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10 years ago, Newbury Building Society member Maxine Allen needed to find affordable housing following the breakdown of her marriage. With two teenage children, a cat and a rabbit to house, she tells us why Shared Ownership was her unexpected saviour during a particularly turbulent time.
What type of property do you now own?
During October 2007, I first purchased 40% of a two bedroom semi-detached house in Thatcham. Since then I gradually purchased further shares and now own 100% of the property.
Why Shared Ownership?
Following a separation, I had to find accommodation which was local to my children’s school. After being firmly on the property ladder for a number of years, I didn’t want to lose my footing and privately rent – I was worried that once I came off, I wouldn’t be able to get back on.
After a short meeting with the local council, Shared Ownership was recommended to me as an affordable way to still own a property. I was sceptical at first as Shared Ownership was a new government scheme I wasn’t familiar with. However, once I had spoken to Sovereign Housing Association, the organisation I would essentially be in partnership with, all my concerns were put to rest and I jumped at the chance of registering my interest for the two bedroom property I now call my own.
You’ve managed to staircase from 40% to 100%, what was the process like?
Surprisingly easy – it sounds more complex than it actually is!
I went through a three step process that lasted roughly 12 weeks. Firstly, the property was independently valued and the worth reported back to the housing association. Then the purchase percentage and cost of the share was jointly agreed. Once this had been done, my solicitor completed the paperwork and I signed on the dotted line. I was able to staircase twice in total.
Sovereign Housing Association was great and on-hand to offer support throughout the process.
What is the best thing about Shared Ownership?
It lessened the money worries I had during the first few weeks of searching for a property. I had lots of other expenditure I needed to sort following my separation, and I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to afford even a smaller sized property.
I wanted my own home at an affordable price with mortgage repayments that worked alongside my income. Shared Ownership really was the only way I was able to keep my foot on the property ladder.
Would you recommend Shared Ownership to a friend?
Yes I would. In fact, my daughter completed on a Shared Ownership property six months ago and my son is just starting the process. I guess you could say we’re a proud Shared Ownership family!
What’s the best thing about owning a home?
Being able to paint my kitchen bright pink (much to my children’s objections)!
*all figures and data correct as of September 2017.