Half of shared ownership customers don’t know they can move between properties

Michael Lloyd

September 19, 2018

People who have bought shared ownership homes don’t understand their long-term options, a YouGov report has found.

The report, which was commissioned by housing association Aster, shows that shared ownership buyers across the country aren’t aware of the scheme’s flexibility.

Only one in five understand how they might sell their shared ownership home and buy another and more than half weren’t aware that this was even an option.

Amy Nettleton, assistant director – sales and marketing at Aster, said: “Shared ownership can be a great option and it’s clear from the data that customers value it as an alternative to renting or buying through a traditional mortgage.

“Thankfully developers and housing associations are working to put more of these homes on the market, and an increasing number of mortgage providers offer tailored products for shared ownership buyers.

“However, some of these stats highlight the ongoing fear about shared ownership – that it’s rigid and homes are complex to sell.”

Nettleton added: “It’s this view that makes people think that shared ownership should only be considered once all other options have been exhausted. In reality, it’s one of the most flexible housing options there is as it’s designed to suit each individual buyer’s financial situation.

“For example, you don’t have to staircase if you don’t want to but the process shouldn’t be daunting and selling your shared ownership home has never been easier.

“The report is a wake-up call for the sector and the government. We need to be making sure that every customer understands exactly how shared ownership can meet their needs and what their options for the future are.”

Shared ownership is a type of affordable housing offered by councils and housing associations which sees customers buy a portion of a home, with the rest retained by the organisation providing the scheme.

It’s designed to be flexible and allows people to get on to the ladder by lowering the deposit. For example, if you were buying a 50% share of a house, your deposit would be 50% of what you would have paid at full price.

While 73% had heard of and understood staircasing, the process by which a customer can increase the amount of the home they own, only one in 10 had successfully done so.

When asked what would help, 40% of this group said lower or no stamp duty on the higher ownership thresholds, 25% said a simpler mortgage application and 25% said a better understanding of how staircasing works.

Just 14% of people in shared ownership schemes had received information about the asset class from the government, suggesting more could be done to promote it and how it works.

Despite the lack of clarity, many were supportive of the scheme. Over half (59%) want more of these types of homes in their local area and 70% want to see the government agree new annual build targets for it.

Nearly two thirds (62%) of people who have bought through a shared ownership scheme would recommend it to friends or family.

Aster thought such widespread lack of understanding of shared ownership’s flexibility needs to be addressed to ensure people recognise it as a potential option for them.

It says that housing associations and government need to do more to update customers on ongoing improvements to shared ownership.

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