Zoe Bonnington, our Assistant Director of New Business, Sales and Marketing, answers some common misconceptions about this home buying assistance scheme.
The name ‘Shared Ownership’, for some, has negative connotations. But why? Although Shared Ownership has been around for decades, it is only in recent years that we have seen the number of people using this home-buying assistance scheme steadily increase. And, since we find ourselves in an increasingly competitive and challenging market, driving people to look for other ways to get on the housing ladder, it surprisingly still has a stigma attached to it that other housing schemes such as the Help to Buy Equity Loan don’t.
There are certain misconceptions that seem to regularly come up:
1. Only Key Workers or First Time Buyers are eligible for shared ownership
The criteria changed several years ago and now anyone, regardless of age, can apply for the scheme as long as they meet the eligibility criteria and their household income is less than £80,000 or £90,000 in London. Many more people are now using Shared Ownership later in life. For example, someone who is returning to the housing market after a period of renting, or following a divorce.
2. Shared Ownership homes are poor quality in downtrodden areas
Shared Ownership homes are often in sought-after new developments built to high specifications.
3. It’s just the same as the Help to Buy Equity Loan
The schemes are different. Shared Ownership enables purchasers to buy however much of the property they can afford, starting from 25% ranging up to 75% with the initial purchase. Further shares can be bought over time, meaning that as a person’s finances or lifestyle changes, they can own a bigger stake in their home, thereby reducing the amount of rent to be paid. It’s a great alternative to privately renting or buying outright.
So why have some people viewed Shared Ownership as the poor man’s option, with homes set among social housing, akin to government benefits? Even our own residents at Radian are familiar with the stigma attached to it.
One customer recently commented: “Shared Ownership might not be for everyone, some people may scoff at the idea, but for me and my family it has meant we now have a home we can call our own. We currently own a 40% share and in time I hope to buy more shares from Radian.”
There are so many positives to Shared Ownership that the scheme should be viewed as an opportunity. Radian, along with other housing associations, have been working hard to change this perception. But how are we doing this?
One way we are reaching people who could benefit from the scheme is through our Help to Buy events. As the Help to Buy agent for the South of England, we are actively helping to spread the word to aspiring homeowners about how the different schemes could help them get on the housing ladder.
The lack of understanding could be holding many people back from owning their own home and we’d like to help change that. That’s why we are looking to deliver more Shared Ownership homes than ever before, with over 200 new properties planned over the next year – a 140 per cent increase on the volume of Shared Ownership homes delivered last year.
Of course, we’d like to be helping many more people realise their dream of owning their own home, particularly with over 27,000 people registered with us for Help to Buy options, but with constraints on land that’s a subject for another blog!
Shared ownership home at Radian's Riverdown Park development in Salisbury