Perry Charitable Trust’s New Peake Mews Development Offers Hope for New Zealand’s Housing Crisis.

In an effort to combat the on-going housing crisis in New Zealand, the Brian Perry Charitable Trust (BPCT) has unveiled its latest initiative, the Peake Mews development. With an emphasis on affordability and innovation, this 47-home community aims to provide a solution for young families struggling to enter the housing market.

Jennifer Palmer, the General Manager of both the Brian Perry Charitable Trust and the Bridge Housing Trust, says that BPCT recognised the urgent need to address the country’s dire home ownership statistics. In response, the trust established the Bridge Housing Trust as a delivery vehicle for affordable housing solutions. “Owning a home is becoming more out of reach for young whānau. Our focus, therefore, is affordable housing to meet the real need in this area,” she says.

Inspired by the successful model developed by the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust, the BPCT aims to offer affordable rentals alongside affordable home ownership options. Recognising that not everyone can afford the leasehold model due to difficulties in obtaining bank loans, the trust acknowledges the on-going need for affordable rentals and has plans to also offer this type of housing.

The Peake Mews development is located adjacent to the Trust’s Podium Lodge in Cambridge, and comprises 47 homes. Under the Secure Home Programme, the Bridge Housing Trust offers two-bedroom, one-bathroom units for just $325,000 under the leasehold model and $660,000 if people choose the freehold option. These architecturally designed homes boast quality fixtures and fittings and a considered neutral colour palette. The three-bedroom single-level homes have sold out. Jennifer says the Secure Home Programme, a relatively new concept in New Zealand and aims to provide long-term housing stability and security akin to freehold home ownership. Families who qualify for the programme purchase the home at its construction cost, while the Bridge Trust retains ownership of the land. The family then obtains a 100-year lease for the land, paying an annual lease fee that increases only according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This innovative approach to affordable housing aims to make mortgage repayments, rates, insurance, and the ground lease more affordable than rental equivalents in the same market, says Jennifer.

Eligibility for the Secure Homes Programme is open to first-time homebuyers, with at least one member of the household being a New Zealand resident or citizen. Income restrictions based on household size apply, and applicants must meet specific financial requirements, including bank approval for a home loan. The Secure Home must also be the applicant’s only property, rendering those who already own a home or land ineligible for the programme.

The first phase of the Peake Mews development, consisting of eight houses, has recently been made available to the market. Sales have been promising, with three units already sold. The BPCT has been working closely with Cambridge Real Estate, the sales agents for Peake Mews, to handle the influx of inquiries. However, the rigorous stress testing requirements by banks, with mortgage rates tested at around 9%, have presented challenges for many families seeking to enter the market, says Jennifer. To mitigate these challenges, the BPCT has collaborated with Westpac, who are willing to provide mortgages for this model and are committed to assisting families.

Jennifer says the Trust has also been proactive in raising awareness and educating potential buyers about the leasehold model, ensuring that they understand its benefits and safeguards.

Open homes held for the first three units resulted in immediate sales, indicating the growing interest and acceptance of this housing solution, she says. The Trust is also helping prospective buyers to explore various government grants and incentives.

Jennifer says that, for example, Kainga Ora offer grants, and with a minimum 5% deposit, potential buyers can benefit from first home grants of up to $10,000 per person after investing in KwiSaver for five years or $5,000 after three years.

Excited about the prospects of Peake Mews, Jennifer says the Trust has plans for future projects including one it is currently exploring in the Hamilton CBD. “The Perry family is incredibly philanthropic. It’s really inspiring. We’re always looking to see what more we can do.”

Article extracted from Business North, August 2023. Read online here