A guide to Shared Ownership and stepping on to the property ladder

Are you house hunting on a restricted budget and struggling to find your dream new home? There are now several options out there now for house hunters –saving for years, accepting loans from parents or purchasing with friends. Another route that is becoming increasingly popular is buying through Shared Ownership. You may have heard this phase bandied-around but may not know what it is.

Lisa Westerman, group head of sales at Plumlife, the affordable homes specialist, explains the process, the costs involved and how to apply.

What’s Shared Ownership all about?

Shared Ownership is a part-buy, part-rent government-backed scheme which usually allows first-time buyers to purchase a 35–75% share of a new home and pay rent on the remainder. This is great if you’ve found the perfect home but you can’t quite afford to take out a mortgage on the full asking price. You will still need to have saved a small deposit this is usually around 5%.

The process

Imagine the home you want costs £200,000 but you can only borrow a mortgage of £100,000 because of your income and the size of your deposit. In this example Shared Ownership would allow you to buy half of the property and the organisation you’re buying from would own the other half. You would then pay a small monthly rent on the 50% share you don’t own and put forward a deposit from 5%. This leaves a maximum mortgage level of 45% (£90,000).

 You can then ‘staircase,’ your share in your property and buy more shares or even buy outright as your circumstances change.

 Who can apply?

Shared Ownership supports buyers who would struggle to buy a home on the open market. In order to apply you need to be a first time buyer, in permanent employment, live or work locally, or have family connections to the area you want to buy in. You must also have a total household income of up to £80,000.

 To get the ball rolling applicants should fill out a form on the Help to Buy website and contact a local sales team at an organisation offering properties for sale through Shared Ownership, such as Plumlife.

 Costs involved

As well as a 5% deposit, you’ll need to pay for a reservation fee, mortgage valuation or survey, legal fees and stamp duty. You will also need to factor in the costs of moving home, for example hiring a removal firm.

 Becoming a home owner – a case study

Aimee Charnock, 32, is a first-time buyer from Rossendale. She works as a mental health nurse at the Royal Blackburn Hospital and recently bought a two bedroom house at Dale Moor View, Plumlife’s development in Rossendale. Here she discusses her route to home ownership.

 She said: “The buying process was pretty simple. My father accompanied me on my viewing, I then chose the plot I wanted and contacted Metro Finance to set up my mortgage. They found one that was right for me and kept me updated regularly. I then contacted a solicitor, exchanged contracts and was ready to move in.

 “The house was priced at £140,000 and I bought a 35% share through the Help to Buy Shared Ownership scheme. I used my savings for the 5% deposit the lender needed, which was £2,450. Along with my mortgage payments I pay a small monthly rent of £209 on the 65% share I don’t yet own.

 “I would definitely recommend Shared Ownership to other first time buyers. In fact I’ve told friends at work about the scheme and explained how simple it is.”


There’s no time to waste in today’s rental market

According to industry data, an additional 1.8 million households will come to rely on the UK’s private rental sector by 2025, with renters comprising a growing proportion of the population. As a consequence of the country’s growing population and rising property prices, the rental market is really starting to gather pace.

In an effort to meet the demands of increasingly digitally naive and time poor tenants, many agents are now exploring the best proptech solutions to integrate into their listing and property management procedures.  Whereas previously tenants would have to manage the entire process in person and over the phone – filling in and posting various forms and photocopying proof of income and personal identification – this can now all be managed from anywhere in the world from a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

Forward thinking agents are reacting to this trend by ensuring tenants are not forced to use unregulated sites out of sheer speeds and convenience. For landlords seeking to secure verified and reliable tenants willing to care for the property and able to make timely rental payments, agents with tailored proptech solutions are a much more attractive proposition.
Over the next few years, UK landlords and estate agents will face considerable pressure to make securing a rental property more convenient, reducing the bureaucratic burden and making it easier for all parties to communicate. In today’s fast-moving society with tech-savvy consumers expecting products and services to be delivered quickly and efficiently, the time is ripe for landlords and intermediaries to embrace the future of property rentals and help drive the lettings industry forward.

For more expert advice, contact our team today!


Rental Trends in 2017

If you’re interested in renting a property, you’re not alone. More people than ever have chosen to rent homes or flats rather than buy them. Over the past few years, the letting market has been changing constantly. In a changing market, staying ahead of the trends is the secret to success.
Well-presented properties are letting fast

If you’re a landlord, it may be time to consider updating your rental property. While an update will require a financial investment at the outset, letting property that is highly desirable means that you’ll have more potential tenants, and could potentially raise the letting price.
Tenants are paying more for access to prime locations

While prime locations have always had a hefty price tag, tenants have started paying more for areas with easy access to prime locations. This new trend could be attributed to shifts in employment.  Tenants are willing to pay more for a location that offers easy access to city links. This is largely down to employment changes. Whether it be a career change or job security, accessibility to prime locations is paramount.

Unfurnished properties remain more popular than furnished ones.  There’s a great debate about furnished properties versus unfurnished ones. Furnished properties allow tenants to move in quickly, and can cost a bit more than their unfurnished counterparts. However, unfurnished properties give tenants free reign to make the property their own. When it comes to the furnished/unfurnished debate, unfurnished properties still tend to be more popular than those that are furnished, with furnished properties not being of any more value than those that are not.

Are you thinking of letting or renting a property or looking for advice? Take a look at our website or call our expert team today!


The Rightmove House Price Index was released to the media this morning and gives a national picture of house prices and activity over the last month. Here are some key facts:

New and existing sellers react to quieter time of year by launching their own Autumn Sale to tempt buyers:
• New-to-the-market sellers trim the asking price of property this month, albeit by a modest 0.8% (-£2,392)
• Over one-third (37%) of properties already on the market have reduced their asking price since first listing - the highest proportion at this time of year for five years – a sign of initial over-optimism and a tougher market
• With existing sellers holding an Autumn Sale and obviously keen to sell, there’s an opportunity for buyers to negotiate a good deal in the quieter run-up to Christmas
With stretched buyer affordability tested further by the recent interest rate rise, sellers should be increasingly wary of over-pricing rather than hoping for a budget reduction in stamp duty to boost buyer activity.





First-time buyers – how to avoid purchasing a property for more than you can afford

It’s not just getting on the property ladder that’s a struggle for many. In fact, once buyers have managed to get their name on the land registry with their first home, many are unable to afford the mortgage payments and utility bills required to run their homes. A study has found that 45% of consumers who use a payday loan service are using it as an alternative method to fund their home; with one in fifty using loans to cover their rent payment – before they have even got onto the property market.   In 2016, it was reported by Halifax that the intergenerational wealth divide had risen by 10%, meaning that those who are born after 1985 were going to find it 10% harder to purchase a property.

Here’s what homebuyers should be considering when buying a home:

Purchasing fees -The average house deposit required for a house (including stamp duty, valuation, survey fees and conveyancing cost) is estimated to be £22,689. With the mortgage deposit often between 10% to 20% of the property value.  

However, it is the additional legal fees which many often fail to consider when it comes to parting ways with their deposit and paying for other associated costs.

Low credit score -The higher the credit rating, the lower the mortgage interest and the better mortgage products a buyer can access. If a score is lower, than buyers may find that they aren’t being offered the best product.

Overstretching finances - Many lenders will ‘stress test’ a buyer’s finances to see if they will still be able to afford the mortgage if the Bank of England base rate increases to 3% above their current level over the first five years of the loan or their personal finances change. However, while banks carry out this check, buyers should also be taking stock of their finances to ensure that they feel they can comfortably afford to live in the property.

For more help and advice, contact Mark Scott at Positive Impact Finance Solutions today on 01733 306470.


There has been a trend over the last 15 years to top up or even replace your pension provision with the addition of a property portfolio, which is always a good investment, particularly with the low rates which have been achievable with the banks - with four properties in the Fenland area you could be bringing in between £2000 - 3000 per month in rent.

The Government however are now playing catch-up with much needed regulation to ensure safety for tenants and security against so called “rogue landlords” which is no bad thing. There are several current and incoming regulations that could affect your portfolio which many landlords are not aware of, for instance, from April 2018 it would be illegal to let properties with an EPC rating of F or G. This means if you current rating is F or lower you need to get your house in order before that time.

Many landlords are still unaware of the changes in the mortgage interest relief which starts in April this year or the potential benefit of setting up as a limited company when purchasing an investment property. In addition, the recent “Right to Rent” legislation is serious and puts the emphasis on the landlord to make sure the tenant is legally allowed to rent, with penalties being anything from un-limited fines to imprisonment.

Gas safety certificates, carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms and legionella health and safety rules are now mandatory with electrical testing coming up shortly. In addition, most landlords are unaware of the rules about accessing a rented property, how much notice should be given and what happens if the tenant refuses entry for example or if they just walk away from the property and don't hand the keys back, what does the law say? - the list seems endless and with landlords facing more changes than ever, it’s not surprising that many find it tricky to keep up. Unfortunately that’s no defence should it all go disastrously wrong.

That’s where a reputable letting agent with years of experience and proper accredited training comes in - they will keep you ahead of the game to make sure you know the pitfalls and make you aware of your responsibilities. So in answer to the question “Why would you use a letting agent”? It's all of the above and more.