Why Housing Associations should be more commercial in their approach to marketing Shared Ownership properties.
Resilient market conditions and demand are continuing to defy the challenges of political uncertainty in the marketplace. Housing forecasts are predicting a bright future if we can navigate through the final Brexit hurdle and all fingers are pointing towards Shared Ownership playing a much larger role in helping people step onto the housing ladder.
Industry experts are voicing the hole that will be left after Help to Buy Equity Loan departs in 2023 and how Shared Ownership could well be the answer to fill the void.
Shared Ownership is a simple route to home ownership, and yet an underlying stigma associated to the idea of buying an affordable product still puts off buyers.
Or does it?
Has the sector caught itself up in this perception, believing this is the primary reason why people don’t or won’t buy through Shared Ownership? Possibly. Many great awareness initiatives are in the pipeline, or have been delivered, aimed at helping break myths and negative connotations around the thought of buying a new home through a housing association.
But while this is all good, our approach to marketing Shared Ownership homes should be no different to any other tenure, sector or industry. Focusing too much on ‘reducing the stigma’ ultimately only really serves to increase the stigma.
We should take a moment to revert back to basics and the fundamentals of bringing product to market; focus on core routes to market and use data driven analysis to drive better marketing decisions.
Take the private sector and the second-hand market; buyers flock to leading property portals safe in the knowledge that any home on the market will be there. The commercial property portal giants dominate property advertisement, yet the full back catalogue of Shared Ownership homes are not typically listed.
Why? Mainly because of being priced out, with budgets that don’t stretch to those of larger developers. Should there be consideration to this or even a form of funding support to allow all Shared Ownership product to reach its target audience more effectively?
Should portals be taking a more moral pricing stance to allow HA’s to bring desperately needed homes to a hungry audience? Quite possibly.
But ultimately let’s not complicate how we market our new homes. Adopt mainstream advertising channels, focus on return on investment and manage those new buyer enquiries more effectively.
Applying a more commercial approach in how we market our product doesn’t mean we lose our social focus. Instead, it improves our ability to achieve and deliver our social goals.
Let’s become analytical and more data driven in our decision making, provide the support and focus needed to get more buyers into Shared Ownership homes and provide a customer experience any new home buyer would expect.
We must move away from a process driven buying experience and instead be more human in our approach to all sales and marketing content.
Embrace the emotion and excitement our customers are feeling at every step regardless of what product they’re purchasing.
– Stuart Hensby, Head of Sales and Marketing