CGI of St John's Hill estate

Buying an affordable home

The Mayor wants to help low and modest income Londoners get on the housing ladder at a lower cost than renting privately or buying on the open market.

Three main options are available to applicants: Shared Ownership, Help to Buy and First Dibs for Londoners.

To find out if you are eligible and/or see what properties are available, register on the Homes for Londoners search tool.

This search tool -  the full version is due to launch in May 2018 - replaces the First Steps programme.

Shared Ownership

Shared Ownership – also known as 'part buy, part rent' -  is aimed at first time buyers who cannot afford to buy a property on the open market. Under the scheme you can buy at least a 25% share in a home and pay a regulated rent to the freeholder on the remaining share. 

How does it work?

Shared ownership buyers need household incomes that let them afford to pay between 25% and 75% of the full market value of the property. They’re also expected to have a 10% mortgage deposit for the share to be purchased. Mortgage amount and repayments are then lower than buying a property on the open market.

The rent on the unsold share is capped at 2.75% of its value when the first share is sold. You can buy more shares in the property when you can afford to until you own the property outright. This is known as ‘staircasing’. Additional shares are based on the market value of your property at the time of staircasing.

Buying more shares will cut the amount of monthly rent you pay. 

If your property is in an estate with common areas, you will pay a service charge for maintenance and upkeep of these areas and the grounds of your building.

Priority applicants

Priority for shared ownership is given to applicants who are:

  • Armed Forces personnel (serving military personnel and former members of the British Armed Forces discharged in the last two years) and/or
  • those who live or work in the local area

Criteria may vary across each development.

Are you eligible?

You are eligible for shared ownership if you:

  • have a gross household income of no more than £90,000 a year
  • are an existing shared owner
  • do not already own a home or have sold your home before your purchase
  • are unable to buy a property that suits your needs on the open market

People with disabilities

You can apply for a home through a scheme called Home Ownership for people with Long-term Disability (HOLD), if available shared ownership properties do not meet your needs. Shared ownership applicants should look for a more suitable property on the open market and work with a housing provider to buy the property through shared ownership.

Older people

If you’re 55 or older you can buy under the Older People’s Shared Ownership scheme. You can still buy between 25% and 75% of a shared ownership property - the difference is you can only buy up to 75% but once you hit that share, you won’t have to pay rent on the remaining 25%.

Help to Buy

What is an eligible Help to Buy home?

A Help to Buy home must be:

  • a new build
  • advertised as Help to Buy by a Help to Buy registered Housing provider
  • have a maximum price of £600,000

Can you own other homes?

No. Help to Buy is designed to help you move up the housing ladder, so a Help to Buy home must be your only residence.

You will need to sell your current home (in the UK or abroad) if moving up the ladder.

Equity loans

The Help to Buy scheme is an equity loan provided by the Government. You are lent up to 40% of the cost of your new build home, so you will need a minimum 5% deposit and a 55% mortgage to make up the rest. (For this scheme, you must have a mortgage, which will be a first charge, as the equity loan can only be a second charge.) 



The equity loan period runs either until the property is sold or the mortgage is redeemed, whichever term is the shortest, up to a maximum of 25 years.

For the first five years you own your home, you will not be charged any interest on the 40% loan. However, a management fee of £1 a month will apply from the date of purchase.

From year six, a fee of 1.75% is payable on the equity loan, which rises annually by RPI inflation (Retail Price Index) plus 1%.

Eligibility

  • equity loans are available to first time buyers as well as homeowners looking to move. You cannot have a deposit lower than 5% of the full purchase price
  • the maximum income multiple for a Help to Buy purchase (full price of the property) is 4.5 times your household joint or single income
  • the mortgage taken must be on a repayment basis and cannot be interest-free. Help to Buy London will use the calculator provided by the Homes and Communities Agency to carry out a sustainability check when you submit your application
  • you cannot part exchange your current home to buy a new home under Help to Buy. You must not own any other property at the time you buy your new home with a Help to Buy equity loan
  • the home you want to buy must be a new build, advertised as Help to Buy by a Help to Buy registered developer, with a maximum price of £600,000
  • help to Buy assistance is unavailable for new builds that are not Help to Buy registered
  • you will not be able to sublet a home purchased under Help to Buy
First Dibs for Londoners

First Dibs is a voluntary scheme where developers and housing associations commit to restricting the marketing and sales of certain new build market sale properties in London.

Key housing developers, including members of the Home Builders’ Federation and the g15 (which represents London’s largest housing associations), have offered to restrict sales and marketing of all their new build homes in the capital up to £350,000 to UK residents only for three months before any overseas marketing can take place.

The offer also gives Londoners a ‘head start’ of up to a month at the beginning of the three month period. During this time homes will be sold only to those who live or work in the capital.

Once the ‘head start’ period ends the sales and marketing of these properties will be limited to UK buyers for the rest of the three month period.

Are you eligible?

To be eligible for ‘first dibs’ you currently:

  • live or work in London (for the ‘head start’ period of up to one month)
  • live in the UK (for the reminder of the three month restricted sales and marketing period)

Interested in renting?

The Homes for Londoners search tool will also list available properties under the London Living Rent scheme.