Could Shared Ownership be the answer to getting onto the property ladder?

It doesn’t matter where you live or who you are, getting a foot on the property ladder is difficult.

Rising house prices, increasing deposits and a lack of significant growth in the average salary means that, for some people, buying a home is beginning to look all but impossible.

According to Halifax, the average first-time buyer is reaching their 30th birthday before saving enough for a deposit, and with those in London averaging 34, it is hardly surprising that many younger people are disenfranchised and hold little hope for their own homebuying prospects.

In fact, less than a third of 18-24-year olds are aware of the options available to help them toward buying their first home, with just 28% aware of Shared Ownership, according to Totally Money. Furthermore, the government-backed scheme has only been used by 6% of eligible first-time buyers.

We’ve discussed the options making buying a first home more accessible many times, but, with so many people potentially missing out on an opportunity to get onto the property ladder through Shared Ownership, it’s time for a more in-depth look at the scheme.

What is Shared Ownership?

In brief: A government-backed scheme which enables first-time buyers to buy a share of a property, while paying rent on the rest, offering the opportunity to increase their share over time.

Eligibility

You can apply for Shared Ownership if you (and your partner):

  • Are first-time buyers or do not currently own a home
  • Have a combined income of less than £80,000 per year (£90,000 in London)
  • Currently rent a council or housing association property

There is a priority system in place, where those employed in the military or armed forces are likely to be accepted before other applicants.

Finances

You are likely to need a mortgage to buy a share of your home. It is important to shop around to see what rates are offered by different providers. Though not all providers offer mortgages for Shared Ownership properties, there are more than enough to compare side-by-side before making an application.

To improve your chances of being accepted for a mortgage, and to access the best rates, you will need to ensure that your credit score is at a satisfactory level. You can improve and maintain your credit score by:

  • Regularly checking your credit report and correcting any mistakes
  • Repaying credit on time and in full
  • Making sure you are recorded on the electoral register
  • Avoiding high-risk credit, such as that offered by payday lenders

Your credit score and report will have a big impact on your ability to obtain credit, and the rates you are offered if successful, so it is important to begin working on improving and maintaining your credit score as early as possible.

Help for vulnerable people

Those aged 55 and over can apply for Shared Ownership through a dedicated scheme called Older People’s Shared Ownership. This works in much the same way as ordinary Shared Ownership, but the maximum ownership is limited to a 75% share, after which, no rent is due on the remaining 25%.

Home Ownership for people with Long-Term Disabilities (HOLD) means that those suffering from conditions which affect their day-to-day lives can apply for Shared Ownership principles to be applied to any home on the market. This comes with the caveat that there are no specified Shared Ownership properties available to suit their needs.

Is Shared Ownership right for you?

We can’t tell you that in an article. But, if you choose to engage with us, we can assess your circumstances and suggest the homebuying options which are best placed to help you to get onto the property ladder.

For more information, or to get started, please contact us on 0207 808 4120.