Interest in shared ownership is at an all-time high, according to the organisers of the recent Shared Ownership Week. For those hoping forlornly to get on the housing ladder, such schemes often provide the lifeline they have been looking for.
Shared ownership basically means that prospective buyers do not have to find a deposit or get a mortgage to buy the whole of the property on day one. Instead, they can buy anything from a 25 to a 75 per cent share of the home at the start and aim to buy more as their income rises.
Alan Rudd, 55, was advised to visit Coast Countrys Serenity development at Havelock Park in Redcar and soon realised that shared ownership offered him the opportunity he had been looking for. He is now the proud part-owner of a brand-new, modern and energy efficient two-bedded end townhouse and rents the remaining share of the property. Alan did not believe that he would be able to get back onto the property ladder given his age, mortgage providers reluctance to lend and the need for a huge deposit in todays housing market.
Those on shared ownership schemes pay rent on the slice of the home they have not bought. The rent is normally calculated as 3 per cent of the value of the share not owned. So, if they buy 50 per cent of a £250,000 home the rent is £3,750 a year or £313 a month. Shared owners will also have to pay maintenance, insurance and other costs on the whole value of the property. Those on such schemes also have the flexibility to buy a further slice of their property; a process known as staircasing.
Alan said: "It is beyond all my expectations that, after a difficult few years, I am once again a home-owner. Shared ownership is a brilliant scheme that has enabled me to move into a wonderful new home in a great area.
Financial research firm Moneyfacts says that at least 20 other lenders will offer the usual range of mortgages for shared ownership schemes. Some, such as Mansfield, Newbury and Penrith building societies focus on local homes while Halifax, Nationwide Building Society, Santander and Woolwich will lend nationally.
Young couple Robyn, 21, and Alex, 20, moved into their new home at Serenity on Robyns birthday in early July and are happily enjoying their first home.
Robyn said: "Its wonderful to be living in our own home and we are slowly furnishing it to our own taste. I never dreamed that at 21 I would be a home-owner.
Anthony Brown, executive director of property assets at Coast Country, said: "We have a range of great homes at Serenity at Havelock Park, along with many different tenure options. Shared ownership is ideal for young couples such as Robyn and Alex to enable them to buy their first home together.
Tees Valley Housing, part of the Thirteen Group, in partnership with Stockton Borough Council and the Homes and Communities Agency recently announced the delivery of 117 new homes at a town centre site. West End Gardens will feature a mix of two bedroom apartments and bungalows alongside two and three bedroom houses, which are available to local people for shared ownership and rent.
Martin Williamson is Head of Residential Property at Latimer Hinks Solicitors in Darlington. Latimer Hinks has a team of around 40 people serving private and corporate clients. For further information: www.latimerhinks.co.uk or call 01325 341500.