Housing association Aster Group has revealed that it plans to build 2,800 new shared ownership homes over the next five years – boosting its shared ownership portfolio to over 5,000 by 2024.

The announcement, made during Shared Ownership Week 2019 (19th-25th September), reflects the rising popularity of the product. Aster is building homes across the south of England with demand for shared ownership properties nationally expected to increase by 150 per cent by 2023, according to Savills.

Aster, which offers homes across a range of tenures, built 453 shared ownership properties in the year to the end of March 2019 – its highest single-year total for homes of this tenure.

Exclusive research by Aster for its Another Way report has revealed that six in 10 shared ownership customers (62 per cent) would recommend the product to friends and family.

Amy Nettleton, assistant development director – sales and marketing at Aster Group, said: “First-time buyers face huge challenges when it comes to taking that first step onto the property ladder. I have always been a passionate advocate of a tenure that provides high-quality, affordable and secure housing to people in every corner of the country and we know that shared ownership is a viable solution to the UK’s housing crisis.

“This is why we’ve committed to shared ownership continuing to be a key part of our strategy and development pipeline. The next step is the industry working together to ensure more people are aware of the benefits this type of tenure can offer. With a minimum deposit of 5 per cent this product is suitable for anyone looking to buy a home, whether that is their first or fifth step onto the property ladder.”

A lack of education – among both the general public and shared ownership home owners – was identified by Aster as a key challenge facing the sector in Another Way. It found that 60 per cent of those surveyed did not know they could move from their existing shared ownership property to another one, and while 73 per cent understood the concept of staircasing – the process of gradually growing an equity stake in the property – only one in 10 had attempted it.

Amy added: “We currently have more than 2,500 shared ownership properties in our portfolio and we will continue to place a strong focus on this type of tenure. But if shared ownership is to reach its potential then more needs to done to bring people on this journey with us. Communication is key and we must work together to build the shared ownership brand, simplifying the language we use when talking about the product. Only in doing so will we be able to dispel some of the myths that surround this type of tenure and really demonstrate the opportunities it can provide.

Jules Delamare, a medical secretary from Surrey, realised her goal of owning her own home with her partner James through Aster Group’s shared ownership scheme in May 2019. Based on a 40 per cent share and a 15% deposit of £22,500, with shared ownership, it meant the couple could buy their home at The Maltings – a collection of homes set in the Surrey village of West End – for just £150,000 (based on £375,000 full market value).

The couple found that with shared ownership the monthly costs when combining their mortgage and rent wasn’t hugely different to renting in the private market – but they had the added security of being homeowners. Jules said: “I don’t think we could have gone into home ownership any other way really, it’s given us the option we needed to buy our own home.

“I don't feel stigmatised having used shared ownership to get on to the property ladder. These days it's virtually impossible for regular people to buy their own place and I feel everyone deserves the right to own or part own their home.”