Why the time is SO right…

Why the time is SO right for a national Shared Ownership community

We’ve just launched a new initiative that will bring all of us together. It’s called The Exchange. And if you’re at all involved in Shared Ownership, we’d love you to join us. Here’s why.

Words: Kelly McCabe and Amy Nettleton.

As two people who’ve been working in the wonderful world of Shared Ownership for longer than we probably like to think about, it struck us that many of our peers are feeling a bit underinformed, underrepresented and perhaps a little powerless at the moment. There are some big things happening in SO right now – Homes England is planning to retire its affordability calculator, for example – but they’re not being discussed at a national level by those of us who work in the sector, day-in, day-out.

Many find it difficult to keep up with the complexities of the Capital Funding Guide. Or don’t know where to go for advice on the latest policy changes, or who to talk to about influencing change, or even where to find trusted service providers.

It’s a cross-sector communication issue. And it’s one that, ultimately, has a negative impact on the customer.

Which is why we decided to do something about it. Something called The Exchange…

Introducing The Exchange

The Exchange is a new national community that brings together all the professions and partners that make Shared Ownership tick. RPs, lenders, mortgage brokers, property people, service providers and everyone in-between. All of us, all in one place. It’s for Shared Ownership professionals and run by Shared Ownership professionals.

What do we actually do? Well, we come together as a community to learn, share, lobby and explore new opportunities together. But why we do those things is just as important.

By creating useful information and resources for those who work with Shared Ownership customers – whether that’s directly or indirectly – we can help ensure that more homes are there for the people who need them.

And by forming a recognised community, we can create a clear, unified national voice that lobbies for change and makes a real difference to customers’ lives.

Plus, by sharing news, insights, thoughts and conversations, we can drive better, more impactful ways of working.

What does that mean in practice?

As a member of The Exchange, you’ll have access to a bank of sector knowledge, news and resources, networking opportunities, and the chance to make your voice heard – by your colleagues, sector peers and national decisionmakers.

Allow us to explain.

Meet and network

Since the rise of remote and hybrid working, we’ve had fewer and fewer opportunities to make new contacts in the industry. The Exchange will be a lively meeting place – online and in person – where those valuable opportunities will reemerge.

We’re going to forge new connections with a members’ WhatsApp group; a place where anyone who works in Shared Ownership can ask questions, provide answers and share their expertise.

We’ll also be organising sessions throughout the year; opportunities to discuss and discover more about our industry.

All the latest

We’ve built a website that is the digital destination for Shared Ownership professionals. Gone are the days of looking in all sorts of different places for the news that’s relevant to your job.

The live feed on the Exchange website displays all the latest developments in Shared Ownership, the wider housing market, housing policy, finance, base rate changes and all the other big goings-on that are relevant to your day job in real-time. And thanks to the website’s live chat function, you can get clarifications about anything you need to know in a hurry.

Practical resources, educational resources

We’re looking forward to helping everyone in our sector find solutions to all the little conundrums most of us are too embarrassed to ask about. From now on, you won’t even have to raise the question. The answers will be there on our website already.

And the big, complex ones, too. We’ve made key sections of the Capital Funding Guide freely available for anyone to access. Translated into plain English, they outline everything you need to know about carrying out an audit in simple, easy to follow steps.

You’ll also be able to access a ‘first-come-first-served’ policy that you can add your organisation’s logo to and use straightaway. Naturally, it’s fully compliant and works alongside the Capital Funding Guide. There will be plenty more documents like these to follow.

Industry insights, all in one place                                                                       

Easy access to valuable data, knowledge and insights will make our sector stronger for everyone who works in it. So say goodbye to trawling Google.

Our website’s online library houses Shared Ownership research in neat chronological order. And a stream of live data – including the average age of SO applicants, share sizes, affordability ranges and more – is displayed on its data dashboard.

All about action

We’re under no illusion. Shared Ownership isn’t perfect. No means of buying or renting property on an open market ever is. But we are certain of one thing: it’s needed. Now more than ever.

No one knows the product as intimately as we all do. And together, as a sector, our collective voice has the volume and power to be heard by the Government and the people within it who determine how Shared Ownership functions.

That’s why everything that we decide as a community will lead to action. And action is already taking place. We’ve recently sent a letter to Clive Betts, MP and leader of the Shared Ownership Select Committee that expresses the collective views of 70 members of our sector. That’s just the beginning.

All means all

Yes, your peers at The Exchange will include your competitors. But the stronger we make our sector, the more we can influence the building of more SO homes in ways that work for everyone, and that will benefit us all. The Exchange will not share any sensitive commercial information. We’re here to make things easier for teams across our sector and to benefit our Shared Ownership customers.

Join us

Ultimately, we’re all here for the customer. So let’s come together, build a stronger sector and make more Shared Ownership homes available for the people who need them.

We’d love to have you on board.

To find out how you can get involved, visit our website.

The Exchange has been proudly created by Kelly McCabe and Amy Nettleton, but it has been designed to be nurtured and run by its members.

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