Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is My Pocket?
My Pocket is your buyer area of pocketliving.com and creating your profile means you go onto our database so you’ll know when a home comes up that you’re eligible to buy. Your profile is the information used to buy and what is stored as an owner once you’ve bought. My Pocket is a self-service account maintained by you, so please make sure that you keep it completely up-to-date. We have included handy features such as a borough finder to save you having to look up which council you live and work in, plus a tracking system to see how your purchase is progressing once you’ve been allocated a Pocket home. Once you’ve moved in, you can conduct the Annual Verification Process in My Pocket and access user guides for your home and development.
2. What do you do with my information?
When you create a My Pocket account, please make sure that the information entered is correct. The general rule of thumb is that your name should appear as it does on your passport, so whilst nicknames are fun, if you reserve a home this information goes to solicitors and changes will slow things down. We only use your information in the following ways: - To send you Pocket homes marketing - To send you Pocket company updates - To send to IMAs (Independent Mortgage Advisors) to establish affordability and assist with getting mortgages - To send to Local Authorities to ensure our homes are sold to the intended audience - To send to academic institutions for research purposes We will not sell your data to marketing agencies in any circumstances! We use the information in My Pocket to see if you’re eligible and can afford our developments. It depends on the borough and development, but this means that we usually only e-mail those who live or work in the borough, earn less than £90,000 and don’t own any property. We also look at the financial information in your profile and if your salary and deposit are too great for that development and you could afford to buy on the open market, we won’t be in touch because our homes are for those who can’t afford to buy in the traditional manner. Equally, if you couldn’t buy at that development because your salary and / or deposit aren’t quite enough then we won’t waste your time contacting you.
3. Do you operate a waiting list and if so, can you add my name?
We don’t hold waiting lists at Pocket. You register your interest on our website at any time by creating a My Pocket account, and we will then email you when a development that you are eligible for is open for sales. Remember, you’re only able to purchase a Pocket home in the borough where you live or work, and other priorities may be imposed local authorities on a site by site basis. If the borough where you live or work changes for any reason, for example you move home or change job, you must update your my Pocket account.
4. I created a My Pocket account a few weeks ago but haven’t heard anything yet
We will get in touch with you when we have news about a development that you’re eligible for. Usually this will be to alert you to a sales launch, or to let you know our progress on a specific site. We usually start selling Pocket homes in a new development about 4 to 6 months before the building is finished, and this is when we send details to anyone with a My Pocket account who is eligible and can afford a home there. Until that point, all the information that we have on upcoming developments is in the Buy / Coming soon and Buy / Available sections.
5. I’m interested in a Pocket development and I live very near the site, but not actually in the borough where the building is located. Can I still apply?
Pocket homes are only available to first time buyers who live or work in the borough (and earn below £90k), so even if you live just across the road, but pay your council tax to a different borough, then you won’t be eligible. It’s just the way it works – we agree planning permission with a specific borough on the basis that we sell the homes to people in their borough. Sometimes this means you miss out on a Pocket development even though you live really close to it, but there’s nothing that Pocket can do to change these rules.
6. Is Pocket shared ownership?
No! Pocket homes are 100% ownership, but sold at a minimum of 20% discount to the local market. We do this through intelligent design which enables us to build more homes on a development than traditional developers. Where Help to Buy is used you’ll be in a ‘shared equity’ arrangement but this is different to shared ownership as it is a personal to you and must be repaid when you sell your home, if you haven’t paid it off already by then.
7. I hear the Government has done away with affordable housing restrictions on where you live or work?
This doesn’t apply to Pocket, as when we get permission to build we sign an agreement with the Local Authority which defines who can sell to. This is different to other types of affordable housing.
8. I want to rent a Pocket apartment. Do you have any details?
At present, Pocket do not offer any rental apartments. We sell affordable one bedroom apartments to local people who live or work in the borough.
9. Do Pocket apartments come with a parking space?
No. Pocket developments are car free, it is very expensive to provide on-site parking and we want to keep our costs down so we can keep our prices low. As with any new build, you will not be eligible for a residents parking permit. However, we always provide a safe and secure area for you to keep your bike.
10. Do you offer Help to Buy on your developments?
Each development is different. We will be able to tell you at the same time that we launch for sale whether Help to Buy will be available.
11. Can I buy a Pocket home with cash?
Generally no, as Pocket follows government guidelines that affordable housing is for those who cannot afford to buy in the traditional way, so this almost always means a mortgage is required. However, there are a few specific circumstances surrounding age and faith where cash purchases can be requested.
12. I’m receiving help from my family, can I use this towards a Pocket home?
Absolutely, we recognise that buying even an affordable home in London is a challenge and many of our buyers get help from parents or relatives. There is just one request – it really must be a true gift, it can’t be a loan in any way and it can’t be secured against your new home as a debt. Further details will be in your offer letter.
13. Do you have a price list? I can’t see one on your website
Prices vary depending on the development and the location, and are linked to current open market prices. So we release the price of our homes at the point of sales launch – usually 4 to 6 months prior to completion. We always sell our apartments for at least 20% below local market value.
14. If I already own a property, does it have to be sold before I can apply for a Pocket one?
Yes. We are only able to sell to people who own no other property. This applies from the point of application.
15. We are a couple, can we buy a Pocket home?
Yes! Most of our buyers are sole buyers but we welcome couples, too. If you’re buying together then both of your names will need to go on the mortgage and lease. Your income must be £90K or less together and neither of you can own property, however just one of you needs to live or work in the borough of the development. If you’re applying together then both of you should create a My Pocket account then let us know and we will link your profiles in our database.
16. What should I put in for the income and deposit fields when I create a My Pocket account?
The income field should reflect your pre-tax salary and if you get a bonus or commission, put half of the yearly amount you earn from this element as that’s how lenders view this type of income. If you’re buying with anyone else, combine all linked applicants incomes in the annual household income section and all applicants deposits in the maximum household deposit section. Also, make sure that all those who you’re buying with have the same household income and household deposit information in their My Pocket account. If you’re expecting a gift from a friend or family member, include this in your deposit amount, however if you need a Help to Buy equity loan then don’t include this here.
17. How much do I need to earn to buy a Pocket home?
It’s difficult to answer this question - everybody’s circumstances are different, the deposits people have vary and the prices of Pocket homes vary. You must earn below £90k, and the average income of a Pocket buyer is closer to £40k. We suggest you speak with an independent financial advisor, and we can put you in touch with advisors who specialise in affordable housing if you would like www.censeo-financial.com
18. Is stamp duty included in the price?
Stamp duty is not included in the price of Pocket apartments. You will need to pay stamp duty on your Pocket home according to the usual rules, which depend upon the sale price. You can do a quick check using an online calculator, and your solicitor will also be able to advise on this issue.
19. Can I view a Pocket home before I create a My Pocket account to decide if it’s for me?
We’d love to be able to offer this but as we have hundreds of people register each week, we are only able to offer viewings for developments which have launched for sales and where you’re eligible to buy. However, everyone eligible to buy a Pocket home will have an opportunity to see one at a viewing before submitting their EOI.
20. The development where I want to buy is selling out, but I haven’t heard anything from Pocket!
This could be for a number of reasons. Firstly, we only contact those eligible to buy about the sales launch. You may not live or work in the area, earn more than £90k, or own property or meet any other criteria imposed by the Local Authority. Secondly, you may not have created a My Pocket account in time to be notified about the sales launch, as we e-mail eligible buyers at least two weeks before the viewing date. Thirdly, we look at your salary and deposit information and if it looks like you can buy without our help, or you can’t afford to buy at that particular development, then we won’t contact you.
21. I submitted a Censeo assessment by the deadline but haven’t heard back, what should I do?
Censeo usually receives a very high volume of Pocket assessments, typically in the hundreds. They often have to contact you to see if you can increase your deposit if you are nearly there, or to clarify aspects of your finances. Bear with Censeo and if the viewing date is within the next 48 hours then give them a call to see where they are up to.
22. How does the buying process actually work?
Create a My Pocket account
Once you have done this we will be in touch once a development which you’re eligible for and can afford is launching for sale. We generally do this 6 months before the development is ready so that you can move in just after the builder has finished it.
Check your e-mails!
When we are ready to start sales, we will e-mail you telling you exactly what to do. Sometimes e-mails go into junk folders so keep an eye on that.
Get your affordability assessment from Censeo
Provided that we have launched the development or there are available homes and you’re eligible to buy we will advise you to get an affordability assessment from Censeo in order to book a viewing and submit an Expression of Interest (EOI). This is a short and simple online form which indicates if your finances are sufficient for the available lenders. Once you’ve passed, we will enable your profile to progress to the next stage of viewing and EOI. We love organised buyers but you can’t obtain a Censeo assessment until you’re eligible to buy and there are available homes but don’t worry, we will e-mail you to tell you what to do.
Be aware that as the mortgage market can change, the affordability assessment is only valid for one development and for one month. If you’ve been assessed by Censeo before, whether for a Pocket home or any other home, you’ll still need to do this again. Once we have received your assessment the salary and deposit fields in your My Pocket account cannot be changed as this would invalidate your assessment.
Once you’ve passed the Censeo assessment you can book a viewing in My Pocket. As our viewings tend to fill very quickly, try and be as flexible as you can with times. We often hold viewings on a different development to where you’d be buying but you’ll get to see a very comparable property, plus we’ll have the brochure and floor plans of course.
Expression of Interest (EOI)
After viewing you’ll have the chance to submit an EOI, which is done by choosing up to 10 homes in order of preference. We suggest that you do select 10 as this will maximise your chances of getting a home! You must do this by the deadline shown in My Pocket otherwise you will miss the boat. Don’t forget to complete the short survey that we are doing in conjunction with Harvard University!
Sadly, we are normally oversubscribed by up to 10 buyers for each home. This means that we have an allocations policy, agreed with the Local Authority, to ensure things are as fair as possible. At this stage everyone will already meet the criteria of living, or living or working in the borough, earning less than £90K and not owning property, so we run a lottery of EOIs to choose the lucky buyers. However, those who need our discounted price the most will have the highest chance of being chosen. We plan to let you know within 10 working days of the EOI deadline.
If you’re allocated a Pocket home, we will upload an Offer Letter in My Pocket which is valid for 5 days. It’ll contain a clear timescale of what should happen when and what you should do next, but in summary it’s about uploading evidence of your eligibility, instructing solicitors and your IMA, plus paying your reservation fee. This is £500 if you’re using Help to Buy, or £1000 if you’re not, and is deducted from what you owe us when you move in.
Once you’ve uploaded evidence of your eligibility, confirmed your solicitor and IMA and paid the reservation fee, we will instruct the solicitors and they will start the legal process of home buying, called ‘conveyancing’. After this point we will keep you updated with how the build is going, but it’s best to ask your solicitor for updates otherwise.
As Pocket homes are an innovative form of affordable housing, the banks and building societies are a little slow to keep up. Therefore we really recommend you use Censeo to help with the mortgage side of things as they know exactly what to do and which lenders are available. Don’t delay submitting your mortgage application as lenders have a quota on each development and you may find your choice is reduced.
Lots will happen leading up to exchange of contracts so we won’t go into too much detail here, but you usually exchange a month from instructing your solicitor. Whilst you won’t have seen your exact home at this point, there shouldn’t be any surprises as you’ll have seen another Pocket home at the viewing, plus the detailed brochure and floorplans. When you exchange you transfer between 5 – 10% of the purchase price to your solicitor and you can’t pull out after this point.
Meet your neighbours at the residents drinks
We will hold an event for everyone to meet each other before you move in so that you’ll know your neighbours from the get-go. Please do come as the more that attend, the better it is!
As soon as the builder finishes your home, the solicitors will set a date for you to get your keys and move in. We’ll show you around your new home and development so that you know how it all works and read the meters. We will also ask you to complete a short survey of your buying experience.
23. I have heard that Pocket apartments are subject to a Section 106 agreement. What is this and how does it affect me?
Section 106 agreements, also known as planning obligations, are agreements between developers and local planning authorities that are negotiated as part of a condition of planning consent. In the case of Pocket homes, the Section 106 agreement means that the home is only available to buy for people who meet specific criteria, e.g. earn below the affordability income threshold set by the Mayor of London (currently £90k), live or work in the borough, don’t already own their own home. These restrictions stay with Pocket homes in perpetuity, meaning Pocket owners are obliged to find a similar buyer when they are ready to sell.
24. What happens when I want to re-sell my Pocket apartment?
You can only sell to people who are in exactly the same position that you were in when you first bought your Pocket home: they have to have a household income less than the affordability threshold (currently £90k); they have to live or work in the Borough and they cannot own any other property. Pocket will be able to guide you through the process when the time comes. You will not be able to sell until you have owned the property for at least one year.
25. Can I sublet my Pocket home?
Only in very specific circumstances which are temporary and unique to you, otherwise it’s a no as Pocket homes are designed for first time buyers to occupy themselves. Contact us and we will send you further information which sets out the process for requesting consent.
26. Do I still have to sell to an eligible person if I have repaid my HomeBuy Direct or Help to Buy equity loan?
Yes! Selling to an eligible person is something that’s in your lease and is separate to whether you have a government equity loan or not, which will have its own terms and conditions.
27. How do you make sure that Pocket homes go to, and stay with, the people for whom they are intended?
Pocket homes can only be purchased by local people who don’t already own their own home. You are not allowed to rent out your Pocket home without permission, and then only for a limited period of time, and Pocket checks annually that the owner is living in their Pocket home. Then, when an owner wants to sell their Pocket home, they have to find a buyer (checked by Pocket) that meets the same eligibility criteria.
28. Do you have any larger homes?
For the moment, the vast majority of Pocket homes are 38m2 one bedroom. We have a very small proportion of two bedroom homes on a few developments, which are reserved for families only. In the future we plan to develop two bedroom homes but this is a while way.
29. Can I snag my home before I move in?
There is an in-depth snagging and de-snagging process between the builder and Pocket before you move in, meaning that you shouldn’t find many faults. However, some inevitably arise and if these are a result of faulty workmanship or materials then the builder will look at these for up to one year after your home was built. If the issue is covered in the agreement between Pocket and the builder they will be prioritised according to urgency and resolved. After your home has been built for a year you will be solely responsible for all repairs although you’ll still be protected against major defects by your building warranty. However, if you find any cosmetic decorative issues in your home then these should be raised within 7 days of moving in, as after this point it’s difficult to determine their cause. If you have a fault with equipment such as your boiler, fridge, oven or hob then these come with their own warranty which you should activate when you move in and any issues are reported direct to the manufacturer.
30. Who runs the block after I’ve moved in?
A Managing Agent will run shared areas and recharge this through the service charge. You also have lots of input through a Resident’s Management Company, called an RMC, which all Pocket owners are a member of. One or two of the owners in a block can even become Directors of the RMC and will feed back your views on how you want your building to be run to the Managing Agent. The Managing Agent also arranges buildings insurance and handles solicitors enquiries if you sell your Pocket home.
31. Can I contact you?
Of course! We receive many e-mails and phone calls and have to prioritise people buying a home from us already, so please do read all of these FAQ before dropping us a line as you may find your question is already answered here. If you have a simple question you can tweet us @pocket_living, if your question is about buying a home e-mail email@example.com or if you’ve already bought it’s firstname.lastname@example.org and we will come back to you as soon as we can.