For too long, key workers have been unable to buy a home because of large deposit requirements and indifference from mortgage providers. Paired with the rising cost of living and stagnant wages, there has never been a harder time to get on the property ladder. Those who keep the country running through their essential contribution are often among the most unlikely to buy a home.
A key worker is roughly defined as someone employed in the private or public sector whose job is essential to the functioning of society. These could be professions in education, healthcare, emergency services and critical national infrastructure. The term ‘key worker’ jumped into the public consciousness at the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. As the UK government outlined steps to contain the virus, key workers were assigned to efforts of national importance. From front line health workers treating patients, to teachers working tirelessly to continue educating children, the UK leaned on its critical workforce in a time of significant pressure.
It would be easy to think that a key worker exists only for times of national emergency like Covid-19. But they’ve always been there, performing essential roles we often take for granted. And they’re still there today and more important than ever.
According to Glassdoor, the median salary of a key worker is around £23,000, well below the £31,000 national figure report by the ONS. For many, this discrepancy fails to reflect the importance society attaches to these jobs. The cost of living crisis in the UK has made it increasingly difficult to make ends meet and put significant financial strain on many families. For key workers who are already stretched thin by their demanding jobs and lower pay, this can be a real challenge.
Nowhere is this strain felt more than when it comes to home ownership. Given lower than average incomes, key workers are more likely to find the first step onto the property ladder tough. They are rarely able to borrow more than four times their income, and have scant ability to amass the savings for a significant deposit. Making up the shortfall to buy a home when the average in the UK is around £280,000 seems like an insurmountable task.
Industrial action may prove effective in nudging pay in the right direction. But, without a significant shake-up in the housing market we are unlikely to see a step change in the number of key works getting a foot on the ladder.
Keyzy is here to help try and restore the balance and help those who help us all. An alternative to a traditional mortgage, rent-to-own allows prospective buyers to move into their ideal home without a deposit or a mortgage. Keyzy customers can lock-in a pre-agreed price for the home the day they move in (plus costs). Keyzy buys the home and rents it out to the customer until they are ready to buy it back. Each month a proportion of the rent goes towards reducing this eventual buy-back price. In other words, the price a key worker has to pay to buy the home from Keyzy goes down over time. If the home has gone up in value they can keep the gains!
There’s no silver bullet to solving the housing crisis in the UK. However, innovations like rent-to-own are beginning to remove some of the largest obstacles for many.
Keyzy is open to new applicants in England & Wales and is buying freehold houses with at least two bedrooms. Homes must be in a liveable condition and not in need of major refurbishment.
For key workers, perhaps homeownership isn’t an unachievable dream after all.
Rising rent, cost-of-living crisis, and home ownership hurdles