Shared ownership is often portrayed as a narrow housing option, aimed only at public sector key workers. Yet new research reveals white-collar Londoners, aged between 25 and 34 and employed privately, have become the mainstay of these part-buy, part-rent schemes.
"There's now huge demand from what you might call 'young professionals', people working in finance and IT, retail, science and medicine, health and beauty, the media and charity sectors and also the civil service," says Kush Rawal, of Thames Valley Housing, one of the largest affordable housing providers in London and the South East.
"The number of applicants continues to grow. Seventy per cent more people have registered with us this year, mainly because of continuing mortgage restrictions and high property prices. Buying on the open market requires an average deposit of £37,000, which for most young Londoners is too big a mountain to climb."
The £60,000 income ceiling to qualify for shared ownership recently increased to £74,000 for families purchasing homes with three or more bedrooms. Housing associations point out that shared-ownership buyers do not have to compromise in terms of location or quality as many of the homes available are at sought-after private developments, occasionally in posh postcodes.
Being close to their work is often a top priority for young buyers. Thomas Bedford, 32, is cabin crew, flying in and out of Heathrow.
Fed up with paying rent into what felt like a black hole — £600 a month for flat mates' accommodation in Ealing — he went down the shared ownership route, opting for a two-bedroom flat at High Point Village.
This is an attractive canalside complex in Hayes, handy for Heathrow, built by developer Ballymore, known for smart high-rise apartments in Docklands. Notting Hill housing association is offering shared ownership flats at the development. Call 020 8357 4444 or email email@example.com.
Thomas paid £70,000 for a 30 per cent share and says getting on the property ladder has greatly improved his quality of life.
"It's a quick 12-minute commute to Heathrow but what I like most is coming back to my own place after a long time away."
Hayes is getting a regeneration boost courtesy of the Crossrail project. The new east-west link will run through Hayes and Harlington station.
While living in the capital's main business districts is likely to be beyond the budget of most first-time buyers, conveniently-located cheaper homes on the fringe of the West End, City and Canary Wharf are available to part-buy.
Start your search in the "outer ring" just beyond the congestion charge zone, where it is still possible to find good value pockets of the inner city, some very much on the up. Areas falling into this catchment include King's Cross, Shoreditch, Whitechapel, Shadwell, Euston, Dalston, Deptford, Bethnal Green, Bow, Bermondsey, Rotherhithe, Walworth and Kennington.
Most people are happy to walk to work if it takes no more than 30 minutes — quicker if jogging or on a Boris bike. You can get fit and save on commuting costs at the same time.
Aspire is part of a bigger private development in Limehouse, a handy point between the City and Canary Wharf. Shared ownership apartments cost from £88,000 for the minimum 40 per cent share (full price, £220,000). Call A2 Dominion on 0800 783 2159 or visit its website a2dominion.co.uk/newhomes.
Corsica Street, a fashionable part of Islington, is another shared-ownership launch. Prices from £83,750 for a 25 per cent share of a one-bedroom apartment (full price, £335,000). Total monthly costs — mortgage repayment, rent and service charge — are about £1,200. Call Origin Housing on 0800 068 8990 or visit originsales.co.uk.
Family Mosaic housing association has launched Cutler Apartments on New Kent Road, SE1. The minimum 35 per cent share costs £82,250 (full price, £235,000). Coming soon are shared ownership flats at nearby Harper Square, within walking distance of Borough Market and the South Bank. For more details call 020 7089 1315 or visit familymosaicsales.co.uk.