“Shared ownership had allowed me to get on - and up - the property ladder before most people my age had even moved out of their family home”
Hi Ella! First question... When and how did you first hear about shared ownership?
I was 18 when I first heard about shared ownership - I was working for an estate agency at the time so needed to know about the option for my role. Shared ownership appealed to me as I was looking for the independence of my own home, but renting seemed like an expensive temporary solution. Just knowing that shared ownership was an option inspired me to start thinking about getting on the property ladder and before my nineteenth birthday, I had bought my first home!
How did shared ownership help you to get on - and up - the property ladder?
When I first started looking into buying a property, I didn’t have any savings and as I was in my first full-time job, I wasn’t earning a huge amount. Fortunately, I was able to get a 100% mortgage from a local mortgage provider that allowed me to move quicker than expected! I ended up purchasing a one bed terraced house in Newbury and for the first time it was mine! I could make it into my home! I lived comfortably in this home for a few years until I decided I wanted to start a family. I needed a bigger place and although I had made some equity due to house prices going up, I still needed shared ownership to be able to get a mortgage on a larger home. It allowed me to move to a two-bedroom home down the road, closer to a school and to a neighbourhood with a family feel. Shared ownership had allowed me to get on - and up - the property ladder before most people my age had even moved out of their family home. When I was finally ready to take the leap to an even bigger family-home, I had made enough money from the equity in my second home to purchase a house without the need for shared ownership which was incredible. I wouldn’t have got to this point if it weren’t for shared ownership.
What do you love most about your role at Sovereign?
Helping people, simple as that! This is my favourite bit, much like most people who work at Sovereign. We help people from all walks of life to get on, up, and sometimes back on - the property ladder. It’s such a great feeling when we get to hand over the keys on the day of completion, and even better when we get to hear from customers a few months on and know they’ve settled in to their happy new home.
Can you tell us your favourite customer story where shared ownership changed their life?
When I first started at Sovereign as a sales consultant five years ago I had seen first-hand how it helped people my age get on the property ladder and purchase their first home, but one of my first enquiries came from an older retired couple. They’d always dreamt of owning their own home but never quite got there. They had been renting and saving whatever they could all their lives, but now retired they thought that owning their own home was no longer an option. They got in touch to find out more information and together we ran through how shared ownership works. It turned out they had enough saved for a large deposit on a house but because they had retired, they struggled to get a mortgage for the rest. This is where Shared Ownership helped, they were able to put down enough money to buy a 40% share outright and pay rent on the remaining share. I remember them telling me how much it meant to them to have the security of their own home after renting their whole lives - and to have invested in property at a point when the housing market was on the up meant they would have made some equity on the house to leave to their grandchildren. The day we handed over the keys is a memory I won’t forget!.
What would you say to anyone struggling to see how they could own their own home?
I can definitely relate, I have had countless mortgage appointments in the past where I was told I couldn’t afford exactly what I wanted and at the time it feels pretty soul-destroying. But owning your dream home is a bit of a journey and you have to start somewhere. My first home was my first step. Since then I’ve owned two other homes that have eventually got me where I want to be; in my dream home with spacious bedrooms, a gorgeous garden and garage, close to my children’s schools, close to the town centre and close to family and friends too.
And finally, what is one piece of advice you would give to anyone house hunting?
I’d say be open-minded, look into all your options and have your checklist of must-haves, maybes and minors for your new home.