Shared ownership – on paper this sounds like a good idea, but for some reason it’s not working, and I’ve been trying to figure out why.
Our latest research has shown that despite aspiring first-time buyers wanting to get on the property ladder within the next two years, 80% would rather avoid buying through shared ownership and 30% admit to not fully understanding what shared ownership is. And when you look to industry figures, they show that shared ownership accounts for less than 1% of housing stock across England and Wales.
And do you know what; I reckon it has more to do with brand, image and identity than deposit sizes, mortgage repayments and issues surrounding leasehold homes. On the whole shared ownership properties are built by developers to meet government quotas and sold through housing associations. Thought of as social housing due to their key worker roots and housing association landlords, they carry a stigma which many first-time buyers are put off by.
How often have you heard people ask – “which end of the development will the social housing be?” and “how many affordable houses are they planning to build on this development and where will they be situated?” Sadly, too often and not for the right reasons.
To get round this problem and encourage demand among first-time buyers, who, let’s be honest want to buy their first taste of freedom and are aiming high, I think shared ownership needs a rebrand and new marketing strategy. We need to distance these homes from the social housing/affordable housing tag which dogs them and position them as an attainable aspiration for first-time buyers – the starter home which offers flexibility, freedom and security for generation rent who desire to be generation buy.
In my humble opinion, the government succeeded with Help to Buy – their backing has broadened the schemes appeal beyond the label of affordable housing; meaning that nearly 100,000 first-time buyers have utilised the HTB Equity Loan scheme since its launch in 2013. As such, I reckon if Alok Sharma really wants to show his and the government’s support for the home buyer, he might want to consider throwing his weight behind shared ownership to give it the stamp of authority it needs.
So if anyone has a good suggestion to kick-start the rebrand, including a new name for shared ownership, join our conversation and comment below!