You can now go for a glamorous lifestyle and location, even if you are a first-time buyer. A luxury high-rise apartment scheme where residents enjoy a glittering package of extras including 24-hour concierge, valet parking, gym, holistic spa, private cinema and “sky-lobby” cocktail bar, is opening its doors to low-budget buyers who can get on the property ladder for as little as 12.5 per cent of the open market price through a shared-ownership deal.
This is a unique idea and opportunity
Normally, such housing is available only to wealthy buyers in exclusive areas such as Knightsbridge and Belgravia. The deal is being offered at fashionable Pan Peninsula, a recently completed Manhattan-style development of 762 flats in Docklands.
‘Many of the flats are bijou but designed with 21st century space-saving architecture: drop-down beds and marble bathrooms’
When launched off-plan three years ago, the development was aimed at high-paid Canary Wharf bankers and lawyers looking for chic weekday residences close to the office. Many of the flats are bijou “studio suites” - a mere 300sq ft - but designed with 21st century space-saving architecture: drop-down beds, foldaway transformer kitchens and heated marble-walled bathrooms.
Part of Ballymore’s planning permission agreement with Tower Hamlets council was to provide 27 on-site affordable homes, which are now being offered on a shared-ownership basis through a company called Assettrust. Assettrust specialises in buying bulk from developers and is able to negotiate price discounts that can be passed on to individual buyers.
At Pan Peninsula, which comprises a pair of interlinked towers rising to 50 storeys with a shared marble-clad foyer resembling the entrance reception of a global investment bank, the one- and two-bedroom shared-ownership flats have full market prices ranging from £260,000 to £499,995.
With shared ownership, buyers purchase some equity and pay rent on the remainder. Total monthly repayments are lower than they would be for full ownership. And buyers can “staircase” — purchase more equity chunks — as their financial position improves.
Unusually, Assettrust is allowing a low 12 per cent equity stake compared with the customary 50 per cent. This minimum £32,500 stake is for cash purchases only (something that may appeal to parents willing to provide a deposit to enable their offspring to get on the property ladder).
For buyers who have to raise a mortgage, the minimum stake that can be bought is 25 per cent, or £65,000. Mortgages are available through Savills Private Finance.
Rent is paid on the balance and fixed at three per cent, a rate that can be increased only in line with the annual retail price index plus one per cent.
“At a stroke we have transformed people’s purchasing power,” says David Orchin, Assettrust’s director of sales, claiming there is no trick here.
‘Unusually, Assettrust is allowing a low 12 per cent equity stake compared with the customary 50 per cent’
To buy, it is not necessary to be a key worker or to be nominated by a council or housing association. Assettrust vets applicants to ensure they can afford it. Investors are not welcome but owners can sub-let a room and are free to sell their share on the open market.
According to Assettrust, someone buying a 25 per cent equity share in a £260,000 flat (484sq ft) would pay £1,142 a month in mortgage repayments, rent and service charges. If purchased outright, the monthly cost would be £1,895 and the private rent would cost about £1,400 a month.
On the same basis, a £395,000 two-bedroom flat (797sq ft) would cost £1,454 a month against £2,829 a month. Call 0845 373 2443.
The shared-ownership apartments are spread across the fourth to ninth floors of one of the towers and have balconies with views of the Canary Wharf skyline. Interior finishes are marginally less lavish than Ballymore’s specification but the flats are smart with floor-to-ceiling windows, air con and underfloor heating.
Owners have access to all the luxury extras
The cinema can be used for private screenings and sporting events while a booking system operates for the The Attic, a cocktail bar with a glorious panoramic-view. Liveried porters collect household rubbish deposited in black bags outside flats. The Six Senses Spa offers pay-as-you go treatments. The sting in the tail is the high service charges levied to pay for these creature comforts: typically £240 a month for a one-bedroom flat and £380 a month for two-bedrooms.
Assettrust is capping charges at £120 a month for the first three years but costs could spiral later. David Orchin claims the deal is good value given the complete lifestyle package. “An outside gym membership alone could cost £60 a month.” Sue Brown, Pan Peninsula’s general manager, says: “It was sold as a luxury-lifestyle — a hotel you can live in full time.” Ballymore admits that some original buyers have failed to complete because of the credit crunch — only 127 completions have taken place so far.
Resales are being offered through several local estate agents, while Ballymore itself has a few apartments for sale. This means shared-ownership buyers can check prices and ensure their deal stacks up. For more information, call 020 7001 9650.
Assettrust is also selling flats at a nearby, less luxurious, scheme called The Forge and at City Quarter in Aldgate. Other developments are in the pipeline. Buyers can register online by visiting www.assettrusthousing.com.
Affordable housing elsewhere in the capital may not match the panache of Pan Peninsula but low-cost options are available at designer developments such as those in high-profile Stratford, which is a showcase because of the 2012 Olympics.
Rent to buy
‘The rent I pay isn’t money down the drain’
East Homes is offering a rent-to-buy shared-ownership scheme allowing those with no deposit to get on the ladder.
Rent is charged at a 20 per cent discount plus a six-month refund is given if the person goes on to buy the property within five years at the prevailing market value. People can test drive a property and decide whether they want to put down roots in the area.
Central London retail manager Roy Smith, 27, is exercising this option on a one-bedroom flat at Meridia Court, a colourful scheme overlooking the Olympics complex.
“The rent I pay is not money down the drain because some of it comes off the price when I buy, which I will do when I have a big enough deposit.”
His monthly rent is £704 and the flat is valued at £196,200. The minimum share he can buy is 25 per cent.
Smith, a keen sportsman, uses the scheme’s gym and says the leisure facilities and amenities are a big reason for staying in the area.
For more information, call 0845 600 0830.