Shared Ownership Week 2013 is our time to celebrate all things shared ownership. It’s time for this popular, successful and much-loved product to take centre-stage.
At Moat we’ll be making lots of noise across the South East, raising awareness of shared ownership and shouting from the rooftops about its value. Moat, after all, was one of the first providers of shared ownership in the country and our portfolio of around 4,500 shared ownership homes remains one of the largest.
Recently, we’ve been discussing shared ownership quite a bit. There’s no question about its success – it has helped nearly 200,000 households to get a foot on the property ladder since its creation over 30 years ago. The question is, in a changing housing world, can it continue to enjoy the same success without a bit of a shake up?
But why change something that’s working so well? It’s a tried and tested product that has stood the test of time. Personally, I don’t think it needs to change at all – as they say, if it ain’t broke …
Its ability to provide homes for people on low to middle incomes continues to add social and economic value to the creation of mixed tenure developments. Over the years our customer group has broadened – we are as likely to help a young graduate on a professional career path as we are to help someone who works in the local supermarket or train station. And the product specification is fabulous; more like that of a private developer and, in some cases, better!
If I had to pick the most important aspect of shared ownership, it would be its affordability; shares on offer from as low as 25% and also its low mortgage deposit requirements, compared to buying a property outright.
Admittedly, it’s a relatively ‘old’ 30-something and the oldest product in the HomeBuy range. But it hasn’t stood still and let the world go by - shared ownership has changed (or rather evolved) over the years. So for example, as recently as 2010, its lease underwent a massive make-over, with some old clauses replaced with new, clearer terms. Its DNA may still be the same but shared ownership has evolved over the past thirty or years or so.
So in essence, we wouldn’t want to change it (bear with me). Not the core part-buy part-rent element, nor its affordability. Why would we? What we’d like is more flexibility. The current product make-up allows people to staircase when they choose to – some do, some don’t. And probably, not enough people do.
By introducing a form of assessment – perhaps linking people’s income to their ability to buy more shares - we could create a method by which those who can afford to buy more shares, actually do so. It becomes less of a choice and more of a condition. It is, after all, in people’s interests to own more of their home – they pay less rent, they have a bigger stake in the property and more of an asset to fall back upon as our population ages.
The income (generated from additional shares purchased) goes straight back into our development programme – to create new homes to help more people get that first foot on the ladder. On these terms, we’d welcome change – more new homes as we go through the biggest housing crisis in a generation can only be a good thing.
Perhaps we should also look at ways to make shared ownership more like the private sector. If you own your home outright, no one stops you from renting it out if you want to. If you’re a shared owner, you’ll need to jump through hoops to get permission to sub-let your home. There are valid reasons for this, but it’s a key difference between owning your home outright and being a shared owner.
Whatever its future holds, shared ownership deserves our love and attention – that means promoting it in its current form and also embracing its evolution to help future generations of first time buyers.
Director of Sales and Marketing