On May 19th, the world’s first ‘floating pool’ opened in London. Suspended between two buildings 35 storeys up, the see-through ‘Sky pool’ boasts spectacular views of the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye. As amazing as this may seem to the public, and even the residents of Embassy Gardens themselves, there is one problem.
The ethereal turquoise pool is open only to Embassy Gardens residents who own their flat outright. Meanwhile, for those who have bought a shared ownership flat, entry is barred.
Shared ownership is where a person owns a percentage – varying from 25% – of the property. The remaining percentage is owned by the local housing association with the resident paying rent on the share owned by the housing association.
Over the years of the tenancy, it is possible to increase payments until 100% of the property is owned, this is known as stair-casing.
The economic flexibility of shared ownership is appealing to people who want to make that first step onto the property ladder. If you are considering buying a shared ownership you may have many questions.
What is the criteria for buying a Shared Ownership?
The main question everyone has is, how do I get started? Firstly you need to know if you are eligible for shared ownership. You need to be able to meet a few specific criteria as follows:
1. You have to be a first-time buyer.
2. You cannot afford to buy a whole property with a mortgage.
3. You need to be over 18.
4. You need to earn less than £80,000 per annum, or if you live in London you need to earn less than £90,000 per annum.
5. You must be up to date on your current rent payments.
6. You will need to be able to show that you are financially responsible and have a good credit score to evidence this.
Once you have checked your eligibility, you can register with Help to Buy.
What are the pros and cons of buying a Shared Ownership?
There are many advantages and disadvantages of buying shared ownership.
- The main advantage is that there is a low deposit and this means you can afford to get on the property ladder easily and quickly rather than saving for years and paying a higher deposit
- The rent is cheaper than renting privately or if you were paying monthly for a mortgage
- Most shared ownerships are new builds so they will usually require less maintenance and will be cheaper to run.
- You can afford a much better property
- It is much more secure than renting as a tenant as the landlord cannot sell the property as you own a percentage of it so it is more secure than renting fully
- You can staircase the percentage of the property that you own
- You can decorate the interior of the house however you want
- Rents can be increased
- Although you can make superficial interior décor changes, you cannot structurally change the aesthetic look of the house without getting permission from your housing provider- extending the house or putting in a conservatory for example).
- If you were to live in a block of flats or a gated community, you may, like the tenants of Embassy Gardens, be excluded from additional perks that those who own the flat outright would be entitled to like using a garage, a gym, etc.
- You could be put on a waiting list which would be subject to priority being given to others instead.
Overall, shared ownership has helped many first-time buyers get onto the property ladder over the years. Whatever your situation in life, it is always worth thinking about these pros and cons and deciding what is best for you before instructing your conveyancer to help you with your next steps.
To learn more about shared ownership in-depth, visit https://anchor.fm/thepropertypod to listen to our podcast which will be released every Monday. Happy listening!