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Shared ownership sales

Selling a shared ownership property is often more complex than selling a property on the open market. This is because, unless you’ve staircased your ownership to 100%, you only own a percentage of the property – your housing association owns the rest.

Selling a shared ownership property

If you are looking to sell your shared ownership property, the first step is to notify your housing association. Under the terms of the lease, they must be given first refusal on the property – i.e., the right to buy it back from you or to find an eligible buyer themselves. If your housing association doesn’t manage to find a buyer in the allotted time – usually around two months – you can usually then proceed to sell your home on the open market.

Any deviations from this typical process can be found in the terms of your lease. For example, there may be a term that prohibits you from selling the property on the open market, or that gives your housing association the right of first refusal even if you own 100% of the property.

Selling a shared ownership property can be more difficult because buyers must meet shared ownership eligibility criteria, and they must also have the financial means to purchase your current share in the property. So, if you have staircased up to 70% prior to selling up, your buyer must be in a position to buy 70% of the property. These criteria may reduce your pool of buyers and make your property more difficult to sell.

To be eligible for shared ownership, your buyer must:

  • Be over 18 years of age
  • Have an annual household income of under £80,000 (£90,000 in London)
  • Be unable to afford a property on the open market
  • Not own another home – if they aren’t a first-time buyer, they must be in the process of selling their current property
  • Have a deposit commensurate to the share they are buying
  • Have a good credit history.

Before the sale can take place, you must also pay out some fees to have your home valued by a surveyor from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), as well as to get hold of a copy of your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). You will also have to pay for what is known as a ‘leasehold pack’ from your housing association – this is an information pack about your property that is provided to your buyer’s solicitor so they can raise any enquiries they may have.

At this point, you should instruct a reputable solicitor with considerable shared ownership sales experience. Our team has been helping clients buy, sell and staircase shared ownership properties for over a decade, meaning we have experienced – and helped our clients successfully overcome – every possible complication along the way. If you are also buying a new property at the same time, we can help you with both transactions, ensuring each case progresses smoothly and proactively chasing up all other involved parties to minimise delays and stress wherever we can.

Frequently asked questions

Having helped our shared ownership clients sell hundreds of properties over the years, we find that there are some common questions we get asked. Please read on to find out the answers to these frequently asked questions. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, please feel free to get in touch with a member of our team using the form below.

Can I sell my shared ownership home through an estate agent?

Unless you’ve already staircased your ownership to 100%, you will have to give your housing provider right of first refusal over the property. This means they must be given the opportunity to either buy the property back or find a suitable buyer first before you can sell through an estate agent. If, and only if, they don’t manage to find an eligible buyer can you then proceed to market the property with an estate agent.

However, some shared ownership properties are sold on a Designated Protected Area – Mandatory Buyback (DPA) lease, which essentially ensures that the housing provider can buy back shared ownership properties and retain them as affordable housing for other local residents.

Can I sell one shared ownership property and buy another?

Absolutely – you don’t have to be a first-time buyer to be eligible for the shared ownership scheme, as long as you meet all the other eligibility requirements. It all depends how much equity you’ve built up in the share of the property you own. You might even have built up enough to buy a property on the open market.

How long will my shared ownership sale take?

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question – every transaction is individual and can be quicker or slower depending on a wide range of factors. We usually find it takes between ten and twelve weeks to complete a standard shared ownership sale after receiving the contract papers, but this is a very general timescale.
We can assure you, however, that the Shared Ownership team at Attwaters Jameson Hill will be doing everything possible on our end to complete your transaction as soon as possible.

What happens if I can’t find a buyer?

If your housing association can’t find a buyer, you can usually sell your property privately through an estate agent. If you are also struggling to find a buyer – perhaps because there aren’t any eligible shared ownership buyers who can afford to purchase your share in the property, you might be able to do something called ‘simultaneous staircasing’. This is a process whereby you staircase your ownership to 100% and sell it on the same day, enabling you to sell the property on the open market to any buyer, not just those who meet shared ownership eligibility requirements.
Your ability to do this will depend on the terms of your lease – we can help you go through your lease so you understand any restrictions there might be on the sale of your property.

What happens if I think my RICS surveyor has undervalued my property?

Surveyors who are part of RICS must adhere to very high standards of professionalism, ethics and conduct, meaning that their valuations are usually highly reliable. However, if you aren’t happy with your valuation you can ask for another one to be carried out – but you’ll have to pay again and risk getting the same outcome.

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