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Housing providers need to recognise the benefits of offering shared ownership properties

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This month the National Housing Federation launched shared ownership week to challenge customer perception and raise the profile of this accessible route into homeownership. But as interest in shared ownership schemes grows, who will meet the increasing customer demand?

Housing associations have had their income plunged into uncertainty in the wake of welfare reform and diversification could be the way to secure our futures. The challenging economy presents an opportunity for housing providers to become shared ownership market leaders. Although a far cry from traditional social housing, shared ownership is an affordable homeownership option and investing in the development of future schemes holds the potential for significant commercial growth.

At L&H Homes our focus is on customer choice as we recognise that people from all walks of life aspire to own their own home. Shared ownership is a housing product available to tenants of housing associations and local authorities, Ministry of Defence personnel, families undergoing changes in circumstances, as well as first-time buyers. By making shared ownership available as an alternative housing option to those wanting to get onto the property ladder, we increase our customer base, strengthen our position within the housing sector and contribute to the prosperity of our local communities.

There is reticence among some housing associations and a reluctance to invest in a different product which may bring an element of risk; but the time has come to be bold. As a sector, we are taking steps to dispel the consumer mythology that surrounds shared ownership and now, as housing providers, we must recognise shared ownership for the practical business solution it presents.

Sharon Leivers is director of leasehold and sales at L&H Homes

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