Emily Russel didn’t expect to find her first home on Christmas Day 2019, but as she was scrolling through property listings once the festivities had died down, she came across a property that she thought might be her perfect home.
“I always knew that I wanted to have place of my own. I had been in shared houses since university, and was living with five others in a house share in Bristol at the time, so it felt like it was time to take that step. I was just looking through a property website to see what was out there and that’s when I found the listing for the property.
“The financial information caught my eye immediately – here was a two bedroom house with a garden that was actually in my budget. The listing said that it was a Shared Ownership home, but there was no other information explaining what that meant. Even though I didn’t really know what Shared Ownership was, I couldn’t stop thinking about the property and knew I had to find out more.”
Starting her Shared Ownership research with a simple Google search, Emily came across Share to Buy, the UK’s leading online portal for Shared Ownership and Help to Buy homes. In addition to their extensive property listings, Share to Buy also offer a wealth of educational resources ranging from jargon busting videos to a helpful mortgage calculator. With the knowledge she gained through Share to Buy’s free and easy to use resources, Emily was able to confidently move forward with reserving her home in the New Year, purchasing a 50% share of a two bedroom semi-detached house in the Forest of Dean District from Two Rivers Housing.
“There didn’t seem to be lots of information on what exactly Shared Ownership is and how it can work as an option for first time buyers like me, so finding Share to Buy, where all the key information was located in one place, was so helpful. By using their financial calculator, I realised that I might actually be able to afford more than the minimum share value of my home on a single salary and I ended up being able to purchase a 50% share.”
In addition to Share to Buy, Emily also used social media to help her understand how Shared Ownership could help her onto the property ladder.
“When I was going through the process, I read testimonials from other Shared Ownership buyers on Share to Buy. Reading these stories made me want to reach out to others that had gone through the process and find out more about their experience. Usually people get advice from friends or family, but I didn’t know anyone who had bought through Shared Ownership, so I went on social media and searched through the Shared Ownership hashtag to find other Shared Owners. It was a bit intimidating messaging random people on Instagram but it was a positive experience! It was reassuring to hear first-hand how Shared Ownership had worked for so many different buyers.
“After doing the research, Shared Ownership felt like the obvious choice. I was originally looking in Bristol because I was living and working in the city, but buying even a small apartment just wouldn’t have been possible as a single buyer. With Shared Ownership, I was able to trade up and afford a house of my own in the countryside.”
Now settled, Emily has enjoyed making her house a home.
“I love my house. The moving process was a bit difficult because it was right at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown so it was hard to find movers and get furniture delivered, but on the positive side, I was able to really take my time in decorating and create my interior style once restrictions eased a bit. Having my own private garden was also a major plus – it was my saviour over the spring and summer! I much prefer to be close to nature than something more urban, so having my own garden in addition to living in a more rural development surrounded by lovely walks and close to the Forest of Dean has been amazing.” When asked if she would recommend beginning the Shared Ownership journey with Share to Buy, Emily does not hesitate:
“If you are considering Shared Ownership, I would 100% recommend using Share to Buy to learn more about the scheme and assess your options. It’s an excellent stepping stone into the property market – it’s worked so well for me. It’s given me a freedom and flexibility I wouldn’t have had if I bought on the open market. I’m planning on living here for at least a few years and already working towards staircasing my property to 100%. I’ve already been using Share to Buy’s staircasing calculator!”