How we did it: meet the Londoners who have bought shared-ownership homes

The veterans trading up, the sceptic who listened to mum, and the realist who gained space - we meet the people who have tried and tested shared-ownership schemes.
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The veterans trading up
Claire and Leigh Hutchings, both 28, are experts in the shared-ownership experience.

Five years after buying their flat in Ladywell, south-east London, they are selling up. Their verdict? “It has been amazing — both personally and financially,” says Claire, a marketing manager.

The couple, above, were living in Tooting, paying £900 a month in rent, when they decided to buy a 40 per cent share of a new-build flat from housing association Affinity Sutton. Its market value was £225,000. They put down a deposit of £13,000.

The flat was on a small scheme and lacked frills. This, however, helped keep the service charges to less than £1,000 a year while still giving residents a sense of community.

“We know all our neighbours,” adds Claire.

Ladywell has good transport links and is close to Lewisham town centre and green, open spaces.

A key criticism of shared ownership is that when the time comes to sell, housing associations market the property to their clients for several weeks before the flat can go on the open market. Critics suspect the price they sell for is not necessarily the most competitive.

To avoid any dispute, Claire and Leigh remortgaged their property earlier this year in order to buy out the association — leaving them free to sell it on the open market.

They have now accepted an offer for £335,000 — a £110,000 price increase in five years, which has allowed them to fund the purchase of a three-bedroom house in Lee.
Sisters act: Melizza, right, and Catherine at their flat in Plaistow

The sceptic who listened to mum
Like many first-time buyers, Melizza Piedad took some convincing that shared ownership was a good way to get on to the housing ladder.

It took a friend who had taken the plunge and gentle pressure from her mother before she and her sister, Catherine, joined forces to buy a share of their first home.

The sisters are now settling into a two-bedroom flat in Plaistow, bought through Genesis housing association.

Melizza, 27, an advertising account executive, and 24-year-old Catherine, a trainee accountant, have been saving hard while staying at their parents’ home in order to buy their own property.

“People do seem sceptical about shared ownership,” says Melizza. “I suppose they think you don’t really own the property and can’t do what you want. But we do own part of it, and can do whatever we like, and hopefully we will make a profit.”

READ MORE: The definitive shared-ownership guide

The sisters moved in this summer, having put down a £12,000 deposit — half each. They own 40 per cent of the property, which had a full price of £283,000.

Both sisters earn just under £25,000 and can each afford their £550-a-month costs of rent, mortgage, service charge and council tax, plus bills, while enjoying their social lives. “We break even without sacrifices,” says Melizza. “I would like to earn a bit more to save, but it is working fine.”

Harder to answer is what the future holds. Catherine has a long-term boyfriend while Melizza is currently single. What will happen when one of them wants to sell up and move on?

“We agreed to review it in three years,” says Melizza. “I think that it is going to be fine.”
More room: Annabel Kerr enjoys the extra space share ownership has allowed

The realist who gained space
What surprised Annabel Kerr most about shared ownership is how easy it was compared with the open market. She was sharing with a friend near Russell Square, in Bloomsbury, paying £800 a month. “But I wanted to live by myself and started feeling bad about throwing away so much money every month,” she says. Kerr wanted to live in central London, where her budget would only run to a studio, but after two open-market bids for bedsits fell through, she began to investigate shared ownership.

She found a resale apartment near Holloway Road available through housing association Newlon and, last summer, became the proud owner of a 40 per cent share of a one-bedroom flat with a full value of £335,000. Her share cost £134,000. Kerr’s lender would only stump up 80 per cent of the total, leaving her needing to find almost £27,000. Fortunately, she is a saver, and her parents were able to help out.

Today Kerr, a PR specialising in tech companies, is a little worse off than she was when renting. Her mortgage costs £500 a month, rent and service charge another £300, and she has to pay Tube fares rather than walk to work.

A nasty surprise
The only downside for Kerr came when she needed a faulty window repaired: she found she was liable for the full bill, despite being only a shared owner. However, other than that, she is delighted. “It is much bigger than I could have afforded on my own,” she says.

Her advice to others would be to do their research — in particular about things such as whether there is a sinking fund for repairs, and what the service charge covers

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