31 May 2023

Next week, I’ll be speaking at the Affordable Home Ownership Conference, on a panel titled ‘making shared ownership mainstream.’ Naturally, I’ve found myself thinking about why shared ownership isn’t already a first choice product for those looking to buy a home. We’re in the midst of a housing crisis, with soaring property prices, rising interest levels and a lack of disposable income. All of this means that many hoping to get onto the ladder are priced out of the open market, and in need of an affordable option. With the end of the Help to Buy equity loan earlier this year, there’s never been a greater opportunity for shared ownership to flourish.

The wider economic factors aside, shared ownership – particularly the new model – boasts many benefits that should make it a first choice product in its own right. Shared ownership homes have lower deposits, affordable rents, 990 year leases and a ten year repair policy. So, if it’s one of the only affordable options and has an amazing array of advantages, why is it not yet in the mainstream? For me, it comes down to the customer experience. From the very start of the shared ownership journey, all the way through to staircasing out or selling the property onwards, customer experience needs to take priority.

Let’s start with bringing a home to the market. Shared ownership homes should be marketed in a customer friendly way and be as easy to find as those on the open market. To ensure these homes are visible to all, I believe we need to shift to a somewhat more commercial approach. At Abri Homes, each development is launched with a robust and proactive marketing strategy that reaches a widespread audience. And, customers should be able to find what they need to know with ease, in a way that works best for them. On the Abri Homes website, customers can browse a range of buyer guides, learn about our range of homes available and even take a virtual tour.

Once someone’s decided shared ownership is the route for them, we need to ensure the purchasing process is as stress free as possible. The experienced team at Abri are on hand to support whenever the customer needs us, and we provide plenty of online resources. An excellent customer experience shouldn’t stop once the keys have been exchanged. Aftercare is extremely important. As providers with an ongoing interest in our customers’ homes, we must wholeheartedly step up to our responsibilities whilst putting the customer front and centre. Finally, selling a home can be challenging, but we can provide information and expertise to ease the stress for customers looking to move on. The more support we can provide, the better their experience will be.

Whilst shared ownership has come a long way over the last few years, it’s clear that we can do more to improve the customer experience. We need to make the scheme more accessible, provide clear information and work to understand buyer’s needs in more depth. To make real progress we’ve got to come together as a sector to drive change. I’m looking forward to doing exactly that by discussing this topic with a superb panel and audience at the conference.

Join us at AHO 2023

Hear from Stuart and our line up of sector leading speakers in London on 8 June.

Stuart Hensby

Associate Director, Sales and Marketing at Abri

Stuart Hensby, Associate Director Sales and Marketing at Abri, is passionate about opening up home ownership to customers from all backgrounds. With over 18 years’ experience in the property industry, Stuart leads Abri’s sales and marketing across different tenures including Shared Ownership, re-sales and open market sales. Stuart champions an innovative way of marketing affordable homes, with his substantial experience in commercial markets, he advocates for an exciting and fresh approach that puts the customer at the heart of the process.

Putting customers at the heart of the shared ownership experience