An affordable housing initiative where buyers lease the land their homes are built on is being developed on Cambridge’s western fringe.

In a Waikato-first, the Bridge Housing Charitable Trust is offering 21 homes for sale in the Peake Mews​ development under an assisted ownership programme.

Aimed at first-home buyers, qualifying families buy a home at the cost of construction while the trust retains ownership of the land. Buyers purchase a 100-year lease to the land, set below market rates.

When the family moves on, they sell the house back to the trust at the original price plus inflation.

The secure homes programme is based on a model developed by the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust.

Peake Mews is being developed by the Brian Perry Charitable Trust and will include both freehold and leasehold properties. Once completed, it will hand over to the Bridge Housing Charitable Trust who will manage the secure homes programme.

Jennifer Palmer,​ general manager of the Brian Perry Charitable Trust, said the assisted home ownership model has proven popular in Queenstown and believes it will help low-income families onto Waikato’s property ladder.

“Like everyone else, we’ve been pretty disillusioned with the housing affordability crisis,” Palmer said.

“What this model does is it gives people a secure tenancy. They buy the home, and they can live in it for life. There’s none of the perils of renting, and you’re not at the mercy of a landlord who may or may not kick you out or increase your rent.”

Prices for freehold properties range from $725,000 to $850,000 while leasehold properties will be half this price. Section sizes will be in the 75 sq m to 105 sq m range. Peake Mews will cover just over 1.8 hectares and will feature shared outdoor spaces, such as communal gardens.

Earthworks for the 42-home development have started. It’s expected the first residents will move in by June 2023.

Because buyers under the secure homes programme don’t make significant capital gains when they sell their home, the affordability aspect of the programme remains intact. The trust sells the house for the price it purchased it off the owner.

“What you get with other models is the first family gets access to an affordable house and then when it comes to selling it back into the market, at market rates, it’s no longer affordable,” Palmer said.

“This is a way of maintaining affordability in perpetuity and that’s why Queenstown has landed on it as a robust model. I don’t think any of the families they have in their programme have actually moved on. They say it’s a nest, not a nest egg.”

The Queenstown programme has been running for about four years.

To be eligible for the programme, applicants’ combined income can’t exceed a certain level. Habitat for Humanity will help with the eligibility process. Each applicant will be dealt with on a case by case basis.

The trust has been in talks with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development to access its $400 million progressive home ownership fund. The fund has identified supporting Māori, Pasifika and families with children into home-ownership as a priority.

Palmer said the trust hopes to do multiple developments in Waipā, Hamilton and Waikato District.

“If other organisations want to run a secure homes programme, that would be fantastic.”

Written by Aaron Leaman, as published in the Waikato Times on 08 June 2022