By Ted McIntyre

Drewlo Holdings Inc. and The Ironstone Building Company
for: Rent. Save. Own Program – London

Bridging the Gap

It can be a daunting and financially dissuading proposition to make the jump from apartment tenant to homeowner, but an inspired partnership between Drewlo Holdings and The Ironstone Building Company in London is helping to ease the transition for many residents.

The primary concept behind the tandem’s “Rent. Save. Own.” program is to address housing affordability in the London area and to find a way to make new homes more affordable for longtime standout tenants of Drewlo’s rental properties. The program is simple: For each month that a resident has rented with Drewlo, they receive $350 towards the purchase of an Ironstone Building Company home, up to a maximum of $10,000. This credit can be applied to any of Ironstone’s available townhomes or single-family homes. 

Residents of Drewlo, which offers rental housing in Burlington, Kitchener, Woodstock, Sarnia and London, are automatically enrolled as soon as they move in, and the discount amount is the same for everyone regardless of monthly rent. Notices and advertising are directed at tenants to educate them about both the program and Ironstone’s condo and single-family offerings in the region.

The central message of “Rent. Save. Own.” is that anyone who is a responsible tenant should be given an opportunity to be a homeowner. By offering credits to loyal Drewlo tenants, Ironstone is aiming to offer hardworking people more housing choices and supply within their price ranges; a message that both parties believe can help combat both the rental housing shortage in Ontario and the increasing lack of affordability for those looking to become homeowners.

The program developed almost organically for Allan Drewlo, president of Drewlo Holdings and co-owner of The Ironstone Building Company, explains Leia Smoudianis, who oversees the shared marketing department for both companies. 

 “We had a lot of tenants who were purchasing Ironstone townhomes—we just noticed it in their move-out notice. So we thought there might be an opportunity to provide our loyal tenants with some savings to that end,” says Smoudianis. “It really took off! It’s been a really great initiative for us, as well as for our tenants.”

The program’s success can be measured in the huge volume of inquiries received and the subsequent conversions achieved between the August 2019 launch and October 2020, with 20 tenants transitioning to Ironstone new-home sales over that period, with an average savings of just under $8,000 each.

The program not only provides prospective homeowners with the knowledge and assurance that Ironstone is building affordable homes in the London area, it also enables Drewlo tenants to approach Ironstone, knowing they are eligible for a potentially substantial discount on their first home. Ironstone staff, in turn, are well-prepared to walk these first-time buyers through the purchase process.

“Both owners of Ironstone are huge believers in homeownership and the housing continuum and in giving people a helping hand to take that next step,” Smoudianis notes. “And we very much build products in the price range for first-time homebuyers.

While “Rent. Save. Own.” has been good for business, the emotional element has been immensely satisfying, Smoudianis observes. 

“We’ve had some really long-term tenants at Drewlo and it’s been wonderful to see them continue on their journey. Some get married and buy a home, or have kids and then buy a home. Normally you just see the rent notice that they’re moving on, so to see them continue on their journey, and to be involved in that, is so great.”

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