The People

We are proud that we have been able to help so many people to find a home. Below is a small selection of these people, happy to share their experience with you.

The Baldwin Family

At one time, the Baldwin family could only dream of owning their own home in Milton Keynes. Four years after living in a bpha rent-to-buy property, they have placed their feet firmly on that elusive property ladder.

Debs Baldwin and her husband, Chris, moved into a bpha rent-to-buy property the same month as they found out they were expecting their second child. Four years later, the family of four have just purchased a 30 per cent share of their home as part of bpha’s shared ownership scheme.

‘I’ve recommend the shared ownership scheme left, right and centre!’ Debs enthuses. ‘It was a simple process and has enabled us to get onto the property ladder, which we just hadn’t been able to do before.’

Debs, Chris, and children, Dain, 12, and Breanna, 3, live in Milton Keynes. Four years ago, they were living in a small two-bed terrace, rented through a private landlord. Needing more room, and finding the landlord reluctant to carry out repairs, they applied for a bpha home, and were overjoyed when they were offered a three-bed house in Oakridge Park.

‘There’s no way we could have afforded a home like this through a private rent,’ Debs says. ‘This is so much bigger and is in such a good condition, especially compared to what we had before.’

Debs and Chris’ aim was to own their own home, so with the rent-to-buy scheme*, they were able to put a little aside each month for a deposit. baldwin family

When they were eventually able to buy shares in their home it was simple, Debs explains: ‘It was an easy process and the asset sales team at the bpha bent over backwards to help – they supported us with lots of things, from the initial valuation through to sorting out direct debit for the rent we still pay. They were flexible too – I can’t fault them.’

Over time, you can increase the share of your home that you own – a process called staircasing, which Debs and Chris want to do in the future.

For now, they are enjoying the space their home offers, and the security that being a shared owner brings. ‘Without this chance, we wouldn’t have been able to get onto the property ladder,’ Debs says. ‘I know that as long as we pay our bills, it’s ours.’

*Although Rent to Buy is no longer available, there are alternative options. To find out more, contact bpha’s sales team on 0330 0535 131.

Mark Goldsmith

When firefighter Mark Goldsmith’s life changed irrevocably, he thought home ownership in Cambridge was forever out of his grasp – until he discovered he had options with bpha.

I never thought I would find myself on a bike chasing Pokémon, I had no idea it was so addictive,’ says firefighter Mark Goldsmith as he contemplates how life has changed since he moved into his new home at Orchard Park in Cambridge.

Through his work as a firefighter, Mark Goldsmith is used to climbing ladders, but the property ladder in Cambridge was presenting a whole different challenge after his relationship break-up left him needing a new home. Finding a place he could call home was especially crucial because Mark has a nine-year-old son, Zac, and as a self-professed ‘doting father’, he wanted to give his son a great place to grow up.

mike goldsmith

The 40-year-old firefighter works for the Fire and Rescue Service in Cambridgeshire. As someone who performs essential services for the community, it is important that Mark and people like him – firefighters, police, medical staff, teachers – are able to live in, or near, the community they serve. But, as any quick glance at the property papers or websites will tell you, finding an affordable home in Cambridge is a very difficult task.

On the property website Rightmove in August 2016, a two-bedroom, terrace house in Trumpington cost £388,000 with a two-bedroom flat in the city costing upwards of £250,000.

For Mark, the way back onto the property ladder lay with bpha. He had purchased his first home with help from the housing association and so going back to the organisation for a second dose of help was a ‘no-brainer’. ‘I now live in a two-bedroom home in Orchard Park in Cambridge,’ says Mark, who is one of just a handful of clients who have purchased a home for the second time with the help of bpha.

I have been in the fire service for 12 years and, while we are paid a good wage, it is not keeping up with the rise in house prices in the city,’ says Mark. In fact Cambridge, along with London, is one of the cities with the highest house prices in the country. ‘I had not heard of bpha when I was looking for my first home but I just searched on Google and bpha was the first name to pop up.’

Mark bought a 30 per cent share of this first home, just off Milton Road in Cambridge. The rise in house prices meant he was able to put £30,000 down on the next house – which is valued at £290,000. ‘It was close to the top end of the mortgage,’ he explains, ‘but without the help of bpha, I would have come nowhere near being able to buy a home.’ To buy his current home, Mark purchased a 50% share of his home using bpha's shared ownership scheme.

Bpha has just made the whole thing a lot less stressful,’ he says. ‘I was going through the break up in my relationship, I needed to find somewhere to live quickly and I wanted to live near work. It was also important that I had somewhere that my son could also call home.

Certainly Mark and Zak are making the most of the location. Zak stays with dad on Wednesdays and at the weekend. As a fitness nut and sportsman himself, Mark has been delighted that Zak is also a keen footballer, cricketer and rugby player. ‘I coach Waterbeach U10 football club, where Zak plays,’ says Mark. ‘So I get to spend a lot of time with him through that, and we go over to the park and kick a ball about or do the nature trails there. Plus, I bought him a road bike, and the guided bus route is right here so we can go on bike rides together. That is how he introduced me to Pokémon,’ he laughs. While it is great for Mark and Zak’s relationship, the move to Orchard Park is bringing other benefits: ’Through the help of bpha, I can live in the city, I cycle to work, which means I don’t have to drive a car into the city or spend money on public transport.’ The beauty of this second purchase is its location. Orchard Park is close to a planned second train station, a fact that should send the house prices up again. Could this mean a third move is on the cards one day? ‘If things keep going well with my career and the house, then next time I might be able to buy my home outright,’ says Mark. ‘There are 70 firefighters working at the Cambridge station and only three or four of them have turned to bpha for help. That amazes me because it is a great way for people like me to get onto the property ladder.’

For now, Mark is happy in his new home. He says his favourite place to be is the dining room. ‘It is a great social space. I love cooking and socialising – my homemade Pad Thai is something else – and I also love the view through the big bay window, loads of green space.’ Plus it’s the perfect spot to keep watch for those pesky Pokémon!

Rachael Beckett

When Rachael Beckett first bought a 50 per cent share of her home with bpha in 2012, she always knew she would want to buy more, and – five years on – that’s exactly what she’s doing.

The process, known as staircasing, allows you to buy affordable chunks in the home you already part own. Rachel first contacted bpha about buying a further 20 per cent share in her home in January 2017, and expects to complete the process this summer.

She says: ‘I found the staff were extremely helpful and I’ve dealt mainly with one person – Natalie Conte – throughout the process. It made the experience easy and stress free, as she was always on the ball with answering my questions. She helped guide me through the process and was, what I can only express as, ‘personable’, which was reassuring.’

There are three criteria to meet to enable you to proceed with buying further shares in your home. They are:

  • Your rent account is paid up to date
  • Your lease allows you to buy further shares
  • You can affordably finance the purchase of further shares
rachael beckett

Rachael says bpha gave her details about how to proceed, and what her new deducted rents and service charge would be. She was asked to forward on her last three-month pay slips, and was told that she would need to pay £250 for an independent chartered surveyor, which bpha arranged, ‘so it was hassle free’, adds Rachael.

Once a valuation has been conducted, this information is used to calculate the price of the further shares you are buying; this price is valid for three months.

Rachael adds: ‘Throughout this time, bpha was in constant contact, updating me on the progress and chasing the surveyor for the report, which I found reassuring.

‘I would definitely recommend anyone to staircase if they are able.’

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