How to share the expense of buying a home

Gill Oliver

Gill Oliver

First published in Columns Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Business and Property Reporter

There’s been a lot of talk about the property market cooling down but even if that is happening in London, it isn’t here.

Last week, the Land Registry, which records sale prices of houses (rather than the amount it was advertised at), showed that the average property price across Oxfordshire is now £266,472, up from £263,445 the month before.

So, even if the rate of increase slows, it won’t be much help to those struggling to afford a mortgage for £260,000 or more.

But there are schemes to help, one of which is shared ownership.

Many people don’t realise it’s available, or that they might be eligible.

Run through housing associations, it allows househunters to buy a share of a home, rather than having to find the whole purchase price.

They take out a mortgage for between 25 and 75 per cent of the property value and pay rent to the housing association on the rest.

Anyone can take advantage of shared ownership, if their household earnings are £60,000 a year or less.

The rules are flexible and vary according to personal circumstances but in general, it’s open to first-time buyers, those who used to own a home but can’t afford one now and anyone renting a council or housing association property.

What’s clever, is that you can buy a bigger share of your home any time you want – known as staircasing.

Once you own 100 per cent, you can sell but the housing association has first refusal to buy it back. And if you still part-own, the housing association has the right to find a buyer for your share.

Radian Group is the shared ownership/help to buy agent appointed by the government to cover Oxfordshire and its website includes a step-by-step guide on how to register (there is usually a waiting list) and apply. Priority is given to housing association and local authority tenants, those in the armed forces and people who live or work in the area already.

The website helptobuy south.co.uk lists properties in Oxford and the rest of the county which can be bought this way.

Examples include a one-bedroom flat in Rose Hill which costs £175,000 but the shared ownership amount of 25 per cent would be £43,750. Another is a two-bedroom apartment in Littlemore, a 50 per cent share of which costs £116,000.

Once registered, you’ll be tipped off in advance about properties before they’re listed on the website.

A good way to find out more is to go along to the Help to Buy Show on September 16 at Kassam Stadium in Grenoble Road.

Entry is free and there will be tons of information and advice about homes and schemes available all over Oxfordshire.

Exhibitors include housing associations offering shared ownership and rental properties, developers offering Help to Buy loans, independent financial advisors and solicitors for legal advice.

For details about the event, call 0845 604 1122. For shared ownership details visit helptobuysouth.co.uk

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