Guide to Shared Ownership. Making Home Ownership Affordable

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1 Guide to Shared Ownership Making Home Ownership Affordable

2 Shared Ownership Contents What is a Housing Association? 4 What is Shared Ownership? 4 How Does Shared Ownership Work? 5 How Do I Qualify? 6 What Is Required For The Financial Assessment? 8 Reserving Your Home 10 What Does The Lease Entitle Me To? 11 What Are The Initial Costs Involved? 12 What Are The Running Costs? 14 Further Costs Of Shared Ownership 16 Frequently Asked Questions 17 Summary Of A Successful Shared Ownership Purchase 21 2 estuary.co.uk

3 Introduction This information pack is designed as an introduction to the Shared Ownership scheme and does not form part of any agreement. Please read carefully before you proceed with your Shared Ownership purchase. If there is anything which you wish to discuss or have explained in more detail, please contact us. You are advised to instruct a solicitor to act for you in any purchase. Shared Ownership is an affordable homeownership scheme for people who are unable to afford to buy a home outright on the open market. 3

4 Shared Ownership Traditionally, housing associations are not-for-profit providers of rental accommodation for people on low-incomes or with specific needs. However, many housing associations also build properties for the Shared Ownership market, and, increasingly for outright sale. Housing associations reinvest any surplus they make in building and maintaining their homes. Estuary Housing Association is committed to the provision and management of good quality housing for rent and shared ownership, within the means of applicants and appropriate to the needs of the family and community. Estuary Housing Association is one of the largest housing associations based in Essex. It is an affordable home ownership scheme designed for people who are unable to afford to purchase their home outright on the open market, primarily first-time buyers. It is a Part Buy/Part Rent Scheme which is available through housing associations across the UK allowing you to buy a share of the property and pay a reduced rent on the remaining share. Buying through Shared Ownership makes you an owner-occupier, not a part tenant. Your Lease is a legal document that proves you own part of your home. Your Lease sets out certain conditions such as: Rent and Service Charge Provisions; What you should expect from us; and Your Rights and Responsibilities as owner-occupier. It will also provide you with information on how to buy more shares in the property (Staircase) or sell your share in the property if you decide to move on. You will become a leaseholder and Estuary will be what is known as the landlord. You will have the same rights and responsibilities as a full owner-occupier. 4 estuary.co.uk

5 You buy a percentage share of a property at a price based on the current market value provided by a qualified surveyor s valuation. You can purchase from as little as 25% or go up to as much as 75% on the first purchase. The minimum share you are expected to buy will depend upon the type of property being offered and will be appropriate to your individual circumstances. You pay a subsidised rent on the share you don t own. You can purchase additional shares, a process know as staircasing. If you decided to buy the remaining share(s) of your home at a later date, you will own your home outright. The more you own the less rent you pay! If you own a house, subject to the terms in your Lease, you will receive the freehold like any other house owner. If you own an apartment, you ll remain a Leaseholder like any other apartment owner. This is because your home is in a block of apartments and your Lease sets out responsibilities for use and maintenance of all shared areas. You will still be responsible for paying the ground rent and service charge which will include Buildings Insurance. You are under no obligation at any time to increase your share although your Lease will specify the staircasing provisions and circumstances in which you may staircase. Leases do vary; for example some Leases allow you to staircase after three months whereas other Leases only allow you to staircase after the first 12 months have passed. If you purchase a resale property you may be able to staircase once you have owned the property for 3 months. If you sell your share of the property, you will receive proceeds in accordance to the value of your share which will be determined by a RICS approved surveyor at the time of sale (less any outstanding rent etc owed to the Association). What Kind of Property Can Be Bought Through Shared Ownership? Homes may be new or previously owned (resale) flats and houses. Most have between one and three bedrooms. Prices vary according to location, but Housing Associations are expected to provide homes within the financial means of people who cannot afford to buy on the open market. Homes with Estuary Housing Association come from two sources, homes being sold by existing Leaseholders (resales) and new properties being developed by Estuary Housing Association (new builds). 5

6 Shared Ownership The first thing you need to do is register and be approved by the Homebuy Agent for the area in which you wish to purchase. A Homebuy Agent is appointed by the Government to offer a one-stop shop for affordable home ownership. The Homebuy Agent for Essex is run by BPHA Limited; you can register at Help to Buy will then review your registration and if appropriate approve you to purchase a property under the Shared Ownership scheme within Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Surrey, West Sussex, East Sussex and Kent. The Homebuy Agent for the London Boroughs is First Steps; you can register at If a property is within a London Borough you will be required to complete the Estuary Shared Ownership Application Form and return it for approval. In order to be eligible to purchase a Shared Ownership property, applicants should have a household income not exceeding that set by the Homebuy Agent and be otherwise unable to purchase a property suitable to meet their housing needs on the open market. Applicants are usually first time buyers, although you may be eligible if you have previously owned a property. However, at the time of completion you cannot own, or have your name on the deeds of any other properties, in the United Kingdom or any other country. It should be noted that with some developments local authority planning permission may require that priority is given to applicants who live or work in the area. Please check the appropriate Homebuy website for the current priority allocation groups. These are the people who will receive priority when the properties are allocated. 6 estuary.co.uk

7 You will then need to arrange for a Financial Assessment to be carried out by the Financial Adviser appointed by Estuary Housing Association to the development or property. This will take into account your savings, access to capital or any other assets and outgoings, to assess the sustainability of your purchase and determine whether the property will be affordable for you. Once we have received your Financial Assessment confirming that the property is affordable to you, we will invite you to view the show property or, if completed, the actual property which is available for sale. It is your responsibility to notify Estuary Housing Association and the Homebuy Agent of any changes to your circumstances after the application details have been checked initially. Helpful Links SIGN UP TO THE ELECTORAL ROLL Are you registered? Signing up to the Electoral Roll helps mortgage lenders identify who you are and not being on it, or having the incorrect details, could lead to your mortgage application being declined. Make sure you check (and register if need be) as early as possible, since registration and updates take around 28 days. You can find out if you are registered via your local council. 7

8 Shared Ownership The Financial Assessment will be carried out by a Financial Adviser allocated to the property by Estuary Housing Association. The Financial Adviser will: Agree the % share that you can afford to purchase based on income, savings and outstanding credit commitments; Provide you with information and advice to help you choose the right mortgage for you. Don t Forget! If you do not complete the assessment you may miss the opportunity to buy your dream home! 8 estuary.co.uk

9 So that we can help you buy your new home as quickly as possible, you must provide the following for all applicants and other adults who will be living at the address: 1 Payslips for the last 3 months, or 12 weeks if you are weekly paid; 2 If you are self employed, your audited accounts for the last three years from a certified or chartered accountant; 3 Copy of passport, including any Visa or proof of Indefinite Leave to Remain, or copy of driving licence; 4 Copy of latest 3 months full bank statements showing all bank transactions and salary credits (for all applicants); 5 Your latest P60 (original); 6 A photocopy of your marriage certificate, if applicable; 7 Details of previous surnames if applicable; 8 A recent rent statement or copy of your rent book, if you have one; 9 Proof of any loans or credit cards going out each month (showing monthly payment on loans, total owed on credit cards); 10 Proof of deposit money (savings etc). If this is a gift from family please obtain a signed letter from them stating how much they are gifting to you, a copy of their ID, proof of address and a copy of their bank statement showing build-up of funds. All deposit proof should show a total and build-up of money to evidence deposit. An from the donor is not acceptance; 11 Copy of a full credit report - you can obtain this from either Experian or Equifax If you are going to live in your home with anyone other than your children, you must all provide this information. The Financial Adviser will be able to help you arrange a mortgage if you want them to. They will help you complete the mortgage application form. If you want to arrange your own mortgage, you should talk to banks and building societies and make sure that you tell them you are buying a Shared Ownership property and the share that you are buying. The maximum share you can buy will be confirmed by the Financial Adviser when your affordability assessment is complete. 9

10 Shared Ownership After you have viewed the property, the next step is to complete the reservation form and enclose a deposit cheque for 500. Your application will be assessed against our Allocations Policy and we will then make contact to confirm the outcome. If you are the successful applicant we will send out an offer letter confirming the details of the property and a form to be completed and returned to us within 10 working days to confirm you wish to proceed. We will ask you to confirm the share you wish to purchase based on the outcome of your financial assessment, along with details of your lender or financial adviser and solicitor. Details of our panel of solicitors can be provided to assist you in selecting a suitable legal adviser. Your reservation deposit will be deducted from the final balance due on completion day. If you apply to reserve a home we will return your reservation fee if we are unable to offer you a property of your choice. You will forfeit your deposit if, after you have returned your acceptance of offer form: You decide not to go ahead, for whatever reason, including if you change your mind; We withdraw our offer of a home because you have given false or misleading information on your Shared Ownership application form. Once we have issued your formal offer letter and you have returned your acceptance form, we will issue a Memorandum of Sale (MoS) to all parties involved. This summarises the details of your proposed purchase and enables the solicitors to commence the conveyancing process. You should also formally instruct your legal representative who will be acting on your behalf in the purchase at this stage. Our solicitors will then send them a copy of the Lease for the property advising that we expect exchange of contracts within 28 days. Your mortgage lender will also value the property and issue a formal mortgage offer. If you have not received your mortgage offer within three weeks of the application being submitted you must let your mortgage advisor know so they can chase it up for you. Once you receive your mortgage offer you should contact your solicitor to arrange an appointment to sign your contract and arrange for a copy of the mortgage offer to be sent to the Sales & Marketing Team at Estuary and our solicitors. Once this has been done, your solicitor will prepare to exchange contracts. Exchange of contracts sets the day for completion. You are then legally bound to buy the property and the seller is legally bound to sell - so noone can change their mind. Finally Completion Day Arrives On the completion day, your mortgage lender will send your solicitor the money to buy your home. Your solicitor will then pass that money, and any additional money you are adding, on to the relevant parties solicitors. Once this is done, you can arrange to collect the keys to your new home. 10 estuary.co.uk

11 The Lease entitles you to live in your home until the Lease ends; new build Leases are usually for 125 years. If you are buying a resale property you will receive the number of years remaining on the initial Lease. The Lease states the responsibilities for both you and Estuary Housing Association, how rent (if applicable) and service charges are reviewed, when they must be paid, how you can buy further shares and sell your home and all the things you and Estuary can and cannot do. This property must be your main residential home and you must not own another home or have your name on the deeds of another property. The Lease has a subletting clause preventing you from subletting. Did You Know? Although you have not bought the property outright, you will have the rights and responsibilities of a full owner-occupier, including maintenance of your home. For More Information Visit estuary.co.uk/shared-ownership 11

12 Shared Ownership If you are applying for a new mortgage etc, you will need to ensure that you have savings or access to funds to cover the initial costs. The costs may vary but we have outlined a guide as follows: Reservation Fee You will be required to pay a reservation fee of 500 to Estuary Housing Association to reserve the property you are offered. This money will be deducted from the money due to Estuary Housing Association on completion of your purchase. This money is non-refundable if the transaction reaches the stage where Estuary Housing Association has instructed solicitors and your purchase does not proceed for any reason. Survey and Valuation If you are applying for a new mortgage your lender will insist on carrying out an independent valuation which you must pay for. This is to protect them and to ensure that the property forms adequate security for their mortgage. The valuation fee will normally be paid by the borrower and will be required up front with the application. If you are buying a property which is not new, you may wish to have a more in depth survey, such as a Homebuyer s Report or equivalent. This will cost more than the valuation report but will give more information on the condition of the property. Did You Know? Your Financial Adviser may also charge you a fee for arranging your mortgage. 12 estuary.co.uk

13 Legal Fees Everyone who buys a home needs a solicitor to carry out the necessary legal work. Your solicitor will: Make sure you have everything necessary to help you buy your home quickly; Check and approve the Lease and liaise with your mortgage lender and our solicitors; Carry out what are known as searches and investigate the title to the property; checking that we actually own the home we re selling you and making sure there are no planned developments (such as new roads) that will affect your home; Check that all paperwork and your mortgage are in place in time for you to move into your new home. You should make sure you get several quotations of the likely costs before you appoint a solicitor or select a solicitor who offers a fixed fee for their services. Choose a solicitor with knowledge and experience of Shared Ownership Leases and the Shared Ownership buying process. To help you decide which solicitor to use we can send you a panel of solicitors with your offer letter who are experienced in Shared Ownership purchases. You are under no obligation to use the suggested solicitor, however choosing a legal representative who is experienced in Shared Ownership schemes will avoid unnecessary delays. Your solicitor will charge for their professional services in acting for you in your purchase. They will also advise you of any other legal charges payable. Once you have advised Estuary Housing Association of the solicitor you wish to use, a copy of the draft Lease will be sent to your solicitor from Estuary s solicitor. To avoid unnecessary costs it is worth ensuring that you can obtain the mortgage you require before a solicitor undertakes this work. Deposit You will be required to make a deposit to Estuary Housing Association on exchange of contracts. The amount may vary but will not be more than 10% of the value of the share to be purchased. The deposit will of course be deducted from the price payable on completion. Stamp Duty Land Tax Please check with your solicitor whether Stamp Duty is payable at the time of purchase. If stamp duty is payable, you can either pay duty on your share or on the full value of the property. If you decide to pay stamp duty on the full value of the home you are buying at the outset, then no further duty will be payable should you decide to purchase more equity later on. Your solicitor should be able to advise you on which option to take. Alternatively, take a look at the HM Revenue & Customs website: 13

14 Shared Ownership Mortgage Payments and Mortgage Application Fees You will need to borrow all or part of the costs of your share from a Building Society or Bank. Payments will vary as interest rates change, unless you choose a fixed rate mortgage. Some lenders will ask you to pay an arrangement fee up front when you submit the application; others will add the fee to the mortgage. You should always find out at the outset what terms apply to the arrangement fee and ask if the fee will be refunded if your application does not proceed for some reason. Life Insurance Your mortgage lender may require an insurance that repays the mortgage should you die. Your lender will advise you. Rent You will pay a monthly rent for the part of the property you do not own. Estuary Housing Association uses this rent to pay for part of the cost of the development of these properties. The rent will be reviewed every year on 1st April and increased in line with the terms of your Lease. Further information is available in the Leaseholder s Handbook and will be detailed in your Lease. On completion, Estuary Housing requires this to be paid from the date of completion to the end of the month plus two full calendar months. This payment will be less the initial 500 reservation fee you paid. Service Charge Service charges usually only apply to apartments, though there can sometimes be a small service charge for houses if there are shared areas such as car parks and/or gardens. The following is a list of some of the charges for apartments that may apply: The cost of day-to-day repairs, maintenance and decoration to the outside of the apartments and any shared areas. This could be the roof, communal TV aerial, secure entry systems etc; The cost of cleaning and gardening to shared areas; The cost of lighting shared areas; The cost of vehicle management; The cost of refuse removal; The cost of service charge administration fees. The cost of your share of the buildings insurance is also included in your service charge. We have a block policy which covers all our properties. As we require insurance for many properties the premium payable is reduced and we can pass these savings on to you. As with any insurance policy there is an excess payable in the event of your making a claim. 14 estuary.co.uk

15 The service charge will also usually include a contribution to a reserve fund (a sinking and cyclical fund to cover all or part of any periodic or necessary major works such as replacing the roof or external painting). Paying for works costs month-by-month is a good idea so that you ll avoid having to find a large sum of money to pay for these in the future. It will also help you later on if you decide to sell your home, because the new buyer will know that money has been paid towards covering any major works in the future. We only charge you what we have to pay out on services. We do not make a profit and the percentage of the charge each property pays should reasonably reflect the level and type of services you receive. Each year we will send you an estimate of what we think we will spend for the coming year and we will give you a statement showing exactly what we have spent in the previous year. Council Tax You will have to pay Council Tax directly to the Local Authority. All owners/occupiers over the age of 18 are liable to the tax, which will vary depending on whether one or more persons occupy the property. There are various exemptions or reductions which may be applicable (for example, for disabled owners/occupiers). It is recommended that you contact the Local Authority in which you intend to purchase for further information. Don t Forget! Removal costs You will need to consider the cost of moving as it can sometimes be quite high. If you decide to use a removal firm, it is advisable to get several quotes before making a choice. Alternatively, you can hire a van and move things yourself. For More Information Visit 15

16 Shared Ownership Repair, Insurance and Service Charges If your home is a house, you will be responsible for all repairs and redecoration, both internally and externally. Estuary Housing Association will insure the structure of your home and you will have to pay a fee to cover this and help to meet the costs of rent collection. If your home is an apartment, you will be responsible for all repairs and redecoration internally. Estuary Housing Association will undertake to keep the building in which your apartment is situated in good structural repair, to keep the structure insured and to keep any common parts, such as the staircase and corridors, decorated, cleaned and lit. You will have to pay a share of those costs. This is called a service charge. Estuary will tell you how the service charge is spent and you will be consulted before any major repair or maintenance work is started. New properties will have NHBC cover or equivalent. Fittings and Furniture You are responsible for supplying your own fittings and furniture. Contents Insurance You are responsible for insuring the contents of your home. Utility Bills You are responsible for all household utility bills, including heating, electricity and water rates. Mortgage Protection/ Critical Illness Insurance If you have taken out mortgage protection and/or critical illness insurance you will usually have to pay the insurance premiums separately to the insurance company. These are usually paid by monthly direct debit. Your mortgage advisor/lender will be able to advise. 16 estuary.co.uk

17 FAQ's Frequently Asked Questions 17

18 Frequently Asked Questions How do I buy further shares in my home? You can usually staircase up to three times, with the third time taking you to 100% ownership. Your Lease will specify the staircasing provisions and the circumstances in which you may staircase. Leases do vary; for example some Leases allow you to staircase after three months whereas other Leases allow you to staircase after the first 12 months have passed. Where you have purchased a resale property you may be able to staircase once you have owned the property for 3 months. Should you wish to proceed with this process you will need to inform Estuary Housing Association formally in writing. You will need to arrange for your home to be valued by an independent valuer approved by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The price you pay for any additional equity will be based on this valuation. This value can go up or down according to current market conditions. You will be responsible for the valuation fee and the legal fees (which may include further stamp duty) as well as any charges made by your mortgage lender. Should you wish to proceed with staircasing you will need to instruct a solicitor to undertake this work on your behalf and advise you on the legal aspect. There will also be an administration fee of 140+VAT payable to Estuary. You will be given three months to buy a further share at the new price. The additional share that can be purchased is usually in multiples of 25%. This will vary upon Final Staircasing depending on the initial share purchased. Can I make improvements or alterations to my home? If you wish to improve your home or make alterations to it, you must request Estuary Housing Association s written agreement before you start. You will be expected to supply details of the proposed work. Most non-structural work is usually agreed. You may also need to get approval from your mortgage lender, as well as any legal permission you need, for example, planning permission or building regulations. For further information refer to the Lease and the Leaseholder s Handbook. Permission is not required for redecorating and simple repairs. If you make any alterations or improvements to the property which add to its value, the value of some alterations and/or improvements will be deducted from any subsequent valuation for staircasing. This way you will not pay extra for your own improvements. A list of improvements which will be considered can be found in our Staircasing Guide. If you require any further information or clarification please contact the Association. Do I need to sign a lease? Yes. The Shared Ownership Lease will normally be for a term of 125 years for the first owner, but may be less if you are buying a resale property. The Lease also specifies how the rent is calculated in relation to the property you are buying. It will explain all the things that you and the Association can and cannot do. Your solicitor will receive a copy of the Lease and will explain anything you do not understand. 18 estuary.co.uk

19 What if I fall behind with my mortgage repayments? The mortgage contract is between you and your mortgage lender. If you begin to have financial problems, which may mean that you can t pay your mortgage, you should let them know as soon as possible. If you do fall behind on your payments and cannot agree on a solution with your mortgage lender, there is a risk that they will take possession of your home and sell it. You would be entitled to your share of the money received, after all your debts have been paid. What if I fall behind with my rent or service charges? Under the Lease you will be obliged to pay the rent and service charge. If you find you have problems, get in touch with the Income Team at Estuary Housing Association, who will look to help and advise you. If the payments cannot be made your Lease may be forfeited and your home can be taken away from you. For further information, see the Leaseholder s Handbook. What do I do when I want to sell? If you have become the outright owner (i.e. you have staircased up to 100% ownership), you can of course sell the property on the open market in the usual way. If you are a Shared Owner, you may sell at any time, but you must inform Estuary Housing Association in writing that you want to sell. This process is known as a Resale or Assignment. You can either sell the part that you own, or you can buy the remaining share, through the process of staircasing, then sell the property outright. Please refer to the Lease, as there may be a clause that restricts you selling on the open market for 3 months after staircasing. You will benefit from any increase in the value of the property according to the share you own. You will need to obtain a current valuation from a RICS approved valuer. Unless you own the property outright, your Lease will state that Estuary can nominate prospective buyers and restrict the sale price to the valuation given by the independent valuer. The reason for this is that we wish the property to remain available to the people for whom Shared Ownership is intended. A fee of 1.25% + VAT of the cost of the share sold will be charged by Estuary on completion of the sale to a purchaser nominated by us. Should you sell on the open market you will still be liable to pay Estuary s legal fees and an administration fee of 250+VAT. Estuary Housing Association may restrict your ability to buy further shares in your home or reserve the right to buy back the property (at full market value). These arrangements are limited to certain developments and are intended to provide a means of keeping low cost housing. Estuary Housing Association will tell you if the home you want to buy is one to which these restrictions apply. 19

20 Frequently Asked Questions What happens to my home if I die? Whether you own a part-share or have become an outright owner, if you die your home (or your share) will pass in the usual way under the terms of your Will. If you have not made a Will the normal rules of intestacy would apply. Your solicitor can advise you further when you buy your share. Re-mortgaging and other loans secured against the property If you wish to borrow money against your share of the property you must first obtain consent from the Association. Under the Mortgagee Protection Clause contained within your shared ownership Lease we will only provide protection for further advances we have approved and that are: To allow you to buy extra shares in your home, or To comply with other conditions of the Lease. For example, repairs or improvements, and these must be agreed and approved by Estuary, or To allow one joint leaseholder to buy out the interest of the other joint leaseholder. Re-mortgages and loans secured against the property must be approved by the Association s solicitors and you will be liable for the legal fees associated with this. Resident involvement and Federation of Estuary Residents We encourage all residents to become involved in our activities. As a Shared Owner you would be entitled to become a member of a local residents association and to attend meetings with Estuary staff. We also operate an Estate/Block/Street Rep scheme which allows residents to act as a local liaison between their neighbours and the Association. As an Estuary resident you would also be eligible to join the Federation of Estuary Residents (FER), an independent residents group set up to represent residents in discussions with the Association. How Can I Find Out More? We hope you found this guide useful. Remember that we are here to help you and aim to make the home buying process as stress free as possible. For further information please contact: Sales and Marketing Team Telephone: Find Out More. 20 estuary.co.uk

21 Summary Of A Successful Shared Ownership Purchase 1 Complete a Shared Ownership application form / register with the Homebuy agent. Register on electoral roll. 2 Contact the financial adviser for an affordability assessment. Take advice about mortgages from a mortgage adviser. 3 Invited to launch event or to view a suitable home. 4 Appoint a solicitor with experience of Shared Ownership. 5 Like the property - complete a reservation form and pay 500 reservation fee. 6 Estuary Housing allocate homes based on our selection and allocation policy. 21

22 Summary 7 Confirm your wish to proceed with the offer Offer made to you. within fourteen calendar 14 DAYS days of the offer issued. 8 9 Estuary Housing will issue a Memorandum of Sale (MoS) summarising details of the purchase to all parties involved and setting four-week deadline for contracts to be exchanged. Memorandum of Sale (MoS) 5 WORKING DAYS 10 Apply for your mortgage if you haven t already done so. (If you are applying for your own mortgage without using our adviser, please send a copy of your mortgage application form to us within five working days of the issue of the MoS) Instruct your solicitor. 21 DAYS The lender issues the mortgage offer (within 21 days) and your solicitor forwards a copy to Estuary Housing s solicitor for approval. 22 estuary.co.uk

23 13 Estuary Housing s solicitors approve or refer the mortgage offer for amendment to your solicitor. 14 Sign contracts and pay deposit. Exchange of contracts within five working days of receipt of the mortgage offer (within 28 days from issue of the draft papers). 15 View the home you are buying if it is ready and take measurements for furniture if required. If not available a viewing will be offered as soon as the property is close to being completed. 16 Completion day. We will meet you at your new home and hand over the keys, take final utility meter readings. MOVE IN! 23

24 Registered Office: Estuary Housing Association Ltd 8th and 9th Floors, Maitland House, Warrior Square, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1 2JY estuary.co.uk/shared-ownership Version

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