Staircasing with Shared Ownership – Ben and Sophie’s Story

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Ben Short, 27, bought his first home three years ago using Shared Ownership. He recently decided to staircase (buy more shares) in his home and he tells us about his experience.

Ben and his wife Sophie, both from Cheshire, started looking for their first home back in 2013. After they got married they knew the next step for them was home ownership, but also knew that they couldn’t afford to buy straight away.

Ben says, “After we got married, we knew we wanted to buy a house but couldn’t afford to right away, so we rented for about a year. Then we saw the houses being built at Canal Place and went from there.”

The homes being built were part of Plus Dane Housing’s Canal Place development in Chester. A small and exclusive development of two and three bedroom homes set in the rural village of Christleton, the development was in the perfect location for the couple, who lived in the area. The fact that they were being offered on a Shared Ownership basis was even better.

Ben explains, “Without Shared Ownership we wouldn’t have been able to afford a home in this area, so it was a really good option for getting that first step on the ladder.”

The couple went on to purchase a 55% share in a lovely 3 bedroom end-terrace home, and recently decided to staircase to 80%, the maximum allowed on the development to keep it affordable.

When you buy a home through Shared Ownership you have the option to buy more shares, known as staircasing, when you can afford to. As your share increases, the rent you pay reduces accordingly.

Ben and Sophie were coming to the end of their 2 year fixed-term mortgage and Sophie had started a new job, so it was the perfect time to consider staircasing.

Ben says, “At the time we bought our original share Sophie was studying full time, so this affected the amount we could borrow. When she got a new job we started to think about putting more into equity and less into rent, so when our fixed-term ended we decided to staircase. The maximum we can staircase to is capped at 80% but this means we don’t pay rent on the remaining 20%. So we’re now only paying our mortgage and a small service charge, which is great.”

The couple’s transaction also came full circle, as Plus Dane Sales Officer, Sally, who sold them their original share, also handled their staircasing.

“Sally is great,” Ben says, “She was there at the open day when we first went to view the homes, so it was nice that she was also our contact when we staircased.”

The couple are now looking to the future, content with the fact they have taken their first step onto the property ladder and will be able to move on, if and when they are ready to.

Ben reveals, “We really love the area and this is where we want to live, so we might decide to move on in the future if we can. But we wouldn’t have been able to afford to buy here without Shared Ownership so I would definitely recommend it. I’d say to anyone thinking of using the scheme not to be put off – do your research and find what works for you.”

If Ben and Sophie have inspired you to find out more about Shared Ownership you can contact us on 0300 790 0570 or email info@helptobuynw.org.uk.