What’s it like living in a Shared Ownership home?
Are you looking to buy a Shared Ownership home but want to understand what it’s like from someone that’s already stepped onto the property ladder? Come and meet Luke, a new homeowner in Bristol.
What attracted you to shared ownership?
I was living at home with my parents and wanted to move out to gain some independence. I never really wanted to live in a flat but renting in Bristol is so expensive it really felt like my only option and an expensive one at that. Renting a house was out of the question entirely. My step brother had bought a house on the Help to Buy scheme about a year ago and I did look into that as an option however as I am a single applicant, I don't think I would have been able to get a mortgage on that scheme. When looking on the Help to Buy South website I came across shared ownership and decided to aim for that instead. I felt that it was the best of both worlds. I would be able to live in a property that I wouldn't have been able to buy outright or afford the rent on, all while the monthly cost for the mortgage, rent and service charges being cheaper than renting a like for like property in Bristol.
How would you describe your new home?
My new home is lovely. It's so spacious because new build shared ownership properties have to be built for accessible living which means my house in particular is around 200 square feet bigger than the private two beds on the same development. As it's a new build it's also nice and modern which really did attract me to the property in the first place. It's well set out, I've got a decent size garden with a shed in as well, a beautiful view across Bristol which looks great when it's all lit up at night and two allocated parking spaces which is just amazing and saves so much headache parking of an evening. I couldn't be happier.
How was the application process?
Application was so easy. I was signed up to the help to buy south website, so I was emailed every time a property that matched my criteria came up. I applied immediately when this development was put on and the next day I received an email back with an application and the details for a mortgage broker company to check my eligibility for the scheme (who actually ended up being the broker who sourced my mortgage, life insurance and contents insurance as well). After going through the eligibility questions it can't have been more than a couple of days before I got accepted. It was really simple to the point it actually surprised me how easy it was.
Would you recommend shared ownership to others?
Undoubtedly yes. There are shortfalls to the scheme much like there is with the help to buy. I like to call it a happy compromise however. Financially shared ownership makes a lot of sense when you can get your foot on the property ladder and save yourself money compared to renting. Yes you have to satisfy the housing association if you want to make changes to the property. Yes you have to pay rent and service charges. But on the other hand you own something. You have the security that this is your home and no one can pull the rug out from under you and you can live in a home that chances are you couldn't have afforded any other way. Personally I think that as compromises go it's a very good deal for the homeowner. Plus you can staircase if you want a forever home, bit by bit you can keep buying chunks until you own it completely.
What advice would you give to others thinking about shared ownership?
Go into it with an open mind. If you find something you like apply quickly because these properties get snatched up fast. There is a demand for affordable living like this and if you like the look of somewhere then go for it. If it's a new build be prepared for a potential wait. In my case I was accepted in March and didn't actually get to move in until September but it was so worth the wait.
Mainly though don't let people try to dissuade you. The amount of times people told me to temper my dreams of owning a house on my own or tried to question why I would buy 50% of a two bed house over buying 100% of a one bed flat was unreal and for a while really got me feeling like I had made a mistake or that I should lower my expectations. If I had allowed them to talk me out of it I wouldn't have ended up with pretty much everything I set out wanting. I proved them all wrong and shared ownership allowed me to do that. Now I have my house and I'm so grateful for everything I have.