This time around, it seems that the Shared Ownership sector is all set to not just survive… but quite possibly thrive. Here’s why.
Obviously, this second lockdown isn’t something that any of us would welcome. Many businesses will struggle and there have been parts of the UK that have already been under strict restrictions for a while. But as I write this, with the TMP The Mortgage People team all working from their homes, meeting their targets and staying relatively sane, it struck me that – for our corner of the housing market at least – it’s business as usual.
The last lockdown was a huge shock to the system. People had to figure out their working spaces and systems; there was confusion and uncertainty in the air and the housing market ground to a halt. It was a dark and strange time, but as an industry we came together and figured a hell of a lot out. Many of us took a close look at how we do things and we set up new systems and adapted our businesses.
We’re in a better place
Today, Personal Protective Equipment is in healthy supply and that will make a huge difference to everyone. Valuers know that they are able to continue with their duties and that will prevent the delays that happened last time. Lenders are also doing everything they can to carry on as normal and they’re quickly catching up with the backlogs. At TMP we’re ready and waiting, fully staffed, and doing everything we can to support those lenders in getting back up to date.
The system is working well and there’s no real reason why there should be any change to the service that’s already being provided. In fact, everyone’s working that little bit harder to catch up and the systems are constantly being refined, so we’ll soon be in a place where we’re able to provide a faster, better service.
It’s not all rosy, of course. I know that at TMP we’re going to see a dip in mortgage enquiry levels. In fact, as a bit of a number nerd, I can already see some indications that there’s a bit of trepidation out there in the market. But that happened last time and it quickly shot back up again – and as I say, last time felt a whole lot different (i.e. worse).
Many companies will be forced to furlough their staff and that will inevitably mean that some purchases are going to be affected. When that happened last time, the Housing Associations were amazingly patient and understanding and I expect the same approach this time around. How will the developers react? It remains to be seen, but I get the sense that many of the hardest cuts have already been made and it will be business – building – as usual.
A united industry
Working together is going to be important in the coming weeks and I have every confidence that everyone in the Shared Ownership supply chain will continue to go above and beyond. It’s also been really encouraging to see that the government genuinely want to keep the housing market moving. And while that’s a lot to do with the economy, a big part of me believes that it’s down to people’s innate desire to buy a place that they can call home and the feeling of reassurance that it brings – particularly when times are tough.
So today, when nothing is usual, let’s carry on with business as usual. We’ve done it before and we’re going to do it again. Lockdown 2? We’ve got this.