Amy Nettleton, answers the critics of Shared Ownership following last month’s Autumn Statement
Shared ownership was placed centre stage after last month’s Autumn Statement with an early Christmas present of £4 billion to housing providers for the creation of 135,000 affordable homes. But many are still viewing this tenure as a negative offering for the underserved first-time buyer market.
I’m here to answer those critics.
With any major policy announcement there are opinions on both sides of the fence. Some of the comments I’ve read have claimed “shared ownership is exploiting the UK housing crisis rather than tackling it” and that “you’ll need a dual income for 25% of a property compared to when a single income was able to buy a whole home”. Then there are concerns surrounding service charges, third party managing agents, rents and the lease.
While there are terms and conditions around service charges and leases, which due to the split of ownership can be very detailed, prudent homebuyers will seek professional guidance from their solicitor as they would for any other property purchase. Indeed there are many examples of ‘standard’ property purchase that include a lot of complexity around leases, historic rights of way and boundary queries. It’s all part and parcel of buying a house.
And, while it is true that in decades past a single income would have been enough to purchase 100% of a property whereas in some cases a dual income is now required to purchase a share of a home, it is futile to look backwards at what once existed. The market has changed and we must adapt and work together to consider a range of solutions that means that those who want to buy their home are not excluded from doing so.
In reality most of the concerns around shared ownership stem from a lack of understanding. The housing sector, our representative bodies, the government and the media all need to do more to do more to improve this - and the time to do this has never been better.
CIH and Orbit Group have done some fantastic work to raise the profile of the tenure, and had huge success in the Autumn Statement, including £4 billion funding for the product, relaxation of the eligibility criteria and local nominations, and further lender engagement. The National Housing Group is committed to working with providers and partners to raise the profile of shared ownership; making it accessible and easy to understand for everyone.
But ultimately we must all take responsibility to do more. It really should be an option that every prospective homeowner knows, understands and looks into with as much open mindedness as the standard purchase.
Shared ownership is a customer-led product, which goes some way to meet the aspirations of people wanting to own their own home. It is a market tenure that has been around for 30 years, has survived every re-brand that the HomeBuy umbrella has thrown at it and, crucially, lenders are committed to the product. The appetite of lenders will only increase as the volume of homes increases.
The fact is, many people in the UK aspire to own their own homes but property is expensive and a sizeable deposit is required.
Shared ownership makes home ownership achievable for the majority instead of the minority; it provides people with a platform into owning outright which does not exist elsewhere.
While it alone will not solve the housing crisis; it is playing – and will continue to play - a very important part.