Today I have a guest post from Sian who blogs at Little Miss Frugal. As well as her blog you can also find Sian on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Over to Sian who is going to talk about the highs and lows of shared ownership…
I was nearing 30 and just that biological clock was ticking, not for a baby, but instead, there was a voice telling me I must own bricks and mortar before l was 30.
Saving money became a hobby of mine. I was relentless at saving and l finally had a pot to play with, so why did l choose shared ownership and not buy outright?
Deciding if shared ownership is for you.
If I’m honest, l spent more time scouring accommodation for a holiday in the sun then I did searching for a property to buy. Everyone will tell you that buying your first home is a compromise. You can’t have it all.
I knew that I wanted to live in central London, I didn’t move to London to live on the outskirts and endure an hours commute each morning. I wanted to continue to cycle to work and live and experience it. Therefore, my choice of buying outright to shared ownership was a decision that was super easy! Buying outright was not a possibility …definitely not in London!
Going solo or with a plus one?
Shared ownership positions itself as affordable, however going solo is an absolute stretch!
At the time, there was no boyfriend on the scene, even if there was I would still have made the decision to buy with my friend. We’d known each other for 14 years and lived together for 5. It was a no brainer, combining our salaries meant we could get a larger place.
I was absolutely sure l wanted to continue living with my friend and we had honest conversations, what we would do if one wanted to move out with a partner, would we sell, would we keep it? We even went to the lengths of discussing death. Be both agreed, in the unfortunate event that is, was to happen to one of us, we would leave our share to the other person. Losing a best friend is hard enough, it would just be a kick in the gut to then lose the home we worked so hard to have to sell and give to our family.
Navigating shared ownership
The first lesson we learned from others experience is to be yourself and be super nice! I had heard of bribes to secure a place in a shared ownership development from various friends. My first tip is when you go to view, just be personable! It was obvious on our viewing that the agents showing us had the power in deciding who gets what.
Get an impartial mortgage advisor.
Do your research on mortgages and the rates available to you. The short story is the housing group informed us that we had to use their recommended mortgage advisor. This later turned out not to be the case. They’re in it for commission. At the time, we didn’t know this and to please them, we went along with it to not risk losing the property.
Our assigned mortgage advisor made a couple of big errors which led me to do a lot of research. Once l knew our rights, (thanks to my employer Which? and many many phone calls) I then politely asked them if I could do it my way.
We absolutely dodged a bullet here by securing our own mortgage directly with the bank. The best rate on offer from this mortgage advisor was 4.6%. We later secured a rate of 1.2%! The mortgage advisor was working with his preferred bank and not looking at our best options for us. The difference is this so huge each month, later saving us thousands.
Have patience and seek the help of others if in doubt.
Buying a property is a lengthy process and not an easy one. So many times, I was told by friends, family and myself that it’s not meant to be. At what point do we say enough is enough, wave goodbye to the hundreds we’d paid out. But then I remembered, it is difficult and you just need to tackle one hurdle at a time. We had numerous issues in securing the property but that’s another story for a rainy day!
Where are we now?
We secured the keys in February 2012 and we can’t tell you what a euphoric feeling it is to know you have a forever home, one you can decorate and not have to ask permission to hang a picture. Not only that, but our monthly outgoings were so much cheaper than renting and we are in an area we adore in East London.
After three years we managed to navigate the process of staircasing (gaining more ownership and not wanting to build a staircase as one bank believed it to be!). We now own 100% of the property and are fully in control and finally have a place we call home and feel settled, the first time in a long, long while.