In these difficult economic times, it remains the ambition of most people to own their own home.  Housing Associations have worked with governments for many years now to provide schemes to assist first time buyers to get onto the Property Ladder.  These schemes have taken various forms over time but the aim remains the same – to assist those who would not otherwise be able to buy.

At Prince Evans Solicitors LLP, we have worked alongside Housing Associations to help our clients achieve their goal of home ownership.  The need for schemes to make buying a property affordable is greater than ever, particularly in London where prices remain high and banks are looking for much larger deposits than they did in the days before the Credit Crunch.

The good news is that there are plenty of opportunities to buy.  The best place to start is the website of First Steps which is the umbrella organisation overseeing the schemes currently on offer in London.  Their website is at

Once you are accepted as eligible, you will have the chance to view properties available through the many housing associations operating in and around London.

As soon as your offer on a property is accepted, you will need to confirm details of your solicitors to the Housing Association and so it’s a good idea to have someone lined up and ready.  We will give you a free no obligation quote for our services setting out our costs and the other information you need to get the conveyancing process under way.

There are two main types of affordable schemes on offer at the moment.  The first type is Shared Ownership or Part Rent/Part Buy.  With these properties, the Housing Association will grant you a lease of the property for a share between 25% and 75% and you will pay rent on the remaining share.  The rent is at lower level than the market rent would be.  The second type of scheme is known as Shared Equity.  Here, you buy the property outright but with an additional loan at a low cost from the housing association or developer.

The conveyancing process is similar to the purchase of a property on the open market but with some key differences.  You will need a solicitor who is familiar with the way that such purchases work and Prince Evans Solicitors LLP has an experienced team dealing with these transactions on a daily basis.

The Shared Ownership lease will deal with the matters which are different from an open market purchase – the rent on the unowned share, the arrangement for selling on and the ability to staircase or purchase more shares in the property until eventually you do own it outright.

The Shared Ownership property you are buying may be a newly built property on a brand new development or it may be a resale of a property purchased a few years ago, where the shared owner is now moving on to a bigger property or to outright ownership.

The main advantage of Shared Ownership is that you can buy as little as 25% and so finding deposit of perhaps 15% or 20% of the price for the share is much more achievable.  This often enables you to obtain a really good deal from a mortgage lender.

Shared equity schemes are closer to normal open market purchases in that you do purchase the property outright.  You will still have to find a deposit in most cases but you will be able to borrow less on your mortgage and this could make all the difference in enabling you to purchase a property where you want to live.

More information about Affordable Schemes can be found in Home Focus – the magazine for first time buyers. See the link from our website.

Mary Ridgeon