A New Approach To Shared Ownership

Posted 22 October 2020 by Lizzie Leigh

We talk to John Walton of St Arthur Homes about what his company is doing to provide brand new affordable homes...

John Walton, partnerships & acquisitions director for St Arthur Homes, helps dispel some myths around Shared Ownership.

As a relatively new company, you’re a Regulator of Social Housing (RSH)-approved provider looking to bring a fresh approach to the Shared Ownership market; how do you plan to make this happen?

St Arthur Homes is seeking to deliver aspirational Shared Ownership homes in partnership with developers, other registered providers (RPs), local authorities and investment partners in order to deliver our target of 2,000 new homes by 2025. We are focusing our strategic plans for growth across the south and east of England, with plans to branch into the Midlands and north-west England, to bring forward quality new homes with partners, that are not only built to a high specification but are also genuinely affordable too. We are flexible on location and where viable to do so, we can deliver from six to 60 homes in any one location. We are particularly interested in working with RP partners who may not wish to deliver homes for Shared Ownership.

There seem to be a number of misconceptions around Shared Ownership, can you dispel some of the myths for us?

Shared Ownership is a hugely successful housing tenure that has enabled thousands of households across the country to get a step onto the housing ladder. First-time buyers can own a share in a property, usually between 25% and 75%, the exact share being subject to the amount they can afford, and, importantly, have the same rights as afforded to any homeowner.

The success of Shared Ownership owes much to its affordability, and the fact that the minimum deposit amounts are far lower than standard homeownership. The exact levels of savings will of course vary by location, but most comparisons show the monthly cost of Shared Ownership to be around 20-25% less than privately renting a similar property in the same area. There are certain criteria for using Shared Ownership; initially the local borough will prioritise those purchasers who live or work in the locality, after a period of time they will later open the offering to a wider audience.

In time, and of course when affordable to do so, shared owners can then apply to purchase further shares in their property by a minimum of 10% up to 100% in locations where no staircasing restrictions apply.

St Arthur Homes is keen to forge strong relationships with other housing providers, how does this benefit buyers?

By partnering with developers and other RPs, St Arthur Homes can financially support the delivery of more Shared Ownership properties, this will then benefit buyers by providing an increased supply of more affordable homes to choose from in their local areas.

You’re currently marketing a scheme in Southampton called Chapel Riverside, how has it been going?

We have seen a good level of enquiries despite the current pandemic, recently securing three reservations with the potential for further interest with seven viewings just having taken place this weekend. Our next step is to launch a new show home to showcase the high-quality specification buyers can expect from a property with St Arthur Homes. This will also help future potential buyers see how they can style and arrange their own home, and ultimately envisage themselves living here.

Chapel RiversideChapel Riverside

And what steps have you been taking to ensure your developments are COVID-secure?

St Arthur Homes is committed to ensuring that we provide a safe and secure environment for all our customers. Working closely with our developer partners and building contractors, we ensure that all government guidelines are followed including; face coverings are worn where required, regular temperature checks, hand sanitiser is readily available in various locations and social distancing measures are being observed. Viewings are by appointment only so we can control all aspects of the visit to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone.

You operate in the south east of England, an expensive area of the country for housing; do you think there will be enough affordable houses being built over the next few years?

St Arthur plans to deliver new Shared Ownership homes in areas of high demand through S106 planning gain (with developers) and also through developing new homes with grant funding. We therefore believe that we will be adding to the overall supply of affordable homes throughout the South East and East of England over the next five years. Through effective partnerships and with continued focus from the government on plans for affordable homeownership, we are confident that we will help the wider housing sector deliver more much needed affordable housing in areas of high demand.

What are your top three tips for buyers looking to purchase a property under the Shared Ownership scheme?

Firstly, get registered with a local Help to Buy agent – by doing this, prospective purchasers will be able to take the first step toward assessing their eligibility to be able to purchase a home using the Shared Ownership scheme. Once this is in place, buyers will be in a good position move forward quickly when applying for a new property.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions – utilise all the resources available via the Shared Ownership provider, they will be able to offer invaluable knowledge and guidance, and also provide information about which Independent Financial Advisers and solicitors to use.

Have a good look around the property and the development as a whole – if you decide to reserve a property this is going to be your home, so you want to ensure you’ve seen everything and gather all the information required before making your decision.

What sorts of questions do you think buyers should be asking when they’re looking to buy a new home?

  • Many people don’t actually know how much they can afford, so ask who can help me find this out?
  • What area do I want to live in, am I willing to relocate or move to a different location to suit my budget?
  • What steps do I need to take to buy a Shared Ownership property?
  • What additional moving costs may be involved (other than mortgage payments)
  • How much deposit do I need?

And finally, what other schemes are in the pipeline for St Arthur Homes in the coming months?

St Arthur is currently reviewing a range of opportunities to bring forward new affordable Shared Ownership homes across the south and east of England in the months and years ahead. With a target to deliver up to 2,000 new homes by 2025, the St Arthur Homes team are passionate about developing new partnerships across the housing and residential development sector to accelerate the delivery of much needed new homes. We already have plans committed for 2021, with a selection of new homes coming soon in outer London, Hampshire, Suffolk and Hertfordshire.

Find out more at www.starthurhomes.com.

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A Guide To Part Buy Part Rent
Part Rent Part Buy is a scheme you can use with Home Reach where you buy a share of your chosen newly built home and pay a monthly rent on the part you don’t buy. Your budget will decide the size of the share you buy, rather than the size of your home. So, you might decide to buy a bigger share of a lower priced home or a smaller share of a more expensive home.

You are able to purchase your share in either cash savings or by taking out a mortgage. If you are taking out a mortgage to finance your share, you will need to allow for a minimum of 5% deposit. The larger your deposit (typically 10%) the lower your mortgage repayments are likely to be.

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