We're doing our best to maintain service as usual amidst the challenges presented by the outbreak of Covid-19 but regretfully, there will likely be some delays, particularly for our resales customers. If you're looking to sell your property we are happy to market your home but please be aware it's possible that you will see reduced interest from prospective buyers in the current climate. Make sure to keep yourself updated with the latest government guidance.
Please keep an eye on our Coronavirus (Covid-19) page for further advice and information for our residents/homeowners about how we're dealing with the current climate.
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 decreases. 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.
Before you look any further into staircasing, please make sure to read the update on our building safety programme.
A step-by-step guide
Step 1 – Instruct a valuer from our panel
Your valuation should 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, as long as they are part of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Please contact us with their details before instructing them as we must send some important guidelines.
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 may not be considered when you come to staircase.
The price will be a percentage of the full market value. For example, if the full value of your home is £200,000 and you want to buy the remaining 50%, the cost will be: £200,000 x 50% = £100,000.
The valuer will send you their report and invoice you directly.
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. For information on home improvements, please read the home improvements guide.
Please note that a lease extension is lease maintenance and cannot be considered a home improvement.
Step 2 – Arrange finances to buy the extra share
We recommend that you speak to your current lender or an independent financial advisor (IFA) 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. See our list of recommended IFAs on the page below.
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 this request to change the share that you will be buying and provide the updated memorandum.
Step 3 – Decide which size share you're able to buy
The extra shares come in certain sized 'chunks' set out in your lease, usually 20% or 25%. The minimum amount you can buy is 10%, although this may involve amending your lease, which your solicitor can arrange. Please note that you can only buy shares in lots of 5% with a minimum share of 10%: 10%, 15%, 20%, 25%, etc.
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 should 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. Please find a list of solicitors who know how staircasing works on the page below, or you can use your choice of solicitor.
In our experience, lessees frequently experience complications with their staircasing when using the solicitor instructed by the bank. We recommend that you use your own solicitor but if you choose to use the banks solicitor, please remember that the bank is their client and they may not proactively look after your interests. This may prolong the process and often results in an updated valuation being required. They may also charge you extra fees that may not be transparent at the beginning, depending on the requirements of your staircasing.
Some people prefer to use the solicitor who dealt with their original purchase – they should have easier access to information about your property. We need the details of your solicitor before you can go ahead with staircasing.
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 can get a copy from the Land Registry if need be. You can call them or get a copy online. Notting Hill Genesis will not have a copy of your lease and we are not able to proceed without this. Please note, we will only accept a scanned copy of your lease.
Step 6 – Fill in and send us your staircasing instruction form
You'll need to fill out the staircasing instruction form and send this in to us with a copy of your valuation and lease. You can post this to our resale and legal team at our Hammersmith office or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send all your documents at the same time. Note that we're not able to start processing your application until we have the staircasing instruction form, the lease and the up-to-date valuation.
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
- The solicitors on our panel are familiar with staircasing. If you choose a different solicitor please check that they have experience with staircasing. If you change solicitors during the process, this will 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 filled-in 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 – we'll collect any amounts when the purchase is completed. 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'll 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.
Download a full PDF version of the step-by-step staircasing guide.
Advisors and solicitors
We’ve put together a list of independent financial advisors (IFAs) who are used to dealing with us. They can help you to find a mortgage based on your financial circumstances. Please note that we are not responsible for any actions taken or advice given by these third parties.
Mortgage Warehouse Corporation Ltd
Mortgage Warehouse Corporation Ltd
311 Upper Elmers End Road
Tel: 03456 212 200
Fax: 08456 21 22 99
Contact: Anthony Stracey (email@example.com)
31 Watling Street
Tel: 01227 812 733
Fax: 01227 781 614
Contact: Andrew Theoff
Cavendish Legal Group
188-190 Hoe Street
Tel: 02085 096 800
Fax: 0845 4747 432
Contact: David Turner
19-21 North End Road
Tel: 02076 037 245
Fax: 020 7603 3302
Contact: Paul Gardiner, Saneh Arora
Tinklin Springhall Solicitors
Tel: 02084 026 222
Fax: 020 8402 9222
Contact: Coralie Phelan, Andrew de Ferrars
Preuveneers LLP Solicitors
103-105 London Road
Tel: 02086 464 885
Fax: 020 8646 0191
Contact: Kelly Cirillo
What timescales do I need to consider?
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 a short time as set out in your lease. This is normally 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
- 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 instruction 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
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
- 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.
NHG pays our own solicitors' fees, unless extra fees are incurred during the staircasing process.
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.
What happens if the panel valuers don't cover my area?
You can choose a local valuer, which is more sensible as they will know more about the values of local property.
If you want to use a local valuer, you will need to give us the name, address and phone number of the firm you want to use before you get the valuation.
The valuer must be registered with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and must not be an estate agent. You cannot use your mortgage valuation because it needs to be done by an independent valuer.
We will then send the valuer details on how to value a shared ownership home. Always ask what they charge, as some are cheaper than others.
What happens if I do not agree with my valuer?
Please remember that we have no influence on the valuation you are given. If you do not agree with it, you can appeal to the valuer directly.
You should contact the valuer and give them proof of recent sales of similar homes in the same area. Make sure you appeal to the valuer in writing, showing how your evidence supports your case.
Please don’t send in your valuation report to us until you agree with it.
Can I buy more shares in my home?
Please refer to your lease to see if you're eligible to purchase further shares or see the information above.
Where can I obtain a copy of my lease?
Your solicitor would have given you a copy of your lease when you purchased your share. If you do not have this, you can obtain a copy for the Land Registry website for a small fee. Notting Hill Genesis do not have a copy of your lease.
How much do shares cost?
The cost of your shares will be calculated on the current market value.
How much of a share can I buy?
The amount you can buy will be determined by the finances available to you. You can buy shares in lots of 5% with a minimum share of 10%. E.g. 10%, 15%, 20%, 25%, etc. You cannot buy a share that is not a multiple of 5%.
How long does the process take?
Your staircasing will usually take 1-3 months; however, this is just an estimate.
Three months is usually plenty of time to complete but be sure to send us the instruction documents as soon as your valuation is received. This will maximise your chances of completing within the 3 months Delays in completing the purchase are normally due to problems arranging the finance. Any amendments to the initial staircasing instruction that you send will also increase the chance of needing an updated valuation.
How will my rent change after staircasing?
Once you have bought extra shares your rent will go down in proportion to the share you have bought. For example, if you increase your share from 50% to 75%, your rent will halve (you will pay rent on 25% of the property rather than 50%).
If you increase your share to 100%, you will stop paying rent. However, you will still have to pay the service charge and ground rent may become payable. Please ask your solicitor about this.
Do I need to pay stamp duty on the share that I am buying?
We are unable to provide advice relating to stamp duty. Please ask your solicitor about this.