FIRST STEPS Shared Ownership Buyers' Guide
I've found a FIRST STEPS Shared Ownership home I want to buy, what do I do next?
Check that you are eligible
Check the Am I eligible? page to make sure you meet the headline eligibility criteria.
If you have completed your FIRST STEPS user account and are logged in you can view the contact details of the housing provider selling the home or send them a property enquiry.
The housing provider will advise you on the next steps but normally these include:
Attending a financial interview
If you meet the eligibility criteria, the housing provider will invite you to choose an Independent Financial Advisor (IFA) from an approved list of financial advisers. The IFA will contact you to arrange an eligibility and financial assessment.
When the IFA contacts you he or she will give you full details of the documents you need to bring to the interview. You will normally be asked to provide the following original documents:
- Identification - for example your passport
- Proof of your name and address - for example utility or council tax bill
- Proof of your salary - for example 3 months' payslips or P60
- Proof of your savings - for example a building society statement
- Details of any children living with you
- Any other appropriate supporting information.
At the assessment, the IFA will advise you about your financial obligations, what is financially sustainable for you, and any costs you will be responsible for.
The interview allows the IFA to assess whether you meet eligibility and financial requirements for buying the home you are interested in, and advise you on what share of the home you can afford to buy.
The IFA will be able to give you advice on mortgages. They will search for the best mortgage offers to meet your needs and refer you to a selection of lenders that will be able to help you. You do not have to use one of these suggested lenders; you can go to a different high street lender of your choice, but this could delay the buying process if the lender is not familiar with the Shared Ownership product.
Reserving a home
If you are interested in buying a home you can usually reserve it by paying a deposit of £200. This will vary depending on the housing provider.
Appointing a solicitor
Everyone who buys a property needs a solicitor to undergo the necessary legal work. Most housing providers have a panel of approved experienced solicitors that understand how shared ownership works. You do not have to use a solicitor from a housing provider's panel but it will often speed up the process.
Your solicitor will be responsible for:
- Making sure you have everything necessary to help you buy your home quickly
- Checking the lease for the home you wish to buy and speaking with your mortgage lender and the housing provider's solicitors
- Carrying out what are known as 'property searches' - checking that the housing provider actually owns the property they are about to sell you and making sure there are no planned developments that are likely to affect your home in the future
- Checking that the paperwork and your mortgage are in place in time for you to move into your new home.
After the Financial Interview
After your financial interview the housing provider will issue your solicitor with what is known as a 'Memorandum of Sale', which summarises the details of your proposed purchase. This will provide the intended 'exchange of contracts' date which effectively is the date when the proposed sale to you will be legally binding.
It normally takes about four weeks to exchange contracts and during this time your mortgage lender will be preparing your mortgage offer and your solicitor will be doing the legal work. An independent valuation of your new home will be carried out on behalf of the mortgage lender to verify the value of the property set by the housing provider.
Following these checks, and if the lender is satisfied that you can be issued with a mortgage loan, they will present you with a 'mortgage offer'. As soon as you receive this you will need to contact your solicitor who will make arrangements for you to sign a contract. At this point you will also be required to pay the housing provider the deposit for the home you are buying. Once you have paid your deposit and signed your contract you are ready to 'exchange contracts'.
Exchanging contracts means that your solicitor and the housing provider's solicitor actually swap the signed contracts. At this point you are legally bound to buy the home and the housing provider is legally required to sell you the property. The housing provider will give you a date for when you can move into your home; this is the 'completion date', and will normally be within 10 working days of the date your home is ready to move into. If your home is still under construction the housing provider will let you know when it will be ready and then arrange a completion date, which is known as 'completion on notice'.
Completing the purchase of your home
On the completion date your mortgage lender will give your solicitor the money to buy your home. Your solicitor will then pass this money on to the housing provider's solicitor. When this is done you officially become the owner of the property and can...
At this point the housing provider can give you with the keys to your home so that you can move in and make the property your home.
20th September 2017
Shared Ownership Week returns for its fifth year, 21st - 27th September. Shared Ownership week raises awareness this home ownership scheme which offers a life line to thousands of first time buyers.
19th September 2017
Countdown to the London Home Show Autumn 2017: Our sponsor Crest Nicholson give you the low down on their fantastic development Dylon Works, available via Help to Buy London.
18th September 2017
Countdown to the London Home Show Autumn 2017: Hear Marco and Olga's story about buying their first home for their young family with Notting Hill Sales.
16th September 2017
Countdown to the London Home Show Autumn 2017: L&Q's Lucy Chitty dispells some of the myths about home ownership.
FIRST STEPS is committed to the promotion of all types of accessible housing in London. We want to make the journey into your new home as simple as possible and to be sure that you know what to look for when searching for an affordable accessible home. All developments must be rated according to the type of accessibility they offer. That is why we have the following guide, based on the information provided in the Mayor of London's Accessible Housing Register, to help you understand what the rating of each property actually means.
A - Wheelchair Accessible Throughout
Meets the design standards from the Wheelchair Housing Design Guide which superseded the Housing Corporation wheelchair design standards. These properties have been designed to meet latest wheelchair accessible housing design standards, offering extra space and full access to all rooms and facilities. This standard provides more space than previous wheelchair housing design guidance and also ensures that all rooms are accessibly. In view of the high density of new build housing stock in London, the parking features have been excluded from this category. This will enable wheelchair accessible homes built above ground floor level to be categorised as such.
B - Wheelchair Accessible essential rooms
Complies with the Wheelchair Housing Design Guidance within the Housing Corporation Scheme Development Standards. Properties designed of adapted to provide access for wheelchair users to essential facilities of the property (that is, a bedroom, bathroom, toilet, living room and kitchen). Other rooms in the house such as additional bedrooms or bathrooms may not be wheelchair accessible.
C - Lifetime Homes
Meets the space standards of the Lifetime Homes developed by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Designed to meet the space standards of Lifetime Homes. Main features include a level approach/entrance and wider doorways. This category will capture all new general needs housing built to Lifetime Homes standards. Properties achieving this category will not necessarily meet all Lifetime Homes design guidance as the LAHR framework does not assess features other than space and access. Properties may have an internal flight of stairs. If so, these will be wide enough to accommodate future provision of a stair lift subject to technical feasibility.
D - Easy Access
Compatible with the design standards in Mobility Standard Housing (1974) produced by the DoE and Housing Corporation Scheme Development Standards (pre-1999) and Part M of Building Regulations (2000). The main features of these properties include a level approach to the entrance, wider doorways and more space than in general needs housing. These properties may also have an internal flight of stairs and if so, there is enough space to accommodate future provision of a stair lift subject to technical feasibility.
E - Step Free
No published access design guidance. These are properties that are considered general needs housing but have a level approach/entrance into the property and throughout. Properties in this category that have an internal flight of stair will be likely to accommodate future provision of a stair lift subject to technical feasibility.
E+. Minimal steps
No published access design guidance. Properties that do not meet any accessibly housing design guidance and have a limited number of steps to enter the property. Properties in this category will have no more than four steps to access the front door and are likely to be ground floor properties or properties in a block with a lift and a small number of communal or property front door steps.
F - General Needs
General needs housing does not meet any of the above criteria. Properties in this category will have more than four steps or a ramp access that is steeper than 1:10 to access the property front door. These properties should be marketed with the number of steps to access the property as this will provide an additional factor for helping people choosing what to bid for.
The Accessible Housing Register captures the essential information which determines the category awarded to a property. Additional information is also collected. This includes:
- Details of major adaptations such as level access showers and stair lifts
- Private garden or balcony
- Proximity to local shops
- Proximity to public transport