Back to Back Staircasing: Selling Shared Ownership on the open market

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What is back to back staircasing, or simultaneous sale?

How do I sell my Shared Ownership home?

For shared owners who are looking to move on from their current property, you can choose to sell your Shared Ownership home at any time.

The first thing you will need to do is contact your housing association to make them aware of your decision. Generally speaking, your provider will then have a set period of time (usually eight weeks) to try and find a Shared Ownership buyer for your home first. If your provider doesn’t find a buyer during this time, you can then choose to sell your property privately or through an estate agent of your choice. At this time, you can also choose to advertise your home on property portals such as Share to Buy.

For more information about the sales process, check our our selling guide here. Alternatively, to find out more about next steps for shared owners, including buying additional shares, visit our guide on buying and selling shares.

Who is back to back staircasing for?

Once you have lived in your Shared Ownership home for a certain period of time (as outlined in the terms of your lease), you can choose to buy further shares in your property via a process known as staircasing. For example, if you initially purchased a 25% share in your home and went on to buy an additional 25% down the line, you would then own 50% of the property.

However, there is an additional option called back to back staircasing, or simultaneous sale, for existing Shared Ownership property owners who wish to sell but:

  • Have gone through the relevant processes and haven’t found a buyer.
  • Have a high percentage share, with the rise in property prices leading to the owned share becoming unaffordable to other potential Shared Ownership buyers.
  • You believe that the property is worth more than the surveyor’s valuation

How does back to back staircasing work?

You can apply to staircase to 100% ownership so that your property will no longer be covered by the Shared Ownership rules. In doing so, you can put your property on sale as normal on the open market. When you have a buyer ready to complete the purchase, you will simultaneously staircase to 100% and complete the sale, generally on the same day.

What is the process of back to back staircasing?

If you are interested in back to back staircasing, you will need follow the below steps:

  • Contact your housing association to advise that you wish to staircase to 100% and find out their requirements and any costs they might charge.
  • All Shared Ownership homes are sold on a leasehold basis. However, if the property is a house rather than an apartment, you can ask the housing association if you will be given the freehold on completion.
  • Speak to two or three estate agents, find out their estimate on the sale value, and ask about their charges and fees. It’s worth remembering that a valuation is a matter of opinion based on the wider market at the time, so you may receive different valuations from different agents.
  • Speak to solicitors who will deal with the legal side of the transaction. It is best to appoint a firm that has experience of back to back staircasing as they may have some useful advice, and be sure to ask for a quote on their fees. To gather some quotes, you may wish to contact the firms on our panel of specialist Shared Ownership solicitors.
  • If your housing association requires that you have a mortgage offer in order to staircase to 100% then speak to a qualified mortgage broker; we would recommend working with a broker who has experience and knowledge of the Shared Ownership scheme. You can explain that you will be selling your home in this way, and query what their fees would be.
  • Add up all the costs to ensure that this is a viable option – if so, and you want to proceed, you will need to inform your housing association, mortgage broker, estate agent and solicitor.

Share to Buy is a one stop shop for affordable homes. On our website, you can search for propertiescompare mortgages and find out all you need to know about alternative home buying schemes such as Shared Ownership and Help to Buy.