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Freehold Lifestyle Villas vs Retirement Villages

The Financial Comparison

Lifestyle Villages are becoming an increasingly popular option for people as they choose to downsize from their family home. They offer a myriad of benefits including:

  • An easier lifestyle – where someone else takes care of lawns and gardens, leaving more time to relax and enjoy life.
  • Companionship – you need never be lonely in a lifestyle village, with a community of like -minded people as your neighbours.
  • Lifestyle – different lifestyle villages offer different lifestyle amenities, but all share a common goal – to provide residents with a range of activities and amenities to allow them to enjoy life as much as possible.
  • Security – within a secure community with a Village Manager on site.

You do not have to be retired to live at Mary Brittan Villas, living at Mary Brittan Villas is a lifestyle choice. While different retirement villages offer similar benefits, not all villages are the same in terms of costs. Mary Brittan Lifestyle Village is a FREEHOLD village – not a License to Occupy village. This means it has none of the financial penalties that many other kinds of villages have. To make this easier to understand we have summarised the key differences in the table below:


“In my view the freehold title ownership model is far more transparent than the licence to occupy model. Freehold ownership gives you more options and means any capital gain sits with you, the property owner.” Paul Rickerby, Director Moore Stephens Markhams Christchurch Ltd

Retirement is your time...

Retirement is your time to relax and focus on the things that are most important to you – to take pleasure out of the rewards you have reaped to date, and to plan the future the way you want it.

For an increasing number of people, the decision to downsize from the family home is just one of the many decisions they make in their retirement. And increasingly, retirement villages are an option that New Zealanders are considering.

Retirement villages offer many benefits – security, easier living (where someone else looks after the lawns and maintenance), companionship and of course a lifestyle where there are activities and amenities right on your doorstep.

However, most retirement villages in New Zealand are financially draining on those who choose to live there – with residents losing 20%-25% of their purchase price when they leave the village, and in most cases, with no ability to benefit from any capital gain. It is no coincidence publicly listed retirement village operators are the darlings of the sharemarket – owning traditional Licences to Occupy retirement villages is clearly a good investment for the shareholders. Traditional retirement village developers will often say – “Choosing to live in our villages is not a financial decision, but a lifestyle decision”- which is very true.

Mary Brittan Lifestyle Villas offers residents the benefits of retirement village living – with none of the financial downsides. Villa owners get all the capital gain, and pay no fees on exit. Weekly fees are kept to a minimum – and a Village Manager on site takes care of all the lawns, and gardens and exterior maintenance.

You do not have to be retired to live at Mary Brittan Villas, living at Mary Brittan Villas is a lifestyle choice. Mary Brittan Villas offers something quite different to other villages in Canterbury (although there are villages like it in other parts of New Zealand). To help you understand the Mary Brittan Lifestyle Village concept, we have summarised some of the more common questions and answers,

What is Mary Brittan Villas

Designed with mature buyers in mind, but not in need of resthome or hospital care, Mary Brittan Lifestyle Villas will offer security and peace of mind for those looking for exclusive living in a managed enclave of quality homes and people. The Village will be open to residents 55 years and older and will have an on-site Manager (likely to be a couple).

Mary Brittan Villas incorporates 4 different, unique floor plans with a choice of colour palettes, each on their own individual freehold title, set within approximately 1.5 hectares of landscaped grounds, and close to Rolleston Town Centre with its full service supermarket, banking, service station and local medical facilities including dentists, a pharmacy and physiotherapists.

The Village will include a community centre “Mary Brittan Lodge” a building specifically designed for the residents to create their own activities and hold gatherings or social events in. The community Centre is architecturally designed and north facing. There will also be communal gardens immediately in front of the Community Centre for residents use. Central to the village will be a reserve incorporating a walkway and cycleway that connects to the wider community, sports facilities and Rolleston Town.

Freehold Title

Mary Brittan Villas is being developed under the Unit Titles Act. As such all villas will have their own freehold unit titles.

What are the Advantages of Freehold Title?

Freehold title is the best form of tenure that you can get and it is inherently superior to Licence to Occupy arrangements or Life Interests. The main practical advantages are that purchases of Mary Brittan Villas:

  • Avoid the financial penalties that are attached to the usual retirement village offerings under the licence to occupy” or “deferred management fee” options available in other retirement villages in Canterbury.”

  • May borrow against their title if they choose to,

  • May pass title on to descendants or family trusts, and

  • Remain fully entitled to any capital gains made upon sale.
When will Villas be available?

Villa construction takes about 18 weeks to complete once the floor slab goes down. We anticipate that the first complete villas will be available approximately 5 months after titles issue. In general terms villas will be completed according to staging of the village and the order that sales are made in.

Who is building the Villas?

The villas will be built by Mike Greer Homes.

For nearly two decades Mike Greer Homes have dared to be different! Mike Greer Homes pride themselves on inspirational designs and homes that are warm, inviting and full of flair. Your dream will be built with their vision. Mike Greer Homes have a reputation to be proud of which they support and guard jealously. As a local company, Mike Greer Homes have an unshakeable commitment to the rebuild of Canterbury!

What will the homes be like in Mary Brittan Villas?

There are 4 different villa designs allowing residents to choose from, stand-alone or connected villas with garages between, two or three bedrooms, single or double garages, and different bathroom configurations. All will have ensuites some are dual entry, allowing guests to share the use of the bathroom, while others have a separate guest toilet.

Will the development be staged?

Yes. We plan to develop the Village in four stages:

  • Stage One – Construction of the Mary Brittan Villas at the entrance to the Village. Come and view our Show Home that is now completed.

  • Stage Two – Will comprise 16 Mary Brittan Villas, the Lodge and central reserve area.
  • Stage Three – Will comprise the final stage of Mary Brittan Villas.
  • Stage Four – Will comprise the two story Lowes Apartments (two and three bedrooms).

The start date for stages 3 and 4 will be subject to sales.

When will the Community Centre be built?

We anticipate that the Community Centre will be built as part of Stage Two i.e. once 20 villas have been sold.

Will there be a Manager on site? What will she/he do?

Yes, the Manger will be responsible for:

  • Mowing the lawns and maintaining the gardens around the village.
  • Regularly cleaning the Community Centre, and ensuring it is maintained to a high standard.
  • Arranging the collection of your rubbish for one day of the week.
  • Keeping an eye on your villa if you are away, feeding your pets (if required) and collecting your mail (for a small extra charge).
  • Exterior maintenance of all the villas.
How do the financial arrangements of Mary Brittan Villas work when you purchase your villa?

Buying and selling a villa at Mary Brittan Villas is just the same as buying and selling a home in the community. There are no complicated Licence to Occupy agreements to read and digest – rather it is a straight forward Sale and Purchase agreement where you get ‘old fashioned’ ownership of a full free hold title to your villa. Simply follow the 5 easy steps below:

1. Once you and your solicitor are happy to proceed you sign the Sale & Purchase Agreement to complete the sale. This would set out the price, deposit required, settlement date, and any other conditions that may be agreed between the parties. We would normally give you up to 6 months to settle. This would give you plenty of time to organise your finances and sell your home if required.

2. The next important step is to get your Sale & Purchase Agreement unconditional because that is when you can be certain that your villa will be yours. If you are fortunate enough to have access to sufficient cash or you are confident about selling your own home within the agreed time you may go unconditional immediately. This is the best option for you because it will give you complete certainty about your purchase.

3. If you need to sell your own home Mary Brittan Lifestyle Villas would recommend using our preferred licensed real estate brokerage Bellamy’s – Everything Property. If you need to raise finance, Bellamy’s again would be able to help you or refer you to someone with specific expertise. It is important to keep in mind that the central goal is to get your purchase unconditional as soon as you possibly can so that you can be completely certain about your new residence. Please make sure you read the Bellamy’s brochure which forms part of your Mary Brittan Lifestyle Villas sales compendium.

4. Once the Sale and Purchase is unconditional the serious business of delivering your Mary Brittan Lifestyle Villas property begins. All you have to do is pay a 5% deposit on signing your new lifestyle contract and 5% when this contract becomes unconditional. All deposit monies will be held in Mary Brittan Lifestyle Villas solicitor’s Trust Account. Now no more to worry about until it’s time to move in, this will be settlement date, at which time the balance of funds is due.

5. The final step in the process is the handover of your Villa. This takes place when we issue a certificate of Practical Completion certifying that your Villa is ready for you to move into. Upon payment of your purchase price, free-hold title passes to you, we hand over the keys and the villa is yours.

Am I able to take out a mortgage on my villa?

Absolutely – just as you can mortgage your own home, so too can you mortgage this one. It has its own freehold title that you can secure your borrowings against. Having your bank help fund your build or your purchase may be the easiest option for you in the short term.

How is the Weekly Fee set and what does it cover?

Each year, the Residents’ Committee will work with the Body Corporate Manager to compile a budget for the operational costs of running the village. This is divided by the number of villas and a weekly fee per villa is derived.

This will cover:

  • Rates for the Community Centre and Common Property
  • Power for the Community Centre and Common Property
  • Insurance for the Community Centre and Common Property
  • Insurance for each individual villa in the Village
  • Gardening and mowing of all lawns in the Village
  • External maintenance of each individual villa
  • General maintenance around the Village
  • Village Manager’s remuneration package
  • Maintenance of Security Fencing, Gates and Lighting

We anticipate the initial weekly fee will be less than $40 per week.

What additional costs are involved other than the weekly fee?

The only other additional costs are your rates, your power and telephone charges. Your power will be billed according to your usage just like in your home.

What is the Residents Committee, who is on it and what do they do?

The Body Corporate controls and runs the affairs of the village. During the construction phase the body Corporates work will be largely directed by Mary Brittan Villas. On completion of the Village management control by the Body Corporate would be exercised through a committee elected by the residents of the Village. The Committee would normally comprise around 5 members, elected by majority vote each year at the Body Corporate AGM. The Body Corporate employs the Village Manager, sets the budget for the year, and is responsible for making any major decisions. The committee is ultimately answerable to residents through the Body Corporate each year.

Who is responsible for insurance?

The Body Corporate is responsible for insuring each individual villa and all common property in the Village. The cost of this insurance is covered in your Weekly fee. The cost of insurance will be reviewed each year by the annual budgeting process carried out by the Committee.

Who is responsible for interior and exterior maintenance?

You are responsible for all interior maintenance. The Body Corporate is responsible for exterior maintenance, which is carried out by the Village Manager and paid for by the Body Corporate. The cost of this will be built into your weekly fee. We do not anticipate any significant exterior maintenance costs in the early years.

Is there any entry age for Mary Brittan Villas?

Yes – at least one person occupying a villa must be aged 55 or over ( a spouse or partner may be younger than 55) to live permanently in the village.

How do I sell my villa when I want to leave the village?

Selling your villa when you want to leave is exactly like selling your own home. You can choose to list it with a real estate agent, or you can sell it privately.

How much does Mary Brittan Villas take from the sale of my villa?

Absolutely nothing – this is one of the MAJOR differences between Mary Brittan Villas and other Licence to Occupy Retirement Villages – there is no Deferred Management Fee. All the value of your house belongs to you. You receive all the benefit of any capital gain on your property.

Can I rent out my villa or let my children live in it?

Yes, you may rent your villa but one of the occupiers must be aged 55 or over. Your children may live with you while you occupy the villa but cannot live in it by themselves (unless they ?are over 55).

Will my independence and privacy be respected?

Absolutely, just as it would be your own home in the community.

Will my villa be safe if I go away for a while?

Please let the Village Manager know if you will be away for more than a week and leave a contact address or phone number. Because the Village Manager is regularly moving around the village, he/she will be able to keep an eye on things. You may arrange with neighbours to collect your mail, feed your cat or water your plants – if you want the Village Manager to do this, there will be a small additional charge.

Can I have a pet living with me?

Your domestic pets, within reason, are very welcome. For many residents, their pets are part of the family, and it would be unthinkable to be without them. Other unit title developments have an across-the-board ban on pets but give the Body Corporate a discretion to approve some pets. The Mary Brittan approach is that up to two pets are allowed, but if an animal causes serious or on-going nuisance to other owners, the Committee can give notice to the pet owner to make sure that the nuisance is curtailed, and if it continues, the Committee can then require the animal to be permanently removed. We believe this approach strikes a fair balance, and recognises that the houses share common gardens and other facilities, and that they generally don’t have fences between them. We feel sure that the people who buy units will be responsible pet owners and that problems with pets will be few and far between.

Can I redecorate the inside of my villa?

Absolutely – it is your own home and you may redecorate inside as you please.

Can I repaint the outside of my villa?

No, the external appearance of all villas is set and controlled by the Body Corporate in order to maintain high standards within the village. At the discretion of all residents, this may be reviewed from time to time by the Body Corporate itself.

Can I bequeath my villa to friends or family in my will?

Yes, you can bequeath your villa to family or friends – but at least one person occupying it must be aged 55 or over to permanently live in the village.

Who owns the title to the land?

You do – this is another MAJOR difference between Mary Brittan Villas and other license to Occupy retirement villages. When you purchase your villa, you are buying a freehold title to your villa and the land defined around it. Details of the boundaries of your section are shown in full on the villa plan.

I am a keen gardener; can I decide what to plant around my villa?

For decorative or flower gardens on your property – absolutely. However vegetables and other edible plants can only be grown around your villa in Raised Garden plots containing certified clean topsoil and sanctioned by the Body Corporate.

What happens at the Community Centre?

Residents can use the Community Centre in whatever way they wish. While there is no employed event’s organiser, what naturally emerges in villages is that groups of residents who are interested will organise different activities. This may be done by the Residents Committee or simply by groups organising themselves. We would envisage there will be activities as simple as Friday night drinks, mah-jong afternoons, card nights, movie nights, BBQs, big-screen TV of major sporting events, or indoor bowls evenings. Outside providers may be organised to come in (on a user pays basis) to organise line dancing, yoga sessions, or anything else that residents want.

Will we be able to use the Community Centre for private functions?

Yes – residents will be able to book the Community Centre for family activities e.g. significant birthdays, wedding anniversaries etc. There will be a nominal charge to cover wear and tear of $30 per day (paid to the Residents Committee). Residents would be responsible for cleaning the Community Centre after use and would of course be responsible to pay for any damage.

Are you able to help me sell my current home?

Yes, we are certainly able to help you through this process – we would recommend that you sell through our preferred licensed real estate brokerage Bellamy’s – Everything Property. They offer a professional preferential service to Mary Brittan Lifestyle Villas and pride themselves on transparency, honesty and integrity. Please make sure you read the Bellamy’s brochure which forms part of your Mary Brittan Lifestyle Villas sales compendium.

How do I go about buying a villa in Mary Brittan?

It’s very simple. Contact one of our sales teams; either

Mike Greer Homes
Telephone 03-354 0166

Bellamy’s – everything property
Telephone 0800 741 147

and they will show you which villas are available or coming up. They will personally step you through the buying process and answer any questions that you have. The full sales process from there is outlined earlier in this document.

The information provided to you in this letter has been provided in good faith and on the basis of the best information that we have at the time of writing. However, the future is inherently unpredictable and conditions or material matters may change unexpectedly resulting in Mary Brittan Villas changing its plans. Accordingly this information is provided to you as an aid and/or as a service but we make no undertakings about the accuracy or veracity of what is said and accept no responsibility or liability for anything set out in this document.

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