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How the government can help you buy a home: Shared Ownership (Resale)

If you live in England and are struggling to find an affordable home on the open market, you may be able to get help through the government’s HomeBuy shared ownership resales scheme. The following guide gives you an overview of the scheme, who is eligible, possible pitfalls and questions you need to ask before applying.

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The Basics

  • This HomeBuy shared ownership scheme allows you to buy a shared ownership home that has previously been lived in and is being sold on via the same scheme.
  • The homes vary greatly in terms of age, size and type. If you are only interested in new-build see top tips for buying a newbuild home.
  • You would buy the previous owner’s share either outright or by securing a mortgage. The housing association will own the remaining share. You will pay them a subsidised rent on this share you don’t own.
  • Over time you can buy more shares until you own 100% of that property, this is known as staircasing. You will incur legal fees every time you do this. You can find out more with our guide to staircasing your shared ownership home.
  • You are not restricted to buying the share that the owner currently owns.  If you can buy more, you will be able to do so.

How does it work?

  • You secure a mortgage to buy a share of the shared ownership property being sold either by a housing association or the tenant.
  • You will have to put a deposit down on that mortgage, usually between 5%-15% of the value of your share of the property depending on the lender’s policy and you financial situation. You can find out more with our guide to shared ownership mortgages.
  • In addition to owning that share, you will pay a discounted rent on the remaining share. This is usually discounted by 15%-20% below market rate.
  • You can buy more of the home by “staircasing” i.e. increasing your share. This in turn will reduce your rent.
  • Shares are usually bought in 10% increments but you will incur legal costs every time you do this.

Am I eligible?

Yes, if you:

  • Have an income of less than £80,000, or if you want to buy in London, you must have a household income of less that £90,000.
  • Are unable to afford to purchase a home on the open market.
  • Demonstrate access to savings or sufficient funds to pay a deposit, legal fees, stamp duty and other costs of moving.
  • Be able to sustain home ownership in the longer term.
  • Are a first time buyer or used to own a home but can’t afford to do so now.
  • Have a good credit history.

But to make it more complicated, there are further eligibility criteria, which differ depending on the housing association the property is offered through. 

Should I do it?

  • Do your research and make sure the rent payments plus the monthly mortgage repayments come to an affordable monthly amount. Bear in mind rent will be increased every year by the housing association but should stay below market value.
  • You will want to think about when you might be in a position to “staircase” and buy up more shares and work out how much that will cost including the fees involved. The cost of the new shares (sold in 10% chunks) will depend on the housing associations valuation of the property at the time. You will have to pay for this valuation.
  • You can sell your shared ownership home at any time. Unless you own 100% of the property, you will need to write to the housing association which will look for a buyer. After a certain amount of time, if it doesn’t sell, you will be able to sell it on the open market.
  • You will not be able to rent out of sub-let your property. So if your situation changes (you want to move into your partner’s place or have to move for work) your only options are buying the proportion you don’t own or selling your share. If property values have dipped since you bought your share of the property then selling will mean you will make a loss.
  • To avoid the risk of feeling trapped, be honest about the properties you are looking at. You are going to be here for the next 5 years at least – is there enough storage, are you expecting to start a family in that time and so on. It needs to be liveable.
  • Just because this is a government scheme doesn’t mean you get any more protection. It is your responsibility to keep up repayments on the mortgage loan.
  • As well as rent there will be service charges. Your lease will outline your responsibility for repair and maintenance of your home. Check what these will be and include when budgeting your monthly outgoings.
  • And don’t forget the additional costs of buying a home.

How do I do it?

You should follow the same process as the HomeBuy shared ownership (new homes) scheme:

  • Register with your local HomeBuy Agent, who has been tasked by the Government to act as an intermediary between you, the housing association and the property builders.
  • Look at the properties housing associations have on offer in your chosen area on the HomeBuy Agent’s website.
  • Ring the number on the advert and check eligibility with the housing association.
  • You will probably need to reserve a property and a fee may be applied.
  • Consider all the “should I do it” points above, do your research and work out your monthly outgoings as a result of buying a property in this way before pushing ahead.

And don’t forget we’re on your side, so please let us know how you get on.

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