Shared ownership What is shared ownership?

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Government schemes such as shared ownership can help first-time buyers

Shared ownership is a way of part-owning, part-renting a property that is designed for people who can’t afford to buy a home outright. It is available through housing associations and there are both government-backed and privately-operated schemes.

With shared ownership, you buy a stake between 25% and 75% of the market value of your property with a mortgage. You pay rent on the remaining share of the property, which is owned by the local housing association.

The rent you pay can be up to 3% of the association's share of the property value. Shared ownership properties are leasehold properties, meaning you will own the lease on them for a fixed period of time, typically 99 years.

You also have to pay a service charge for the property, which is usually charged on a monthly basis.

There are lots of options available for first-time buyers and shared ownership is just one of them. You can call Which?'s impartial mortgage service, Which? Mortgage Advisers, to get tailored guidance to help you decide what is best for you.

Shared ownership schemes

There are a range of government schemes under the umbrella title HomeBuy. The best-known is New Build HomeBuy. There are also schemes specifically for social tenants and those who want to first save for a deposit. 

Some properties are only available to key workers, such as nurses and teachers, and there are certain criteria you must meet on income, residency and other measures. Find out if you are eligible and how to apply in our shared ownership schemes article. 

Where can I get a shared ownership mortgage?

Not all lenders offer mortgages for shared ownership. Some of the major mortgage lenders that do include Nationwide, Santander and Halifax.

You may not be able to borrow 100% of the share you are buying and there may be extra restrictions for buying a new-build property. For example, Santander will only lend first-time buyers 90% of the share they are buying, if it's a new-build house and 80% if it's a new-build flat.

The more money you have to put down as a deposit, the better the mortgage deal you will be able to get. You can use the mortgage calculators and first time buyer rates tables on the Which? Mortgage Advisers website to find out what kind of mortgage deal you may be able to get. 

The housing association you apply to may be able to recommend mortgage advisers with specialist knowledge of dealing with shared ownership mortgages.

We believe you should seek independent mortgage advice before taking out a mortgage. The Which? Group offers an independent mortgage advice service, Which? Mortgage Advisers, that looks at every mortgage from every available lender. You can also find an independent mortgage adviser using

Can I buy extra shares in my home later?

Yes. Shared ownership schemes offer you the option of increasing your percentage stake in the equity of your home as and when you can afford to. This is called staircasing. The cost of increasing your share will depend on the value of the property at the time.

To do this you will need to pay for the housing association to carry out a valuation of the property and arrange a mortgage to buy the extra share.

What happens if I want to sell the property?

You can sell your shared ownership property at any time but the housing association has the right to find a buyer for your home, if it still owns a share of it and to buy it back first.

If you bought your home through Social HomeBuy and sell it within five years, you'll have to pay back all or some of the discount.

Shared equity

As well as shared ownership schemes, there is also HomeBuy Direct and FirstBuy, which give you an equity loan to help you buy a property. For more information on shared equity schemes visit our guide.

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Which Ltd is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Ltd, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.