The Property Pod - By Shared Ownership Week, Ep 3 My Shared Ownership Journey – Guest: David
Over the course of Shared Ownership Week, we celebrated the home-buying scheme that is turning home ownership dreams into a reality. But while it’s all well and good for us to tell you about the joys of the scheme, you might wonder, what do Shared Ownership buyers actually make of it?
This week on The Property Pod, we’re giving you the chance to hear from a first-time buyer who knows the scheme inside and out. We spoke to David about his Shared Ownership journey, and whether or not he'd recommend it to his best friend!
Big thanks to David for lending his time and of course Legal and General Affordable Homes for giving us the keys to yet another one of their gorgeous one-bedroom Shared Ownership properties at Acer apartments, a London development situated in White City. You can find out more here:
Topsy: What made you want to buy a Shared Ownership property?
David: I was living with my parents and it was always my dream to have my own place, and I had a few friends that had Shared Ownership properties. I saw them living in these amazing properties in Central London, and I thought, I want that, and Shared Ownership would be my way of getting on the property ladder.
Where did you first find out about it? What was the first intro to looking into Shared Ownership?
David: I found out through word of mouth, so my friends, but then I signed up to Share to Buy emailers, and I started to visit websites of housing associations I knew offered Shared Ownership. And you know, just seeing out of home posters round and about town. I saw quite a lot about it actually - when you’re looking for it, there’s actually quite a lot of Shared Ownership information around.
“I knew there was no way I was ever going to be able to buy a property outright”
So you were initially looking at buying 100% of a property - what was the difference between those 100% shares versus the Shared Ownership shares, when you first realized Shared Ownership could be an option for you?
David: Oh 100% it would not have been possible. I mean my salary and the time, you know the amount of savings I had, I knew there was no way I was ever going to be able to buy a property outright. So you know, Shared Ownership was the right solution for me.
In terms of the difference of location as to where you buy Shared Ownership versus where you could buy 100 percent of a share of a property, what sort of areas were you initially looking at compared to where you ended up buying?
David: I always wanted to live in Central London. So at the time I worked in Suffolk, and I was living with my parents in Enfield. The commute to work at the time was like an hour and a quarter. And you know going out on weekends and stuff, I always wanted to live in Central London - it’s my dream to live there. I’m now living in Elephant and Castle, so you can’t get much more central than that.
“I found the whole process really smooth”
How did you find the general process of buying a Shared Ownership property?
David: I found it really simple. So I got invited to an open day literally a few days after I originally started to look into the property I was interested in. So I got invited to an open day. There was a mortgage broker there, so I had the affordability assessment all on the same day. I literally reserved the property, the plot that I wanted while I was at the open day. I then paid the deposit for the reservation, and a few months later I was exchanging. And then, because I bought off plan, I just had to wait for my apartment to be built. I think I completed it about 9 months later. So yeah I found the whole process really smooth.
So you were able to view and select the property you wanted on the same day you were viewing it? Amazing.
David: Yeah, and that’s the place I’m living in now!
Some people sometimes have a few worries that an off plan is a bit sketchy - i.e what you’re seeing in the visuals doesn’t match what you’re actually living in. So how close would you say reality was to the virtual aspect of what you’re seeing?
David: The show home they had at my development was a 3 bed, and I knew mine was going to be a one or a two bed, so I had to take that into account. But generally in terms of the position it was, it was a similar position to the plot that I’d gone for, and the specs I was told it was probably quite a similar spec. So in terms of the flat I bought compared to the show home, it was quite similar.
“It’s been like 4 years now but it still feels like my new home.”
In terms of the quality and the design, have you had to make any crazy repairs?
David: Not really, I mean everything’s just been furnishing. I havent had to make any repairs at all, and it still does look like a new flat. I don’t know if I’m just really clean, but it still feels like my new home - it’s strange. It’s been like 4 years now but it still feels like my new home.
One thing I get asked a lot sometimes is, should I carry on renting, or should I look into Shared Ownership? Could you shed a bit of light on maybe the cost of what an equivalent place to rent versus what you’re living in would be?
David: Wow. I mean, for a two bed flat in Elephant and Castle, to rent out a whole flat, you’re probably looking at two to three grand. I’m paying probably less than a third of that, and that’s incorporating the rent, mortgage and service charge. So probably just over a grand.
Amazing. So are there sort of communal areas, and do you get any other services with that, facilities or anything along those lines with your flat?
David: Not in the way of facilities, but there is a nice roof terrace that we have access to, so you’ve got a nice outlook over Canary Wharf, and you can see The Shard and stuff. There’s like some communal gardens outside we can use, bike storage and other stuff like that. I know some places have gyms or cinemas and we don’t have anything like that, but you know, my place is fine.
A lot of people sometimes ask as well in terms of the benefits versus the cons. What are some of the things that you weren’t expecting, or some of the things that people should be aware of when buying a Shared Ownership property?
David: I guess because it’s Shared Ownership, you need to be wary of things like you can’t make too many structural differences to your flat. And I think you know, sure you can furnish it, but in terms of structural changes, I don’t know how you’d go about that. Also I think you need to be aware that the service and the rent is not going to be the same price that you had in the first year. It’s probably going to go up each year, so you just need to be prepared for that.
“I know that I’m in my Shared Ownership property, and no one’s going to take it away from me.”
Any other benefits that you’d say sort of make it a great option versus renting?
David: I just think it's amazing. I have my own property, but I’m not paying an extortionate amount for it if that makes sense. I’ve got my own home and no one's gonna take that away from me. That’s what I love about Shared Ownership that’s different from renting. If you rent a property, your landlord could turn around and be like, I’m selling or I’m massively increasing the rent, you’re gonna have to leave. I know that I’m in my Shared Ownership property, but no one’s going to take it away from me. If I'm at the point that I’m ready to move on, then I’ll move on.
A lot of people talk about staircasing or maybe buying additional shares in your property. Is your plan to maybe get to 100% or would you say you’re content with keeping the existing share that you've got in perpetuity?
David: It’s definitely something I’ve thought about and something I would look into. At the moment I own 30% of my place - the minimum I could’ve bought was 25%. But based on my affordability, my mortgage advisor told me I could get 30%. I’ll probably keep that share for now, because I know with staircasing you have to get the value of the property looked into and stuff, so I don’t know how affordable it would work out to me. But it’s definitely something I’d like to look at. If my salary massively increases, or I get a windfall of money, who knows? It’s definitely something I would look into. I love my property and I’m in no rush to leave.
In terms of what the next sort of 5-10 years hold, would you say you’d take a look at renting it out, or would you want to buy additional properties? Would you say for you home ownership is mainly just about having your own space and having control over where you live?
David: Yeah definitely. At some point me and my partner are going to move in together. So you know whether he moves in with me, or we buy a place together, who knows. At the moment I'm very happy at my place, I don't really want to leave, but you know I guess life changes might mean that I move out at some point, but at the moment I’m very content.
Did you need a specialist mortgage advisor when you were looking to buy a Shared Ownership home?
David: So I was quite lucky that when I went to the open day, there was actually a mortgage advisor there that actually specialised in Shared Ownership properties. So that’s the person I did my financial assessment with, and they were the people that I ended up getting my mortgage through. So it was all really easy, I didn’t have to look for my own one, I didn’t have to get any recommendations because that person was literally there.
So did you have to jump through more hoops I guess, than if you had bought it normally? Or was it a pretty straightforward process of finding your mortgage product for what you end up buying?
David: It was really simple. They gave me some options and at the time I just wanted the cheapest adoption available, and luckily at the time I was looking for mortgages, the interest rates were low, so my mortgage wasn’t too bad. My mortgage is up for renewal next year, so we’ll see how that goes.
So we bounced around a lot of topics all to do with Shared Ownership - all the benefits, all the cons. Would you recommend Shared Ownership to your best friend?
David: 100%. I would say if anyone thinks they can’t afford their own property, look into Shared Ownership, because they probably can. So 100%.
“People could be spending so much money on rent, but actually they could be spending a lot less.”
It’s definitely more affordable than renting then?
David: Completely. People could be spending so much money on rent, but actually they could be spending a lot less, and they could have part of your own property - so why wouldn’t you do that?
“It’s independence, it’s security and it’s having a place that is mine.”
What would you say home means to you?
David: Oh wow. I’d say for me, it’s independence, it’s security and it’s having a place that is mine.
This has been another episode of the Property Pod, brought to you by Shared Ownership Week. For more information on all things Shared Ownership and home-buying, head to www.sharedownershipweek.co.uk