A family-of five from Bristol have achieved their dream of home ownership after signing up to an innovative employee-benefit scheme from Stonewater.
Nicola Henderson; her husband, Nigel; and their three children moved into their new home in Stoke Gifford just before Christmas.
Their move from renting to owning their own home was helped by an employee-only shared ownership initiative launched by Nicola’s employer, social landlord Stonewater.
myOwnHome, specifically designed for Stonewater colleagues, aims to overcome the barriers preventing many of them from owning their own home.
It gives eligible employees the opportunity to choose a property available on the open market, which Stonewater buys on their behalf.
They can then buy a share (between 25-75%) of their home, depending on what they can afford, and pay discounted rent on the rest.
As soon as she heard about the scheme, Nicola – who has worked as Lettings team manager at Stonewater for the last four years – saw it as the ideal opportunity to get on the property ladder.
She said: “My husband and I moved to Portugal in 2002, when his work took us out there.
“We lived there for over eight years and ended up renting a house, as our focus was on the children – our income went on bringing up a family, rather than investing in property.
“It was great while the kids were young, but I wanted to come back to educate them here and be near my family.
“So we came back to England in 2011 with nothing, in terms of money or a home.
“We’ve since rented a three-bedroom house privately in Stoke Gifford for nine-and-a-half years.
“I wanted to be round here as my parents and sister live in the area but property prices are very expensive and, with three teenage children, there was no scope for saving to buy a house.
“In recent years, as the children have grown up, we managed to save a bit. But I’m 50 now so, being the age we are, we are limited on the kind of mortgage we can have and how much we can borrow.”
Nicola continued: “But, through myOwnHome, we have bought a share in a lovely house which is bigger than the one we rented.
“My daughter calls it ‘a party house’ because there’s so much more room to entertain, once lockdown restrictions allow. We all love it here and family life is so much easier.
“I think the scheme is amazing, particularly for young people and older people like myself, who would struggle to get onto the property ladder otherwise.
“It is brilliant – a huge, life-changing company perk which means so much to so many people.”
Stonewater launched myOwnHome in 2019 as part of its mission to give everyone the opportunity to have a place that they can call home.
With offices in Bristol, Stourbridge, and Reading, Stonewater operates in high-value areas outside London.
The new scheme aims to help colleagues get on the property ladder in the areas in which they work.
Chief executive Nick Harris said: “I wanted to find a way that allowed us not only to support our customers getting onto the property ladder, but our hardworking colleagues too.
“As well as helping colleagues to become homeowners, it gives them a greater chance of living nearer to where they work.
“This provides them with the opportunity for a healthy balance of work and home life, instead of commuting far and wide from more affordable areas.”
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