Shared ownership: how it has worked for single buyers, couples and families

From getting a first-step on the property ladder, to selling up and moving on - we talk to four homeowners about their shared ownership experiences...

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More than three-quarters of 20 to 45 year-olds dream of owning their own home. However, the majority fear that high property prices mean they will remain renters until they draw their pensions and beyond.

Shared ownership helps at least some achieve their property ambitions, though there are still obstacles to overcome.

But one thing the current crop of shared owners have in common is delight in having their own home.

The hotel of mum and dad

For Rebecca Dean, 37, shared ownership has been an escape from London's fraught rental scene, though it did mean a return visit to her teenage bedroom.

Midwife Rebecca Dean, 37, says she'd have been "saving for 30 years at least" if she hadn't moved back in with her parents before buying 

That was because the hardest part of clambering on to the property ladder was saving up a £25,000 deposit out of her salary as a midwife.

Her earnings range between £30,000 and £35,000 a year, depending on how many night shifts she decides to take on.

Like many other first-time buyers lucky enough to have relatives in London, she only managed to get onto the first rung by moving back in with her parents for almost a year.

Without this option she doubts she would ever have become a buyer. But in spring this year, having saved hard during her stay at home, she was able to buy a 40 per cent share of a £285,000 one-bedroom flat.

The property is in the Spring development by Hyde New Homes in New Stonebridge Park, NW10, an area undergoing a thorough regeneration.

"I feel I am making a nest for myself which is something I didn't feel while I was renting," says Rebecca.

"I have rented all over London, and if I hadn't moved back in with my parents all my money would have gone on rent. I'd have been saving for at least 30 years."

Savvy family saving £170 a month on rental cost

Most shared-ownership homes are one- and two-bedroom flats, but Charlie Barker and Hannah Pennell prove the model can also work for families. 

"It felt like home straight away," says Hannah Pennell who moved to a shared ownership house in Horley, Surrey with her daughter Hannah and partner Charlie Barker (Juliet Murphy)

They and Hannah’s eight-year-old daughter, Layla, moved into their two-bedroom shared-ownership house on Thames Valley Housing’s Foresta development in Horley, Surrey, in April.

“Charlie and I had only been together for a few months when we started looking for somewhere — I think that when you know, you know,” says Hannah, 27, a mortgage administrator. “Renting is just throwing away money and we couldn’t afford to buy somewhere outright, and that is what got us interested in shared ownership.”

She and Layla had been living in a rented flat in Horley which cost £1,000 a month. Charlie, 26, an account manager for Sony, was living at home. The couple bought 50 per cent of the £325,000 house and thanks to help from their families were able to put down a 25 per cent deposit on their £162,500 share.

They now pay £420 a month for their mortgage, plus rent of £370 and a service charge of £40, leaving them £170 a month better off than when Hannah was renting a flat.

“It is lovely — it felt like home straight away,” says Hannah. “We are slowly redecorating and making it more our own, and we are so happy.”

Pocketing a profit and ready to upsize

Julian Griffith made a particularly lucky move when he bought a share of his flat in 2003. Now 39, he chose Stratford largely because it was close to his parents’ home in Beckton.

Julian and Marjorie Griffith with their daughter Naomi are hoping to sell their shared ownership flat for a tidy sum and move to Essex (Juliet Murphy)

“I wanted to be able to pop home for Sunday lunch and for my mum to do my washing easily,” he admits.

Of course, Julian could have had no idea back then that London would be chosen to host the 2012 Olympics, or that Stratford, at the heart of the action, would change beyond recognition. He paid £80,000 for a half share in his one-bedroom flat. 

“I’d been living at home and a lot of my friends were renting but I thought renting was a vicious circle,” says Julian, who works in IT.

“You spend so much on rent that you can’t afford to save a deposit. I was also very lucky because at the time I was able to get an almost 100 per cent mortgage.”

Olympics aside, 2012 was a big year for Julian. He married Marjorie, and they now have a three-year-old daughter, Naomi.

The flat, which was great for a couple, is now a tight squeeze for a young family. So this summer Julian had the property valued — expect to pay about £250 for this service — at £360,000.

It was initially offered to those on his housing association waiting list but as there were no takers, Julian can now sell his share through Foxtons.

When it is sold, his £80,000 investment will likely have earned him a six-figure sum, bearing in mind that after 13 years in the flat he has paid off a big chunk of his mortgage.

This has allowed Julian and Marjorie to go house-hunting, and they are now hoping to buy a three-bedroom house near Lakeside in Essex, giving Naomi a great family home to grow up in.

‘You feel your home is absolutely yours’

Sandrine Cahon and her partner Guy Holden are upbeat about exiting shared ownership, and they haven’t had to display the same level of patience as Julian Griffith.

Sandrine Cahon, Guy Holden and daughter Maisy are moving to Cheshire using the profit on their shared-ownership flat.

They bought a 25 per cent share in a flat in leafy Roehampton in 2012. The couple, who have a five-year-old daughter, Maisy, paid just over £100,000 for their share of a home in a desirable London village location with good commuter links.

“If we had not bought using shared ownership we would never have been able to buy anything in London,” says Sandrine, 49, a PA. “It is a way of getting on the ladder and there are other advantages.

“You can make it your own place, and unlike private renting you are not worried that the landlord might decide to retake the property for any reason. You feel like it is absolutely yours. In four years, the housing association never checked on us once.”

Earlier this year Sandrine and Guy, 46, a driver, decided it was time for a life-changing move. 

With Maisy growing up they decided to relocate to Cheshire, to be closer to Guy’s parents and also to the area’s high-performing schools. A less-hectic pace of life was also part of the appeal.

Their flat is on the market with Hamptons International, which values the property at £665,000. Buyers can opt for a half share in the property for £332,500 or a 25 per cent share at £166,250. When it sells, the family, currently renting a flat in Altrincham, should walk away with a profit of about £60,000. 

The money will put them in a great position to buy a house in Cheshire. Equally, it would also be a good deposit on a house in the commuter belt or a London flat, had they decided to stay in or near the capital.
“This would never have been possible for us without shared ownership,” says Sandrine.

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