Published 16 FEB, 2023
How to align your home purchase with your religious beliefs? We talk Islamic home finance with one new home-owner
After 16 years of flat sharing and renting around London, Zara was determined to get on the property ladder and enjoy the security of her own home with her young son. Working in banking she had no shortage of experience or contacts who could advise on home finance, but even with the head-start of a Canary Wharf finance job, it was soon apparent that buying a suitable home would present a massive challenge. The price was paramount, as was the location, planning - as she was - for her son’s future schooling. But top of the list was buying a home in a way that aligned with her religious beliefs:
"Being from a Muslim background I was quite limited in my options for purchasing a property."
Finding shariah-compliant home finance
Through her research, she found layers of complexity that made buying a home through a mainstream shariah lender especially difficult. “Firstly they were not really accessible”, Zara says, “because they require a huge amount of deposit or they would have lots of restrictions on the types of property.” Not to be disheartened though, she eventually found the home and home finance provider to begin the buying process. After three months, however, disaster struck when her desired third-floor apartment was flagged for being in breach of policy by the lender, something that should have been spotted at the outset. She says:
"I moved from being very frustrated to being very worried thinking I would never buy a home.”
Meeting the team
That’s when a quick Google search unearthed StrideUp and after an initial conversation, it seemed that financing would be possible for her desired property in a way aligned with her beliefs. Zara got a sense from the outset that the support provided was different to a traditional mortgage provider. She explains “with traditional banks sometimes people are very serious and you can see there’s bureaucracy and a formal side of it that makes it scary.” The process of buying a home is one of the most stressful in the average person’s life. With StrideUp “people were very friendly and accessible but at the same time very professional.”
Zara also realised that StrideUp’s online portal was saving time and streamlining the home-buying process, helping her gain back some of the momentum she’d lost through the earlier failed purchase. She reflects on her first attempt to buy a home “I was sending lots of emails and chasing. Sometimes they would ask me for documents that I’d already provided because maybe I’d spoken with a colleague and they weren’t included on the email chain”. With StrideUp all stakeholders could track the progress of the case and access relevant information and documentation through the online portal. For Zara, the portal delivered a seamless experience: “It’s very easy and smooth and you can track the process online. You don’t have to go through 10 steps or 20 clicks on the website to find the information. It’s very transparent, very smooth, very intuitive and there’s no jargon.”
Zara wanted the security of home-ownership for herself and her young son
The security of your own home
The happy day arrived and Zara received the keys to her new three-bedroom apartment with the security of having her own home and the comfort of buying it in a Shariah-compliant way. How has life changed? “To be honest, it’s just the feeling. You know you are at home. You don’t have to worry about the landlord changing his mind or them deciding to refurbish the place. I don’t have to worry about moving places in the near future.” While her young son is too little to fully grasp the move, Zara comments that the more spacious flat allows him to run around more and there’s been a positive change in his mood. The spare bedroom is a game changer for receiving and hosting visitors. Where once a much-appreciated family visit would be a cause for anxiety, now it’s an opportunity to host and enjoy. Zara jokes “I could tell when people would come they would not be 100% comfortable on the sofa so would only stay 2 or 3 days, but now they’ll want to come for a week!”
The plan now is to further get to know the neighbourhood. Zara is enjoying the shortened commute and enlarged living space. When it comes to her StrideUp experience, she concludes it was the consistency that she appreciated the most, how seamlessly she could move between the online portal and the team of advisors at the other end of the phone. She explains “the portal and the way you communicate is how the StrideUp team comes across in reality. There’s no disjoint between how you present yourself online and how you are in real life.” In the world of house-buying, there can sometimes be a disconnect between what’s promised and what’s delivered. With StrideUp, Zara was happy to experience that what was promised was delivered in the form of a new family home, bought in partnership and aligned with her values.
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