For most people in Vancouver, buying a home often means making a choice between homeownership and staying with your community. When a group of 10 friends was faced with making this very decision, they all chose both.
As individuals, their goal of homeownership in Vancouver couldn’t be realized due to rocketing real estate prices. But together, they could be a financial force, pursuing a dream property for their growing families. And in 2017, their dream started taking shape with a mortgage from Vancity.
The group found a property that perfectly fit their plans in Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. They wanted to transform the 4-acre area into a 10-lot community with gardens, communal areas, and enough space for each family. They knew it would take years before they could turn the property into what they’d envisioned, but they were keen to get started by making an offer.
Their shared vision for the space was clear but getting the mortgage they needed was not. The group knew they needed a lender that would listen to their atypical plan and understand their needs.
“I went to some of the big banks and their reaction was to basically laugh us out of the room. And the message we got from Vancity when I walked into our local branch was, ‘I’m not sure we’ve done that before but that’s not a good enough reason to not try.’” Colleen O’Toole, one of the community members.
With the Vancity Mixer Mortgage , this 10-person group had financing to purchase their dream property. Since 2017, they have been working on zoning, plotting, renovating, and building. It’s certainly not an overnight project, but the group is confident in the strides they’re making and the community that they’re building together.
The Mixer Mortgage is just one of the ways Vancity has worked towards making housing accessible for all. The credit union was the first to provide mortgage lending to the working class and immigrant families living east of Cambie Street in Vancouver. It was the first bank in Canada to lend to women without requiring a man to cosign the loan.
The challenge of housing affordability is multifaceted and isn’t limited to Vancouver. Homeownership in Canada is impacted by various challenges including the fear of rising interest rates, lack of steady full-time employment, a shortfall in salary, and household debt levels.
The reality of the housing crisis has encouraged many Canadians to explore alternative solutions, like pooling funds with friends and family to afford home ownership, but the legalities and complexity of sharing such a large investment can be challenging enough to ward off potential buyers.
Vancity’s Mixer Mortgage is designed to provide traditional mortgage financing and referrals for professional advice, so that members seeking these arrangements can feel protected and supported at every step in their home-buying process.
The Mixer Mortgage agreement lays out the distribution of expenses and helps align co-owners on insurance protection. This means that common co-ownership concerns are addressed and accounted for, like what happens if one member wants to end the agreement or sell, or in the unfortunate event of a death. Features like these help make buying property with friends or family an exciting decision rather than a stressful event.
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