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Buying more of your home

An advantage of Shared Ownership is that you can buy more shares and, in most cases, eventually own your home outright. Buying more shares is known as 'Staircasing'.

You can Staircase at any time. As you buy more shares in your property, your rent will usually decrease. If you have a mortgage, your mortgage repayments will increase to cover any additional borrowing.  If you want to buy an extra share, you must first get your home valued. We use this valuation to work out the price of the share.

Read through this guide to find out more, and when you’re ready to buy more shares you’ll need to request a valuation and complete the Staircasing Application Form.

Steps to staircasing

Step 1 – The valuation

Your valuation can be done by one of the Valuers on our panel. If a panel Valuer does not cover your area, you can use a local Valuer of your choice, as long as they are part of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.  Please refer to our Staircasing Valuation Request Form for more details and our terms and conditions.

The Valuer will ask you about your rent, service charges and improvements you have made to your home. They will then separately assess any improvements you have made to your home.

You must have asked our permission before making any improvements. Improvements made without our permission will not be considered when you come to Staircase. You will be responsible for providing written proof that we have given you consent.  The Valuer will send you their report and invoice you directly.

Improvements

The price of the share you’re buying will be a percentage of the value without the improvements, as shown in the following example.

The full value of your home is £203,000. This includes £3,000 of improvements you have made. The value without your improvements is £200,000 (£203,000 minus the £3,000 of improvements). This is known as the ‘net value’. If you own a 50% share and want to buy the remaining share, the price will be 50% of the net value. That is, £200,000 x 50% = £100,000.

Not all improvements add value. Carpets, curtains and furniture which haven’t been fitted do not count as improvements. Some improvements may fall in value due to wear and tear. The Valuer must list the improvements on the report, so make sure you’re clear what should be included.  Your Valuer will be able to advise you further on this.

Please note that a lease extension is lease maintenance and cannot be considered a home improvement.

Your lease may require you to get our permission before carrying out any alterations and improvements to your home.  Improvements made without our permission will not be considered when you come to sell your home, even if you then apply for retrospective consent.  You are responsible for keeping records and providing us with a copy of our written permission.

Step 2 – Arranging finances to buy the extra share

We recommend that you speak to your current lender or an independent financial advisor when deciding on the size of share that you can afford. We advise that you speak to a financial advisor before you start the process to see how much money you will be able to borrow.

If you need to amend the share that you have initially told us you want to buy, and we have already instructed our solicitors, this will cause a delay that may result in you having to update your valuation. It will take us up to five working days to process a request to change the share that you will be buying and provide the updated documents for your solicitor.

Step 3 – Decide which size share you’re able to buy

Your lease may state the minimum size of share you can buy at any one time (i.e. 10 %).  But Staircasing is an expensive process, so buying lots of shares in 10% chunks would not be the best way of getting to 100%.  You need to keep this in mind when deciding what size of shares you wish to buy.

Please be aware that some of our homes cannot be bought outright. On a limited number of developments you will only be able to buy a share up to 70%, 75%, 80% or 95%. Your lease includes information about Staircasing restrictions, if there are any.

If you did not pay stamp duty on the full value of your home, you may need to pay additional stamp duty. We cannot advise on stamp duty but your solicitor will be able to answer any questions for you.

Step 4 – Choose and instruct a solicitor

You’ll need to use solicitors when you buy an extra share in your home.  Some people prefer to use the solicitor who dealt with their original purchase – they should have easier access to information about your property. We will need details of your solicitor and their contact details when you complete the Staircasing Application Form.

Step 5 – Get a copy of your lease

We’ll need a copy of your lease to forward to our solicitors. You should have a copy of your lease from when you purchased your home; however, you may be able to get a copy from your solicitor or from your mortgage lender.  You can also get a copy from the Land Registry if need be. You can call them on 0300 006 0411 or get a copy online by visiting their website www.gov.uk/land-registry.

Step 6 – Fill in and send us your Staircasing Application Form

You’ll need to fill out the Staircasing Application Form and send this in to us with a copy of your valuation and lease as well as our Staircasing fee.  Please send all your documents at the same time. Note that we’re not able to start processing your application until we have received this information and the fee.

Keep in mind:

  • Your valuation is valid for three months. If this expires before you complete your purchase you will need to pay for an updated valuation
  • You must arrange finances quickly, including the mortgage, as this can take several weeks
  • Please check that your solicitor has experience with shared ownership and Staircasing. If you change solicitors during the process, this could slow the completion and may result in you needing an updated valuation
  • If for any reason you decide not to proceed with the purchase of more shares in your home, after we instruct the solicitors, you’ll need to pay our solicitors fees.

What happens next?

Within five working days of receiving your completed form, valuation and lease, we’ll write to our solicitor and your solicitor with the details of the transaction.  Our solicitor will send out the legal paperwork to your solicitor and us for signing.  Once the legal paperwork has been completed and your funds are ready, your solicitor will arrange a date to complete the purchase of your extra share.

Our solicitor will ask us to check if you owe any rent.  If you owe us any money this will need to be paid before you can continue. Please note that if you pay your service charges directly to a managing agent, you will need to get an up to date statement of account to show that there are no arrears.

Your solicitor will then pass this on to our solicitor. We will not be able to complete without this. You’ll need to pay the whole service charge demand in advance, even if this has just been added to your account.

After the purchase is completed, we will amend your rent account according to your new share, or end your tenancy (if this applies).

If you’re buying 100% of your property, your solicitor needs to arrange to transfer the title into your name for leasehold properties. If we are not the freeholder of your property, you will need to contact whoever is and arrange to pay service charges to them direct.

Things to consider

What costs are involved?

  • Your Valuer’s fee
  • Mortgage arrangement fees to your lender, if this applies
  • Your lender’s valuation fee, if this applies
  • Your legal fees
  • Our Staircasing administration fee
  • The cost of the extra share

If you did not pay stamp duty on the full value of your home, you may need to pay extra stamp duty. We cannot help with questions about stamp duty. Your solicitor will answer these for you.  In the case that you cancel your application, or do not complete for any reason, you’ll be required to pay our solicitors’ fees and/or cancellation fees, and our Staircasing fee will not be refundable.

What timescales do I need?

The time people take to buy more shares varies from around four weeks up to three months.

You need to consider the following:

  • How soon can the Valuer value your property? (If they are busy, it could take two to three weeks for them to value and write the report on your home)
  • How busy your solicitor is and if they are experienced with ‘Staircasing’ purchases
  • Your valuation will only be valid for three months from the date of the report. If you have not completed buying the share by this time, you will have to get an updated valuation. We cannot extend your original valuation under any circumstances
  • Delays in completing the purchase are normally due to problems arranging the finance or gathering legal documents – three months is plenty of time but make sure you send us the valuation and Staircasing Application Form straight away
  • If you need to amend the share that you have initially told us you want to buy, and we have already instructed our solicitors, this will cause a delay that may result in you having to update your valuation. It will take us up to 5 working days to process this request to change the share that you will be buying and provide the updated memorandum and the new instruction to our solicitor.