Spring on to the Housing Ladder – how to navigate the maze of shared ownership and secure a property this spring
Craig Osborne, Director at Site Sales Property Group, offers his advice to aspiring homeowners on how to achieve their dreams of owning their first property this spring though shared ownership and breaks down the sales process from making the initial inquiry to colleting the keys:
“Spring is traditionally a busy time of the year for the housing market as the warmer weather, sunshine and blooming flowers all put people in the mood to embark on the (hopefully) long-lasting commitment of homeownership.
“However, buying a house isn’t plain sailing. With so many processes to complete and legal hurdles to overcome it can get complicated very quickly. In these circumstances going for a property on a shared ownership scheme can feel like adding another layer of detail but it doesn’t have to be this way. The road can seem long but having a clear view of the process at the start will help you see it through to the end.
Are you eligible?
“The first thing to do when looking to buy a shared ownership property is to check your eligibility; you need a combined household income of below £80,000 – or below £90,000 if you live in London. Depending on the shared ownership scheme there may also be other conditions, for instance, you may be required to work or live in the borough where you wish to purchase the property. You can find out more about the schemes available and the restrictions by visiting www.helptobuy.gov.uk.
“The next step is to undergo an initial financial assessment with a financial/ mortgage advisor to ensure you fit the affordability criteria and are able to afford the rent, service charge and mortgage. The sales team can recommend an advisor, or you can select one yourself. Once you know you’ve passed the assessment, book an appointment with the sales team of the property you are interested in. At this point you will need to fill out a reservation form as well as an application form, which will be provided by the sales team.
“Then it is time to wait to find out if you’ve been allocated a property. Different shared ownership schemes work in different ways; in some cases the sales team allocate the properties on a priority basis, on other schemes the decision is made by the council. Regardless of how it is done, if you are allocated a property you’ll then be asked to pay a £500 reservation fee.
“Once you are approved and have paid the fee, you are ready to book an interview with the financial/ mortgage advisor to hammer out the mortgage application. Make sure to bring along documentation such as bank statements, ID and pay slips and proof of deposit as these must all be provided for your application is to be approved.
“When complete, the mortgage application can be submitted to the sales agent. Once it’s been accepted, it is time to instruct a solicitor and broker to begin the conveyancing (the name for the legal process of transferring ownership of a property). The sales team should be able to advise you as to the best local law practice, so you don’t have to hunt down a solicitor from scratch. But of course, you can pick one of your choice, if you prefer.
“Once all paperwork is signed and the deposit is transferred you can finally exchange contracts. If the building is complete, you can exchange with a fixed completion date but if the building is yet to be finished, you will need to exchange with completion on notice. The sales agent will then advise you when the final date will be as the property comes close to being ready.
Collect your keys
“Upon completion, you will have a home demonstration and collect your keys from the sales agent. This is an exciting and rewarding end to the sales process – you are finally the proud owner of your very first home.
“To sum it all up, although it may appear as though there are a lot of hoops to jump through to complete the whole process and finally hold the precious keys in your hand, thousands of individuals and families navigate these same steps every year. And they come to enjoy high quality affordable homes which they might not have been able to purchase had it not been for the nation’s shared ownership schemes. So, don’t be put off by what could appear like a long bureaucratic process, the result will be worth all the work in the end.”