When Nick Dunn, 62, separated from his partner of 18 years and moved out of her home, he ideally wanted to buy a place of his own. He didn't think that this would be achievable, until he found out about shared ownership and bought a two-bedroom apartment from So Resi by Thames Valley Housing, giving him the fresh start he needed.
Although Nick had owned properties in the past, before moving in with his former partner, his current self-employed status – working as a driver instructor/trainer for individuals and the fleet sector - made buying a home very difficult. He explains: "Being self-employed means that my income and business costs fluctuate year on year, and as the costs are set against earnings, this can make my income look low or unreliable. I consulted several mortgage consultants and, using the standard industry formulae, the combination of a modest income and age made it impossible to obtain a mortgage. Everything seemed to be working against me – it felt like I was being shut out of the property market. And being out of the market for so long made my position worse, as I had no equity from a property to use."
He adds: "Shared ownership was literally a lifeline – it meant I could buy a share of a property, take out the mortgage element by putting down a larger deposit, and pay TVH a payment on the remaining share."
After months of researching online what homes were available, Nick found the ideal place for his new life at Cardew Court, a popular development of one and two-bedroom apartments in Bracknell. Visiting the marketing suite, he fell in love with the show home, which was the last home available, and bought it. "After all my homework – pun intended – I got lucky. And as a bonus, curtains, mirrors and lighting were included in the price too," Nick said.
Nick's ground-floor apartment cost £282,500 and he bought a 65% share for £183,625 which he funded by cashing in his pension, topped up with money from an inheritance. His monthly outgoings are now very modest at £259 on the share owned by TVH and £129 service charges.
"Everything went very smoothly. I didn't have any experience of buying a shared ownership home, but everyone at Thames Valley Housing was so helpful and the shared ownership scheme is very well managed," comments Nick.
Before moving, Nick had been living temporarily with his brother and sister-in-law in Brentford, but is now comfortably settling in: "It was an emotional decision buying a new home after so many years, I never thought I'd own a property again. My brother and sister-in-law helped me see that the move would help rebuild my life and be a positive change. They were both absolutely right – I'm enjoying getting to know my neighbours and the area," he says.
He adds: "I've kept up my philosophy group in Richmond and plan to join a local course when I've decided what to do. Over the summer I'm keen to explore the area and countryside, and find out about the local fly fishing and golf clubs. It's very friendly here and easy to meet people."
Nick appreciates living in a well-designed new home. He says: "The quality of the apartment is excellent and it's great having the flexibility to do what I like. I'm going to use the spare bedroom as a study, and put a sofa bed in there too, so friends and family can stay."
Thames Valley Housing chooses good locations with excellent transport links for its shared ownership homes, and Cardew Court is no exception. Bracknell train station is just ten minutes' walk away and the town is close to the M3 and M4, providing a good base for Nick to travel around. "I regularly use the M4, M3 and M25, which are easy to access from here, so I couldn't be in a better location for my work," says Nick.
He concludes: "I would definitely recommend shared ownership and have already done so to four or five of my friends. It's a fantastic way of getting on the property ladder, whatever your age."
So Resi offers shared ownership on a selection of resale and new homes across London and the South East. For more information about shared ownership please visit: www.soresi.co.uk or call 0208 607 0550.