Mark Graham: Co-Ownership will remain a trusted option
At Co-Ownership it's the time of year that we're reflecting on what we achieved in 2019 and look towards what we will achieve in 2020.
After our 40th anniversary celebrations, the launch of online applications and a redesign of the majority of our processes, you might think 2019 would be a year where we catch our breath and enjoy the success of our past achievements.
This year, as we did last year, we are on target to help over 1,000 individuals and families and have now helped 29,000 people into homeownership.
As we like to say, co-owners may only own part of the property, but it is 100% their home.
Some people will stay with Co-Ownership for the long-term and we do have some people who have been with us since the 1980s, but most people will buy the whole property when they can afford to.
Last year, two-thirds of people who 'bought out' did so within six years, and just shy of 90% will buy out within 10 years.
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It's great news for people who can move to full home ownership, but it also means that we can invest the money from the sale into helping more people.
Our efforts in raising the awareness of shared ownership in Northern Ireland, now means that we account for 10% of the first-time buyer market.
Last year we invested over £55m into the housing market; in addition to the mortgage finance raised, it meant that an additional £127m was invested into the property market overall.
We also recognise that today people face new challenges beyond simple affordability.
Some people's circumstances mean they might be able to afford a mortgage but can't get one because of their employment, or increasingly, because of historic debt issues.
That's why we introduced a new route to home ownership called Rent to Own.
A person rents from us for three years and has an option to purchase once they can get a mortgage.
Beyond that, and looking further ahead with an ageing population, we need to support people who want to down-size.
So, we are also working on a version of Co-Ownership that will help people achieve this.
Of course, there have been challenges throughout the year, and maybe that would make for more interesting reading when negative news stories overwhelm our feed and good news stories drop to the bottom.
But that isn't the Co-Ownership way of doing things. Our way of doing things is to continue to put customers at the forefront of everything we do, especially during the stormy periods.
My final task before the Christmas holidays take over is to take the opportunity to celebrate the success of Co-Ownership having helped so many people over the last 41 years.
None of us know what 2020 will have in store for us, but I do know we will continue to be a trusted guide for our customers.
Co-Ownership will be a beacon for anyone who is going through the complex - and sometimes stressful process - of buying their home.