Demand for shared ownership is growing – time for housing associations to step up

The Federation’s new shared ownership campaign provides the perfect platform for the housing sector to galvanise behind a strong message and deliver more shared ownership homes.

Boris Worrall, Chief Executive, Rooftop Housing Group

Boris Worrall, Chief Executive, Rooftop Housing Group

7 June 2019

History is written by the victorious. So it’s no surprise that David Cameron’s time at the top is already defined by austerity and his fateful decision to call and lose a referendum.

But his Government does leave housing an important legacy. The decision to go big in backing shared ownership with £4bn is providing to be a genuine game changer in policy terms.

According to new research by Savills a record 13,400 new shared ownership homes were completed last year. The past three-year average is 10,000, compared to 7,700 in the previous three years.

And the demise of Help to Buy in 2023 is predicted by Savills to complete the transformation of shared ownership as a mainstream tenure of choice, with demand projected to increase by another 15,000 homes a year.

A key driver of the dramatic switch of funding to shared ownership (later moderated when it began to threaten delivery of much-needed rented homes) was in stimulating the scale required to attract investment and create a genuinely market-led product in the long term. Rightly or wrongly, that is coming to pass with the arrival of private investors such as Heylo. Meanwhile, mortgage availability is increasing and the resale market growing.

So what does an expanding consumer base and increased private sector competition mean for housing associations? Shared ownership is a great product. And demand is strong and growing. But it’s not without challenges.

The Federation’s new campaign, in looking to cement a clear narrative around shared ownership, couldn’t be better timed. It looks to tackle the confusion that exists among the public around shared ownership, address the customer journey, and create a strong brand and narrative for the sector to help propel this great product to the forefront of people’s thinking when considering buying a home.

And with the right preparation, this will be a message that all housing associations providing shared ownership can use to deliver it to the public.

Experience and capability will be key in achieving this. Expanding shared ownership programmes will require housing associations to ensure we have the organisational skills and capacity to deliver a quality product, and ‘sell’ and manage the risks associated with market exposure. Boards will also of course need to evolve to reflect the skills and experience required by organisations engaging in the market.

And less experienced associations considering getting into the game or expanding their programme can seek to learn from their peers and build up a track record over time, rather than jumping in head first.

The new shared ownership brand was launched this week at the Federation’s Affordable Home Ownership Conference, and if enough of us sign up, this campaign could have an enormous impact. As members of the campaign steering group, we're delighted at Rooftop Housing to be supporting this important piece of work.

Demand for shared ownership is growing and will continue to do so. The rest is up to us.

Find out how to sign up to the campaign

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