Co-owning a home, how does that work?

2nd September 2021
By: Co-Ownership

We get buying a house is a big deal, and although it can be an exciting time, it can also be a stressful time as you try to figure out…

  • What you should be doing;
  • When you should be doing it and;
  • Who should be doing what exactly? (For more information on who does what check out our Steps to Buy NI website.)

Throw into the equation buying your home with a company you may have never heard of, and the list of questions gets even bigger.

Since 1978 we have helped over 30,000 people into home ownership and currently, 10% of all first-time buyers in Northern Ireland use Co-Ownership to help buy their home. We know you will have questions, so we have put together a blog answering some of our most frequently asked questions.

“I’ve heard Co-Ownership is just for young people?”

In 2020/21 the average age of a Co-Own customer was 31 and with Rent to Own the average age was 34 (does that qualify as young or old, we don’t really know?). However, with Co-Ownership there is no upper age limit meaning that you can apply for Co-Ownership at any age. If you need to finance your share of the purchase with a mortgage, then depending on who your lender is, they may have an upper age limit for when your mortgage needs to be paid off by.

“Is it true that buying a home with Co-Ownership takes longer than a normal house buy?”

Completely false! A few years ago, we invested in a new customer portal which means that applicants can apply to Co-Own whenever they want and from wherever they want to (we’ve had people apply when on their holidays). In Q1 of 2021/22 it took on average 13 days for us to review an application, issue an Approval in Principle, arrange for a valuation to be carried out and completed on an applicant’s chosen property, review the valuation to make sure everything with the property is in order, and issue an offer. We think that is pretty good going.

Furthermore, a lot of the systems and processes we use for the conveyancing part of our service (traditionally the longest part of the process) are digital and automated, meaning that as soon as one part of the process is completed, the next stage automatically starts.

“What’s the deal with properties you can buy with Co-Ownership?”

With Co-Own you can purchase either a new build or an existing property anywhere in Northern Ireland, it doesn’t matter if it’s in Belfast or Swatragh – FYI, according to the 2011 Census only 438 lived in Swatragh! Just like a bank or mortgage lender, there is some criteria around what types of properties we can help you buy. For more information click here. The reason we have property criteria is to make sure that you are purchasing a quality home and that there aren’t any nasty surprises which will cost a small fortune to fix in the future.  Remember, as this is a full repairing lease you are responsible for the repairs.

“So how does buying with Co-Ownership actually work?”

Buying with Co-Ownership is straightforward, you simply buy the share that you can afford (between 50% and 90%) and we buy the rest. You then pay us a small monthly rent on the part we own. The rent we charge is set at 2.5% or £25 for every £1,000 we own. For example, if we buy 50% of your £130,000 property then you will pay us a monthly rent of £135.42. You then just pay your mortgage amount directly to your mortgage provider. You can find out how much co-owning a home with us will cost by visiting our ‘how much will it cost’ calculator.

Rent is reviewed annually in line with inflation and is set by the Department for Communities who regulate Co-Ownership.

“Ok – so you help me buy a property but how do I get out of Co-Ownership?”

Buying Co-Ownership out is easy and can be done either in chunks of 5%, all at once or whenever you go to sell your house.  Since 1978 nearly 20,000 customers have bought Co-Ownership out. For more information on buying out click here.

“Yeah, but what’s the catch – it sounds too good to be true?”

Simple – there is no catch! Co-Ownership is not only a registered Housing Association we are a not-for profit organisation and a registered charity, which means that it is our job to help people without getting anything in return!

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