How Software is Transforming the Future of Housing Associations

The housing market has been transformed by digital technology. From finding a home to managing properties, the process has moved online — increasing automation, improving efficiency and transforming customer experiences. But housing associations have been chronically underserved by software providers, and tools built for commercial agents struggle to solve affordable housing’s unique challenges. 

73% of housing associations say that meeting customer demand is driving digital transformation. 1 However, 54% of housing associations also said that a lack of digital skills and resources is the big barrier to digital change. 2

Fundamentally, the next shift in affordable home ownership will give providers the tools they need to deliver an efficient and people-centric service. To make this happen, housing associations need software able to create personalised and simple online relationships, and then improve internal operations. This spans: 

  1. The sales and letting process
  2. Ongoing communication with tenants and shared ownership holders
  3. Internal communication and planning
  4. Property development and management

Increased efficiency at every stage creates a positive feedback loop by freeing up resources to reinvest in improving customer experiences and available housing. At KPro, we’ve pioneered the development of commercial-grade sales and letting software built for the complexity of shared ownership, based on the challenges we saw in the market working with a close group of affordable home ownership providers. 

This article is about how housing associations can use an improved sales and letting process for affordable home ownership to transform their organisational strategy and customer relationships, and then use these improvements to reinvest for the long-term.  

Suggested reading: If you want to learn more about the wide-reaching impact of next-generation sales and letting software, check out our new eBook — Can Affordable Housing Have a Good Reputation?

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The unique software requirements of housing associations

The sales and letting process for affordable home ownership operates in a market facing a unique set of challenges. For example: 

  • Shared ownership percentages and the associated rent calculations, complicate listings, requiring specific tools to automate this process. 
  • Listing platforms dedicated to affordable home ownership have unique integration conditions to match listing and reporting requirements. 
  • There are additional financial assessment and verification processes, as well as reporting requirements — e.g. CORE (COntinuous REcording) reporting — that need specialist support.
  • Shared ownership contracts are multifaceted and not supported by all e-sign documentation software.  
  • Homeseekers and housing providers often need to coordinate with government and local government bodies, such as Help to Buy agents, expanding the number of people involved in the process.
  • Buyers become long-term partners in a property, and managing these relationships requires specialist support.

All of this is on top of the need to operate in conjunction with parallel social housing and property management operations, while providing ongoing quality services to both customer bases. None of these solutions are addressed by generic commercial platforms.

Bringing affordable home ownership sales and marketing in line with the digital age

Commercial estate agents have been able to automate listings and build sophisticated personalised outreach campaigns using tools that centralise lead collection and property information, and then integrate that across all of the tools and platforms they use. 

KPro was designed to deliver that single-source-of-truth platform by overcoming the unique challenges of the affordable housing sales and letting process, enabling:   

  • Single-click listing to commercial websites and sites dedicated to shared ownership.
  • Lead centralisation across listings. 
  • The ability to automate lead management and email campaigns, either integrating with your CRM or delivering those capabilities directly.
  • Sophisticated remarketing based on a clear understanding of properties and contacts.  
  • Centralised data matching to pair people with homes faster and more effectively. 
  • A process engine able to manage e-signing of shared ownership contracts and automate a large percentage of reporting, including CORE reporting.
  • Integrated communication through a customer portal that provides property information for both home seekers and homeowners, and enables multichannel communication between everyone involved. 

Marketing for affordable housing can be simpler. By centralising your property and lead management in a single-source-of-truth, it’s possible to gain improved visibility over your entire workflow and improve strategic planning alongside delivery to customers. This includes: 

  • Getting an overview of customer progress through the buying journey in order to identify bottlenecks and highlight areas for improvement.
  • Identifying the relative value and performance of different listing sites so teams can spend their time using the most effective platforms.
  • Remarketing by combining centralised data and automated lead management make it possible to increase close rates and more accurately project the speed and ease of filling new developments.

Bringing housing association marketing and sales functions into a modern software package is a huge step towards a better experience for everyone — replacing the tedious spreadsheets many housing associations still use. A digital sales and marketing process makes it easier for you to connect the right homes with the right people. However, the benefits extend further, freeing up resources and delivering the perspective needed to transform broader operations and deliver better services to the public. 

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Driving efficiency and enabling reinvestment 

More efficient sales, letting, and CRM operations make it possible to invest more in improving housing opportunities for people, and deliver better services as a housing association. This starts with a positive impact on user experiences, but there are broader implications as well, including:  

  1. Strategic alignment: Understanding the projected time to fill housing developments can inform which developments are built first and where. This can eliminate under-utilised or over-subscribed developments. Housing associations can also share this information with governing bodies to influence the provision of housing and funding. 
  2. Internal review: Digitisation provides a clear picture of internal metrics, such as staff efficiency, customer request response times, and the effectiveness of marketing, sales, and maintenance processes, which can be used to identify areas to target for investment or cost-saving measures, enabling organisations to make data-driven decisions. 
  3. Shared ownership market expansion: More effective marketing and remarketing, streamlined customer experiences and improved planning all enable housing associations with the right sales and letting process to expand their position within the sector and generate more revenue from affordable home ownership sales.    
  4. Organisational reinvestment: Market expansion and revenue growth free up resources for broader reinvestment. This could be part of an expansion plan for shared ownership. However, and importantly, this could be increased investment in social and council housing, improving operational excellence and customer service across all touchpoints. 

Building better datasets helps affordable housing providers genuinely understand the people in their market. Creating more effective and efficient processes improves results while cutting costs. Ultimately, the goal is to enable housing associations to fulfil their social duty, which is to provide excellent affordable housing to home seekers. Building an end-to-end sales and letting process helps deliver that outcome for affordable home ownership, while enabling reinvestment across the board. Both factors will define the future of how housing associations deliver outcomes to the public, and both are defined by the technological solutions deployed.  

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Using software to become people-centric organisations

Housing associations are driven by the desire to produce better results for people. Housing people more quickly and fairly will improve the reputation and uptake of affordable housing. These improvements will, in turn, lead to more demand and provision of housing stock, creating a sustainable reinvestment loop. The next generation of housing associations need to adopt digital tools to transform their customer service. 

An improved sales and letting process, more customer control and input, and stronger organisation management all create a better experience for real people. Homeseekers benefit from better service and more housing provision. Housing association staff benefit from more meaningful work with the people they are helping. Managers benefit from better data enabling wiser decisions.

We want to see a property market that is more inclusive, accessible and less confusing for the people who need it the most. We’re helping build this by giving providers the tools they need. We built KPro to provide a modular, end-to-end sales and letting solution, able to stand on its own or integrate existing internal tools with the right external platforms and become the best CRM for affordable housing on the market.  

There isn’t just one way to use KPro’s affordable housing software. Get in touch and book a demo to learn how we can help you build a sales and letting process for affordable home ownership that actually meets the complex requirements of housing associations, and transition to the next generation of affordable housing provision.

1 Digital Inclusion: A Paradigm Shift in Social Housing

2 Skills and data holding back social landlords’ from digital transformation of services – netMAGmedia Ltd

Sandy Macmillan
Managing Director

About The Author

Computer science graduate with over 15 years of housing experience. Leading sales, marketing, research and development teams, and strategies, at G15 organisations such as L&Q and Southern Housing Group.