As property prices and living costs continue to rise while wages struggle to catch up, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for first time buyers to get on the property ladder.
To alleviate the growing inaccessibility of home ownership to ordinary working people, the Government introduced the Shared Ownership Scheme. Shared ownership helps people who are having difficulty saving for a deposit or who don’t earn enough money to maintain a mortgage.
At Bird & Co Solicitors, we specialise in providing professional, efficient, and reliable shared ownership conveyancing services to clients across the country. While we are based in Grantham, Lincoln, and Newark, we have developed a niche in online conveyancing, meaning we can handle the entirety of your property transaction without you even having to leave your house (if you’d prefer).
Shared ownership conveyancing is often more complicated than a straightforward purchase because shared ownership properties are always leasehold and there are Government rules to comply with. That’s why you need an experienced shared ownership lawyer with in-depth knowledge of the scheme rules to handle your transaction on your behalf.
Our shared ownership solicitors’ expertise
Our highly skilled shared ownership solicitors will handle every aspect of your property transaction on your behalf, including:
- Advising on the scheme rules, whether you are eligible, and whether shared ownership is right for you
- Liaising with all relevant parties including your mortgage lender, the housing association and/or their solicitors
- Investigating the title to the property, undertaking Land Registry and local authority searches, reviewing the terms of the lease and advising in relation to any rights of access or water supply issues
- Overseeing the drafting of legal documents and talking you through their terms
- Liaising with the Land Registry regarding the registration of the purchase
What is shared ownership?
Shared ownership is an affordable home ownership scheme whereby you purchase a share in a property (between 25% to 75%) and pay rent on the rest to a housing association (as well as mortgage payments to your lender).
Usually, you will be given the opportunity to pay for further shares in the property later on (referred to as staircasing).
Who is eligible for shared ownership?
To be eligible for shared ownership, any of the following must apply to you:
- You’re a first-time buyer
- You used to own a home but can no longer afford to buy one
- You already own a house under the shared ownership scheme
Additionally, your combined household income must be less than £80,000 per year (or £90,000 in London).
What is the shared ownership conveyancing process?
Once you know what property you’re going to purchase and have a mortgage in place, there is a strict conveyancing process your shared ownership solicitors must follow:
- The housing provider will issue your solicitor with a ‘Memorandum of Sale’ which summarises the details of your proposed purchase.
- You solicitor will then draft an exchange contract and liaise with the housing provider to create one that works for both parties.
- When the contracts are exchanged, you will be legally bound to buy the property and the housing provider will be legally required to sell it to you.
- You will receive a completion date or a ‘completion on notice’ from the housing provider which tells you when the completion of the sale will take place.
- On your completion date, the mortgage lender will give the money to buy your home to your solicitor who will pass the money onto the housing provider’s solicitor.
- At this stage you are officially the owner of the property and all you need to do is collect your keys from the housing provider.
How long does shared ownership conveyancing take?
The length of time it takes to purchase a shared ownership property depends on a number of factors. These factors include the length of time it takes to arrange a mortgage and how quickly your shared ownership conveyancing solicitors can process the sale.
Usually, the conveyancing process takes around two months. However, any complications that arise during this process could lengthen the amount of time it takes for your house purchase to go through.
Do you have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax with shared ownership?
The rules on Stamp Duty Land Tax for shared ownership properties can be confusing and complex. Our shared ownership solicitors will provide clear, understandable advice so you can make informed decisions about how to pay Stamp Duty on your property.
Luckily for many, from 2018, first-time buyers purchasing shared ownership properties in England and Northern Ireland have been exempt from Stamp Duty Land Tax on the first £300,000 of any home costing up to £500,000. This exemption is also retrospective. Therefore, if you paid Stamp Duty on your shared ownership property between 22 November 2017 and the introduction of the exemption, get in touch with us and we can provide advice about how to reclaim it.
For other types of buyer and properties over £500,000, Stamp Duty is payable and there are two ways to pay from which you can choose:
- Market Value Election – pay Stamp Duty in one go on the full market value of the property. For example, if you purchase 50% of a property worth £200,000 (a payment of £100,000), you pay Stamp Duty on the full value of £200,000. This option is the less popular option for buyers.
- Paying Stamp Duty in stages – pay Stamp Duty on the first purchase then don’t pay anything more until you own more than 80% of the property. This option is more popular with buyers.
It is important to get the correct advice as in many cases making a Market Value Election will result in less tax being payable in the long run.
How does shared ownership work when you sell?
There are two ways you can sell a shared ownership property:
- By selling the share that you own
- By buying the housing association’s share then selling the property as a whole (this is sometimes done simultaneously with the sale to allow the funds from the sale to be used).
Selling the house as a whole may be more financially lucrative than selling as shared ownership. However, you will become liable for Stamp Duty Land Tax after you purchase more than 80% of the property. We can provide practical advice on the best way to sell your shared ownership property to ensure you get the most for your money.
Older People’s Shared Ownership (OSPO) scheme
If you are over 55, you may be eligible for the Older People’s Shared Ownership (OPSO) scheme. Under OPSO, you can buy up to a maximum of 75% of your home. Once you own 75%, you no longer have to pay rent on the rest.
Home Ownership for People with a Long-Term Disability (HOLD)
If you have a long-term disability, including any physical and cognitive conditions, sensory impairments, or learning difficulties, and other Government Help to Buy scheme properties are unsuitable for your needs (for example, because you need a ground floor property), you may be eligible for the Home Ownership for People with a Long-Term Disability (HOLD) scheme.
Under HOLD, if you find a property which is suitable for your needs, you can apply to a housing association to purchase the property the property with you on a shared ownership basis (your share will usually be between 25-75%).
As with other shared ownership buyers, your household must earn £80,000 or less per year (or £90,000 in London) and you must either:
- Be a first-time buyer
- Have owned your own home in the past but can no longer afford to buy
- Be a current shared ownership owner looking to move house
We can provide expert advice on whether HOLD is right for you as well as handling all aspects of the transaction on your behalf.
Why choose Bird & Co’s shared ownership lawyers?
At Bird & Co, we have expertise across a variety of areas of law, with particular specialisation in shared ownership conveyancing. We understand the value of having a home you can truly call your own and we have years of experience assisting buyers to take their first steps onto the property ladder.
The Law Society has awarded us with the Conveyancing Quality Scheme Accreditation for our dedication to providing top quality conveyancing services which focus on the specific needs of our clients.
We have strong links with our local communities across Grantham, Lincoln, and Newark. However, we also attract clients from across the UK, and even abroad, for our proficiency in providing practical, trustworthy advice and an overall user-friendly service. We have been recognised for our exceptional client care and legal practice management, with the Law Society Lexcel Accreditation.
Bird & Co is independently regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Online shared ownership conveyancing
We know purchasing a home can be hectic and time-consuming. That’s why our goal is to make the process as straightforward and painless as possible, even when you’re buying through a Government scheme such as shared ownership.
At Bird & Co, we specialise in online conveyancing so you don’t have to keep putting your life on hold to come to our offices and sign legal documents. From property checks, to the exchange of contracts, to registering your purchase at the Land Registry, we can handle everything remotely, meaning you won’t have to come visit us in person (unless you’d like to).
We use online case-tracking software so you can check the progress of your conveyancing at a moment’s notice. We are also certified in Cyber Essentials at all three of our offices, confirming our systems are secure so we can reduce the risk of exchanging sensitive documents online.
Shared ownership solicitors’ fees
Buying or selling a house is an expensive time and we fully understand your need for high quality conveyancing services at a reasonable price.
We always aim to be upfront and transparent about our legal fees. We offer fixed fee conveyancing services and we’re very clear from the outset about any third-party costs (such as Land Registry fees) which you may encounter along the way. This means you can trust that the shared ownership conveyancing quote you receive at the start of your case will be accurate and reliable, with no hidden costs jumping out along the way.
For further information about our conveyancing fees, we have a dedicated conveyancing quote phone line which you can reach on 01636 600656.