Why is a dedicated shared ownership website necessary? Housing association websites, marketing materials, webinars and jargon busters often don't mention - or aren't sufficiently clear about - key issues including the legal nature of shared ownership (rather oddly, neither shared nor ownership from a legal perspective), leasehold extension, the 80-year threshold, marriage value, the Zucconi precedent, onerous terms and 100% liability for costs (including fire safety remediation).
First-time buyers aren't always given sufficient information about both the pros and cons of shared ownership. Housing associations and property portals often focus exclusively on short-term benefits rather than also explaining potential longer-term costs and risks. And the role of solicitors and conveyancers is simply to handle the legal aspects of home purchase; not to provide a comprehensive outline of long-term advantages and disadvantages of shared ownership (or any other housing tenure).
I've discovered - the hard way - that shared ownership isn't necessarily as affordable as it's made out to be. In 1999 my one-bedroom flat in east London was valued at £60,000 so my first 50% share cost £30,000. I staircased to 100% in 2013 at a cost of £80,000. Extending a short 99-year lease cost a further £12,000. So my £60,000 flat actually cost me £122,000 (not including legal fees for the initial purchase, staircasing and leasehold extension; or rent paid between 1999 and 2013; or the mortgage interest charged on the difference between the original market value of £60,000 and my actual total mortgage of £110,000). These figures are, of course, dwarfed by the astronomical sums now being demanded from shared owners and leaseholders for waking watch and fire safety remediation measures.
Why me? I've campaigned for increased transparency about the legal nature and long-term costs and risks of shared ownership for several years now - based on my personal experience and on that of other shared owners. During this time, I've provided evidence to the Competition and Markets Authority, the Advertising Standards Authority, the London Assembly Housing Committee, and the APPG on Housing Market and Housing Delivery. In early 2020 the London Assembly made a short film (above) about my experience of shared ownership.
I will draw on my own experience to create an independent website with real-life case studies, FAQs, and comprehensive information about the stuff that really matters, to help shared owners and first-time buyers make informed financial decisions, and to highlight key areas for research and for housing sector policy development. I'll liaise with legal professionals, valuers, academic researchers and other experts to ensure a balanced and informed perspective.
How much will it cost? I am aiming to raise £473 for website development and £579 for website hosting and a dedicated email account charges for two years. So £1,052 in total (including Crowdfunder fees). Any additional monies raised will be used to produce content and to promote the website to reach as wide an audience as possible.