Genie moves into London in a £40m homes deal

Wearside firm Gentoo launched Genie back in 2011, as a way to help first-time buyers and long-term renters into home ownership.

Gentoo chief executive Peter Walls
Gentoo chief executive Peter Walls

Wearside developer Gentoo’s pioneering home purchase scheme is moving into London - with backing from major Boris Johnson - following a deal to make 2,000 new homes available in the capital over the next decade.

The Journal revealed last autumn how the Sunderland firm was in talks with the Treasury to expand its Genie Home Purchase Plan, having noted marked success with the scheme since its inception.

Launched in 2011, the product aimed to give people an opportunity to buy their own home without saving for a mortgage deposit.

The brainchild of chief executive Peter Walls, the resulting 30-year home ownership scheme allows Genie customers to choose a home from a selection of new properties, pay a monthly fee and have total payments fixed for each five-year period.

As well as being engaged in Treasury talks, Genie has been working with the Greater London Authority to bring the product to London, with the GLA supporting Genie with £40m of loan finance.

The investment follows Genie’s successful pilot in the North East which has seen 88 families move into homes of their own.

Steve Hicks, managing director of Genie, said: “We set up Genie as a way to help those people who want to get onto the housing ladder but who haven’t been able to because of a number of reasons, including saving for a deposit while renting.

“There has been a lack of innovation in the housing market which has left would-be homeowners feeling frustrated and unable to buy their own house.

“This 10-year partnership with the GLA will help customers into a minimum of 2,000 new homes in the capital who otherwise would have struggled to own their own homes, because of the difficult market conditions in London.”

Development opportunities are now being sought out to deliver the first 500 new homes in the Greater London area, with the first properties completed and on the market later this year for customers.

The investment in Genie has come through the Mayor’s Revolving Fund, which gives recoverable loans to fund new forms of affordable housing.

Gentoo chief executive Peter Walls said: “We created Genie after asking ourselves the question ‘Where are our children going to live?’ We recognised that there is a large section of society who would like to own their own home but who have been unable to.

“Genie is an ethical and unique product that helps people to access affordable homes in the locations they want to live.

“We’re thrilled that the GLA has recognised Genie is an innovative solution to help these people and we look forward to seeing people move into their own homes.”

London mayor Boris Johnson said: “This is one of a number of innovative schemes I’m funding to help the thousands of people looking for affordable properties in the capital.

“Plans like this provide more accessibility and flexibility for purchasers who may struggle to save large deposits and my funding will help accelerate the delivery of much needed new homes across London.”

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