NEW SERIES Buying a house for the first time can often be quite daunting. We talk to some of the key players in the property world to get
their views on what is happening in the market and how to get on the ladder
This month we talk to Kush Rawal, Sales and Marketing Director, Thames Valley Housing
Kush has worked in the housing and development industry for over 10 years, in roles focused on developing affordable intermediate products as well as market sale and rental housing, in the challenging London and South East housing markets. More recently, he has worked on delivering innovative adaptations to existing products to improve the performance of the secondary market.
How would you summarise shared ownership in a few sentences?
Shared ownership is a tried and tested opportunity for people who are locked out of buying their first home to get a foothold on the property ladder. It gives them a chance to invest in owning a home and, as circumstances change, there is availability to own more of the property.
What are the advantages of shared ownership for first time buyers?
Our market provides first time buyers, who are facing a daunting and difficult journey, all-important help and advice. It is our job to explain the process of buying their first home. We are all experienced and have perfected the way to help deal with their needs. Shared ownership has many advantages and does not compromise on specification, location, or size and, without this help, many first time buyers would be unable to afford a home of their own.
Can you tell us a little bit about Thames Valley Housing?
We are a very agile organisation and when it comes to taking customers feedback and translating that into how we do things, we take it very seriously. We have invested a great deal of money into making our customers’ journey an easy one – one which is transparent, open, fast and totally meets the purhcaser’s needs. We have also created shared ownership PLUS, which allows people to purchase an extra 1% of their home every year, at a predetermined price. We carried out research in conjunction with the University of Cambridge on the traditional shared ownership model. It showed that once people had bought the first percentage of their home, they were rarely able to afford more. This is especially true in the South East, where house prices are very high compared with salaries. Shared ownership PLUS was developed to address this and allows homeowners to buy more of their home in affordable yearly increments. It also dispenses with extras, such as valuation and solicitors fees, and stamp duty, since the value is pre-determined when the first percentage is purchased.Thames Valley builds homes offered through shared ownership for people to grow into as we realise that many first time buyers will have, or plan to have, a family and will need space.
What are the biggest misconceptions about shared ownership?
Who it is for and how it works. The scheme works like this: you buy a share of your home – usually between 25%-75% – and pay a subsided rent on the part you don’t own. Over time, you can buy more shares, until you own the property outright – called staircasing. It is open to people of any occupation and those earning up to £90,000 in London and £80,000 outside the capital are eligible.
Also, many people believe shared ownership homes are of a different standard to those on the open market, but there is a requirement put on shared ownership funding stating that properties have to meet certain criteria, including the amount of space and storage. Often you will get a larger and better-quality home.
Also, the subsidised rent you pay is way below market rent. Finally, research shows that a shared ownership home sells quicker and faster and, on average, is only on the market for around seven days!
What are Thames Valley Housing’s plans for the future?
Now is the time that shared ownership has come into its own and the Government are focusing on their commitment to deliver many more homes. We have just seen the launch of a massive £3 billion Home Building Fund, to help build 25,000 new homes immenintly and up to 200,000 in the longer term. The housing sector is mobilised and really tuned in to what’s out there and, thanks to Help to Buy, it has legitimised subsidised housing. We are now scaling up our programme and pushing it out to the masses to help address the housing crisis. There is such a need for more housing right now and Thames Valley are committed to help.