It’s the fifth year the week-long campaign has run and comes with the news that half of first-time buyers are not aware of the benefits of shared ownership – paying for just 25 per cent of the home’s value and then a subsidised rent on the part not owned.
The research by housebuilder Aster Group is certainly surprising but how many over-55s realise there is an Older Persons Shared Ownership Scheme – OPSO – aimed directly at them?
Based on the regular Shared Ownership scheme, the over-55s version means owners get a mortgage or use savings to buy from 25 per cent of the home then pay rent on the rest – which a housing association will own.
Both schemes offer buyers the chance to own more of the home by “staircasing”.
But while regular Shared Ownership allows you to own the home outright, Older Persons Shared Ownership only allows you to buy 75 per cent.
The difference is that once an over-55 buyer owns 75 per cent they no longer have to pay rent on the remaining 25 per cent of the home for as long as they live in the property.
Shared Ownership has been available since the 1980s when it was operated by local authorities, which decided who was eligible based on factors ranging from salary to profession.
But the relaxation of criteria means the scheme is now open to people of any occupation and you don’t have to be a first-time buyer – although there is still an earnings cap of £80,000 a year or £90,000 in London.
This means second-steppers – those who want to move up to a family-sized home – are given equal priority alongside first-time buyers.
Providers of shared ownership are mostly housing associations, such as Notting Hill Housing in London which has an over-55s development in West Norwood, in the south London borough of Lambeth.
Janis Benson, who is in her 70s, moved from her family home to a new twobedroom apartment at Cheviot Gardens.
She used the Older Person’s Shared Ownership scheme and says: “Not only did I free up equity tied into my family home but, being a new build home, my bills are cheaper so my monthly outgoings are less.
“Another bonus was that the property didn’t need refurbishing and a range of brand new appliances were all provided for me.”
One-bedroom flats are still available, starting from £275,625 for a 75 per cent share (full market value £367,500) and two-bedroom flats are available from £341,250 for 75 per cent (0203 815 1234; nottinghillhousing.org.uk).
But it is hoped first-time buyers will benefit most from Shared Ownership.