When the costs of relocation ate up this family’s savings, they almost gave up on owning their home in Australia for the foreseeable future. OwnHome turned the situation around for them – here’s how.
Four years ago, Andrew and Simone swapped the bitterly cold winters of Glasgow in Scotland for beach life on the Gold Coast. As a psychiatrist, finding a job was a piece of cake for Simone, and Andrew planned to be a stay-at-home dad for the first few months. The couple had equity in cash and they were excited about putting down stumps by buying a home in Queensland.
However, the relocation costs quickly chewed through the couple’s savings, and the cost of living in Australia was significantly higher than expected. There were private school fees to cover for their 10-year-old daughter Eilidh and rent was $800 a week. On top of that, they had to move twice in three years. Even though Andrew took up a role at a payroll software company, they started to feel bleak about their ability to buy a house.
Back to square one
“We went back to a zero-dollar starting point, just about,” says Andrew. “Even for the two of us on good professional salaries, it would have taken us five or six years to save for a deposit – during which time there is no security about whether our lease would be renewed or if the owner would sell the property or something.”
It was also disheartening for the couple to realise that by the time they had saved a minimum deposit of $100,000 for a family home valued at around a million dollars in 2020, property prices would have risen to the point that they would need another $50,000 in order to get a mortgage in 2025. And so the cycle could continue, indefinitely.
The financial hurdles to owning their own home seemed insurmountable. And yet, six months ago the family moved into a four-bedroom house on a 1000 metre-square block that ticks all the boxes in terms of being conveniently located to school, work and public transport links. Work has begun on installing a swimming pool in their massive backyard and they have installed a solar power system. There is space aplenty for visiting relatives from Scotland, and more than enough room for their two dogs to run around.
How did Andrew and Simone do it?
They discovered OwnHome.
Crunching the numbers on OwnHome
Andrew was pleasantly surprised by how quickly things moved after an initial call with OwnHome co-founder Tim Harley and Legal and Business Ops Lead, Tom Rust. Thorough background checks on incomes were carried out and then the team at OwnHome provided help with evaluating different suburbs and potential properties.
“Tim and Tom were fantastic from day one. They were approachable, knowledgeable, and very upfront about advising us to get independent legal advice to understand the contract terms. Tom was available to answer our questions whether it was eight o'clock at night or 10am on a Sunday. To be honest, I don't actually know whether he gets much spare time outside of OwnHome!” says Andrew with a laugh.
Andrew and Simone carefully weighed up the costs, risks and opportunities and ultimately concluded that purchasing a property through OwnHome was a “no-brainer” compared with the traditional route to home ownership in Australia. The couple were also reassured by the fact that one of Australia’s largest banks, Commonwealth Bank, has invested in OwnHome, and that it had received widespread media coverage on national outlets.
“There were the initial startup costs, in terms of what you invest to get into the scheme, explains Andrew. “There is the rental fee that you pay per month, as well as contributions towards our OwnHome security deposit. Realistically, the money paid towards the security deposit is what you would hopefully be saving anyway each month if you were aiming for a deposit.”
The couple were previously paying $800 in weekly rent and they currently pay $1150. Their rent is capped, which is of great reassurance at a time when rental prices are “going crazy” on the Gold Coast due to real estate shortages.
Andrew and Simone plan to obtain the ownership title of the house within three years, although they could theoretically wait seven years should they wish to (three years is the minimum timeframe). At that point, their weekly repayments will likely decrease, because the cost of the mortgage will be less than their combined rent and security deposit.
Up or down?
Regardless of whether the property increases or decreases in value by the time they have the option to purchase it, the purchase amount to transfer the ownership title is locked in. Could that benefit or disadvantage the couple?
Andrew says they are cautiously optimistic that it is a favourable deal.
“We looked at five to ten-year property value projections and we feel confident that property values will rise,” says Andrew. “Hopefully it will actually be worth a little bit more than what we pay for it because we have invested in the property with the pool and solar power. Of course, there's no guarantees in life. But the possibility of the house decreasing in value was the only risk that we foresaw in the whole arrangement.”
Andrew says that even more valuable than the financial leg-up of getting a mortgage is the ability to make their house a home.
“This is the first time my daughter has been able to decorate her room, and she's at an age now where she has the sense of self to want to do things to her bedroom. She chose the colour of the paint and stuff to hang on the walls. I don’t exactly know why she chose a khaki and white colour scheme, but it’s cool! For me, it’s being able to personalise the place that is so great.”