Brexit: what does it mean for shared ownership?

Wading through the fog of political and economic chaos to the impact on RPs we can begin to see some reactions and implications, at least in the short term.

1.The regulator is warning of cash calls for those with complex financial instruments

2.RPs credit ratings are under threat and millions have been wiped of house builders shares

3. A slowdown in sales and mixed messages on interest rates/mortgages.

True, markets overreact but with continuing uncertainty and new arrangements whatever they may be with the EU the fallout of the referendum and new regulation may be a game changer for developing RPs.

Commentators have described the result (for some) similar to a divorce. So it’s not surprisingly many of us are working our way through, shock, anger, denial, grief and finally accepting that we will need to adapt to the new operating environment.

So, what does it mean for shared ownership and:
access to mortgages and interest rates
new models of delivery and management

Moving on, the world still goes round and we at The Shared Ownership Partnership (tsop) have always been of the opinion that the market would not always be so benign and advised RPs and LAs on risk management, efficiency and increasing sales income for when change came along.

We will be at the CIH conference on Wednesday and look forward to catching up with old colleagues and friends, and also meeting some new people along the way!

tsop offer shared ownership consultancy services including Governance and Strategy, Market Research, Sales Agency, Management and a Mortgage and Conveyancing Panel.

How to Write a Good Web Design Brief

How to Write a Good Web Design Brief

Having a tight, well thought out brief is the most desirable way to start any project.


Writing a design brief can sometimes feel a bit daunting, one of those tasks you know is important, but keeps getting put off – sometimes because it can be hard to know exactly where to start.

Writing a comprehensive design brief has many advantages, and in some cases it’s essential.  A design brief should enable an agency to fully understand the scope of a project,  required functionality, history, audience goals etc. Essentially all the important facets of your project. From your brief, a design company should be able to respond with intelligent solutions and a detailed, accurate quote.

A design brief is not just for large scale and complicated projects, smaller projects can benefit from well written briefs as well. The more information and understanding an agency has on the scope of the project, the more likely they will be able to come up with more suitable solutions.


A design brief doesn’t need to supply a web design agency with all the solutions; this is a trend I often see in briefs.  It is perfectly ok not to have all the answers, that is partly why you are commissioning a design agency. As tempting as it might be supply both the problem and a solution in your initial brief, you’ll find this can restrict the creative process.


Writing a brief


Not every design brief will be the same and the following points are aimed to be a guide. This list can be added to, amended or changed to fit your requirements; but hopefully it provides a handy way to get started.


It’s useful to get to know a bit about your company. This might include:

  • The products you sell or the service you provide.
  • A brief history of your company.
  • A brief description of your company/brand. One way you could do this is to describe your company in 5-10 words (for example, vibrant, young, vintage, technology based etc).
  • What are the unique selling points of your company, your products or your services?
  • List a few competitors websites.

The new website

We will basically need to know as much as possible about your requirements for your new site. Include anything that you think might be useful or important.  Some of these pointers might help.

  • Outline the aims/goals of your website (e.g increase traffic/increase product awareness, generate more sales etc).
  • Is the new website part of a re-brand or a new product launch?
  • Are there any websites you currently like/influenced by? Give reasons why (These sites don’t have to be related to your industry.
  • Is there any specific functionality the site is required to perform. If so, explain in detail as far as you are aware what this would be.
  • Are you selling products/services directly on your site. If so, give details.
  • Do you have any brand guidelines/promotional material that the new website design needs to comply with?
  • Who will be responsible for generating content for the new site? ( Text, images, video etc)
  • Are you generating new content for the new website?
  • Do you currently own the domain name(s)? Do you have access to managing it/them?
  • What is your current hosting situation?
  • Who will be editing/maintaining the site on a daily basis? Do you require ongoing site management/support?
  • Do you have any specific editing requirement ( editing groups with different permissions? teams or editors etc)
  • Are there any specific technical requirements that you are aware of?


  • What is the budget for the design and development of your site?
  • Do you have a budget for on-going support and maintenance of your site?




12 stats to help shape your marketing

12 stats to help shape your marketing

  • Mobile drives over 50% of ecommerce traffic | Stat found here
  • Over 1.35 billion users on Facebook | Stat found here
  • Over 50% of the world’s population is under 30-years-old | Stat found here
  • 53% of millennial generation respondents (those born between 1981 and 2000) said they’d rather lose their sense of smell than their technology | Stat found here
  • More people own a mobile device than a toothbrush | Stat found here
  • By 2018 video will account for over 2/3 of mobile usage hence why 2/3 of orgs will increase spending on video this year | Stat found here
  • Every second 2 new members join LinkedIn | Stat found here
  • The LinkedIn age limit has been lowered to 13 | Stat found here
  • Grandparents are the fastest growing demographic on twitter | Stat found here
  • 90% of buyers trust peer recommendations | Stat found here
  • The average attention span of a human is 7 seconds | Stat found here
  • The average attention span of a gold fish is 8 seconds. |Stat found here

We have helped our customers achieved over 94% self serve and recommendations make up over 65% of sales.

Beware falling prices

Beware falling prices

So what happens to the recovery if we fall into what is euphemistically called “negative inflation”? Until now, the consensus view has been that this would be bad for output and employment. Keynes gave the reason in 1923: “the fact of falling prices,” he wrote, “injures entrepreneurs; consequently the fear of falling prices causes them to protect themselves by curtailing their operations.”

Click here for the article

Beware falling prices
Beware falling prices


Good to see LAs entering the market.

Good to see LAs entering the market.

Councils have begun making their first tentative steps into building, managing and selling shared ownership homes. Kate Youde finds out more

For use in Inside Housing, 30 January 2015

Source: Gary Manhine

Mary Mensah outside her home

When Mary Mensah and her three adult children moved into their new home just before Christmas, they created a piece of housing history. The four-bedroom townhouse in Homerton, east London, is the first shared ownership home to be built, managed and sold by Hackney Council – and is among the first by any council in the country.

While shared ownership homes have been available in the borough for years, usually through housing associations, this is the first time the council has brought its own shared ownership stock to market. As the demand for intermediate housing grows, will other councils look to follow its example?

In December, Ms Mensah, an NHS bookings supervisor, bought a 25% stake in a £365,000 house in Shepherds Lane. It is one of 40 new build homes across Brooklime House and Chervil House, half of which are for shared ownership or shared equity. It is the first of 500 shared ownership homes Hackney Council is building over the next decade as part of a wider £500m, 2,760-home estate regeneration programme funded through its housing revenue account (HRA).

Ms Mensah’s previous home – a two-bedroom council flat across the road in Marian Court, which she had bought in 2004 through Right to Buy – is being demolished under the scheme. She has used equity from that flat for the 25% stake in her new home, meaning she has no mortgage but pays £582 per month rent on the remaining 75% [see box: Cost of living]. As well as giving the family much-needed extra space, she feels her new home, which she couldn’t afford without shared ownership, is ‘a really good investment’.

Keeping existing resident leaseholders on the regeneration estates is one reason Hackney Council has opted for shared ownership and an equity swap model. The other, says Cllr Philip Glanville, cabinet member for housing, is a desire to have a ‘mixed community’. ‘It’s about ensuring there are homes for people to buy on lower incomes and retaining a mixed workforce,’ he says. ‘It is about the place shaping we want to see in the borough.’

The council’s arm’s-length management organisation (ALMO) Hackney Homes will manage the shared ownership homes until it moves back in-house on 1 April 2016. Cllr Glanville says the benefits of the council building and managing shared ownership include being able to use its experience managingtenants and leaseholders to ensure service charges are affordable, ’democratic accountability’ and the avoidance of the ‘pepper potting’ that comes with some large registered providers, which may not have a local office for residents to visit in the event of a problem.

Cost neutral

He says shared ownership is essentially ‘cost neutral’ compared to the subsidy needed for social rent and the need to cross-subsidise with private sales. ‘It basically pays for itself in terms of the constructioncosts [estimated at between £80 and £100m for the 500 units],’ he adds. It’s not subsidising another home but we’re not requiring a huge amount of subsidy to deliver it. That is partly because we are building on our own land, so I think if you’re talking to registered providers they obviously have to factor in the fact they have to buy the land and they’ve got the development costs on top of that.’ The council will explore introducing an in-house sales team when it has developed a sufficient number of units.

For use in Inside Housing, 30 January 2015

Source: Gary Manhine

A Hackney Council shared ownership home at Chervil House

The Local Government Association and London Councils declined to comment on whether it thinks other councils will follow Hackney’s lead in building and managing shared ownership homes. However there will be 300 shared ownership units, including some built and managed by Camden Council, among 3,050 new homes delivered through the north London borough’s 15-year Community Investment Programme.

Sarah Davis, senior Policy and practice officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), says that if councils have the in-house expertise (through an ALMO or because they have retained housing stock), capacity to build and borrowing room in their HRA, building and managing shared ownership fits with their position as a ‘major provider housing solutions for their communities’.

The final report of a project by the CIH and 37,000-home landlord Orbit Group, looking at how to scale shared ownership up from around 15,000 new homes a year to at least 30,000 by 2020, improve the product and encourage investment, is expected next month. Only 0.7% of UK households – 1.3% in London – are currently shared ownership, according to the 2011 Census.

Ms Davis says councils could play a role – as providers as well as enabling developments through land use and clear priorities in Local Plans – in helping to expand the tenure, which, she says, addresses the challenge of the ‘growing middle market’ of people who can’t access home ownership through the government’s Help to Buy scheme or social housing.

But Hackney Council’s entry into shared ownership comes at a time when some housing associations are questioning the tenure’s viability in central London, as Inside Housing reported last month.

‘Shared ownership is a great option for people looking to get a foot on the property ladder in most parts of the country,’ says Cllr Richard Livingstone, Southwark Council’s cabinet member for housing, which will deliver 11,000 social rent homes over the next 30 years. ‘However we are finding in Southwark, as in most parts of inner-London, that increasingly the rising costs of homes in the area result in even shared ownership becoming less of an option, as the minimum income needed is beyond a large number of would-be buyers.’

Ms Mensah, who earns about £22,000 a year, thinks shared ownership is ‘quite reasonable’ however. ‘In my case, I haven’t got a mortgage so it’s only one payment, which is rent’, she says. But she adds, laughing: ‘And then if I win the lottery, I will pay off the balance!’

what does the future hold for UK house prices?

what does the future hold for UK house prices?

The devil is always in the detail and in the case of house prices, the local market.

What does the future hold for UK house prices? This map from Savills shows their predicted trends over the next five years. View the full version here.

And what, if any, effect will the new pension changes, cashing in to purchase ‘buy to let’, have on the market?