Evening Standard New Homes Awards 2020: our search for the best shared-ownership schemes across the city
Shared ownership has become part of the mainstream as a popular way of buying a first home and is a key category in the 2020 Evening Standard New Homes Awards.
For this award entries are invited for stand-out projects that raise the bar with thoughtfully designed, good-value, low-deposit homes.
While traditional housing associations, many with charitable roots dating back decades, are the main providers, registered private companies are offering shared ownership, too, and are set to plug the gap if Help to Buy is phased out.
Boosted by increased government funding, shared ownership has been rolled out to a much wider audience.
The choice is extensive, with thousands of houses as well as flats available across London and the home counties.
For more information about the Evening Standard New Homes Awards and to find out about the different categories and how to nominate a new home, go to homesandproperty.co.uk/nha, call Avril on 01568 708163 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“There’s huge demand from career professionals — people working in finance and IT, science and medicine, health and beauty, retail and the design, media and charity sectors, and also the Civil Service,” says Esaiyas Mollallegn, director of Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing, one of the South-East’s biggest shared ownership providers.
In London, first-time buyers qualify for shared ownership if they earn up to £90,000 a year, or £80,000 if buying outside the capital.
How does shared ownership work?
The idea is pretty simple. You purchase a percentage of a property — between 25 and 75 per cent — and pay a fixed rent on the remaining share which is owned by the housing association or other provider.
The arithmetic shows why shared ownership has become such a compelling choice.
Whereas the typical deposit required for a one-bedroom “open market” home in London is roughly £77,000, the average shared-ownership deposit is about £25,000.
Indeed, minimum shared-ownership deposits start at less than £6,000 for one-bedroom flats, and about £10,000 for three-bedroom properties. You raise a mortgage on the percentage chunk you are buying, meaning your salary can be lower than it would otherwise have to be, too.
As time goes by and your financial situation improves, you can “staircase” — buy a bigger share — until you own the property outright.
Flats at Manor Place Depot, a former Victorian public baths, part of a 4.2-acre site redeveloped into a 270-home quarter
Shared ownership gives lower-budget buyers the chance to find a home at a more affordable price. But do remember you will also being paying rent and any maintenance charges.
Private renting may sometimes be cheaper but shared ownership is a way of getting that vital first step on the ladder.
Shared ownership: what to buy
Shared-ownership homes can be found in posh postcodes and trendy districts as well as gritty parts of inner London and suburban high streets.
To get planning permission, private developers normally have to build shared-ownership blocks, which are managed by housing associations, alongside more expensive homes.
In the capital, such projects include riverside schemes where private apartments may cost millions of pounds.
Often there is no difference in terms of architecture and interior design, while shared-ownership buyers have a right to use all the residents amenities, such as gym, pool, 24-hour concierge services or club lounges.
The Dumont is a good-looking 30-storey tower on Albert Embankment where some open-market apartments cost more than £6 million.
Luxury shared-ownership flats are available from £135,000 via Clarion Housing. This price buys a 25 per cent share of a flat with a full price of £540,000 and requires a minimum deposit of £6,750. The total monthly cost is £1,883.
The tower has a 12th-floor observatory plus a residents lounge, secret garden, games room, tenpin bowling lane and screening/cinema suite. Call 0300 100 0309.
Clarion is also offering homes at Lots Waterside, on the Chelsea riverfront where billionaire Roman Abramovich has bought a triplex penthouse in a new skyscraper.
People who live or work in Hammersmith & Fulham borough have priority for these “shared equity” flats, which start at £160,000 for a 25per cent share. Call 020 7378 5638.
There are plenty more opportunities to part-buy/part-rent a designer home in a cool London district, at Royal Arsenal Riverside in Woolwich, Fish Island in Hackney, Greenwich Peninsula and London City Island in Docklands to name a few.
In addition, there are even cheaper homes in pockets of the capital that are reaping the rewards of regeneration.
For example, the reopening of Lea Bridge train station after a 30-year closure has helped to lift the veil on a forgotten area.
Motion, a Peabody scheme of 300 homes, is a one-minute walk from the new station and also part of Waltham Forest borough’s “Mini-Holland” network of cycle paths and pedestrian routes linking with Lee Valley Regional Park, Walthamstow Wetlands and Hackney Marshes.
Art Deco-style mansion blocks are being built around landscaped courtyards. Prices start at £105,000 for a 30 per cent share. Call 020 7021 4842.
Housing associations are poised to release more shared-ownership homes throughout this year.
Shared-ownership schemes in Walworth
Sense of independence: Carolyn Smith put down £16k and bought 25 per cent of a flat at Manor Place Depot, Walworth (Richard Eaton)
Environmental designer Carolyn Smith, 31, found a shared-ownership apartment in up-and-coming Walworth, less than two miles from the Palace of Westminster and only a 20-minute cycle ride to the Battersea firm of architects where she works.
She paid £111,250 for a 25 per cent share of a one-bedroom apartment priced at £445,000, using a £16,000 deposit that took her two years to save.
Her new address is Manor Place Depot, a former Victorian public baths, part of a 4.2-acre site redeveloped into a 270-home quarter.
Eleven new blocks with a mix of homes for private sale, shared ownership and rent have been built either side of a railway viaduct, while the heritage buildings, including an Edwardian coroner’s court, are split into apartments.
Even the original chimney and boilerhouse have been restored as part of a new district heating system that will deliver low-price energy to residents.
Derelict arches are being refurbished and opened up for cafés and commercial premises.
Carolyn pays a total £1,170 a month, which is made up of £720 in rent, £350 for the mortgage and £100 for the service charge.
“Previously I was paying much the same for a room in a house, and there were always anxieties, whereas this new flat has given me a true sense of independence, the opportunity to build a financial investment and secure my own future rather than paying rent into a black hole.”
It has also greatly improved her lifestyle.
“I used to spend two hours commuting to and from work. Since moving I’ve been able to pick up my hobbies again. I’ve joined a rowing club and a gym and can entertain friends in the flat at weekends.”
Notting Hill Genesis, Carolyn’s housing association landlord, is also selling high-rise flats in a fashionable location at Dockside at Millharbour, alongside Canary Wharf. Prices from £121,250, with a minimum deposit of £12,125. Call 020 3815 1234.
Buying through a housing association
Staircasing: Florence Davisseau is annually increasing her share in her flat (S Saunders / Digital Nation Photography)
Housing associations have made life easier for shared-ownership buyers by reducing the minimum equity stake that can be purchased to 10 per cent, though often buyers opt for 50 per cent and can purchase as much as 75 per cent.
While many buyers are content to remain as part-owners, others staircase to outright ownership.
Florence Davisseau, 44, who works as a nanny in west London, had this in mind when paying £126,000 for 30 per cent of a flat in Twickenham. She has now signed up for a special scheme operated by her landlord, SO Resi, allowing her to buy an extra one per cent annually for 15 years.
The price is predetermined, so there is no need for future valuations or for extra legal fees to be incurred.
“There’s also the option to buy larger shares when I can afford to, so there’s a lot of flexibility,” Florence explains. “I was renting before but got fed up waiting to use the shared bathroom. Now I have an amazing apartment all to myself. It has transformed my life.”