Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

MAKE YOUR FIRST MOVE A SMART ONE; First-Time Buyers Can Now Find a Home among the Best New Addresses in Town, Discovers David Spittles

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

MAKE YOUR FIRST MOVE A SMART ONE; First-Time Buyers Can Now Find a Home among the Best New Addresses in Town, Discovers David Spittles

Article excerpt

Byline: David Spittles

SHARED ownership is now firmly part of the mainstream housing market -- a sensible way of getting on to the property ladder at a reduced price. But cherrypicking of apartments is still advisable -- not only to get good value for money when buying but also to ensure the best price when selling, allowing you to move up the ladder.

Arguably, one of the best ways to profit is to buy a shared-ownership flat at a new development where there is a property mix with smart privateownership homes alongside. Housing schemes with both types of property mixed in are a legacy of ex-Mayor Ken Livingstone's reign, which aimed to "de-stigmatise" shared ownership by not isolating the less-privileged younger, lower income market.

In the past, part-buy, part-rent properties tended to be seen as second best and not for the "aspirational". However, now that many new apartment schemes include shared-ownership flats, often identical in design to the ones available for outright sale, the prices are holding.

Normally, the minimum equity share that can be purchased is 25 per cent (of the full open-market price). A discounted fixed rent is paid on the remaining amount, meaning the combined cost is less than a full monthly mortgage repayment.

The main question facing buyers is how much equity they should acquire. Often a 50-50 split is chosen but buyers with bigger budgets could purchase, say, 80 per cent.

Shared ownership is flexible in that buyers can purchase additional shares -- a process known as "staircasing" -- normally in 10 or 25 per cent chunks, until they reach full ownership. This is a useful option for, say, twentysomething career professionals whose financial situation is likely to improve.

Many buyers are content to remain as part-owners, while others have a clear strategy to become an outright owner. For those who can afford to staircase, it makes sense to do so when property prices are stable or falling rather than rising because the amount paid is linked to the prevailing market value of the property.

Queen Mary's Place in Roehampton is a 12-acre walled estate within the grounds of a listed Palladian mansion -- 450 homes in total, 135 of them houses. …

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