What are the steps to staircasing?
There are five main steps to staircasing which we've outlined below:
01. Check your finances
Use our online staircasing calculator to work out how much the cost of buying more shares could be. The cost of the additional shares is based on the open market value of your home at the time that you wish to buy them. You can do the calculations here.
02. Complete an application
If you’re happy with the estimated costs and would like to proceed with buying additional shares you will need to complete our online application form here. Once you've completed the form we'll need to do a couple of background checks, as soon as these are done we will be in touch to let you know whether it's possible to purchase the additional shares.
03. Arrange a valuation
Once we have confirmed in writing that you can buy the requested number of shares, you will need to arrange an open market valuation of the property. This must be done by an independent surveyor qualified through the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or Fellow of Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyor (FRICS). There are a few other requirements of the valuation report and we have put together a detailed valuation guidance document for your surveyor.
04. Authority to Proceed
As soon as we receive the property valuation report we have a few checks to make in line with the valuation requirements. We will then also calculate the purchase price of the shares you wish to buy based on the valuation report and confirm this and all other details in writing to you along with an Authority to Proceed Form. This form confirms to us that you accept the price of the shares and wish us to commence the transaction - all leaseholders named on the lease must sign this form.
If you do decide to proceed with the purchase there are some final steps to take before we instruct our solicitors.
You will be asked to provide proof of funding and to complete some ID checks (via our third party ID supplier, Thirdfort) - a full list of acceptable forms of ID and proof of address can be found here.
05. Conveyancing and completion
At this point, you will also need to confirm the name and address of the solicitors that will be acting on your behalf. Once we receive your completed Authority to Proceed form we instruct our solicitors and pass on all relevant information to your solicitors. They then work together to agree a completion date with you. During this time, you will need to contact your solicitor for any progress updates.
If you have purchased additional shares but haven't staircased to 100% we will contact you after completion to reconfirm the revised rent and/or service charges that you will need to pay. If you have purchased 100% of your property then you will no longer have to pay Sovereign any rent but you may still need to pay ground rent and service charges, we will confirm this in writing following the completion.
Still have questions?
We've put together an overview below of our Frequently Asked Questions. If you'd like to discuss your application or would still like further details, you can contact the team on email@example.com or 0300 330 0718
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.
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.
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
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.
Yes, it’s important that all property transactions are handled professionally by a solicitor. If you need help finding a solicitor to act on your behalf, please let us know. Once you’ve instructed a solicitor to work with you, you’ll need to give us their details.
We’ll also instruct solicitors to act on our behalf, who will pass on all relevant information to your solicitors as soon as we receive your completed Authority to Proceed form.
Your solicitor and ours will then work together to agree a completion date – usually within three months of your application. You should keep in close contact with your solicitor for regular updates – it’s best that you work with them, rather than contacting us directly.
We are dedicated to making this process as easy as possible for you – and in most cases, there are no restrictions on buying more shares in your home. However, a small number of leases have staircasing restrictions in place which means you’ll only be able to staircase up to 80% in your home. We’ll check this for you when you submit your application, or you can check your lease before you apply.