Seemingly unstoppable property price rises in London are changing the way people view shared ownership.
Previously, shared ownership was a "halfway house" between renting and owning. The allure for part-buyers was the chance to move up the property ladder as they saved for their next step.
Today, the property and people have changed. Now the chief benefit is the opportunity to buy good-quality, long-term accommodation at a cheaper price than owning outright or renting in the private sector.
Shared ownership makes it possible for lower-budget Londoners to live in a good-looking home on a designer development in a trendy district. A prospect that would otherwise be completely out of reach.
Why? Because the rent element is subsidised. Housing associations also offer a secure tenancy, so there are no worries about being forced to leave or having to deal with a rogue landlord.
The average private annual rent for a two-bedroom property in London is £29,220. Remarkably, this is higher than the average income. Yet though expensive, private renting is more "affordable" than buying the same property (typical price, £570,760).
"Deposit requirements and lack of mortgage finance are keeping demand for rental accommodation sky high, pushing rents even higher than the cost of servicing a mortgage on an expensive property," says Zoopla's Lawrence Hall.
Today in London, shared ownership is consistently cheaper than renting or buying.
"It's a desperately needed affordable option for young people," says Michelle Smith of the National Housing Federation. "More than 166,000 people are on the waiting list and it is essential that the Government and the Mayor continue to support shared ownership."
The costs of shared ownership: New Festival Quarter in Poplar
At New Festival Quarter in Poplar, east London, monthly costs for a one-bedroom apartment (25 per cent share) start at £699.09. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom property in the same E14 postcode is £1,600, and to buy a similar property would typically cost £321,029.
"It's a way out of the private renting trap," says Lauren Nicholson of the Family Mosaic housing association.
New Festival Quarter seeks to pick up on the optimism and spirit of the 1951 Festival of Britain, which promoted new thinking in design, science, technology and transport. At the time, a "Live Architecture" pavilion focusing on town planning was built at Poplar as part of the Festival. Set across four buildings,the scheme is on the fringe of the Olympic zone and Canary Wharf. It has a private gym, 24-hour concierge and residents' roof garden. Flats cost from £55,625 for a 25 per cent share. Call 020 7089 1315.
Affordable prices for intermediate renters: Enfield and Euston
Housing associations are also catering for the growing number of"intermediate renters" — those who cannot afford to buy but whose income is too high for them to qualify for housing benefit and are therefore reliant on private landlords.
To qualify, you must be employed and earn less than £63,400 a year, in the public or private sector. Rents are discounted — set at 75-80 per cent of open-market rates — to make them affordable.
Origin, which operates mainly north of the river, has a funky new scheme of 221 rental apartments in Enfield. Called The Bloc, rents start at £630 a month. Call 0800 068 8990. In May, Origin launches rentals at sought-after Regent's Place, Euston. This 13-acre complex — a mix of offices, homes and shops — has greatly improved a formerly scruffy patch close to the station.
© Ian Enness
Architect Farrell and Partners has designed several of the buildings, including North East Quarter, where the Origin-managed flats are. Rents start at £1,143 a month. Call 0800 068 8990.
Shared ownership at Stratford Halo
Podiatrist Joanna Woollard, 25, says she is £450 a month better off as a result of shared ownership. She lives in a new one-bedroom flat at Stratford Halo, which looms over the entrance to the Olympic Park, and pays £750 a month in combined rent and mortgage costs.
"After graduating from East London University I moved into private rented accommodation. It was OK but not ideal and there was no sense of belonging, whereas I love living here," she says. "It's safe and secure and feels like being in a top hotel. The concierge and staff can't do enough to help and they deal with all the little problems."
She works at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, 30 minutes away. "I sold my car when I moved in — it helped pay for furnishings. But there is a car club here, which is convenient — and another saving."