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Making the most of shared ownership opportunities

First-time buyers can get on the housing ladder with shared ownership. The annual Shared Ownership Week – from September 21-27 in 2017 – puts the spotlight on the number of options available to all buyers.

Research for Shared Ownership Week revealed that more than half of 21-30-year-olds questioned had never even heard of shared ownership. So the campaign’s short-term aim is to increase awareness of what shared ownership involves, what it costs and how it can provide brand-new homes at lower prices to home buyers of all ages.

The government’s Help to Buy schemes cover shared ownership in which buyers purchase a minimum 25 percent of a property with a housing association owning the remaining 75 percent. Over the lifetime of a mortgage, the buyer can purchase increased shares in the property, known as “staircasing” until they own their home outright. While they maintain a part-share, they pay a subsidised rent on the outstanding percentage.

While this scheme does focus on first-time buyers, shared ownership is also open to those who have already owned a home and, in fact, there is a specific project aimed at the over-55s, the Older Persons Shared Ownership (OPSO).

The key difference between OPSO and other shared ownership schemes is that buyers can only purchase a maximum 75 percent of a home under the older person’s format.

London home buyers can benefit

Red or Dead creator and designer Wayne Hemingway has been the face of Shared Ownership Week, backing the campaign to help more people own their own homes.

He said:  “Over the last five years, the affordable housing sector has demonstrated considerable progress in bridging the affordability and home ownership gap; shared ownership has played an important part in this. However, there is still more work to be done and I believe it is important that young people, in particular, understand their options when it comes to home ownership.

“Home ownership is an aspiration for many people, offering stability in a temperamental market. It has a history of providing financial security, but house price inflation, with wages lagging far behind, has made home ownership seem like a pipe dream for many.

“This is particularly true in London where prices are higher; shared ownership is a great way to purchase in popular areas such as Wembley, Greenwich and Hackney.”

Goal of making houses more affordable

Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma said shared ownership plays a key part in achieving the government’s goal of making houses more affordable and increasing supply.

He added: “We’ve already back hundreds of thousands of people become home owners through government-backed schemes and want even more people to benefit in the future.”

More information is available from the government’s Help to Buy website, while you can also find out more about Shared Ownership Week and its aims.

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