Self Invested: SO, financial literacy & personal development

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I first met Lemuel, founder of YouTube platform Self Invested, when he interviewed me about Shared Ownership Resources in March 2021. We got together again recently to discuss how his passion for financial literacy and personal development led to an interest in affordable housing.

How did your YouTube platform Self Invested‘ come about?

I’d been thinking about some kind of side hustle on top of my main job. We’re a one income family; my partner looks after our two year old, and we’ve got another child on the way, so I wanted to earn some extra cash. I was always discussing investments and pensions with friends and family, and I had a Eureka moment when I realised I could earn money talking about personal development and financial literacy on YouTube.

What got you interested in Help to Buy and shared ownership schemes?

My first videos were on ISAs and personal pensions. Then I posted a Beginner’s Guide to to Mortgages for First-time Buyers and it really took off. I realised my audience were interested in housing, so I decided to delve in a bit deeper. Investing in a home is the biggest financial transaction most people will ever make. It’s a hot topic right now. My eighth video in August 202o was on shared ownership. Initially I thought it couldn’t be as bad as some people thought. It wasn’t until I went into the details I realised more of the pitfalls.

Who is your audience, particularly when it comes to shared ownership? And what do you offer your audience that’s unique to the Self Invested platform?

Self Invested is essentially a self-help channel, and I offer a critical but balanced perspective on the issues first-time buyers need to think about. I put shared ownership into context, and I run the numbers using practical examples and real-life scenarios.

My audience are mainly first-time buyers. The majority are in the 18-45 age bracket. A lot of them are in the early stages of their careers, and they don’t want to make a mistake when it comes to buying a home. They’ve got a thirst for knowledge and they don’t always find official platforms helpful; the content can be very superficial. Also, it can be difficult for some people to make sense of written information. Video makes the subject more accessible.

Has anything you’ve learnt about shared ownership surprised you?

I think the shared ownership model is a bit confused. It’s supposed to get people into home ownership but charging 100% of costs detracts from the spirit of affordable housing. Why subsidise the rent if you’re going to charge 100% of costs?

Shared ownership is considered a form of affordable housing, so you would expect the monthly costs (mortgage and rent) to be cheaper than HTB. However, all things being equal (ownership share and full price for example), HTB works out to be the cheaper option – even though it is not the one classed as ‘affordable housing’, and is a scheme that has mainly benefited the developers…

There’s – arguably – a lot of inaccurate and misleading information floating about on social media, including YouTube. What advice would you give to people researching shared ownership online?

Even official platforms can contain inaccurate information! I make it clear I’m not an expert or a financial advisor. I’m just a regular guy that enjoys learning about how we can do better with money and sharing what I learn along the way. Self Invested provides education not advice, and viewers have a responsibility to check anything they learn on social media. But I always include links to my sources in the description of my videos, so viewers can check the details for themselves.

I learn from my own audience, and I’d advise everyone to read through the comments as well as watching the videos. Other than that, viewers should check facts and information with professional agencies such as Help to Buy agents, and services including Money Advice Service web chat. I’d always advise everyone to get everything in writing, even from solicitors, in case of disputes down the line.

Can you tell us anything about your own home?

My home isn’t shared ownership, but it is leasehold. I had to extend my own lease, so I’ve got a good understanding of that process. I’ve got skin in the game.

Assuming you met the criteria, would you ever buy a shared ownership home?

It wouldn’t be my first choice. I wouldn’t ever do it if there was an opportunity to buy outright, even if that meant moving further from where I wanted to be. Having said that, it’s important to choose a good location, and to think about how easy it would be to sell the property on. The vast majority of shared owners don’t staircase, so if that’s your intention it’s essential to work out how you’ll be able to afford it. It’s also essential to check lease terms, including the length. Personally, I’d avoid properties with lifts, concierges and the like as they may result in expensive service charges in the future even if not immediately. Having said that, shared ownership can work for some people if they’ve done their homework and budgeted for unavoidable future costs; especially if there isn’t a good alternative to private renting.

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