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A helping hand to get on the ladder

Buying your first home is a big step and in today's difficult economic climate many potential buyers find that getting a foot on the housing ladder very daunting. But there are schemes available which help to buy a property even if you don't think you can afford it.

Most potential buyers find financing the purchase of a home has probably never been so hard as it is today. The mortgage marketplace is completely different than it was a few years ago before the economic downturn. Despite all the publicity about cutbacks and slashed budgets there are a range of affordable housing schemes available. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have different initiatives in place.

How does it work?

If you can't afford to buy a home on the open market you might want to consider shared ownership, which makes owning your own home a much more viable proposition. Through this scheme you buy a share of between 25 per cent and 75 per cent of the home's value. You will need a deposit and to raise a mortgage for whatever percentage of the homes value that you are buying. The housing association owns the remaining share of the value of your home and you will pay rent on this amount. The rent is up to three per cent of the share's value. The larger the share you buy, the less rent is payable. Usually, when you are able to afford to do so, you can buy additional shares in the property until you own the property outright, which is known as staircasing. You can increase your share in minimum tranches of 10 per cent until you own the property outright.

Properties bought through shared ownership are always leasehold. This means that you will own them for a fixed period of time, which is usually 99 years. When you buy the home you will become the owner of the lease. The housing association will then give you a lease for a fixed period of time and this will also set out your responsibilites and rights and those of the landlord.

As the leasholder you will be responsible for repairs inside the property and the housing association will take care of the outside. To cover any costs that might be necessary for outside work, you will need to pay a service charge, which will be charged on a monthly basis. It is a good idea to ask how much the service charge might be before you sign on the dotted line.

Start your search for a shared ownership home today.