullen, from South London, continues: “We’re a creative team and for the first three years after Uni our salaries were £24k each.”
(Image: Bricks and Disorder)
Ola, who is originally from Devon, suggests it would have taken a decade of saving to afford a London property through saving alone, but things were complicated even further when they both lost their jobs during the pandemic.
Cullen and Ola, who both work in content creation and advertising, began working on their portfolio while earning money through freelancing, which Cullen says “practically doubled” their money.
“We were saving chunks through our tax-efficient limited companies, so we debated joining forces to buy an investment property,” said Ola.
Since both Ola and Cullen had worked freelance for six months and had six more months of future work planned, they were classified as contractors. This meant they were eligible for a £500,000 loan from the bank.
“Banks trust consistency,” explains Ola. “So they lent us 4.5 times our joint earnings, which came to £500k.”
Despite the hefty price tag, the East London property was run down and in dire need of renovation when Ola and Cullen purchased it in 2020.
For well over a year, the pair, who bonded at Lincoln University over games of Mario Kart, has been transforming the house themselves using tips and tricks from YouTube, becoming TikTok celebrities along the way.
(Image: Bricks and Disorder)
In an interview with My London the friends recalled discovering asbestos in the walls and dry rot in the kitchen floor, the latter of which was so damaged Cullen fell through it.
As for the walls, Cullen recalled peeling back the wallpaper and watching in horror as the wall behind began to crumble away: “It felt like the wall was going to fall down. It just started wobbling.
“We found asbestos without noticing. I may have ingested some of that.”
Cullen and Ola have been documenting the transformation of the property on TikTok, where they have amassed more than 180,000 followers.
They have both been living in the house while they work to renovate it – and describe waking up “with dust in our eye flaps” while plastering the walls. On several occasions, they slept in a tent inside the house.
MyLondon’s brilliant new newsletter The 12 is packed with news, views, features and opinion from across the city.
Every day we’ll send you a free email at around 12pm with 12 stories to keep you entertained, informed and uplifted. It’s the perfect lunchtime read.
The MyLondon team tells London stories for Londoners. Our 45 journalists cover all the news you need – from City Hall to your local streets.
Never miss a moment by signing up to The 12 newsletter here.
“We had bin bags for doors at one point,” Cullen told My London.
“And the lights would only stay on until 10 o’clock.”
DIY did not come naturally to the pair and they confess to having made many mistakes along the way, but they hope their journey will serve as an inspiration to others.
Ola said: “We just want to show young people all the mistakes along the way and that all of this is achievable if you educate yourselves and if you have the determination to make it happen.
“We want to inspire people to get into property. If two clowns like us can do it with all the unexpected disasters like Covid, then anyone can do it.”
Work on the house is ongoing. Ultimately Cullen and Ola plan to continue living in the house while renting out the spare room to generate some cash.
Though they are often mistaken for a couple, the pair are just friends – and since they share the house they have to trust each other not to fall out and pull out of the project.
Cullen trusts that won’t happen, though: “We trust each other with our money and we’re on the same path.”
Do you want the latest crime, sport, or breaking news in London straight to your inbox? Tailor your needs to suit you