Confused about shared ownership? Think it means sharing with a stranger? Or it’s just for key workers? Then think again! A week-long national campaign is returning for its seventh year, to raise awareness of this affordable gateway to homeownership
For many of the UK’s would-be homebuyers, getting a foot on the property ladder feels out of reach. Hopeful bids to squirrel away money in an attempt to grow a savings pot large enough to form a deposit are often inconsequential. Even the savviest savers seem destined to a lifetime of renting and dealing with the pitfalls of sharing a home you do not own. However, a week of the year dedicated to making the dream of owning a home into a reality, Shared Ownership Week, returned on 19-25 September 2019, with the backing of TV presenter AJ Odudu.
Having recently been on her own homeownership journey and learning about shared ownership, AJ said, “I think people can sometimes feel completely overwhelmed with even the prospect of buying a home, let alone going through the buying process. Having gone through my own private homeownership experience, I can honestly say it was the most stressful business, with hidden expenditure you don’t think about, such as surveyors and solicitors that cannot be avoided. There is definitely not enough information easily available about how to navigate buying a home by yourself.”
AJ is based on London but travels all over the world and had struggled to put down roots. Conscious of how hard it is for Londoners to buy a home in the capital she said, “I decided to support Shared Ownership Week because my homeownership journey was full of ups and downs and I really wish I had known about shared ownership earlier, as it would have helped me to take that first step on to the property ladder a lot earlier. To finally be able to have a home that I can call mine, in my favourite city in the world, there really is nothing like it!”
Equipping first time buyers and encouraging second steppers, the event spreads the word about the fantastic opportunities available and raises awareness about who could be eligible to secure a property using the scheme. The awareness week is backed by many of the major housing associations, including Catalyst Homes, Clarion, Home Group, Hyde New Homes, L&Q, Network Homes, Newlon, NU Living, Notting Hill Genesis, Peabody, SO Resi and Southern. Each will be showcasing its new build shared ownership developments around the country, sharing its expertise with potential buyers, and providing information on how the scheme works and where it is available.
AJ added, “Having now learned about shared ownership, I can see that you can access all the information you need at the click of a button and there are no hidden costs! There is also loads of choice, with housing associations all over London and the rest of the UK that take part in this scheme, meaning you can live almost wherever you want, at a far more affordable price. It just makes me think if I had known about shared ownership and what an amazing opportunity it is, I wouldn’t have had to move back in with my dad three years ago!”
Shared ownership has been available since the 1980s, but used to be restricted, with local councils dictating who should be a priority based on a wide of range of factors, from salary to profession to where the buyer comes from.
Following a relaxation to the eligibility criteria in 2016, the scheme is open to people of any occupation and ensures that second steppers (those who already own a home but may be struggling to move), are given equal priority with first time buyers. Furthermore, there is no longer a cap on the number of bedrooms an applicant can request, providing they earn less than £80,000 a year, or £90,000 in London.
The dedicated website sharedownershipweek.co.uk contains a wealth of information for prospective buyers, including case studies, videos and links to shared ownership homes that are currently available.