There are a number of key things you'll want to think about before applying to buy one of our Shared Ownership homes.

Who are you buying with?

If you apply jointly, you'll purchase jointly – so if you're not married, you should only name another person if you want to purchase with them.

How many bedrooms do you need?

We work out your bedroom need on the basis of one room per couple or single person and/or dependent. So, if you're a couple with no children your ‘need' is one bedroom. Or if you're a couple with one child, it's two bedrooms. If you're a single parent with one child it's also two bedrooms. You cannot apply for a property with fewer bedrooms than you need.

Be accurate and up-to-date

When you fill in the application, please make sure the details you give are as accurate as possible. It's in your interest to keep all the information on your form up-to-date after submission too because we use it to decide your eligibility and priority for a property.

If you attend a viewing and you express an interest in a property, please let us know if you're going to be on holiday within the following few weeks. If possible leave a number we can reach you on, because offers are only valid for a short time.

Maximising your chances

Unfortunately we can never guarantee you a home. You may stand more chance if you already live or work in the borough where the development is located, and if you apply for properties matching your bedroom need.

If your local authority also has an open waiting list for home ownership it's worth joining it, but there is still no guarantee of being offered a Shared Ownership home.

Have paperwork ready

We'll need to see evidence of all the information you give on the application form. For example, you need to provide three months' evidence of your finances and where you've been living so we'll need to see two types of bill. We'll also want to see recent bank statements for your current account, plus proof of any savings you have.

If anyone is giving you money towards the deposit, we'll need to see a signed letter from them detailing the amount and stating that there's no repayment term. We'll also need to see a savings account statement as proof that they can afford it.

Get your mortgage in order

One of the basic conditions of Shared Ownership is that you can get a mortgage to pay for your share (unless you are unable to due to your age, a disability or on religious grounds).

You may find it difficult to get a mortgage if you're still within a probationary period, or are employed on a temporary or fixed-term basis – likewise if you're not a British, EU or EEA citizen, don’t have permanent residency status or your passport is not stamped with ‘indefinite leave to remain'. If this is the case, we recommend you speak to an Specialist Financial Advisor (SFA).

We recommend you do some research around mortgages to see what's available to you. It's well worth speaking to an SFA who has experience in Shared Ownership as part of your research.

Once you've got an idea of what you can borrow, a lender will probably give you a Decision In Principle – but please bear in mind this is not a guarantee of a mortgage offer. You'll only be able to apply fully for a mortgage once we've matched you to a home, because your lender will decide what to offer you based on the actual home you want to buy.

When you've been offered a home and your mortgage is approved, make sure you have the money you need ready to transfer because things move quickly after that. You'll also need to appoint a solicitor with Shared Ownership experience: see our list of suggested SFAs and solicitors.

NEXT: the pros and cons of buying an off-plan home