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NHS physiotherapist Claire Lawson (34) was tired of her house-share and wanted her own home but was struggling to save a big enough deposit.
Her monthly rental payments meant she could only save a small amount but moving in with her parents in North London during the COVID crisis meant putting money aside was easier. She quickly saved up £10,000 and started looking for a home to buy, but despite the size of her deposit, her options were still limited.
Claire had heard negative things about shared ownership but, on her dad’s suggestion, decided to find out more. Fast forward to May 2021, and Claire moved into a two-bedroom apartment at SO Resi Times Square in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.
She comments: “Shared ownership sounded really complicated, but it’s actually easy to understand. It’s a really helpful way of getting onto the housing ladder. And you don’t need a massive deposit to afford a nice home.
“Without shared ownership, as I was buying by myself, I’d have the same monthly outgoings, but I would have needed a much bigger deposit.”
Claire bought a 40% share of her apartment, which has a full market value of £312,000. She could have bought a slightly bigger share but didn’t want to stretch herself financially so she can enjoy life a little.
Her “nice home” was formally an office building which means it has lots of big windows allowing plenty of natural light. And the reception area has a huge atrium where people can meet.
She comments: “The building design is really unique, and although it was previously an office, you wouldn’t be able to tell as it feels really homely. My friends are very complimentary about the space and how open it is. I don’t have a lot of furniture yet, but I’m getting there, and it feels really good to have my own space. The second bedroom is becoming my walk-in wardrobe.”
Welwyn Garden City proved to be the ideal location for Claire. As a student, she did work experience in the town, so she knows the area well. It’s also close to St Albans, where she works.
She enjoys the outdoors and walking but likes the convenience of Welwyn Garden City: “I have a car, but the 30-minute train journey into central London is really useful. The area has a countryside feel but is close to London, so it’s the best of both worlds.”
When Claire bought, she signed up for SO Resi Plus, which enables her to buy an additional 1% share each year at a fixed price without having to pay valuation and legal fees. She plans to live at SO Resi Times Square for a while and buy up more shares with a view to eventually owning outright.
Kush Rawal, Director of Residential Investment at Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing, comments: “According to research by SO Resi and Cambridge University, half of shared ownership buyers are single-occupancy owners. It demonstrates the importance of shared ownership in offering a route to home ownership for a broader range of people.”