Exploring Older Persons Shared Ownership: Finding the right community

Finding the right Older Persons Shared Ownership community

Shared Ownership is often billed to support younger people in their dreams of homeownership. However, younger first time buyers aren’t the only group who can take advantage of the scheme. Older Persons Shared Ownership (OPSO) does exactly what it says on the tin, serving as a way of offering more affordable homes to people over the age of 55.

OPSO works similarly to regular Shared Ownership, allowing you to buy a share of your home, while renting the remainder – but there are some differences too. One twist is that you’ll find a different community waiting for you, reflecting residents of a similar age who may be looking for a different way of life. To make sure you find the right community, check out our tips below:

What are OPSO communities?

OPSO communities are designed to provide more affordable homes to people in their retirement years. Much like ordinary Shared Ownership, they help budding buyers overcome the financial hurdles of finding a new and stylish place to call home. The scheme makes it possible for people aged 55 or over to buy a smaller share of their property (usually 25% to 75%, although minimum shares can sometimes be as low as 10%), while paying up to 3% rent on the share still owned by a housing provider.

For people reaching their retirement years, it’s hard to beat the convenience of OPSO. This could be the apartment you downsize to from your larger family home, or simply a way of getting a change of scenery. An OPSO community will free you to meet like-minded friends, while giving you the independence to shape your lifestyle.

Best of all, there’s plenty of flexibility with how you use the scheme. Through a process called ‘staircasing’, you’ll have the option to buy more shares of your home. However, the maximum share you can purchase in an OPSO property is generally capped at 75%, whereas standard Shared Ownership usually allows the owner-occupier to eventually buy 100% of the property, becoming the outright owner. This will increase your mortgage payments, or you may be able to pay the difference in savings if you have the funds available, while also reducing the amount of rent you need to pay. However, if you want a more temporary living arrangement or aren’t planning to staircase, there is no obligation to buy more shares.

Pick the right area for you

With developments located all over the country, OPSO gives you plenty of scope to find the right area for your needs. If you favour a quieter area with the opportunity to enjoy a slower pace of life, you could take to the British countryside, or even find a home moments away from a beach. If you enjoy an active lifestyle and want to find a vibrant community that’s more action-packed, perhaps a city centre location like London or Manchester.

Exploring OPSO community amenities

Depending on where you live, your OPSO community could come with a lot of added benefits or amenities. While some developments offer tailored care services through a scheme known as Extra Care, others come with stylish balcony spaces or communal areas for you to make new friends from home. Once you know what you need for the next chapter of your life, picking the right OPSO community becomes a whole lot easier.

Connect with OPSO community members

Once you reach retirement age, you might be one of many who find that new friends are harder to come by. This is one of the charms of the Older Persons Shared Ownership scheme, which brings you in close contact with like-minded people going through a similar stage of life. When you’re busy scouting out potential developments, try to speak to the current residents and find out what you can expect from life in the OPSO community. This will give you a good indication of what your potential neighbours are like, setting you up to make new friendships.

Assessing your lifestyle needs

Picking the right OPSO community will depend a lot on what kind of lifestyle you want in your later years. For example, if you’re interested in exercise and staying fit, you’ll want to live in an area with a park or fitness centre nearby. The same goes if you love being entertained – a city full of museums, theatres and cinemas will go a long way to making you feel more attached to your community.

Stock image of family dinner

If you are sold on the idea of Shared Ownership for older buyers, we have everything you need to take the next step in your home-buying journey. Check out our property search tool, and you can discover the best OPSO communities in your area, customising your search based on your lifestyle and needs.