Charlotte Barnes and Tom Wilmore have been together for six years. The couple wanted to take their first step on the housing ladder and buy their own home. But with high prices around Weymouth, they struggled to find the right home for them within their budget on the open market.

Initially planning to pursue a traditional mortgage, Charlotte (23) and Tom (24) found that they were limited to properties worth under £160,000 in an area where the average property price is £210,000.

After chancing upon a three-bedroom terrace just five minutes’ walk from Weymouth town centre at an open house one weekend, the couple bought a 40% share of the £260,000 property with a deposit of only £5,299 through Aster Group’s shared ownership scheme.

Charlotte said: “It’s so difficult to get a mortgage for a house in Weymouth and on our income we could only really get one on a property at the bottom end of the scale – and we would still have needed to pull together a £16,000 deposit. For something we really wanted, it would’ve been more like £21,000.”

Shared ownership meant Charlotte and Tom could focus on the features they wanted in their house rather than simply what they could afford. The result was a new home that they are making their own while building up equity.  

Tom said: “Once I understood that we’d have as much freedom to make changes and personalise the house as we’d get with a traditional mortgage, shared ownership seemed like a much better option than throwing all our savings at something that wasn’t really what we wanted.”  

Amy Nettleton, head of sales and marketing at Aster Group, said: “People often don’t realise that shared ownership could be an option for them. Last year the income threshold for eligibility went up to £80,000, making millions of people eligible for a shared ownership mortgage.       

“Getting on the housing ladder can be incredibly difficult, especially in affluent areas like Weymouth. Aspiring homeowners who want to stay in their communities need to put down deposits in the tens of thousands for even the lowest-priced homes.

“Shared ownership offers an alternative where high demand has created a strong resale market for those who want to relocate or upscale, just like they can under a traditional mortgage. So instead of burning money on rent, you’re able to build up equity, increase your share and, in the long term, sell and move elsewhere, just as you’d be able to do with a ‘normal’ mortgage.”