OwnHome offers would-be buyers a unique way of achieving homeownership — with the live-to-own model, buyers can save while already living in their dream home.

Australia is one of the most expensive countries in the world to buy a home, making the Great Australian Dream remain just that - a dream for many. OwnHome’s live-to-own model, however, helps address some of the challenges of breaking into the market like coming up with a deposit and applying for a home loan.

How OwnHome works

On paper, the live-to-own concept is similar to the rent-to-own model. It provides an alternative way for buyers to own their home. Essentially, OwnHome buys the property for the buyer.

OwnHome co-founder James Bowe (pictured) said under the live-to-own model, customers are considered owners the moment OwnHome buys the home for them.

“Once customers find their dream home, they pay just three per cent of the value upfront - one per cent of which goes back into their security deposit,” he told Your Mortgage.

“We cover the legal fees, stamp duty, pest inspections, building reports, and all the additional fees and taxes as well as any hidden costs.”


Over a certain period ranging from two to seven years, the buyers make fortnightly repayments, a third of which goes directly towards the security deposit.

The rest of the repayments are used to pay strata fees, council rates, insurance, and maintenance costs.

Two years after OwnHome purchases the property, buyers can use their security deposit to buy it back at a pre-set purchase price and can transition to a mortgage.

OwnHome gives buyers the option of purchasing the home at a pre-set price, which means that any upside in the valuation of the property is beneficial to the would-be owners.

An OwnHome contract lasts for up to seven years — this flexibility takes into consideration several life events that could happen during the period like having kids or career changes. This means that buyers have a maximum of seven years to prepare their finances and have enough security deposit to buy the home back from OwnHome.

Should the time not be adequate for buyers to start the buyback process, OwnHome has a dedicated Hardship policy similar to credit providers like banks and lenders.

OwnHome repayments explained

Upon approval, successful applicants must find an eligible home. Once the details of the purchase are finalised, they must pay a one-time initial home savings contribution of 1%, which will go towards the eventual security deposit and 2% starter payment.

“For a $1m home, this means customers need $30k to move into their dream home. With a traditional 20% deposit and mortgage, this would otherwise be an upfront cost of $250,000 on the same home,” Mr Bowe said.

For the next two to seven years, the clients will follow a schedule of payments, which details their fortnightly payments based on the purchase price and existing savings.

“Around a third of the payments will go towards the security deposit, meaning customers are accumulating 2.5% in annual savings, which goes straight towards their deposit,” Mr Bowe said.

This means that after seven years, clients will be able to save up to 17.5% as the security deposit, on top of the 1% deposit they initially paid.

“When customers are ready, any time after two years, they can buy the home at the pre-agreed price with the security deposit they’ve built up over, transition into a mortgage, and become homeowners without OwnHome,” Mr Bowe said.

“The first step for customers once they get to this point is obtaining a mortgage from a mortgage provider. Once they’ve been pre-approved by a lender, they can let us know and we’ll start the buyback process.”

How to qualify for OwnHome

OwnHome reviews applications on a case-to-case basis, recognising the different financial circumstances of the applicants. However, here are some of the crucial things OwnHome does to check for the eligibility of each applicant:

Applicant eligibility


Credit score must be at least 600.

Applicants will need to pass a soft credit check — this check will not affect their credit score.

Banking transactions will be analysed using XAI Validate

XAI Validate is a trusted software that helps lenders safely and securely review 12 months of banking transaction data.

Household income thresholds are set at $150,000 for Queensland and $180,000 for New South Wales.

The thresholds depend on the areas applicants are looking to purchase at.

Income must be verifiable.

Three months of steady income is required but OwnHome can still help those who just got a new job or are unemployed.

Proof of Identification

  • Payslips

  • Credit Card statements (if applicable)

  • Identification

Australian citizen

Those who are on a path to permanent residency can also apply.

OwnHome’s target market

OwnHome is ideal for homebuyers who fit in these categories:

  • Would-be buyers who are struggling to meet the typical 20% deposit required in mortgage applications.

  • First-home buyers who do not have access to the bank of mum and dad.

  • Buyers who are hesitant to put all their savings into buying a property.

  • Borrowers who are struggling to get approval from banks due to their employment status and residency.

  • Aspiring first-time buyers who want to take advantage of OwnHome’s all-cash offer to go head-to-head against other bidders.

Mr Bowe said their customer base is mostly those in the 25 to 40 age group with strong earnings and strong credit scores.

“Their only downfall is that they lack access to intergenerational wealth or most commonly referred to as the bank of mum and dad,” he said.

“They have the ability to make ongoing payments towards a mortgage, but they haven’t saved up the deposit just yet.”

Mr Bowe said recent immigrants are also a significant part of their customer base.

“These are key customers for us as around 27% of Australia’s population are first generation migrants, who typically do not have access to the intergenerational wealth needed to purchase a home, particularly in capital cities like Sydney or Melbourne.”

Eligible homes for OwnHome

Qualified applicants must target homes that meet the eligibility requirements under OwnHome.

Aside from the property being move-in ready, it must also meet these specific conditions under each of the following:

Home Eligibility Criteria



  • Maximum value of homes is $2.5m

Type of home

  • Free-standing houses, townhouses, terraces

  • Apartments with two or more bedrooms

Size of home

  • Minimum of 50 sqm

  • Acreage restriction of up to 2 acres of land


  • Greater Metropolitan Sydney

  • Wollongong

  • Newcastle

  • Brisbane

  • The Gold Coast


  • Homes must pass OwnHome’s inspection

Financial considerations when applying for OwnHome

OwnHome could be an alternative option for those seeking homeownership but there are still financial considerations to keep in mind.

Similar to a mortgage, OwnHome customers must prepare for the upfront fee needed to kickstart their purchase, as discussed earlier.

However, there might be instances where OwnHome costs more than the average mortgage in terms of monthly repayments.

“Still, the annual payments pale in comparison to the financial stress of a deposit, stamp duty, and start-up costs,” Mr Bowe said.

“For example, a Sydneysider looking to purchase a median home would need over $300,000 for a deposit and stamp duty — this does not even take into account legal fees, maintenance or renovation, etc. When you consider that the average 24–39-year-old has approximately $22,000 in savings, which is less than one-tenth of the amount needed, it’s clear alternative ways to enter the property ladder are needed.”

Frequently asked questions about OwnHome

Who actually owns the home under OwnHome?

OwnHome owns the home until the client is ready to buy the home back using the security deposit built over the contract period.

Is OwnHome available across Australia?

No, OwnHome is only available in some parts of New South Wales (Greater Metropolitan Sydney, Wollongong, Newcastle) and in Queensland (Brisbane and the Gold Coast). There are plans, however, to expand OwnHome to other markets.

Interested applicants whose target properties are not within the eligible markets are encouraged to join OwnHome’s waitlist to get updated.

Who pays the other costs of the property like land tax, strata fees, etc.?

For the duration of the contract, OwnHome will be shouldering all costs associated with the property. OwnHome sources this from a portion of the initial and fortnightly payments made by the client.

What happens when clients are unable to pay?

OwnHome has a dedicated Hardship Policy to ensure that all its clients end up as homeowners. The policy allows OwnHome to find ways to help struggling clients get out of their current circumstances. This may include extending the agreement, reducing the rate of security deposit contributions temporarily, etc.

However, when circumstances put clients in a situation where they cannot pay their dues anymore, they can forfeit their contract with OwnHome and find a new rental. While doing so will not impact their credit score, they would need to forfeit their built-up security deposit.

Are OwnHome payments tax deductible?

OwnHome payments are not tax deductible following the general principle regarding payments for a principal place of residence. However, clients who would be using a portion of the home as an office could claim some deductions. It is advisable to seek independent advice about the matter.

How can clients start the buyback process?

To be able to commence the buyback process, clients must get pre-approved by a mortgage provider first. OwnHome will need around two weeks to process the legal documents in order to start the process.

What if clients are not able to get financing by the end of the OwnHome contract?

Clients must secure a mortgage or financing from a bank or lender after the OwnHome contract ends to be able to buy back the property. If they are unable to secure financing right away, OwnHome will enact its Hardship Policy and set out a plan to help clients address their concerns.

What happens if clients decide not to buy the home?

If the client decides that they will not be buying back the property, they can talk to OwnHome to forfeit their contract. This will not impact their credit scores, but any accumulated security deposit will not be refundable.

However, if the property appreciated in value during the time the client is with OwnHome, they might be able to get back some of their accumulated security deposit.

What happens if the home is appraised for less than the buyback price?

It is crucial to remember that the buyback price, which is non-negotiable, is already pre-set. When clients get an appraisal value from a lender that is less than the buyback price, they can do any of the following options:

  • Provide a copy of the appraisal report to OwnHome and allow it to contest

  • Contribute to bridge the difference between OwnHome’s and the lender’s appraisal

  • Get a second opinion or seek another lender

  • Postpone the process and wait for the home to appreciate in value

Visit OwnHome for more information and to see if you are eligible.