I have worked for Co-Ownership in the Marketing department for just over 2 years, however my Co-Ownership journey started around 8 years ago.
Originally from Belfast I had moved to Ballymoney to work for a local Estate Agent, and to save money moved in with my boyfriend’s parents. At the start it was great, but after a year we were ready for our own space. The irony is that although I worked within the property industry, I wasn’t even aware of Co-Ownership.
One Monday morning I came into work determined to find a property to rent (as I thought this was my only option). However, this was July and the property market was slow. It was at this point that my manager said, “Jane, have you considered buying a house? What about that little bungalow we just brought on?” My initial thought was, “how would we ever afford a mortgage, and we’ve no deposit saved?” That is the moment I discovered Shared Ownership.
We applied with the help of a financial adviser, and even though he sorted everything out for us, it was still an emotional rollercoaster – and the main reason for this was because it was an alien concept to us. We didn’t know the process of buying a house, we didn’t understand a lot of the terminology and we didn’t know what to expect.
We got the keys to our new home 3 days before Christmas. Getting the keys was one of the best feelings in the world, but it was also one of the biggest learning curves I have ever experienced; learning to budget correctly, figuring out how to maintain a home, and discovering that all those items that where always there when you lived with your parents, for example; butter, salt, toilet roll – you actually need to remember to order those in the weekly shop!
Eight years on and life has changed, and to be honest I sometimes forgot I was a Co-Ownership customer. In my mind I was just a regular homeowner, and that is the way it should be. There is nothing wrong with getting a little bit of help in order to help us achieve our goal.
Working in the Marketing department of Co-Ownership I was now starting to hear a lot of talk about ‘Buying Out’, both from the team who told me how straight forward it was and from customers who had just bought out. I had always considered buying out, but;
- it wasn’t a priority and;
- I had the slight worry that we needed Co-Ownership to get onto the property ladder, would we be able to afford to buy them out? In truth this held me back for about a year, covered by the excuse of telling people, “yeah, I must get around to that.”
By chance I went to one of our training sessions with a local bank and ended up chatting to the Bank Manager. He quashed my fears of not being able to afford to buy Co-Ownership out and booked me an appointment to talk to one of his team. We applied for our mortgage, instructed our valuation and the whole process was completed within 3 months. It was that simple! Buying Co-Ownership out has cost us an extra £60 per month, which includes some additional borrowing for some home improvements, and more importantly we haven’t extended our mortgage term.
My advice to those of you thinking of applying to Co-Own, and for those customers who are thinking of buying additional shares of the Co-Own property is; make sure you talk to the professionals who deal with this every day. Talk to your financial adviser, estate agents, lender – they will be able to guide you through the process and answer the questions to the queries which maybe putting you off from taking any action.
We always hear from customers the phrase, “I wish I did it sooner” and I can honestly say that; I wish I applied to Co-Ownership sooner and, I wish I bought out my remaining share sooner. It was my own lack of understanding and not talking to the professionals sooner that delayed me in getting started and buying Co-Ownership out.