Max Bania 24 Jun 2024
Otautahi Community Housing Trust houses at sunset

Five Christchurch families will soon be in their own brand new homes thanks to an innovative development from the Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust (ŌCHT), supported by Westpac NZ.

Opened earlier this month by Housing Minister Chris Bishop, the Carey Street development in the southern suburb of Somerfield is Christchurch’s first purpose-built mixed-tenure development.

It features five shared home ownership homes through a leasehold model – with Westpac providing low-deposit lending for the eventual homeowners - plus 35 community and affordable market rentals.

Opening party cuts a ribbon

Minister Chris Bishop opens the OCHT Carey St development

ŌCHT chief executive Cate Kearney said the city needed more affordable, multi-bedroom homes and Carey Street was perfect for well-designed, affordable housing options built with families in mind.

“A home provides stability and permanence, things that are especially important for young children who should have a safe and stable environment in which to grow,” Kearney said.

“Property and rent price growth make it nearly impossible for many lower income households to rent or retain homes they can afford, let alone to save to buy their own.

“Offering more affordable options in modern and efficient homes will help families provide for their long-term future. They’ll help more working whānau call Somerfield home.

“Once we have identified buyers for our five leasehold properties, Westpac will work the families to provide them with a home loan.  We’re really grateful to Westpac for their support and look forward to working with them to help get more first home buyers on the ladder in the months and years to come.”

Interior of one of the OCHT houses

Interior of one of the brand new OCHT Carey St houses

ŌCHT’s progressive home ownership product, Secure Home, is supported by the Government’s Progressive Home Ownership Fund, which is administered by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. It offers leaseholds as a pathway to eventual home ownership for low-to-median-income working families with children.

Qualifying households are offered a 100-year lease and right to occupy either a two or three-bedroom home for a price based on the cost of construction, excluding land value.

Secure Home offers two-bedroom homes for $350,000. Conservatively, the median market sales price for a two-bedroom flat in Somerfield early this year was about $570,000.

If the household leaves, ŌCHT buys the leasehold back for what the household paid, with adjustments for inflation for each year whanau occupied the home.

This means working families can build equity through mortgage repayments instead of paying a landlord, in a home with affordable long-term tenure. They’re also provided with ongoing financial capability assistance to ensure they stay on track.

The homes are designed by South by South East Architects and delivered by Consortium Construction, long-time partners in ŌCHT developments.

ŌCHT is one of the many community housing providers around the country Westpac is partnering with to help bring the home ownership dream within reach for Kiwi families.

In April, the bank launched its First Home Sooner programme to help aspiring first homeowners understand the options available to them, including shared home ownership options like shared equity and leasehold, plus other low deposit options like buying a new build, using family support through a co-borrower or guarantor structure, or having their loan underwritten by Kāinga Ora through its First Home Loan scheme.

Westpac helped first home buyers purchase nearly 6,000 homes in the 12 months to the end of March.  Its NZ General Manager of Consumer Banking and Wealth, Helen Ryder, said home ownership could be closer for many people than they may think through the use of innovative pathways, which are growing in number.

“Owning your own home usually brings long term financial, social and wellbeing benefits," she said.

"We’re working hard to give customers the confidence and knowledge they need to get on the ladder, as well as innovative products to help get them there sooner.”

“Elevated house prices and interest rates are a challenge, and customer research tells us that a lack of knowledge about the options available and difficulty saving for a 20% deposit are major barriers.  The good news is there are still plenty of options to boost first home buyers’ purchasing power.

"It’s pleasing to see that more and more customers are taking up these pathways, but we know from Westpac survey data that less than half of prospective first home buyers are aware of these great options.

"We have a nationwide network of home loan experts who are local, understand the uncertainties many first home buyers feel, and most importantly they have the know-how to support them every step of the way.

“Having a trusted partner who knows all the avenues to home ownership helps give our customers confidence and brings all the excitement and benefits of home ownership closer within reach.”