How Camilla and Ben Bought Their Home With VRTB
With three young children, Camilla and Ben knew they might soon outgrow their two-bedroom house in Witney, Oxfordshire.
But as renters, they couldn’t expand into their loft. And even after being offered three-bedroom properties, they couldn’t bring themselves to move.
“This is our home,” Camilla explained, “and that trumps space – but then the Voluntary Right to Buy came up and I thought, ‘Great, now we can have the space, and keep our home.’”
Camilla and her family are the first to purchase their home through Sovereign’s Voluntary Right to Buy pilot, which launched in Oxfordshire earlier this year.
The government-backed scheme allows housing association residents to purchase their home at a discount, and then the housing association uses the funds raised to build more properties for people in housing need.
As soon as Camilla and Ben heard about the scheme, they knew it was for them. They had considered purchasing their own under the Right to Acquire six years ago, but didn’t go forward with the application.
“We just weren’t at the right point in our lives to start thinking about something of that gravity – even though we'd had children, buying a house, for us, was scarier.”
But since then, Camilla and Ben’s family has grown to fill their home. They love their neighbourhood, and know all of their neighbours. In the evenings, all the local children play together on the green outside their homes.
“It’s a real community,” Camilla said. “We’re lucky to be where we are.”
So Camilla went online as soon as she found out about the Voluntary Right to Buy. She did a lot of research, and the day that Sovereign launched its online application, Camilla got her laptop out, logged on, and applied straight away.
“It was a really good way of applying online – you just press a button to pay your £250 [fee], and then you can sit back and relax for a while,” Camilla said. “These days, people deal with everything online: it’s quick, simple, straight-forward, and it [the application form] highlights if you’ve missed anything. So it’s much better doing it online.”
And now, for the first time in their life, Camilla and Ben own their own home. They already have plans to get a new front door – a symbolic gesture, since of course they don't receive a new set of keys to their home – then they'll replace some of the flooring, and eventually get to work on transforming the loft.
While buying a property can be complicated, and the pilot was testing brand new processes, Camilla was pleased with how Sovereign helped her buy their home.
“I’ve got to give Sovereign credit – I’ve been ringing them all the time and they’ve been really patient with me, and have answered all my questions, and reassured me throughout the whole process.
“How Sovereign has dealt with it has been wonderful”, she said.
There are limited spaces left on our Voluntary Right to Buy pilot, which closes for applications at midnight on 31 October. Find out more and apply.
The Government has plans to extend the Right to Buy to more housing association residents across the country. These plans are currently being drawn up and if you would like hear about progress you can sign up for updates.