10th May 2018
A safe, secure home is the foundation of any successful, independent life, yet long term tenancies and homeownership are out of reach for many in our region. At a time when private rents in Bath are the highest in the South West and house prices continue to rise, more and more families are struggling to afford a place to live in the city.
Curo is Bath's largest social landlord, managing more than 13,000 properties and building hundreds of new homes every year. The housing association lets homes on social and affordable rents and offers new properties for shared ownership to people who can't afford to buy on the open market. For example, recent customers at Mulberry Park, a couple in their 30s working in the not-for-profit sector, say: "We were working at the Bath City Conference last year. My husband and I had been living with his parents and we saw the sign for the shared ownership exhibition and decided to find out what it was because we had no idea.
"After speaking to the Curo team, we realised that shared ownership might finally be the way for us to move into our own home. Even with both my husband and I working full-time, we knew we wouldn't be able to afford a home outright in Bath. This scheme has helped us get onto the property ladder and finally be in a place of our own.
The couple moved in to a brand new 3-bedroom semi-detached house at Mulberry Park in April and could not be happier:
"Our new home is so wonderful. We still cannot believe it! We were especially surprised at the size of the rooms and how well designed the house is. It is more than we could have dreamt of. Without shared ownership we wouldn't be here in our lovely home today. I would recommend this scheme to anyone."
To deliver the affordable homes our region desperately needs, Curo builds and sells properties on the open market, creating income that goes back into its core charitable purpose. Each new home sold enables the organisation to deliver two new affordable homes. Alongside investing its own profits, on some schemes Curo can secure grant funding from partners like Homes England and the local authority.
Many of the new affordable homes are built by Curo, but the organisation also buys homes from other developers, meaning more affordable housing can be made available faster for local people. Over the past year, Curo has delivered 118 new affordable homes and has started work at a new site in Clutton where a total of 36 homes will be built including 12 for social rent and shared ownership.
Over the next three years, Curo plans to deliver more than 750 new affordable homes in our region. On top of that, the organisation was recently granted planning permission to build 89 homes in Peasedown St John, of which 31 homes - or 35 per cent - will be affordable housing.
Outside B&NES, Curo has put forward plans to deliver 185 new homes in Lawrence Weston, Bristol. More than half of these, 94 homes, will be for social and affordable rent and shared ownership.
For its customers, affordable housing means much more than subsidised rent- it offers secure long-term tenancies and, for buyers, enables people to make a first step to owning a home through the shared ownership scheme. Ultimately, affordable housing makes it possible for local people and families to put down roots and build their life in a stable home.
9th May 2018
Curo's flagship development in Combe Down, Mulberry Park, has won the Property category at this year's highly sought-after Bath Life Awards. The results were announced in March at a gala dinner that brought together more than 500 people to celebrate businesses and organisations in the city.
A panel of ten independent judges singled out Mulberry Park from a shortlist of seven finalists which included two other high-profile residential developments in Bath, an architecture practice, a specialist renovation firm and two leading property agents.
The judges were impressed by the "huge sales increase" at Mulberry Park and recognised the organisation behind the development for being "so important to the city, with a clear sense of purpose" and "notable civic activity".
Lisa Howells, Curo Sales Director, said: "We're delighted and very proud that Mulberry Park has won this award which recognises people, projects, businesses and organisations that make a positive difference to the city.
"There are currently 79 families living at Mulberry Park and every week we are welcoming more people in to their modern, energy efficient new homes. Mulberry Park is quickly becoming a new destination in the city, providing not only beautiful homes, but also green open spaces and community facilities, including a new 210-place primary school and 70-place nursery due to open in September."
The school and nursery are part of a state-of-the-art facility that will also include a café, meeting rooms and multifunctional spaces and will sit at the heart of the new community, within easy reach for residents of Combe Down.
Mulberry Park is a development of 700 new homes laid out over 47 acres on the southern slopes of the city. The new homes at Mulberry Park have been designed by award-winning London architects HTA Design with modern family living in mind.
To find out more about the homes at our award-winning development, pop in to Curo's marketing suite on Bradford Road. Our sales negotiators are on hand seven days a week, from 10 AM to 5:30 PM. You can also speak to us on 0345 140 5050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
29th March 2018
Last week the National Housing Federation published their latest Home Truths South West report, highlighting the pressing housing situation in B&NES, where the gap between house prices and earnings continues to widen at more than 13.8 times the average salary. Getting on the housing ladder has never been more difficult for people in our region.
But government-backed initiatives such as Help to Buy and the low cost home ownership scheme known as Shared Ownership are helping, giving millennials the push they need to buy their own home.
A report published by Halifax earlier this year shows that the number of first time buyers has been growing steadily over the past six years and now account for almost half (49%) of all house purchases with a mortgage, compared with 36% a decade ago.
Helping people on the housing ladder
Most Bathonians will know Curo as the largest registered provider of social housing for local families in need of a quality, affordable place to live. But the organisation also helps people struggling to buy a house to get a first foot on the property ladder with Shared Ownership. This article outlines the steps to accessing the scheme and becoming a homeowner.
1. Save up
As with any home-buying process, saving up for a deposit is crucial. However unlike buying a property on the open market, Shared Ownership only requires a minimum 5% of the share that is being purchased - for example, if a property costs £200,000 with a 40% share available to buy at £80,000, the deposit required will only be £4,000. Legal fees and other related expenses usually add around £2,500 to the initial purchasing costs so it's important to budget for these additional costs.
2. Find your dream home
To see what properties are available from Curo on a Shared Ownership basis in our area, go to www.curo-sales.co.uk or www.helptobuysouth.co.uk – where house hunters also need to register their interest once they found a property they like.
3. Find out what you can afford and if you're eligible
After you've registered your interest on helptobuysouth.co.uk, Curo will look at your finances to check if you are able to sustain the monthly mortgage costs, rental and service charge payments, as well as if you have sufficient savings to cover the 5% deposit and other costs associated with purchasing a home.
All Shared Ownership homes are alocated on a 'first come first served' basis, but some properties may also require a 'local connection'– this ensures that local people have priority to homes in an area where they live, work or have strong family ties.
4. View the property and submit your reservation
At this stage successful buyers will be able to view the property they've chosen if the building process is advanced enough and submit an 'off plan' reservation. You'll need to fill in a form with details of your mortgage lender, solicitor and the property chosen. A non-refundable reservation fee of £300 is also required but this will be deducted by Curo from the purchase price.
5. Attend a Shared Ownership interview
Once Curo have accepted your reservation, you will be invited to a meeting with a sales negotiator who will explain the purchasing process. At this point you will also need to show proof of your income and savings. Curo will then send you a letter confirming your reservation and outlining next steps.
6. Secure your mortgage and appoint a solicitor
This is when you need to speak to your chosen bank or building society and proceed with your mortgage application. As standard practice, the lender will carry out a valuation of the home and it will take around 3-4 weeks before your full mortgage offer is released.
You'll also need to appoint your solicitor – it's important to 'shop around' as charges do vary, but if you need help choosing, Curo can put you in touch with solicitors experienced in Shared Ownership. Aside from the solicitor's fee you will need to cover disbursements, searches and VAT costs. The government website www.tax.service.co.uk offers a straightforward calculator to help you find out how much stamp duty tax you'll also need to pay.
7. Exchange contracts
Solicitors will take around 28 days to review the contract and lease, carry out a local authority search and investigate the title of the property before you can sign the contract. They will then exchange contracts with Curo, who will provide at least 10 working days' notice of completion. On the day of completion, you will be met at the property to receive the keys to your new home.
The scheme is available through housing associations like Curo for new build properties and re-sales of Shared Ownership properties. The low cost home ownership scheme is available to first-time buyers, or those who used to own a home but can no longer afford one, with a combined household income of less than £80,000.
For more information about Shared Ownership watch Curo's video at www.curo-sales.co.uk/buying-options.php#sharedownership.
Curo homes available through Shared Ownership now
Curo has a selection of Shared Ownership properties available to buy, with new homes being released periodically. Here are a few properties available right now:
- 8 x two-bedroom apartments at Factory's View in Keynsham with 3 x two-bed houses coming soon
- 5 x two-bedroom apartments at The Meadows in Keynsham
- 2 x one bedroom maisonettes at the Thornbury Fields development in Thornbury
New Shared Ownership properties coming soon at Mulberry Park:
- 2 x two-bedroom houses
- 8 x one bedroom apartments
- 8 x two-bedroom apartments
Below is a cost breakdown example of one of Curo's Shared Ownership properties at the Factory's View development in Keynsham:
Full market value: £246,840
50% share: £123,420
Service charge/month: £65.46
Sinking fund/month: £30.00
For more details go to www.curo-sales.co.uk or call 0345 140 5050.
29th January 2018
Construction work has officially started at Curo's newest housing development, Highbury Fields, situated in the picturesque village of Clutton. The scheme will deliver 36 new homes for local people, including 33% affordable housing for rent and shared ownership.
Highbury Fields is a development of 2, 3 and 4 bedroom properties, with the first homes due for completion in spring next year.
Curo Managing Director, Gerraint Oakley, said: "We're delighted to be able to build much-needed new homes in Bath & North East Somerset and we're excited to see work finally starting on site.
"With the highest private rents in the South West and average house prices amounting to nearly twelve times the median salary in B&NES, it's paramount for house-builders like Curo to continue to build more homes, particularly affordable housing, for local people.
"This site, along with our other developments, underlines our commitment to being part of the solution in the housing crisis we're facing locally and nationally. We don't have shareholders; we generate profit for purpose by building and selling homes on the open market and reinvesting the income to provide more affordable housing."
The development was named after the nearby Highbury Hill, the site of an Iron Age hillfort used for its advantageous defensive position.
Local heritage is further celebrated in the name of the new road that will border the development's south side. The name – Greville Road - was chosen by local residents and the Parish Council for its connection to the village's mining legacy. Greville was the surname of the Count and Countess of Warwick, who owned the Clutton Collieries and built the Maynard Terrace row of cottages, situated next to Highbury Fields, for local miners.
Meet the builders on 30th January
To give local residents the opportunity to find out more about the construction works and the new homes at Highbury Fields, Curo is hosting a drop in event at Clutton Village Hall on Tuesday 30th January from 3pm to 6pm, when visitors can meet the project team.
7th November 2017
On Monday 6th November the first paving stones were unveiled at Mulberry Park, Bath to honour those from Combe Down who served in World War I.
Mulberry Park is Curo's new development of 700 homes, community facilities and open spaces in southern Bath. Local group Combe Down Heritage Society suggested that the streets within the new development were named after the young men of Combe Down who served in World War I. Each street will be marked with a commemorative paving stone.
The first paving stones to be unveiled honour Henry John 'Harry' Patch, William George Chivers and Herbert Charles Windell. Harry Patch, "the Last Fighting Tommy", was the last surviving combat soldier of the First World War from any country. All three men grew up in Combe Down village.
Relatives of William George Chivers attended to see the stone which honours him. Jonathan Cope, who grew up in Combe Down said: "We're really touched that our relative is being honoured in this way. Our family has a strong connection with Combe Down – my mother even worked on the former MOD Foxhill site. It is really important that future generations remember the sacrifices of those who fought in the world wars."
Liz Potter, Chair of housing association and house builder Curo, said: "It's a real privilege to work with the local community to honour these men. As Mulberry Park develops, we will continue to celebrate the history of the local area while looking forward to an exciting future for new and existing residents."
Curo has worked with Combe Down Heritage Society and stone carving students from Bath College to create the commemorative paving stones that will mark each street. The paving stones were kindly donated by Forest of Dean Stone Firms. Stone carving student Jonny Stoker said: "It's my way of paying respect to those who fought in the First World War, especially coming up to Armistice Day. I'm looking forward to visiting the site and seeing all the stones laid together in situ. I think that will give me a massive sense of achievement. Volunteering for projects like this gives me the chance to test what I've learnt at college."
A ceremony to unveil the first paving stones was held on Monday 6th November and was attended by representatives of Combe Down Heritage Society, Bath College, the Royal British Legion and B&NES Council.
Photo (L-R): B&NES Council Chair, Cherry Beath, Mulberry Park Sales Negotiators, Shannon Bull and Emily Adams, Curo Chair, Liz Potter
31st August 2017
Shared Ownership was originally introduced in the late '70s to help people struggling to buy a house to get a first foot on the property ladder. The scheme is now provided by housing associations and offers the purchase of a share in a property, usually between 25% and 75% of its value. The housing association owns the remaining share, for which the shared owner pays rent. It's not unusual for the shared owners' monthly mortgage payments and rent to add up to less or the same as they used to pay while renting a home privately.
Curo is one of the largest housing associations in the South West, with Shared Ownership homes available across the region. Beth and Cory, both in their late 20s, moved in to a two-bed end of terrace maisonette at Curo's Drew's Meadow development in Devizes with their two-year old son earlier this year.
Beth, a post lady, and her partner Cory, who works as a tradesman, previously lived in a privately rented property in Devizes for two and a half years. Beth said: "Our friends attended one of Curo's open days and mentioned the new development to us. Because we lived so close we could watch the homes being built and we became interested in the types of properties that were going to be available.
"We contacted Curo who advised us to register with Help to Buy South. We then provided Curo with our reference number to carry out the affordability assessment and that's how the process started. We are first time buyers so we found it very reassuring to be kept informed on the progress of the property and the purchase by Curo's sales team."
How it works
Lisa Howells, Curo Sales Director, explains how Shared Ownership works: "This housing scheme is a stepping stone for people and families working towards owning a home outright. It means that they are able to buy what they can afford, giving them the breathing space they need in order to make the next step - either purchasing additional shares in their home in 10% increments, or moving on to another property."
Buying further shares in the property is a process known as 'staircasing' and can normally be exercised up to 100%. Rent paid by the shared owners will reduce every time they staircase. Once they reach 100% they become outright owners and no longer need to pay rent.
This is something Beth and Cory are already thinking about. "It would depend on our financial situation, but yes, we would like to staircase," said Beth. "For the time being we like having more space for the three of us, especially our two-year old, who can run around and enjoy the garden. We're pleased with the added security of living in our own home rather than renting and not knowing whether we might be given notice to leave.
"We're hoping to stay in this property until our family expands; we may require an extra room but both bedrooms are very big so we could look at splitting one of them.
"The area is very familiar to us as we only lived around the corner so we knew we were going to like it here. Our family is close to us and we even have friends living on the development which is nice."
Shared Ownership from Curo is available to first-time buyers, or those who used to own a home but can no longer afford one, with a combined household income of less than £80,000.
Lisa said: "We have Shared Ownership properties available in various locations in the South West, including at our flagship Mulberry Park development in Bath. They usually get snapped up pretty quickly, but we release new homes periodically and they will all be advertised on www.curo-sales.co.uk."
For Beth's family, being able to buy their home through Shared Ownership means that they can stay in the area they love for as long as they want to. Beth said: "I would definitely use Shared Ownership again, I think it's a really good scheme. With me only working part-time I didn't think we would be able to get something as nice as this."
Shared Ownership in numbers
Based on the price of a two-bed semi-detached property recently sold by Curo in Bath & North East Somerset, £260,000, here is a basic example of how Shared Ownership works:
-Property price: £260,000
-Buyer / Curo share: 40% (£104,000) / 60% (£156,000)
-Buyer's deposit: 5% of 40% share (£5,200)
-Mortgage required: remaining 35% (£98,800)
-Monthly rent for the share owned by Curo: £357.50
The monthly mortgage payments will depend on the buyer's specific circumstances. On top of this, Shared Ownership buyers will also have to budget for monthly service charges, which will vary from one property to another.
The figures shown above are for illustration purposes only. What you can buy depends on meeting the criteria, your affordability assessment, the share you buy and the mortgage deal you are able to secure. Your circumstances are unique and you should always seek advice and recommendations from an Independent Financial Adviser regarding mortgage products, affordability, interest rate, terms, conditions and method of repayment.
30th August 2017
There is still time to reserve a property at Mulberry Park and move in to a new home by Christmas.
Families dreaming of an extra bedroom or a low maintenance, energy efficient new-build home in Bath can now make their wish a reality just in time for Christmas. Curo have new homes available for reservation at the sought after Mulberry Park development in Combe Down that are ready to receive their owners before the festive season.
The properties are a collection of three and four bedroom homes with prices ranging from £316,000* for mid or end terrace and semi-detached houses to £440,000* for townhouses, with Help to Buy. The government's popular Equity Loan scheme enables house hunters to secure a property at Mulberry Park with a cash deposit of only 5% and a mortgage for 75% of the property value, with the government funding the remaining 20% through a payment and interest free loan for the first five years.
Lisa Howells, Curo sales director, said: "Christmas is everyone's favourite time of the year when families come together to enjoy the holidays. What better present is there for a family than a modern, warm and comfortable new home?
"Designed with energy efficiency in mind, our homes at Mulberry Park are stylish, spacious and easy to maintain. The high quality spec includes fully fitted Halvanto kitchens, perfect for cooking a delicious family Christmas dinner quickly and hassle free."
There's more on offer to tempt house hunters, with Curo's Smooth Move and Swift Move schemes designed to take out the stress associated with moving house.
Swift Move provides a quicker way for homeowners to sell their property at market value, while saving money on estate agent fees, advertising and marketing costs. Meanwhile, Smooth Move makes it possible for homeowners to part exchange their current property for a new house at Mulberry Park without having to sell their property first.
Lisa added: "Our friendly sales team is always on hand to help customers throughout the process of buying a new home, from offering advice on mortgage providers and helping with solicitors to guiding customers through a wide range of finishes to help them create their dream home.
"In addition, our Swift and Smooth Move schemes are in place to further simplify the process of moving home for existing homeowners.
"There are only a handful of homes available to purchase and occupy before Christmas at Mulberry Park and our sales team, alongside our Independent Financial Advisers and solicitors can help you move in within four to six weeks – plenty of time to get settled in a gorgeous new home for the festive season."
Mulberry Park is a development of 700 new homes, community facilities and open spaces, laid out over 47 acres on the southern slopes of the city. The new homes at Mulberry Park have been designed by award-winning London architects HTA Design with modern family living in mind.
The four bedroom townhouses benefit from an open plan kitchen/diner that opens through bi-fold doors to a generous landscaped garden, allowing plenty of natural light in and giving homeowners the chance to enjoy indoor/outdoor living.
To find out more, pop in to Curo's marketing suite on Bradford Road, where there is free dedicated parking. Our sales negotiators are on hand seven days a week, from 10 AM to 5:30 PM. You can also call 0345 140 5050, email email@example.com, or visit www.curo-sales.co.uk.
*Help to Buy price, 20% Government-backed Equity loan and 75% Mortgage are subject to status, lender's conditions and availabiltiy. Selected plots only, subject to status, availability, terms and conditions.
3rd August 2017
Becoming a homeowner may seem like a far-fetched dream for many young people in Bath, where the average house price is nearly 12 times the average salary. According to mortgage lender Halifax, the average age of a first-time buyer in the UK is currently 30.
However a report published in June shows that more than 285,000 people, including 240,000 first time buyers, were able to purchase a property through the government's 'Help to Buy' schemes since they were introduced in 2013.
One couple who took advantage of this scheme recently moved into their own home at Mulberry Park, Curo's development in south Bath.
Paul, 25, and Grace, 24, had been renting an apartment in Bathwick Street while saving up for a deposit, but thought they'd have to compromise on size or location to be able to buy a home in Bath.
"We wanted a home at Mulberry Park due to its great location in Combe Down," said Paul. "We were planning to use Help to Buy for a two-bedroom property as we didn't think we could afford a bigger home. Shannon, the Curo sales negotiator at Mulberry Park, discussed the numbers with us and we were delighted to see that we could actually get the three bedroom home we really wanted."
Going for a bigger property will allow the couple to make long-term plans and stay put for as long as they choose to, rather than being forced to move again by changing circumstances.
The government-backed Help to Buy scheme is available on all new build homes and can be accessed by first time buyers as well as existing homeowners looking to move up the property ladder.
Lisa Howells, Curo sales director, explains how it works: "With Help to Buy, you only need to put down a cash deposit of 5% of the property's value. The government will then lend you up to 20% through an equity loan that is interest and payment free for the first five years. This means you only need to get a mortgage for the remaining 75% of the property's value."
Saving up for a deposit while paying rent and bills is particularly difficult in Bath & North East Somerset, with private sector rents averaging at £1,096pcm – the highest in the South West.
"Equity loans through Help to Buy tackle this issue, supporting both people who aspire to own a home and those who are looking to move to a bigger property or a different area," said Lisa. "So far, nine of our homes at Mulberry Park have been purchased through Help to Buy."
Of course, the more a buyer is able to contribute towards a deposit, the lower the monthly mortgage repayments will be.
"Moving in was very exciting, and it's been brilliant so far" said Grace. "We've had a lot of support and advice throughout the process from the sales team at Curo."
"The guarantees that come with a new build have given us a lot of peace of mind as new homeowners. It was also great to be able to choose the finishes we wanted and personalise our new home."
"We look forward to taking advantage of the shops and restaurants that will be available at Mulberry Park and a much shorter commute to work. Having our own entrance and parking is amazing compared to before when I had to lug shopping up flights of stairs and struggling to park. We're also looking forward to being part of this community and meeting new people."
15th May 2017
Curo Sales team were overwhelmed by excited house hunters as their first show home opened its doors on Saturday 6th May.
Prospective buyers commented on how well the show home had been designed and could imagine living there with their family.
Curo sales director, Lisa Howells, said: "We were really pleased with the amount of people that visited the show home on Saturday and have been delighted with positive feedback. The show home has been finished to a high standard and certainly has the wow factor. It was a great opportunity for our buyers that have purchased their homes off plan to come and view a fully completed new home first hand".
5th May 2017
Curo are excited to announce the door to their first show home is due to open on Saturday 6th May.
The Claverton is a stunning four bedroom family home set over three floors. On the ground floor an open plan kitchen diner opens through bi-fold doors to a generous landscaped garden. Upstairs, you'll find an elegant master suite with en-suite shower room, three further bedrooms and a spacious family bathroom. Inside, a fully fitted high gloss Halvanto kitchen includes integrated Neff appliances and quartz worktops, while both family and en-suite bathrooms have been finished with luxurious Porcelanosa tiling.