Staircasing is the roundabout route to owning your own home – here's how

One of the benefits of shared ownership is that it’s very flexible, giving you the opportunity to buy extra shares if you want and can afford to, through a process called staircasing.

Data from the Mayor of London’s office shows that nearly 1,400 shared owners in the capital staircase to 100% ownership every year, and once they own their home outright, there’s no rent to pay.

Your lease will state how often you can staircase and the number of extra shares you can buy, typically 10% initially then in multiples of 5% though under the government’s new shared ownership model the minimum increment is dropping to just 1%.

You’ll need to fund the new shares through remortgaging your home, unless you have sufficient savings, so contact your mortgage lender or an independent financial adviser for an affordability assessment.

Once you have the green light, your home will be valued as the cost of the new shares depends on how much it’s worth. Don’t forget to budget for valuation and legal fees, and possibly stamp duty.

‘You get a great sense of pride in it being yours’

Following the breakdown of her marriage, 37-year-old PA Gina Stephens had to start again with her son Tom, then 18-months-old.

Her ultimate aim was to buy, but spending so much on rent made it virtually impossible to save.

‘We rented a house for ten years and although it was lovely, I was unable to save money for a deposit to buy,’ she says.

‘I started looking for smaller rental properties but couldn’t find anything suitable and, although I had around £10,000 in savings left to me when my grandmother passed away I never thought that would ever be enough to buy somewhere! Then I found a website about shared ownership, and once I learned more about it I felt that owning a home of my own was actually more achievable than I’d first thought.’

Gina purchased a 45% stake in her flat in 2016, and has since bought the remaining shares in two stages, funding the purchase by extending her mortgage each time.

She now owns her home outright, having staircased to full ownership, and so doesn’t have to pay any rent.

‘Initially I didn’t have plans to staircase – it was more important to find somewhere that my son and I could call home and wouldn’t have to move out of again,’ she says.

‘Part-rent, part-buy is a great way of owning a home – you get the great sense of pride in it being yours, and knowing that staircasing is an option really helps that feeling. If someone had told me five years ago that I’d own my home outright, I never would have believed it!’

Both new and resale shared ownership homes are available from Peabody throughout London.

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