Mortgages still rule the roost when it comes to financing property purchases, but there are other ways to arrive at the same destination.

In today’s post, we’ll take a look at some alternative financing options for prospective homeowners. We’ll also explore the risks and challenges associated with these unconventional methods, too.

Let’s start, though, with the traditional approach.

Traditional mortgage financing

Mortgage financing remains the most conventional and widely utilised method for purchasing property in the UK. 

Essentially, a mortgage is a type of loan specifically used to purchase real estate. In a mortgage agreement, the buyer borrows money from a lender (usually a bank or a mortgage lender) to buy a home or other property. Here, the home itself is used as collateral to secure the loan. 

If the borrower fails to make the agreed-upon payments, the lender can take possession of the property through a legal process known as repossession.


Common mortgage types in the UK


  • Fixed-rate mortgages: The interest rate remains constant for a set period, typically two to five years, providing payment stability and ease of budgeting.
  • Variable rate mortgages: The interest rate can fluctuate, often in line with the Bank of England's base rate, potentially affecting monthly repayment amounts.
  • Interest-only mortgages: Borrowers pay only the interest on the mortgage through monthly payments and must find a way to pay off the mortgage balance at the end of the term.
  • Repayment mortgages: Monthly repayments cover both the interest and a portion of the principal. This ensures that by the end of the term, the mortgage is fully paid off.

Challenges with traditional financing


Strict qualification criteria


Traditional mortgage lenders typically have stringent qualification criteria, which may include a robust credit history, stable income, and a satisfactory debt-to-income ratio. 

These criteria can sometimes make it challenging for first-time buyers or those with less conventional income structures to secure mortgage financing.


Large down payments


Accumulating the necessary funds for a substantial deposit is often a significant barrier to homeownership. 

Traditional financing options usually require buyers to have saved a considerable percentage (often around 5% to 20%) of the property’s purchase price, which can be particularly daunting for first-time buyers.

For more information on the topic, take a look at our article ‘Mortgage Advice for First Time Buyers: All You Need to Know!


Lengthy approval processes


The mortgage approval process can be lengthy and bureaucratic, involving various checks, documentation, and assessments. 

This can be a hindrance for buyers who wish to move quickly in a fast-paced property market, potentially losing out on desired properties due to delays in mortgage approval.

Alternative financing options


Government schemes


Shared ownership

Shared ownership remains a viable option across the UK, allowing prospective homeowners to purchase a share of a property and pay rent on the remaining portion. 

This scheme enables buyers to acquire more shares in the property as and when they can afford them, gradually increasing their ownership stake over time. It's particularly beneficial for those who may struggle to secure a mortgage on the full price of a home.


Loans for building homes

In England, Scotland, and Wales, loans are available to assist with the costs associated with building a home or hiring a professional to construct one. 

This option can be particularly appealing to those who wish to create a customised living space or find themselves in a position to take on a building project.


Private financing options


Real estate crowdfunding

Real estate crowdfunding allows multiple investors to pool their resources together to invest in property, whether it be residential or commercial. 

This can be an accessible way for individuals to invest in the property market with a smaller amount of capital, sharing both the costs and returns with other investors.


Peer-to-peer lending

Peer-to-peer lending platforms connect borrowers with individual lenders, bypassing traditional financial institutions. 

In the context of property purchasing, this could mean securing a mortgage without going through a conventional bank, potentially offering more flexible terms and conditions.


Bridging loans

Bridging loans are short-term finance options designed to “bridge” gaps in funding, often used in property transactions to cover shortfalls or facilitate quick purchases. 

They can be particularly useful in scenarios such as property auctions or when a buyer wishes to secure a new property before selling their existing one.


Property joint ventures


Engaging in a property joint venture involves partnering with another party – be it an individual, group, or company – to purchase property. This can involve sharing the financial burden, responsibilities, and ultimately, the benefits derived from the investment. 

Joint ventures can be structured in various ways, with different partners contributing capital, property, or expertise.


Rent-to-buy schemes


How it works

Rent-to-buy schemes allow individuals to rent a property with the intention to purchase it after a set period. A portion of the rent paid may be credited towards the purchase price, and tenants may have the option to purchase the property at a predetermined price.


Pros and cons

While rent-to-buy schemes can provide a pathway to homeownership without requiring a large upfront deposit, it's crucial to understand the terms and conditions, as well as the potential risks involved, such as what happens if you choose not to purchase the property at the end of the agreement.

Risks and challenges


Market risks


Property value fluctuations

The property market can be subject to volatility, with property values potentially decreasing due to various factors such as economic downturns, changes in interest rates, or alterations in local infrastructure and amenities. 

Prospective homeowners and investors should be mindful that the value of their property may not always increase, and there is a risk of financial loss.


Economic instability

Economic factors, such as recessions, unemployment rates, and political instability, can significantly impact the property market. 

These elements may affect property prices, rental yields, and the ability of borrowers to meet their repayment obligations, posing a risk to both homeowners and investors.


Financial risks


Interest rate variations

For those utilising financing options with variable interest rates, there is a risk that interest rates may increase, leading to higher repayment amounts. 

This can strain personal finances and impact the affordability of the property, particularly for those with tight budgets.


Inability to meet repayment obligations

Various circumstances, such as unexpected financial hardships or changes in personal situation, can impact an individual’s ability to meet their repayment obligations. 

This can lead to severe consequences, such as repossession in the case of mortgage default.


Legal risks


Regulatory changes

Changes in property and financial regulations can impact the viability and attractiveness of various financing options. 

For instance, alterations in tax laws, lending criteria, or property ownership regulations can pose challenges and risks to prospective and current property owners.


Contractual disputes

Engaging in alternative financing options, particularly those involving multiple parties such as joint ventures or crowdfunding, can expose individuals to the risk of contractual disputes. 

Misunderstandings, misalignments in expectations, or failures to meet agreed-upon terms can lead to legal conflicts and financial losses.


Challenges with alternative financing


Accessibility and eligibility

Certain alternative financing options may have specific eligibility criteria or may be limited in availability. 

Navigating through these options and ensuring that they align with individual circumstances and needs can be a challenge for prospective homeowners.


Complexity and understanding

Understanding the intricacies, terms, and conditions of various financing options can be daunting. 

Ensuring that all legal and financial implications are fully understood before committing to a financing option is crucial if you want to mitigate risks and make informed decisions.

Petty Son and Prestwich is an estate agency with a difference. Established back in 1908, we’ve stood the test of time and continue to flourish despite growing competition. 

Why? Well, that’s for you to decide! 

Whether you’re buying or selling, renting or letting, call our friendly team to find out why we’re still Number 1 in E11 and beyond.

Article By: Fay Maulik-Hann

Fay has worked in the property industry for over 10 years, her answer to everyone is “of course I can” - her passion for Petty’s is untouchable.

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