Moving on up in shared ownership

Published: Wednesday 21st June 17

Shared ownership is a great way of getting a first step on the housing ladder, but what happens when you’re ready to climb further? Website editor Alison Konieczny, from Putney, talks about ‘staircasing’ to a 100 per cent share.

She said: “I bought a 50 per cent share in a Viridian flat on my own 12 years ago. As a single person at the time, it really was my only option to get on the property ladder in London.

“And I had always been happy with my share until recently. I’m almost 53 and I began to worry about the future. I questioned what would happen when I retired and whether I would still be able to pay the rent.

“I really wanted more stability and security and felt it was time to buy a 100 per cent share. My home in Putney is certainly a good investment – especially with an uncertain future ahead with regard to house prices and interest rates.

“The issue was how I was going to afford it. I wasn’t going to be able to do it on my own. So I talked to my partner and he agreed to help by becoming a joint owner.

“Together we were able to secure a mortgage promise, and Viridian were happy to help us staircase to 100 per cent.

“We started the process in January this year and completed by the end of March. It was a fairly simple process – but there are things to bear in mind.

“The first is the costs that you will incur for things like the survey, valuation and solicitors.

Make sure you’re aware of these upfront. We were incredibly lucky because Viridian offered us a deal that meant our valuation was free – always check whether there’s an offer.

“It’s also important to be prepared for the mountains of paperwork. You really have to take on the role of project manager.

“My advice is to be organised and keep full records of what you’ve filled in and what you haven’t.

"Keep copies of forms you’ve completed as you’ll often be asked for that information by a different party and it helps to have it to immediately to hand.

“Most importantly, don’t be afraid to check that forms have been received. I also chased things up regularly to make sure they were moving along.

“I’ve found that the change has given me more freedom. Most importantly, the place feels more like mine now. I would certainly recommend staircasing if you have the money.”

Shared ownership helps people who cannot afford to buy a home at full value by allowing a manageable stage-by-stage purchase. You can buy a share of between 25%-75% initially, and pay a discounted rent on the rest, with the chance to buy more at a later date.

Wandsworth is also one of only a handful of councils that prioritise local people for shared ownership housing. Last year this meant that more than 90 per cent of these low cost properties were snapped up by buyers from the Brighter Borough or those who already work here. 

How does shared ownership work?

· You can buy a share of a property, using a smaller deposit, proportional to the share being bought

· You would also need to pay the legal fees and moving costs

· You then pay a monthly rent and service charge to a housing association, and a monthly mortgage repayment

· Over time you could increase the share you own, eg from 25% to 40% and up to 100%: a process known as ‘staircasing’

To see if you’re eligible visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/homeownership or email housesales@wandsworth.gov.uk

To find out about new housing developments subscribe to the council’s e-newsletter here.

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