Frequently asked questions and expert advice

First time buyer's advice

How to start your search and be financially prepared

The costs involved in owning a home

What one time fees and ongoing costs are there?

The financial process involved

Things to consider when you own your home

Am I eligible to buy a home?

How we can help you and how we decide

First time buyer's advice

What is shared ownership?

Shared Ownership is a great alternative to renting and perfect if you can’t afford to buy a house outright. You don't have to raise a huge deposit based on the full property value. Your mortgage and deposit will cover only the % share you purchase. And you pay a low rent to us on the remaining share. Simple.

Your share will be funded by a mortgage, we will advise you on who to use as its best to use a bank that specialises in shared ownership. We will give you a lease too, entitling you to sell your property or buy more shares, in most cases. The lease also sets out information about repairs, rent and service charges – which are your responsibility.

Can I buy more of my home?

Yes - You may only be able to afford to buy a 25% share of your home when you first move in. Over time, your financial position may change so that you can buy 50%, 75% or even all of it. This process of buying larger shares in your home is known as staircasing.

Am I eligible for shared ownership?

Household income requirements will differ from development to development in line with factors such as current house prices, the share for sale, and local authority policy. The general guidelines state that you must have a combined household income of less than £90,000 per year within London, and £80,000 outside of London. 

Other factors include, not currently owning a home, having good credit history, being a first time buyer and so on. We will perform appropriate checks to ensure you can afford to purchase and sustain the housing costs before offering you a home.

 

What is Homes for Londoners?

The Mayor, Sadiq Khan, wants to tackle London’s housing crisis. That’s why he’s launched Homes for Londoners. The Mayor is working with local councils, housing associations, including us and developers and has built a portal to list all of the current affordable properties that are available in the capital. 

Can I get Help to Buy for shared ownership?

No. These two affordable schemes cannot be used in conjunction with each other. Help to Buy and shared ownership are different tenures for buying a home. Help to Buy offers an interest free government loan for 5 years; worth up to 40% (20% outside of London) of the full market value. Shared ownership offers you the chance to purchase a portion of the home from 25% and you will pay rent on the unsold portion.

What is a lease?

Your lease agreement sets out your rights and obligations as a shared owner. It’s important to familiarise yourself with the terms of your lease as there may be restrictions on what you can do with your property, your solicitor will be able to assist you with understanding your lease.  

Can I own a pet in my home?

This will depend what scheme you purchase at, please ensure that you ask one of our sales advisors for more information ahead of purchasing a property.  

Can I decorate or do home improvements?

You are allowed to decorate your own home as you wish, if you are intending to make any significant changes; please contact us for written permission. 

Significant changes constitutes as any change to the structural integrity to the property i.e loft extension, kitchen redesign and refitting windows.

Can I sublet my property?

 Our leasehold department will analyse each subletting request on an individual basis and you will be required to provide a good reason for this request (i.e an offer of a job in a different region). Please contact us for more information.

How do I know I can afford it?

After you have found a  property you are interested in, you can arrange to view this property either by contacting us or booking onto an open event.

If you would like to proceed, we will arrange for an independent financial adviser to contact you and they will carry out a Homes and Communities Agency assessment on you, to determine whether you will be able to afford the share value and the monthly payments. 

The costs involved in owning a home

What are the initial costs of buying a property?

You’ll need to think about a number of costs before you commit to buying a property. These include costs such as the property valuation fee, mortgage arrangement fees, solicitors fees and your deposit. As an estimate, it’s a good idea to have at least £3,000 in savings to cover all the associated costs, in addition to your deposit.

What is staircasing?

Once you have bought the initial share of your shared ownership home, you can buy further shares and eventually own your home outright. You can buy as little as a 10% share per staircasing transaction. To own your home outright you must achieve 100% ownership by your final transaction. At this point you no longer pay rent, although your mortgage payments may increase for the period of the mortgage term. The amount you pay is based on the market value of your property at the time you apply to staircase.

What are the ongoing costs once I’ve moved in?

On top of your monthly mortgage and rent payments, you’ll have to pay all of your household bills and Council Tax, including any monthly service charge. These charges cover the cost of insuring the building, repairing, cleaning and decorating the communal areas and maintaining any communal gardens or outside spaces. Service charges vary from building to building; we will let you know any service charge costs before you buy.

What is stamp duty and do I need to pay it?

 This will vary on the full market value of your property and other factors. You should speak with your solicitor who will be able to provide accurate information.

The financial process involved

Who does the financial interviews?

All of our financial interviews are carried out by an independent, qualified financial adviser. The interview is designed to give you the information you need to know that you can afford to live in your new home, as well as ensuring that we are only selling to those who can afford the long term cost of living in one of our properties.

Am I still eligible if I have a poor credit rating?

You are not automatically excluded from purchasing a Shared Ownership property if you have a poor credit rating, but you may have difficulties obtaining a mortgage which will prevent you from purchasing a property. There are a number of quick ways to improve your credit rating, such as being on the Electoral Roll, so it’s best to try everything before applying.

Am I eligible to buy a home?

Do I have to be a key worker?

No. Key workers and local qualifying applicants have equal access to affordable housing. Key workers do not have to be resident in the borough, but must work within a reasonable travelling distance.

 

 

 

How do you decide who gets a property?

We work within the rules set out by the government and by the local authority. Every applicant has a financial assessment, then allocations are made in strict order of priority. There may be more than one 'round' of allocations as new applicants come forward for available properties on a development. Once you have been offered a property, the offer won't be withdrawn if someone who is higher priority comes along later unless the information you have given us about your circumstances is incorrect.

Do I need to live or work in the borough?

It depends entirely on the development, in some shared ownership new builds - it is a borough’s requirement that a purchaser must have a live and/or working link to the area as a requirement.