First time buyers could use shared ownership to bridge deposit gap - Housing associations say extending scheme could help more to step onto property ladder
Housing associations are keen to break down barriers – real or perceived – to the use of shared ownership and help more first time buyers into homes.
The affordable housing providers want to see shared ownership become a more mainstream choice for greater numbers of purchasers, especially for those who may struggle to raise a large enough deposit for other types of tenure.
This was among the findings of a YouGov study commissioned by Leeds Building Society as part of research into future needs of this sector as it reached its 40th anniversary.
Shared ownership enables people to purchase up to 75% of a property initially, reducing the size of the deposit needed. They pay rent to a landlord, usually a housing association, on the remaining share and can choose to purchase further shares later should they wish.
As a leading shared ownership lender, the Society has been seeking views on how to refresh the successful affordable housing scheme for a new generation of homeowners.
Housing associations said shared ownership’s main benefits are:
- Bringing down the size of deposit a buyer needs
- Encouraging greater diversity in communities
- Supporting regeneration by bringing more professionals and key workers into neighbourhoods
- Allowing more people to get on the property ladder
However, they said the main barriers to being able to support more home buyers are:
- A lack of consumer knowledge or understanding of shared ownership and how it works
- A lack of suitable land in locations close to amenities and good transport links
- A need to ensure there are a variety of deals to suit the different product needs of customers
“This YouGov research highlights the benefits of shared ownership to help many more buyers to have the home they want,” said Andy Moody, Leeds Building Society’s Chief Commercial Officer.
“We’d been looking into industry data and asking consumers for feedback, on their experiences as users, or their impressions and understanding of how the scheme could work for them.
“We found a wide difference in understanding across different age groups and during our research realised now was a good time to speak to housing associations for their views on how shared ownership is working, so commissioned the YouGov study.”
Ella Cheney, Shared Ownership Programme Manager at the National Housing Federation, said: "Shared ownership is a really great option that could help get tens of thousands of people onto the property ladder.
“But the main issue is that many people just don't know enough about it. This is why housing associations are committed to raising its profile, showing what shared ownership is and helping to tackle some of the myths that surround it."
Andy continued: “When first time buyers repeatedly cite raising a large enough deposit as the main obstacle stopping them from buying a home, it’s surprising more don’t consider shared ownership.
“Coronavirus has shown us how much we value our key workers, but some people still think shared ownership is only for public sector workers living in London and the South East.
“The truth is it is helping purchasers from a variety of backgrounds secure homes across the UK in locations they may not previously have been able to consider.”
Leeds Building Society has won the title of Best Shared Ownership Mortgage Lender at the 2020 What Mortgage Awards for the fifth consecutive year.
Key housing association views from the YouGov study:
- Shared ownership is seen as a valuable and unique offer by housing associations, which can help more people get onto the property ladder
- Building mixed tenure developments where properties look consistent and have the same kerb appeal as other homes in the development is seen as important
- Tenants benefit from the stability of owning a stake in the property – they are able to stay long-term and often feel a sense of pride in their communities
- The scheme is underutilised – low awareness and misconceptions mean many suitable buyers remain in private rented accommodation; better signposting to the scheme is key
- Some said they would like to see greater quotas for affordable housing in developments; however many housing associations said they prefer to buy and develop land themselves
- Customer care is essential throughout; including proper affordability checks to ensure shared ownership is a viable option long-term
- Communication is key throughout the process, so tenants know their rights and responsibilities from the start, and the risk of frustrations down the line is reduced
Notes to editors
Leeds Building Society has won the title of Best Shared Ownership Mortgage Lender in the 2020 What Mortgage Awards, its fifth consecutive year of success in this category. It also was named Best Lender for Later Life Lending in the Legal & General Mortgage Club Awards 2019.
The Society operates throughout the UK and had assets of £20.8bn at 31 December 2019 (£19.4bn at 31 December 2018). The UK’s fifth-largest building society has its head office in the centre of Leeds, where it has been based since 1886.
 Qualitative research comprising 8 x 45-60 min depth interviews with senior staff in 8 housing associations across England was conducted by YouGov on behalf of Leeds Building Society.