Shared Ownership Sales Policy is very different from social or affordable rent. It’s not just about who gets a home. There’s a cascade of consequential policy decisions that influence procedures and development contracts. You also need to address regulatory requirements and have clear procedures that lead to excellent customer experience.
Here are the SDS top tips on what should be covered in a robust sales policy:
1. Customer Group
Funding streams, the Capital Funding Guide and Regulator. Policy around the target customer group is as fundamental to shared ownership as it is to social or affordable rent. However, depending on your funding stream, this policy decision will be strongly influenced by the capital funding guide and regulator.
2. Registers & Application Forms
Your own register, other registers and purchaser application forms. Whether or not you keep your own register of potential shared owners, there are other registers available which in some cases regulation will insist you use. Policy on how and when you access registers needs to be established.
3. Eligibility & Affordability
Regulation and the Homes England sustainability calculator. If the shared ownership development forms part of a registered programme then the CFG advises on how you look at affordability. However, there are other factors that need to be looked at when you develop your policy which will be discussed at the workshop. Furthermore, if you are a local authority and developing through your own resources such as the HRA, then you may wish to develop policy independent of that advised in the CFG.
With shared ownership, it is not usual for purchasers to be ‘allocated’ homes and so policy around choice needs to be developed
5. Drop Out, Re-assign and Reservation Fees
What happens when a purchaser drops out? You need to have a clear policy so your staff understand how they are expected to deal with this. (Will you re-assign if a purchaser drops out and how will you handle reservation fees?)
6. Off-Plan and Show Homes
How do you intend to show people the beautiful homes you are developing? Will you build a view-home or sell off-plan with final pre-viewings? Whichever route you choose, communicate this clearly and make these easy to see.
7. Floor Coverings
Purchasers will want to measure up if you’re not supplying floor coverings. This can cause time delays and is an extra step which is often overlooked. Your Policy around this may influence your development contract.
During the sales process, there will be some time-sensitive activities, for example, how long will you give your purchaser to get a mortgage before withdrawing the offer of a home? Your policy needs to outline what these are and think about how they affect the financial appraisal. Is there anything you can do in advance or are there contingencies you could implement?
9. Warranty Handling
Be aware that there could be a mismatch between standard JCT contracts and NHBC warranty. Policy needs to be developed to deal with this mismatch so the customers can access the warranty should the need arise.
How will you handle ‘difficult to sell’ homes? Having a plan in advance is key to avoiding delays and having long term voids. Not only is your policy on this crucial for your business but governance bodies and credit rating agencies are keen to see such policies.
11. Data Protection
Your policy must ensure that data protection requirements are secure and compliant with the GDPR regulations.
12. Related Policies
You will need to consider other internal policies that may have an influence eg. Appeals and Complaints, EDI policy.
Some aspects of your sales policy may need to change as your capability develops.