Changing the narrative around shared ownership

Shared ownership is a not a new concept and for me, it’s a bit disappointing that we still talk about the scheme as if it is a brand-new offering for aspiring homeowners.

Holding house keys in hand

The truth is, we’re in the midst of a housing crisis, and being able to get onto the property ladder is harder than ever before.

So, while shared ownership has always been an option for many of us during our lifetime, it’s only now that more people are aware how exactly it works and who the scheme is designed for.

I have no doubt that shared ownership has a role to play in helping everyone have the opportunity to have a place that they can call home, particularly in parts of the country where the shortage of affordable homes for sale is particularly acute.

However, before this becomes truly possible, there is still a lot for housing providers to do in terms of raising awareness and explaining how beneficial the scheme is.

At Stonewater, we have been working tirelessly to do exactly this, and we recently published our own podcast featuring my colleagues from the Stonewater Homes team, answering the most-asked questions and challenging misconceptions about shared ownership.

This includes the notion that shared ownership means having to share their home with another person, only being allowed to staircase a set number of times, and the idea that you’ll be paying extortionate fees on top of your mortgage and rent.

Our work to dispel the misconceptions is necessary if we are going to reach those the scheme benefits most and change conversations around shared ownership to be more positive. For me, sharing our customer stories is one great way to do this.

Learning from real people about their experience gives others an insight of what to expect and what exactly is required when going through the process.

We’re very fortunate at Stonewater to hear about our customers’ experiences of shared ownership, either face to face or via our social media channels.

So much so that one customer, Susie Palmer, was happy to have her story featured on our website and even take part in our podcast about shared ownership, after sharing how happy she has been with her new her shared ownership home online.

Of course, this isn’t something we can completely change alone, and so I was pleased to see the National Housing Federation (NHF) announce its own campaign for 2020 about shared ownership, with a focus on making the scheme more mainstream – not to be seen as a last resort.

In fact, to hear the NHF’s chief executive, Kate Henderson, share her own experience about the scheme is exactly the advocacy housing providers need to demonstrate. By doing so, the true value of alternative home-buying schemes can be communicated – especially to those unable to meet the high deposit requirements to buy their own home on the open market.

There are already more than 200,000 shared ownership households across the country; and as more people, not just first-time buyers, realise that the opportunities presented by purchasing a home through shared ownership are greater than initially thought, many of the day-to-day concerns about never being in a position to own a home will crumble.