It’s time for shared ownership to take centre stage

When the National Housing Federation started to open a fresh discussion about shared ownership not only was I there with bells on, but also hopeful that this would get the breakthrough we needed.

Amy Nettleton is Assistant Director of Development, Sales and Marketing at Aster Group

Amy Nettleton is Assistant Director of Development, Sales and Marketing at Aster Group

11 April 2018

As much as we care to admit or deny the population of the UK want to own their own homes, we have to provide a viable route for them to do this, and it has to be a simple part of the offering when anyone comes to move home.

Shared ownership has continued for years to be the ‘add on’ product when policy makers and governments (of any colour) pledge their commitment to those who want to and can buy their own home but can’t afford it. Its younger cousin Help to Buy always seems to get centre stage with the pretty logos, money and prime spots in all the media coverage, and then for those that haven’t lost the will to live, shared ownership appears somewhere languishing on page 42 in the sub text.

This is changing though – we have had some amazing progress with the product, including how we as a sector approach it, and our commitment to lending, which let’s face it is key – but we need more.  

The work that the National Housing Group do in collecting data and assisting policy and lending decisions is vital, as is the continued platform with weekly forums such as shared ownership chat hour where we can showcase shared ownership as part of the solution to the housing crisis, along with the amazing work that Savills, the Chartered Institute for Housing, and Orbit Group have done and continue to do with research and charters.

The work the National Housing Federation has embarked on with members and the sector could not be more timely or important. For years we have accepted the following about shared ownership:

  • people don’t know what it is
  • people don’t know where to find it
  • people don’t think it’s for them.

How wrong those perceptions are. If you have a household income of less than £80,000 outside of London and less than £90,000 inside of London, it is for you. If you’re serving in the military it is for you. If you have suffered a relationship breakdown it is for you. If you are a first-time buyer it is for you. If you need to downsize it is for you. I could go on.

The average age of a shared owner is 38, with the average income circa £36,000. We are seeing the demographics of a ‘typical’ shared owner change. It is one of the ways that people can be sure of a secure place to call home at whatever point in their life.

The secondary market is strong with the average shared owner staircasing out at 4.2 years with an average share of 42%. This shows that it performs in the same way as the open market. The levels of repossessions and arrears are also directly comparable to the first-time buyer market. Why else would we have 24 lenders on board? That’s not the sign of a market that is nervous about a product.

It’s now time to start a new chapter for shared ownership. The housing association sector is committed to building and providing homes for shared ownership for the thousands of people who want to own their own home. But this isn’t instead of providing homes for rent. Let’s get together as a sector and be proud that we can and we do offer something for everyone – it doesn’t have to be one person’s life we change over someone else’s.

30-odd years is a long time to sit on the sidelines as a reliable buddy – it’s time for shared ownership to be given the understanding and airtime it deserves. Find out more.

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