Expert Advice

Ask the experts, a financial consultant gives advice on shared ownership mortgage lending, which has always been supported by a small group of lenders who understand and specialising in helping housing association candidates to become homeowners. Over the last seven years lender understanding has increased and shared ownership is now viewed as the 3rd way sitting alongside 100% ownership and renting.

Exploring Help to Buy and Shared Ownership schemes

Photo of new home example of available on shared ownership scheme or help to buy schemes in UK

Have you ever heard the words “shared ownership”, or “Help to Buy” but always wondered exactly what people were talking about?

The world of affordable home ownership might seem like a complex one, particularly for first-time buyers, but here at HomeFocus we strive to cut through the jargon and tell you exactly what you need to know.

Thanks to the sky-high prices of homes and houses nationwide, people right across the country are being priced out of the open market, and add that to the extortionate cost of renting, it’s no wonder that people are struggling to get a foot on the property ladder.

However, there are affordable home ownership schemes in place to help you buy your own home - and the key word there is affordable.

Tips for first time buyers: saving for a deposit and avoiding common mistakes


In November’s budget statement, the government scrapped stamp duty for first time buyers on properties costing less than £300,000.

With the average first time buyer paying around £1.5k in stamp duty, this could make home ownership more affordable for thousands of people.

But there’s still a hefty amount to pay when you buy a home, of course, and the challenge of saving for it is still daunting for most first time buyers.

Fortunately, serious saving doesn’t have to mean staying in every night. And it doesn’t have to mean shivering through winter evenings with the heating off to save a few extra pennies.

Once you get into the habit of saving regularly, it’ll stop being a chore. You won’t even notice you’re doing it.

The UK property market in 2018 - what does the future hold?

  • Investors to focus on commercial instead of residential opportunities
  • Properties of the World opening new estate agency as part of future-proofing strategy
  • High returns and capital growth will remain key when it comes to favoured investments

2018 will be a key year for the UK property market. In the run-up to Brexit in March 2019, much focus will be on what property prices are doing and why. Alongside the economic impact of the Brexit process, prohibitive levels of stamp duty have dragged the property market in 2017. This has led to a drop in the number of buyers purchasing residential buy to let apartments this year, according to innovative property investment company Properties of the World.

REVEALED: The facts none of us know about property

Think you have a better knowledge of the housing market than 11-year olds? Think again.

  • Younger generation were tested on their knowledge of the housing market
  • Confusion around stamp duty and what a cul-de-sac is
  • Two year-seven students, a uni student and a young adult were quizzed
  • Further details can be viewed here, video embed codes in ‘Further Information’ at end of release


Members of the public were pushed to their limits when questioned about different aspects of the UK housing market.


4 common home insurance claims and how to prevent them


In this article, Wasim Bux from home and car insurance provider iGO4, investigates four common home insurance claims and how you can prevent them to keep your premiums affordable.

Having good home and contents insurance policies is essential for almost every homeowner, as they can help you cover the potentially high costs of major repairs to your home. However, each time you claim, the premiums you need to pay are likely to go up. This means that, if your home suffers from regular problems, you could end up shelling out more and more.

From flat to flowers: A first-time buyer’s guide to owning a garden

From flat to flowers: A first-time buyer’s guide to owning a garden

As young people are spending almost six times more on rent than their baby-boomer counterparts, the concept of owning a garden is unfortunately a myth to many. If you are lucky enough to have made the leap on the property ladder, or your flat comes with some luscious greenery, you may be wondering where to start.


Gardening is a tough process of trial and error, but you will learn from it, be kept busy and might even grow some free food in the process too! Follow our beginner’s tips below and you will be set to get your green fingers in no time.


Pick seeds over plants

Advice for first time buyers on upcycling/restoring furniture

Advice for first time buyers on upcycling/restoring furniture

The Emporium Somerset’s Co-owner, Cato Cooper, has her own painted furniture and home accessories studio and workshop and she offers advice on how to upcycle and restore items, so first-time buyers don’t have to blow their budgets on furnishing their new homes.
She says: “Buying your first home can be a pretty big expense, so you’ll want to save money wherever possible. For many the cost of the purchase and the monthly payment of a mortgage make it tricky to buy furniture too, however if you aim to upcycle and restore, rather than buying brand new, you could save a fortune.

Preparing your home for winter

Preparing your home for winter

Now that autumn is officially here, it’s time to start to think about preparing your home for even colder weather over the winter months.

Fortunately, leading specialists Gutter Supplies have some top tips that will save your home from taking the brunt of the harsh weather.


Although gutters may not be on the top of your list of priorities, it is essential to keep them damage free and in working order through the colder months.

How to save money when moving home

How to save money when moving home

The amount of money involved when buying a new home is always a worry. From paying off your mortgage to stamp duty and removal companies, it's not long before all those costs are enough to make you jump out of your skin!

However, online property platform Settled has a few tips to keep costs down, leaving you with some extra, hard-earned money to spend on yourself for once.

1. Use a Moving Check List

There are a hundred things to remember when moving home. Having a detailed list of everything that needs to get done and when will avoid you having to fork out money for services last minute when costs are probably higher. Get everything in one place and work through your list.

The UK property market is evolving

The UK property market is evolving
  • Adults are choosing to buy homes with friends rather than wait for a partner
  • Increased number of online searches for ‘tenancy in common’


The homeownership market in the UK is evolving, with more tenants choosing to buy and live in homes with friends, rather than with a partner or on their own.


To understand this emerging trend, online furniture retailer Furniture Choice conducted a UK wide survey and spoke with individuals who have already bought a house with a friend.


East Midlands' "Forever Home" Revealed

The ideal ‘forever home’ for a resident in the East Midlands is a four-bedroom, detached house in the country, worth £395,745 – and just down the road from the kids, it has emerged.

A detailed study also found that we hanker after a property with a driveway, a play room – and somewhere to hang the washing.

Other must-haves include a large kitchen and breakfast room, an ample lounge, utility room and dining room.

A double garage and conservatory are also essential, as is a study and cloakroom. Ideally, we want to live in a location just 9.2 miles from the office.

Good transport links and a pub within a mile and a half are also vital elements.

A step-by-step guide to the conveyancing process

A step-by-step guide to the conveyancing process

Transferring ownership of a property from seller to buyer, known as the conveyancing process, begins when the offer is accepted by the seller. When you’re buying a property, instructing a solicitor will help keep the complicated and lengthy conveyancing process running more smoothly.


Step One: Choose a Property Solicitor

Online conveyancing services often appear to be the cheaper option, but working with a qualified, local solicitor, with knowledge of the area means you won’t have to pay for any extra unnecessary checks. Document transfer is also much quicker in person rather than relying on the postal service.


Step Two: Terms of Engagement

Think You're Ready To Become A First Time Buyer

Think You're Ready To Become A First Time Buyer

Revealed: The UKs’ Top 10 Questions Asked by First Time Buyers
Getting ready to buy a first home can often be a daunting experience. Taking the plunge into an unfamiliar world of credit scores and mortgages can often lead first time buyers to turn to the Internet to provide them with the answers they need.
With average house prices increasing and people investing more time searching for their ‘forever home’, Strata has investigated the most common questions first time buyers are faced with.

Shared Ownership was the answer for Battersea first-time buyer

Shared Ownership was the answer for Battersea first-time buyer

In 2012, Adel Whitworth, 33, was left disappointed when her first attempts to make it onto the property ladder in Tooting Broadway fell through. However, she plucked up the courage to try again when she discovered Shared Ownership, a scheme which enables first-time buyers typically priced out of the open market to buy a share of a property and pay rent on the remaining share.

Intrigued and hopeful, Adel filled out an application for the Shared Ownership homes at Battersea Bridge Road, offered for sale by Thames Valley Housing.


12 pieces of advice for first time buyers

12 pieces of advice for first time buyers

Buying your first home can be a daunting task to undertake. From working out where to buy, through to actually moving in, there is a lot to consider and not a decision that should be rushed.
So to help here are our 12 key pieces of advice when buying your first home:
1.       Don’t be rushed into buying by a pushy estate agent. They will often arrange ‘open days’ where they will invite several prospective purchasers to view at the same time. This is designed to create emotional fear that someone else will make an offer before you do.
2.       Set your limit and don’t go above it. There will always be another property in another street or another town that will suit you.

Why is it important to use MyEnergy before switching supplier in your new home?

Why is it important to use MyEnergy before switching supplier in your new home?

Put simply, because it can save you £100s of pounds on your energy bills-and make your dream holiday a reality as a result.

In recent times, energy bills have risen to an unprecedented level, having almost doubled in the past 20 years. With household finances squeezed like an old tube of toothpaste, there’s never been a more topical time to seek out alternatives, and switch to a smarter solution...

Why Rent When You Can Buy?

Why Rent When You Can Buy?

If you’ve always dreamt of owning your own home, you could find that taking those first steps onto the property ladder are more affordable than you think, with a Help to Buy scheme.

New figures compiled by Strata Homes show that buying a home is often cheaper than renting, especially with the government’s Help to Buy scheme.*

Using data from Zoopla, we’ve compared the price of renting a two-bedroom home against buying a 2-bedroom new build home, both with and without a Help to Buy equity loan.  This is where you only need a 5% deposit for your new home, which the government will boost by a further 20%. You’ll only need a mortgage on 75% of the property price, making it an affordable alternative to renting.

Home Improvements – Where should we begin?

Home Improvements – Where should we begin?

Thousands of people every year will make New Year resolutions to update their home and thousands of people will not keep to them, I know, I am one of them.  This is mainly because we set goals which are not realistic, we give ourselves too much to do and often don’t set ourselves a realistic budget.  However if we plan to update our home over the course of the year, we can tackle what seems like a huge task in smaller chunks.

To manage any sort of project, it can be helpful to break it down into three main requirements:

  • Decide what needs to be done
  • Prioritise what needs to be done
  • Set yourself a budget and time frame to which you would like the updates to be finished by


Home Buyers Myth-Busters

Home Buyers Myth-Busters

You don’t need to get a home inspection – FALSE

It’s all too easy to forget that you should have someone (a professional) check a home is safe, especially before you move in with all of your worldly possessions. Astoundingly, only 1 in 10 homebuyers surveyed by CORGI HomePlan considered it to be important to get a professional inspection that to avoid nasty surprises later on!


Your home inspection is covered in the mortgage lenders survey – FALSE

28% of people believed that a home safety inspection was covered by the mortgage lenders survey. Sadly, it’s not. Set aside a budget for an inspection because let’s be honest, you can’t put a price on your safety.


Two In Three Home Buyers Carry Out No Gas Safety Checks

Two In Three Home Buyers Carry Out No Gas Safety Checks

Buying a house is the biggest investment anyone makes in their lifetime - yet two in three people don’t know if they are purchasing a potential death trap.

 New research carried out by CORGI HomePlan has uncovered a shocking lack of safety checks being carried out by home buyers.

 And with 1.2million property transactions taking place in the UK each year *, this means 800,000 homes are at risk of a life-threatening gas incident, such as a carbon monoxide leak, or expensive repairs to boilers, fires, radiators and cookers.


Is Shared Ownership Right For You?

Is Shared Ownership Right For You?

By Amy Nettleton, assistant development director – sales & marketing, Aster Group

To help you decide whether shared ownership is for you, we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions

How does it work?

Through a housing provider like Aster, you buy a share of a property and pay rent on the part you don’t own. We offer a range of shared ownership properties across the south of England, most of which are brand new. Depending on the type of property and the location, you can start off by buying a share as low as 25% and deposits can be less than £2,000 for a £150,000 home.

Am I eligible?

Cutting Out Your Morning Caffeine Fix Could Help You Save Towards A Deposit

Cutting Out Your Morning Caffeine Fix Could Help You Save Towards A Deposit

REAL TALK: How cutting out unnecessary "modern day luxuries" could help you get a foot onto the property ladder
·         Research calculates potential savings to be made by simply cutting out those unnecessary "modern day luxuries", such as your morning coffee or a trip to the cinema.
·         If you can abstain from all eight examples of these “luxuries” at once, you would save £5,433.30 in a year.
·         If you can keep this up, within six years you could have saved almost enough for a deposit on a house (£32,599.80), without needing any other savings at all.
·         Out of the eight examples, most money could be saved from cutting out your fortnightly night on the town with friends – saving over £1,400 each year.

A homeowner’s checklist: Seven things you should do at least once a year

A homeowner’s checklist: Seven things you should do at least once a year

Whether you’ve been a homeowner for a while, or have just stepped onto the property ladder as a first-time buyer, there are certain tasks that need to be carried out on an annual basis. They might not be ‘fun’ but they’re necessary in order to ensure your house stays in tip-top condition and looking its best - what’s more, regular maintenance will prevent you from having to fork out for emergency repairs later down the line.


Carry out a good old spring clean

What is Shared Ownership?

What is Shared Ownership?

Does it mean you have to share a house with someone?

“Shared Ownership is associated with a number of perceptions. For some people, the phrase might bring back mildly alarming memories of living with housemates and their accompanying clutter. For others, the idea of owning only part of a home is simply less preferable to owning all of it. Shared Ownership however, makes home ownership more accessible, not through the lending of more money like in other Help to Buy schemes, but by allowing the buyer to borrow less.”


Is Shared Ownership more affordable than other schemes?