Dozens of key workers and families struggling to get a foot on the property ladder have been handed the ultimate Christmas gift – a brand-new house of their own with the opportunity to eventually buy it for just £1.
The pioneering Help to Own scheme in Wolverhampton has received thousands of inquiries from people across the UK wanting to make their dream of home ownership a reality.
Now, all 100 of the brand-new houses available under the scheme have been allocated in time for Christmas.
Help to Own tenants Timothy Perry (front left) and Aaron Parsons (front right) are set to enjoy Christmas in their new Help to Own home after being handed the keys in September. With them (rear left to right) Cllr Stephen Simkins, Deputy Leader of City of Wolverhampton Council, Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA and Sam Miller, Commercial Director - New Propositions at FDC
Help to Own has been set up by City of Wolverhampton Council, West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and fund management business Frontier Development Capital Ltd (FDC) through its NewCo My Generation Asset Management Limited. It is specifically designed for working families, and, in particular key workers struggling to save enough to buy a property.
With no deposit necessary, the scheme offers a unique route to homeownership and sparked more than 3,958 inquiries from as far afield as Devon, leading to 563 formal applications.
Help to Own provides long-term rent security for tenants and enables them to build up a Loyalty Premium as they make their monthly payments. This can then be taken as cash if they leave the scheme within 20 years or they can buy the home for just £1 on their 25th anniversary.
Of the 100 properties allocated, 37% have gone to key workers including NHS staff who have been on the frontline in the battle against Covid. A total of 69% have been allocated to families and the average age of the successful applicants is 36.
The houses, a mix of two, three and four-bedroom properties, are being built on The Marches development off Lakefield Road, close to Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital.
All 100 houses will be completed and occupied by the end of April but 28 successful applicants have already moved into their new homes for Christmas. A further 21 will be handed the keys at the end of January.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said: “What a fantastic Christmas present this is for everyone who has been successful in their application, especially the Covid Heroes who have given so much to us throughout the horrors of the pandemic. I am delighted the WMCA could play its part in making it happen.
“Our innovative Help to Own scheme has been successful in helping people in Wolverhampton get onto the property ladder, and so as we move into 2022 we now need to get it rolled out right across the West Midlands to help give everyone the chance of home ownership.
“We are committed to ensuring that people get onto the property ladder here in the West Midlands, which is why alongside Help to Own we have also redefined what affordable means, as well as accelerating housebuilding plans so that the number of new homes built doubled in just eight years.”
City of Wolverhampton Council leader, Cllr Ian Brookfield, added: “We are incredibly proud that Wolverhampton is home to this ground-breaking scheme that will be bringing festive cheer to so many, including our amazing Covid key workers.
“The success of the scheme is testament to our own well-established housing company, WV Living, who have worked closely with the Help to Own team to deliver these 100 stunning, new-build houses.
“This scheme is giving local families, couples and individuals the opportunity to get on the property ladder and own new, quality-built homes, making the route to homeownership far more accessible than typical private market renting.
“Our key workers – like those just down the road from The Marches at New Cross Hospital - have been at the forefront of our long and taxing battle against Covid-19 and it is hugely satisfying to know we have produced a home ownership scheme with our partners that really does help them achieve their dream of home ownership.”
NHS workers, including nurses, were among the first 32 tenants to receive the keys to their new homes in September. The new tenants also included Aaron Parsons, who works in manufacturing and Timothy Perry, who previously worked in hospitality but is now a machine press operator. The young couple has previously found it tough to rent a decent home and had even experienced homelessness at one point.
Although Help to Own isn’t a social housing scheme it is available to anyone who is struggling to get on the property ladder, subject to affordability and credit checks.
Sam Miller, commercial director, new propositions at FDC, which developed the idea from inception, said: “We’re incredibly pleased to see that all one hundred homes have now been allocated to a family, couple or individual that applied since we launched back in April 2021.
“The scheme is offering a much-needed alternative for hardworking households looking for a different route to homeownership that doesn’t require them to save a deposit whilst battling ever-increasing house prices and skyrocketing rents.
“The response since launch has been very strong, and with high demand outside of Wolverhampton and across the West Midlands region, our vision is to roll the scheme out in different locations across the UK.”
The public/private partnership has seen City of Wolverhampton Council put £5.7m into the scheme as part of its commitment to provide better homes for all in the city, while the WMCA has put £4.7m as part of its wider programme to increase the supply of affordable housing for local people across the region.