Not a day goes by without new data or a survey from the housing industry being released. I’m sure we are all eagerly flicking through these articles to see what the future might hold. Frankly, the uncertainty is exhausting.
That’s why I am taking solace in the strength shared ownership is showing, despite these uncertain times, demonstrating that it is a great product for customers and investors alike.
At Metropolitan Thames Valley, we have a proud track record of delivering shared ownership homes. With over 8,500 of them across the country, our SO Resi homes offer an affordable route to home ownership for thousands of people. In the past year, we’ve built a further 507 homes for shared ownership (50% of all new homes we completed in 2019-20), sold 600 more and helped 820 households secure a new home.
What has been really positive to see throughout the lockdown is customers’ continuing appetite for shared ownership purchases. In April, at the height of lockdown, we received 53 shared ownership reservations. We also continue to see excellent levels of interest in our new schemes, several of which have been launched in recent weeks, with our teams facilitating more than 1,000 virtual viewings and responding to 3,000 enquiries.
Giving people an affordable route to home ownership has never been more important
Lenders are also backing shared ownership, with the vast majority continuing to offer mortgages and valuations remaining consistent.
Giving people an affordable route to home ownership has never been more important. We know incomes have taken a hit due to the pandemic, and the economic challenges ahead mean that saving up large deposits for a first home will be even harder and more daunting than ever before.
A shared ownership home gives people a clear route to owning their home without needing to part with their life savings or rely on the bank of mum and dad. It also offers a secure future for those ready to move out of the private rented sector and seeking more security to help start a family or to put down roots.
As the G15’s recent response to the government’s First Homes consultation demonstrated, shared ownership is not only a well-established product that helps more people realise their dream of home ownership, it is also more affordable than simply discounting market-sale homes. Importantly, it also provides a valuable source of cross-subsidy that is reinvested to deliver more affordable homes.
We are committed to building more affordable homes, many of which will be for the people who have done so much to get us through this crisis. Shared ownership homes are ideal to give these heroes a secure and affordable home that, sadly, many do not currently enjoy.
Our SO Resi Plus model allows customers to buy new shares of as little as 1% in their home, showing that ‘staircasing’ can be made even more accessible and the process simplified. Importantly, shared ownership homes for resale are also popular and a valued affordable housing offer that must be preserved by continuing to ensure housing associations can match resale homes to new customers.
The recent growth in interest in shared ownership from both private equity and institutional investors is testimony to the growth potential of this product. With a renewed communications drive to share the benefits with potential customers, and a commitment to provide more affordable homes for the heroes who supported us through the pandemic, shared ownership has a huge role to play in uncertain times.
Geeta Nanda is chief executive of Metropolitan Thames Valley