lifestyle

Shared ownership: How to get on the ladder for less – according to people who’ve done it


These homeowners have all managed to buy using the scheme (Picture: Richard Eaton/ Metro.co.uk)

Although life is slowly returning to normal, changes in working arrangements mean that many of us are spending far more time at home than before the pandemic.

All well and good if you love where you live — but if you’re stuck in an overpriced and overcrowded rental with flatmates who get on your nerves, few things will appeal more than having a place and space of your own.

Once you’ve made the decision to buy, don’t let the prospect of sky-high property prices and deposit requirements destroy your dream — with the help of shared ownership, you could be getting the keys to your first home sooner rather than later.

Shared Ownership allows people to buy a share in a home, while paying rent on the rest. This can frequently work out cheaper than renting an equivalent property and, of course, you’ll have a proper stake in it.

You will also have the option to buy more shares as and when you can, and the deposit is a fraction of what you’d pay when buying on the open market.

Around 202,000 households now live in shared ownership homes, including 43-year-old Laura Lucas, an NHS business manager.

Single mum Laura could afford to buy her own home thanks to shared ownership (Picture: Richard Eaton)

As a single parent she thought that she’d never be able to buy but after years in social housing she found out about the scheme and bought a share of a three-bed house at L&Q’s Saxon Reach in Milton Keynes.

‘Once you’re in the council system, you don’t want to get out and lose your place, so I was really nervous about giving up my home, but I’d managed to save up a deposit for a shared ownership property and started to think that maybe owning a house was something I could achieve,’ she says.

‘I registered online. The sales team were absolutely brilliant and talked me through everything and really reassured me and I came away thinking “this really is something I could do”, so I went for it.

‘I never imagined I’d be able to own my own home and want to stay here for the long term.’

This year’s Shared Ownership Week starts today so we’re meeting a range of buyers who’ve used shared ownership to step on to the ladder.

If you’re inspired by their stories, check it out for yourself and you could be joining their ranks before you know it.

The singleton

Domnita was determined to get on the property ladder (Picture: Richard Eaton)

Fed up with forking out a small fortune in rent every month, Domnita Ghita, 46, made up her mind to buy.

She works for the NHS as a social prescriber — referring patients to non-medical services such as local community groups — and was desperate for a place of her own.

‘I’d been in a two-bed flat in Crystal Palace for three years and was tired of spending so much money on rent,’ she says. ‘Given my age, I felt it was important to get onto the property ladder sooner rather than later but my rent was so expensive that saving became incredibly difficult.

‘Before buying I stayed with my sister for a little while, meaning I could set aside a decent amount of money for a deposit. I saved around £22,000, which proved to be more than enough, thanks to shared ownership.’

Domnita focused on buying in Southall, as it was convenient for her sister’s home and her job, and she’d fallen for its lively atmosphere. ‘On a sunny afternoon I was walking through Southall Broadway and was struck by all the amazing food smells — I felt like I was on holiday!’ she adds.

Domnita bought off-plan having discovered Evolution by Network Homes. ‘I felt confident it was right for me, and signed the contract. When I saw the apartment in real life, I knew I’d made the correct choice. It felt much larger, particularly the bedroom, which is separate to the rest of the property, despite being a studio, and it has a huge balcony which I’m looking forward to dressing with plants.’

Domnita is full of praise for shared ownership. ‘I looked into a few home-buying schemes, but shared ownership seemed the best choice,’ she says. ‘The chance to begin my home-ownership journey with a relatively low deposit was a huge pull for me a solo buyer; and I pay less now than when I lived in Crystal Palace.’

One, two and three-bed shared ownership apartments are available at Evolution via Network Homes, from £76,875 for a 25% share of £307,500, requiring a minimum deposit of £3,844.

The family

Novalyn and her family love their spacious new flat (Picture: Richard Eaton)

Novalyn Anonuevo, 42, and her husband Ernani, 44, relocated from the Philippines to London in 2002. They originally lived north of the river but moved to Lewisham after their twin boys, now eight, were born.

‘This was partly based on the fact that I work at Lewisham hospital, but also because there is a very strong Filipino community here,’ says Novalyn, a nurse.

‘Saving for this was tough, because we have commitments to our family back in the Philippines. When you pair these outgoings with London rental prices, saving becomes incredibly difficult. All in all, it took us five years to save for our first home so we were excited to start our journey once we had enough money.’

The family had been renting a two-bed flat before purchasing a 35% share in a two-bed new-build at Lucent Point, a Peabody development in Lewisham. ‘Our home is much bigger than our rented accommodation, which is great for our boys as they’re young and energetic!

‘We love its contemporary feel compared to where we were before – the specification is amazing, the kitchen and bathrooms are sleek and hassle free, and we have a balcony with amazing views of London.

‘We plan on staircasing after two or three years, which should give us sufficient time to save. Our outgoings are fairly similar compared to what we were paying before; anything extra goes towards our mortgage and therefore our future.’

Lucent Point has sold out but shared ownership apartments are on offer at Peabody’s The Scene, also in Lewisham, starting from £120,000 for a 30% share of a £400,000 flat.

Friends

Close friends Emma and Rebecca decided to buy together (Picture: Richard Eaton)

Meeting in the staff room at work was fortuitous for Emma Shulton, 25, and Rebecca Hart, 30, as they quickly became firm friends and just one year later started looking for somewhere to buy together.

‘It was just before the start of the first lockdown, we got on instantly and quickly realised that it could be a fantastic opportunity to get onto the property ladder. Buying individually was going to be a stretch,’ says Emma.

‘We had both been saving but didn’t have enough for a deposit on our own and didn’t want to waste money on rent,’ adds Rebecca. So the friends, both croupiers, began their property search in August last year.

Choosing their home boiled down to two priorities: location and bedroom sizes. They needed equally-sized bedrooms and a bathroom each and also wanted a reasonable commute, but discovered most two-bed homes they viewed had one large master bedroom and one much smaller room.

They eventually found exactly what they were looking for at Liberty Wharf in Alperton, from Latimer by Clarion Housing, which also came with two parking spaces. They bought a 25% share of their roomy apartment, contributing £10,000 each, and moved in this March.

‘Shared ownership was a great option for us as it was proving impossible to do it alone,’ says Rebecca. ‘Using the scheme meant we could hold back a cushion within our savings which we were really thankful for, especially when lockdown happened and we were furloughed.

‘We pay less than we would if we were renting, even with the bills and service charge.

‘It’s quite strange that we haven’t known each other very long, but it works brilliantly and we’re enjoying having our own place to call home.’

One, two and three-bed shared ownership apartments at Liberty Wharf start from £83,250 for a 25% share of £333,000, which would require a minimum £4,163 deposit.



How shared ownership works

This part-buy, part-rent scheme lets you purchase a share in a new-build or resale property from a housing association. It is covered via a mortgage and you pay discounted rent on the rest.

Share sizes range from 25-75% of the value at the moment, but next year the minimum share is dropping to 10% on new-builds delivered through the Affordable Homes Programme.

Shared ownership is available to first-time buyers, existing shared owners wanting to move, and people who’ve owned before but don’t have the budget to buy outright. To be eligible, your total household income can’t exceed £90,000 in London, or £80,000 elsewhere in England.

You’ll have the option to buy more shares if you want to, and the deposit is a fraction of what you would pay on the open market. As an example, for a private sale flat costing £400,000, you’ll require a minimum 10% deposit of £40,000.

With shared ownership, you only have to find a deposit for the share you buy. So, when purchasing a 25% share of a £400,000 home, your 10% deposit works out at £10,000.

sharedownershipweek.co.uk

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