But there are some catches – what happens if you have to sell to relocate?
And it could lead to fewer homes being sold through cheaper alternative schemes such as Shared Ownership, and less social housing.
Here are two accounts of the scheme which expose different parts of the “small print” :
First-time buyers in England offered new homes at up to 50% off
Rupert Jones www.theguardian.com
First-time buyers in England will be able to apply for a discount of up to 50% on a new-build home under a government scheme.
The First Homes initiative could save buyers £100,000 or more. But some experts say that with demand for these cut-price homes likely to exceed supply, it could spark a scramble for properties and add more fuel to the house price boom.
The government says the scheme is aimed at first-time buyers in the area where the homes are built, many of whom will be keyworkers such as NHS staff and those on the pandemic frontline such as delivery drivers and supermarket staff. It is aimed at helping them on to the property ladder by offering homes at a discount of at least 30% compared with the market price.
However, local authorities will be able to offer a bigger discount – either 40% or 50% – “if they can demonstrate a need for this”.
Crucially, the discount will be passed on with the sale of the property to future first-time buyers, meaning homes will always be sold below market value, thereby “benefiting local communities, keyworkers, and families for generations to come”, the government said.
“The scheme will support local people who struggle to afford market prices in their area, but want to stay in the communities where they live and work,” the housing ministry said.
First Homes is the latest initiative aimed at tackling the challenges of getting on the property ladder and follows a government guarantee scheme for 95% mortgages.
Years of rising prices have put home ownership out of reach for many and the current housing boom – fuelled by stamp duty tax breaks – has led to double-digit annual price growth, meaning that many would-be buyers have been left behind once again.
The scheme is for first-time buyers only; households with a combined annual income of more than £80,000 – or £90,000 in Greater London – cannot apply. Local councils will be able to bring in their own requirements such as prioritising keyworkers or local people.
There are also price caps: after the discount has been applied, the purchaser cannot be required to pay more than £250,000, or £420,000 in Greater London. However, councils will be able to make the case for imposing lower price caps.
The initial First Homes properties went on the market on Friday as part of the opening phase of an early delivery project in Bolsover, Derbyshire.
More new homes will be offered to first-time buyers under the scheme across the country in the coming weeks. The government said it would be funding a further 1,500 homes which will come on to the market from the autumn, and plans to have “at least 10,000 homes a year being delivered in the years ahead, and more if there is demand”.
Those who can afford to buy a First Home without a mortgage will not be eligible, and there are measures aimed at preventing people buying the homes purely as an investment.
With the property website Rightmove putting the current average asking price for first-time buyers in Great Britain at £205,925, some buyers using the scheme could save £100,000 or more.
However, Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data, said: “There’s likely to be a scramble for properties under this scheme as they become available, especially as we’ve already seen an influx of first-time buyers enter the market recently, helped by more lower deposit mortgages being available.”
Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, said: “First Homes will offer a realistic and affordable route into home ownership for even more people who want to own their own home.”
First-time buyers may get 50% off new-build homes
First-time buyers will be offered discounts of up to 50 per cent on new-build home under a government scheme.
Ministers hope to offer thousands of homes to key workers at reduced prices as part of the initiative, a feature of the government’s “levelling up” agenda. A trial has begun in Shirebrook, near Bolsover, Derbyshire, where the first 12 homes are being sold at 30 per cent under market rate.
The two to four-bedroom houses, built by the developer Keepmoat, will be sold at a discount to first-time buyers, with the saving passed on to any future buyers.
Prices start from £189,995, so buyers will save at least £59,998.50 on the purchase price.
A further 1,500 homes in England will go on sale at least 30 per cent below market value this autumn and there could be discounts up to 50 per cent off the sale price if local councils “can demonstrate a need for this”.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government aims to sell at least 10,000 homes at a discount through the First Homes scheme in years to come if there is enough demand.
Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, said he hoped that the scheme would make it easier for first-time buyers to stay in their local area rather than being forced out by rising house prices.
The UK average asking price is a record £333,564, the property website Rightmove said. According to its data, the average asking price for a home in Bolsover is £168,782, which is 28 per cent higher than five years ago.
Jenrick added: “First Homes will also support our fantastic key workers who are looking to get their first foot on the housing ladder – from front-line doctors and nurses to delivery drivers and supermarket staff – by giving many of them the chance to buy a home at a 30 per cent discount.”
Councils will be able to prioritise key workers and people with a local connection when deciding who is eligible for the scheme.
A number of regional and national lenders, including Nationwide and Lloyds, are working with the government to provide high loan-to-value mortgages for First Homes.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data, said: “There’s likely to be a scramble for properties under this scheme as they become available, especially as we’ve already seen an influx of first-time buyers enter the market recently, helped by more lower-deposit mortgages being available.”
He added: “Based on current available stock levels it’s unlikely there will be enough of these properties to satisfy the high levels of demand, so eligible buyers will need to get in quick to have the best chance of securing one.”
First Homes was praised as a “creative initiative” by Nathan Emerson at Propertymark, which represents estate agents in England, because it is only available on new homes. He says: “That is key because we have a very busy market right now, full of hungry buyers, and there is a danger that introducing more buyers without increasing supply could further push the supply and demand out of balance, meaning house prices would continue to rise.”
Emerson said the government now needed to incentivise older generations to downsize to address the shortage of family housing.
Under current proposals, 25 per cent of all affordable housing — homes sold or let at a discount — would be sold through First Homes, which critics argue could lead to fewer homes being sold through cheaper alternative schemes such as Shared Ownership, and less social housing.
A first-time buyer would have to earn £34,125 a year to buy the average 700 sq ft, two-bedroom flat using the First Homes scheme, according to analysis carried out last October by the estate agent Savills.
An NHS nurse would be priced out with an average annual income of £33,384. The starting salary for a nurse can be as low as £18,000.
Lawrence Bowles, a Savills research analyst, said: “Our modelling shows that Shared Ownership homes can offer people a route to home ownership with lower deposits and lower income requirements than First Homes.
“By restricting the supply of Shared Ownership, government risks raising the barriers to home ownership, not lowering them.”