For several years, Ross Hale had been keen to downsize from his three-bedroom home at Queensland’s Fraser Coast and move into an over 50s land lease community.
Ross, a retired lawyer, was sick of home maintenance and also wanted to make new friends and join an active and vibrant community.
But Ross had a problem - he had a mortgage on his existing home and couldn’t find a lender who understood the land lease sector and could bring this debt across to his proposed new home at Ingenia Lifestyle Hervey Bay.
“Downsizing gives you more opportunity to do what you want, instead of mowing lawns and trimming trees,” Ross said. “So I decided to sell up.”
“But, after selling my house, I became very stressed as my current mortgage holder would not lend any finance to allow me to purchase the Ingenia home“.
Enter licensed Australian financial services company Land Lease Home Loans.
Land Lease Home Loans is the first – and only – lender to provide loans to people wanting to downsize to a land lease property.
Ross’s timing was perfect, as he ended up being Land Lease Home Loans’ first customer.
Ross found the attitude of banks difficult to understand.
“They appeared to be stuck in a box and not looking outside the square,” he says.
Then, Land Lease Home Loans came along and offered me the opportunity to take all that stress away and put me in a better place.”
The land lease housing model explained
Land lease communities go by various names.
They are often referred to as ‘over 55s villages’, ‘lifestyle communities’, ‘manufactured home estates’ or ‘residential parks’, depending on where you live.
Under the land lease housing model, you buy a dwelling and then sign a long-term lease with the operator to rent the land on which the dwelling sits.
This arrangement brings significant savings and financial benefits.
For starters, stamp duty is not payable and the cost of the new home is typically less than traditional housing in the same locality.
What’s more, if you are an age pensioner, you may be eligible for government rent assistance to help pay your ongoing site fees.
And unlike retirement villages, most land lease communities do not charge exit fees so you get to keep any, and all of, the capital gain on your home.
Apart from the financial benefits, land lease communities are often situated in beautiful locations with a ready-made neighbourhood waiting to welcome you.
“Every Friday evening, there are community gatherings on each street corner,” says Ross.
Getting to know each other is fantastic, it’s a friendly place.”
Given the above, it’s hardly surprising that the Australian land lease living sector is undergoing rapid growth. But until now, there hasn’t been a home loan product available for people buying into a land lease community.
Thinking outside the square for land lease downsizers
Land Lease Home Loans founder and managing director Andrew Ralph said he realised there was an urgent need for a land lease loan product when working at a major bank which serviced the retirement living industry.
Other lenders either didn’t understand or weren’t able to offer a realistic solution to the land lease sector,” he said.
“I realised there was a real opportunity here to help people to be able to buy a land lease community home and leverage off the many financial and lifestyle benefits that come from doing this.”
Andrew notes that land lease loans are commonplace in the United States and would like to see this also being the case in Australia.
Land Lease Home Loans offers a Lifestyle PLUS product, which is similar to a traditional principal and interest loan, and available for the sole purpose of purchasing a land lease home.
To be eligible for a Lifestyle PLUS loan, it’s likely the applicant will either need to currently own a home (including with a mortgage) or have a reasonably substantial home deposit.
A typical customer would be under 65 and have an income stream from working or investments that is sufficient to service the loan repayments over the full term.
Other factors including the applicant’s age and assets, debts and expenses will also be considered.
Ross qualified for a Lifestyle CAPITAL land lease home loan, which is a reverse mortgage-style arrangement, a flexible loan available for over 65’s allowing him to access his home’s equity with no repayments until he sells or vacates.
Ross likes the flexibility of no mandatory repayments but has elected to pay principal and interest for now.
Ross used the lump sum payment option to also upgrade his car and make some improvements to his new home.
Land Lease Home Loans’ website and team will explain which option is best for you and, like all financial products, it’s important that you seek independent financial advice.
Land Lease Home Loans and Ingenia Lifestyle
Initially, the two Land Lease Home Loan products will be available for properties that are part of Ingenia Lifestyle’s 17 communities around Australia’s east coast.
Ingenia is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange and is regarded as one of Australia’s largest and most innovative land lease community operators.
Ingenia Communities Group CEO, Simon Owen says he is pleased to finally see a finance solution made available to residents of land lease communities.
We have been very keen to support the introduction of a well-thought out and well-executed finance solution to residents who may need a modest loan to facilitate their move to a community,” says Simon.
Like for all loan products, due diligence is important.
If you are keen to move into an Ingenia Lifestyle community and would like to discuss finance options, contact Land Lease Home Loans today.
See our editor Mark Skelsey interview Andrew Ralph from Land Lease Home Loans below