Shared Ownership a Misunderstood, Underexplored Concept
On the surface, shared ownership doesn’t come across as the most appealing option for first-time buyers. The reason being that as far as most newcomers to the housing market are concerned, the whole point of ownership is exactly that – sole ownership of the property. Which would seem to be the general consensus shared by most members of the public, given the steep decline in the number of shared ownership transactions across the UK over the past year.
In fact, research has shown that across London, the Home Counties, North East, South East, Wales, West Midlands and Yorkshire, the total number of shared ownership transactions over the past 12-month period has well and truly plummeted. On the whole, shared ownership accounts for no more than about 1% of all recorded property transactions across England and Wales. Which, as far as many experts are concerned, represents a problem that needs to be addressed.
Unsurprisingly, around 80% of those with no interest in shared ownership stated that their reason for shunning the idea was their desire to own their property outright. By contrast, only 11% stated that they had any interest in the idea whatsoever. But what concerned experts and authorities alike was the fact that around 30% of people apparently have no idea what shared ownership is. And among those who do, there’s widespread confusion and misinformation as to the potential benefits of shared ownership programs.
“Last February the government pledged to fix Britain’s broken housing market, and yet one of the schemes designed to encourage home ownership is falling in popularity,” commented Doug Crawford, CEO of My Home Move.
“Our research highlights just how small transactional volumes for shared ownership are, raising questions as to whether the scheme needs to change its image to attract new home buyers,”
“It’s our belief that home buyers, despite the lack of housing stack, are turned off by phrases like ‘affordable housing’, which is often used to describe ‘shared ownership’,”
“Yes, they want to be able to afford their home, but they want to buy a dream. The idea of buying a home that has been built to fulfil a quota, or is being sold through a housing association and so has the negative connotations of social housing attached to it, is just too much for some.”
Crawford went on to suggest that the way shared ownership is branded could in its own right be contributing to the issue. Rather than focusing on the potential benefits of the scheme, the simple notion of ‘sharing’ a property could be what’s putting many buyers off the idea, without first taking the time to find out what it really means.
“Perhaps we need to ‘rebrand’ the image of shared ownership, to bring it in line with initiatives like the government’s Help to Buy, to make it more attractive to first time-buyers,” he said.
“Shared ownership can offer those trapped as ‘generation renters’ a real possibility of getting onto the property ladder.”
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