We recently caught up with Laith who completed his final staircasing transaction on his shared ownership home back in May 2021. He has given us some tips and advice for purchasing the remaining shares of your home.
Get to know more about Laith’s Staircasing experience from our recent Q&A!
Tell us a little bit about yourself
My name is Laith and I am a 53-year-old IT Manager at a grammar school in Bournemouth. I have worked in the school for the last 25 years and love what I do. My house is in a great location, and it gives me the advantage of getting to work and back home in just a few minutes.
My wife, Aseel, is 48 I think – I hope I got her age right! Aseel is an Enablement Manager in the care industry and has worked in the field for a long time.
We have three children - or I should say three adults: Mo, Faye and Shameem. Mo and Faye no longer live with us as they have moved away to London, but Shameem is still living with us at home.
Tell us a bit about your shared ownership journey & how shared ownership has impacted you.
It had always been our dream to own our own home, but we never thought we would have been able to afford it back in 2001 as neither of us earnt enough. We were on the waiting list for a council house but never had any luck in getting one.
So, the idea of joining what was once known as the Western Challenge came up. It was thanks to a gentleman named Greg, we were given the offer of this house. We were given the opportunity to choose the kitchen and carpets - this was one of the best moments of our lives.
We were able to get a brand new home for half the price – we were able to get a mortgage for £45,000 rather than the full £90,000. That was a piece of cake because we could provide that, and it was the start of our successful journey with Western Challenge and then Sovereign.
What development do you live at and why did you choose this location?
We live at the Ibbertson Close development nearby Castlepoint, the location was close to my place of work, around other good schools and meant we could get onto the property ladder.
On top of all that it was a brand-new house, so you can imagine that no one has lived in your house before and you had the option of choosing your own kitchen at no extra cost. Everything in the house was brand new, and that was a big help as we did not have any cash left to do any house improvements. Therefore, this was the best choice we ever made in our life, buying a shared house with Sovereign.
How long have you been in your shared ownership home?
The house was first built in 2001 and we’ve lived here ever since.
What percentage of your home did you previously own before staircasing to 100% and owning your home outright?
We started with a 50% share.
Is this your forever home or in the future do you plan on buying a home on the open market?
Yes, I am at that age that I am very happy with what I have, also the kids have left home so the need to move has not come across. Plus, we are close to castle point, a bonus for the wife.
How long did the process of staircasing take?
This was around 6 months due to covid and working from home, but with the help of Julie and the staircasing team, we managed to get it sorted.
How easy did you find the process?
It was ok. I needed to send a few emails and sign a few papers. We waited for valuations to be agreed upon by Sovereign. I also had to provide a few documentations to Julie with information about my solicitor, send proof about how I obtained the 50% share and there were other requirements from the lender including any car loans payments and other loans.
I recommend anyone thinking of buying the remaining share of their home to clear all the loans they have.
What advice would you give to people considering shared ownership?
After my experience the advice I would give to people are:
- If you are buying and can pay the full price of the stamp duty do so, as you will save money if the house price goes up. I bought my first 50% share for £45,000 and my second was £135,000.
- If you are looking at doing any improvements on the house take approval and keep every invoice as this will help you if you are thinking of buying the freehold. I missed out on few improvements like upgrading the kitchen and bathrooms and could not take it off the price. I think with all the house improvements I’ve saved a lot and Sovereign are very fair in their valuation.
- Keep up to date with all the repairs as it is good to keep it nice and tidy as if you ever think of selling your share, you will be enjoying a nice profit on your share. So never think of it as a lost deal, think of it as a win-win situation.
- No harm in starting from 25% or 50% and if you are thinking of buying you can do the staircasing at 25% and then 50% if you can afford to do so.
Thinking about buying the remaining shares in your home. You can visit our ‘staircasing' page for additional information or contact our dedicated team on 0300 330 0718.
Buying more shares in your home has a number of benefits:
- Buying more shares in your home means you reduce the amount of rent you pay to Sovereign
- When you decide to sell your home, the greater percentage you own, the more profit you will make if the value of your home has increased
- If you own 100% of your property, in most cases you can sell your property on the open market using an estate agent of your choice
- If you buy the remaining shares in your home and own 100% of your property, in most cases you can sell your home to anyone interested in buying it and are not restricted to those applying for affordable homes -this will need to be confirmed by us
As a guide, we suggest that the transaction to buy more shares in your home should complete within 3 months.
You and your solicitor should work towards this time frame, and by providing all the relevant information required you can help the process run smoothly.
Once you’ve submitted your application to buy more shares in your home, we’ll contact you to confirm we have all the information we need. If there’s anything missing from your application, we’ll be in touch to ask you for further details.
We’ll process the information you have provided, we’ll check your rent and service charge account, and check your lease.
If you’ve carried out any home improvements, we’ll ask you to provide details, including written evidence of Sovereign’s consent. We’ll let you know within 15 working days whether you are eligible to proceed with your application. If so, we’ll then ask you to pay our administration fee of £180 (including VAT) which covers the cost to process your application.
It’s best that you don’t start your part of the process until we’ve let you know that our checks are complete, as we don’t want you to incur any unnecessary fees.
We are committed to creating affordable homes for our customers – and so it’s important that you carefully consider all the costs involved in buying more shares in your home before you decide to apply.
Each time you purchase additional shares, you’ll have expenses to pay such as legal fees, mortgage fees, and our administration charge for handling your application. We recommend that you seek advice from your mortgage lender or an independent financial adviser. More information on staircasing fees can be found here.