Research finds more publicity needed to sell homes to new groups

Housing associations may be missing out on potential shared ownership buyers because they are promoting the scheme largely to first time buyers rather than people who have owned homes in the past.

A new report for the Chartered Institute of Housing and the Housing Corporation said around 10 per cent of new shared owners were former owner occupiers. It said the group was probably made up of separating couples, overcrowded families moving to more expensive areas and older people with growing health problems.

It said the number of previous owners moving into shared ownership had been restricted because they did not qualify for the scheme in some areas or believed they would not do so or because they did not know about it.

The report said more information explaining shared ownership should be targeted at various client groups. For example some people confused shared ownership with house sharing. It said only 7 per cent of new shared owners were former social housing tenants even though they get priority for shared ownership in many areas.

A second report, based on market research carried out for Notting Hill Housing by Ipsos Mori, found that a “sizeable minority” of shared owners would rather be in social housing. The report speculated that they may have been diverted into the tenure from the social housing waiting list or they could be struggling with the cost of their rent and mortgage. It said shared owners tend to pay higher proportion of their income in housing costs than other first time buyers and are more likely to say they face difficulties in making their repayments.

The researchers found that some Notting Hill tenants who initially said they were not thinking of buying a home changed their minds after shared ownership schemes were explained to them. The tenants also suggested a discount on the property related to how long they had been a tenant and help with maintenance costs proportionate to their share in the home.