A new initiative seeks to improve home ownership rates in Waikato.

With prices having soared to unprecedented heights in 2021, New Zealand’s housing market is at last beginning to level out. However, just as first home buyers dared to dream of finally getting a foot on the ladder, rising interest rates, following years of record lows, have put up another obstacle with price to income ratios unlikely to improve any time soon.

In Waikato – where another 75,000 homes are expected to be required in the next 40 years and the average house costs more than 17 times the annual minimum wage, a group of concerned and philanthropic people has come together to find a solution.

They’re conscious that healthy, secure, and affordable housing is a basic human need – crucial to building resilient communities – and that its provision is essential for curing chronic poverty in New Zealand.

The Brian Perry Charitable Trust is behind a range of community initiatives – including the Bridge Housing Charitable Trust, which represents both a creative – and practical approach for families facing difficulty in saving the 20% deposit that’s generally required when purchasing a home.

Their Peake Mews development in Cambridge is the Trust’s first residential project. It includes two and three-bedroom, easy-care, homes.

Sacha Webb of Cambridge Real Estate is marketing the freehold ownership homes – comprising of two-bedroom, one-bathroom properties at $660,000 and three-bedroom one-bathroom standalone units priced at $730,000. The properties are priced as such so that first-time buyers meet eligibility criteria for additional government grants.

“We desperately need more affordable homes in Cambridge and these properties offer incredible value,” she says.

Peake Mews has been designed by Anthem Homes and Antanas Procuta of Paua Architecture and fixtures and fittings both outside and inside the fully-insulated homes are high quality – and include stone benchtops, engineered timber flooring plus contemporary light fittings and window treatments.

“They’re in a great location, close to the Velodrome, the Te Awa River Ride, the new cycle track to Cambridge and excellent schools,” Webb adds.

“Buyers can choose from three interior design options, and people will be amazed to discover that they can actually afford a brand-new home, let alone such a lovely one. – I think they’ll be attractive not only to first home buyers but also to downsizers looking for an easy-care lock-up-and-leave lifestyle.”

Alongside the freehold ownership sales, the Bridge Trust will also be selling homes under ‘The Secure Home Programme’ which offers leasehold options for lower-income buyers who meet the Trust’s criteria at modest fixed ground rent on land owned by the Bridge Trust.

Purchasers own the rights to their own homes, but because they’re leasing the land – for 100 years, prices will be even more reasonable – starting at $325,000, which is basically the cost to construct, with a $16,250 deposit. Weekly expenses – with a 30-year mortgage, should be broadly similar to market rents and the owner has a tangible investment. When a family decides to leave, they sell the house back to Bridge Trust at the original price – plus inflation, freeing it up for another lower-income house buyer.

With home ownership having fallen in the region, and many residents living in ‘insecure’ rental properties which can be sold from under them, or have rents raised beyond the level of affordability, Bridge Housing is especially keen to get people into these new homes so there are a number of possible finance arrangements to explore.

With its eventual 47 dwellings, in a picturesque rural setting, Peake Mews is set to be a community with a true heart and Bridge Housing has included common areas for residents to mix and mingle. Vegetable gardens, fruit trees and expansive green playground spaces will be created, based on the Trust’s belief that communal environments combat isolation and enhance health and wellbeing.

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​Article extracted from One Roof, published 03 February 2023