Driving Change.

Promoting Excellence.

Getting ready for ‘new shared ownership’

by

Helen Reddington

People say the pandemic seems to have made time speed up and that is true when I think back to our first glimpse of ‘new’ shared ownership in September 2020, with the Government’s publication of the proposed features of the model. It feels like yesterday that we were all pondering what this meant for our customers and organisations and, here we are in April 2022 with many of us now starting to prepare to market and sell the ‘new improved’ shared ownership product; a product significantly different than the one we have grown to love over the years.

Yet I’m still hearing people working in the sector saying it’s just the same as ‘old’ shared ownership but with lower shares and payments for some repairs.  This concerns me; at Riverside, I’m responsible for new sales, staircasing, resales and leasehold management and there is not one of my teams that the new model doesn’t touch, from our initial marketing plans that must incorporate the new Key Information Document requirements, the tailored information provided to customers before they reserve, mandatory affordability assessments for all buyers including resale purchasers, administering repair payments and, providing annual index linked valuations to leaseholders. It makes me wonder if other organisations really understand the new model and their responsibilities?

In early 2021 the Home Ownership team in Riverside developed an action plan to deliver new shared ownership, in anticipation of our first new homes getting handed over in late 2022; this covers all the activities above plus ‘Right to Shared Ownership’, available on all Affordable Rent homes delivered under the 2021-2026 AHP programme. But in sales we always must be ready for the next unexpected ‘must do’ development and so here I am in May 2022 accelerating our action plan so that we can  sell homes that are due to handover this summer; thankfully we have done the groundwork and know what we need to do.

The first step is to map our customer journey and add in the extra things we must do to deliver a grant compliant marketing and sales process. This is a good opportunity to refine and improve what we do and put our customers at the heart of our sales service, a key driver of the new model but also an important  behaviour in Riverside. I am anticipating that sales may take longer to complete due to additional steps needed before a purchaser can reserve a home so need to build this into sales forecasting and, I’m working with our internal teams to develop practical solutions to automate repair reporting and payments and annual valuations to provide efficient customer service for our customers and reduce the administrative burden on already busy colleagues.

There’s a lot for us to do in Riverside over the next couple of months to be able to market and sell our new  ‘shared ownership’ model homes and like everyone else we are all dealing with the same and in many cases, unknown challenges of the product. I’m incredibly grateful for the NSG who provide an invaluable source of information and support for members, who in turn support and learn from each other. This is the biggest change to shared ownership in the life of the product; as a sector we have a responsibility to deliver consistent and transparent sales services and to enhance the reputation of shared ownership at a time when it has the potential to offer a route into home ownership for many more people and become ‘mainstream’, something we’ve wanted for many years.

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