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At home with the Osborns

How HomeBuy shared ownership opened the door to a dream home for the Osborn family − and for much less than they expected to pay for getting on to the property ladder.

Ask mum Sharon Osborn to describe how she felt when she and her family got the chance to move into their new Bromford shared ownership home and she answers without a hint of hesitation.

"It was like all our Christmases coming at once," she smiles, looking at husband Richard as they sit together on the comfy sofa in their smart new living room. 

It's just a few weeks after they got the keys to their two-bed Bromford Homes bungalow at East Park, Wolverhampton, and it already feels like home sweet home.

Teenage son Joshua has quickly settled into his new routine. Staying locally means he can continue at the same school as before but now relies on a morning lift from Dad, who works as a civil servant in Walsall.

Richard's daily commute to work is about the same and Sharon likes the fact that they're still close to their network of family and friends.

Sharon reflects on this new chapter of family life and how it all came about: "We were living in private rented accommodation, not far away in Willenhall, and decided that we really wanted the security of owning our own home," she says.

"The trouble was that with just one income we couldn't really afford to buy through traditional outright sale − and certainly not something like this in this area.

"The big thing was the size of the deposit. Like a lot of people these days, we struggle to save and the lenders don't offer 100 per cent mortgages like they used to.

"We knew about HomeBuy shared ownership but didn't think we would be eligible because of Richard's earnings − we thought they would be too high. We were so pleased when we were told that we could qualify − and that we could get one of these beautiful bungalows here at East Park.

"With shared ownership − and we ended up buying a 55 per cent share − we only had to find around £3,500 in deposit. If we were buying outright, the deposit would have been twice as much and we would have been really stretching on the mortgage payments.

"We've ended up getting a better home than we dreamed of and we've got it for around half the price. Plus our monthly rent, of course. It's a great way of getting on to the property ladder."

Richard, aged 44, nods in agreement and picks up the story, saying: "We filled in the application and it all fell into place so quickly after that. We were in before we knew it and now this is our home − our own home, somewhere we can call our own.

"It makes such a difference knowing that we've got a real stake in the property. We're looking forward to many happy years of living here, it's an investment rather than the 'dead money' that was going into rent and we know that at some point in the future we have a legacy that we can leave to Joshua."

Mobility problems

Buying a bungalow was a big benefit because Sharon, 50, suffers from mobility problems.

"It makes such a difference for me that all the rooms are on the one floor and there are no stairs to deal with," she says. "We thought a bungalow would have been beyond us but, of course, they've built quite a number of them here to preserve the original character of the area, which had lots of post-war prefabs. So it was a win-win for us."

According to Bromford Homes Head of Sales Alan Bradley, the Osborns' story highlights how HomeBuy shared ownership is making the dream of property ownership come true for a wider range of buyers.

He says: "Shared ownership is there to help people who could not otherwise afford to buy on the open market − and it does a great job.

"It's made the difference for many, many first-time buyers and continues to offer an affordable solution at a time when the gap between incomes and house prices is high and getting a mortgage is that much harder.

"Shared ownership also offers a real ray of hope for quite a few customers like the Osborns − people with at least one reasonable but not high-level income who are pleasantly surprised to find out that they qualify.

"In fact, we are starting to see more and more applications from people who, before the credit crunch, would probably have been able to buy outright − possibly taking advantage of the 100 per cent mortgages that were once available. We expect this trend to continue."

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24 September 2012