News » New opportunity for Marlborough's first home buyers

New opportunity for Marlborough's first home buyers caught by the affordability gap.
An innovative new scheme launched in Marlborough will offer first home buyers an alternative first step on to the home ownership ladder.

The Marlborough Sustainable Housing Trust has been set up in a bid to help ease the accommodation difficulties of those working in the region's key industries.

The concept of 'shared ownership' will be introduced to the region; a new route to home ownership for low to moderate income working families who have been struggling to afford housing.

The Trust is seeking applicants from Marlborough residents to purchase these brand new, sustainably built homes - in partnership with the Trust. Both the Trust and the homeowner would become shareholders in the property as 'tenants in common' through a shared ownership agreement.

While the Trust retains its share in the property the house is, to all intents and purposes, the property of the new owner and the home owner is responsible for mortgage repayments.
It's a bit like having a 'silent partner' in your house purchase, said Trust chair Bev James. "It's a new idea and it's very exciting to think it may help more people get into their own homes here, " she said.

The Trust will begin providing new homes in Blenheim this year. Plans for the first houses are underway on land which has been purchased in central Blenheim.
The Trust is now looking for applicants who can fulfil its criteria.

In general, the Trust will provide up to 50% share of the market value of a property while the applicant will be required to

  • have a deposit of at least $5000
  • demonstrate ability to service a mortgage for the remaining balance.

The applicants most likely to succeed will be working in key industries or fulfil a critical work role within the community and show steady employment histories, says Bev James.
"The successful applicants are likely to be employed in one of Marlborough's main industries or in an essential service. Their household income will be below $85,000 but they will have to be able to afford mortgage repayments," she said.

The scheme is not open to people who are eligible for Housing New Zealand accommodation.

The project is underway thanks to significant funding from the Canterbury Community Trust, says Bev James.
She says there is an economic imperative behind the project. "It is very difficult to find suitable housing here and that's making it harder for employers to attract the right people. We are offering affordable, entry-level home ownership to people who want to be able to buy their own home here but who have been deterred by the high cost of housing," she said.

Shared ownership schemes have been operating successfully in Auckland, where there are 40 such properties, and Queenstown, where 15 such homes are occupied and another 15 are being built. Projections suggest Marlborough's population is likely to grow by 13% in the first quarter of this century. The increasing demand for a labour force coupled with the rising number of people retiring to Marlborough has already put pressure on the existing housing stock.

Marlborough's Mayor Alistair Sowman has welcomed the opportunity created by the Sustainable Housing Trust. A shortage of suitable housing is a limiting factor in Marlborough's economic development, adding to the difficulties for businesses trying to attract skilled staff to the region, said Mr Sowman. "This is a creative response to the housing shortage in Marlborough. It's good to see such an innovative approach to this issue and I am sure the Trust will be able to make a difference for some of those struggling to get onto the housing ladder." "Any measures that help ease that pressure should be welcomed by Marlborough's employers," he said.

The Marlborough Sustainable Housing Trust has a website where further information is available.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the shared ownership scheme may register their interest there or telephone The Trust at (03) 578 4842.