Most shared ownership homes are new apartments, with some houses. You can also buy second-hand homes (“resales”), but you need to buy the same percentage (or more) than the existing shared owner who is selling.
Contact the Help to Buy agent for the area in which you want to buy (see helptobuy.gov.uk). You will need to open an account and supply your financial details. An agent will assess whether you are eligible, then once you are approved you can look for your perfect home.
You can buy additional shares of the leasehold, based on the current value of the home (“staircasing”).
Under revised Government rules, new shared owners will be able to buy an extra 1% each year, for up to 15 years, without needing to pay for a valuation, as the purchase price will be based on an estimate.
You can buy larger chunks, but this will incur surveyors and other fees. As you buy further shares your mortgage payments will increase but your rental payments will decrease.
Once you own 100% of the lease you will no longer pay any rent, just your mortgage, service charges and any ground rent.
You must be intending to live in the property – you can’t rent it out, although you can usually take a lodger with permission.
You can decorate your home as you wish, but any further alterations are subject to the restrictions of your lease and you will need written permission from the housing association.
You will need to pay for a valuation, and the housing provider has the first opportunity to resell the property to another shared ownership buyer. If the housing provider doesn’t find you a buyer you can use a normal estate agent.