The new First Homes scheme is making it easier for key workers to buy a house

The First Homes scheme, which launched in June, is that latest government initiative aimed at getting people on to the housing ladder.

It does this by offering selected new homes at discounts of at least 30% to buyers who either have a local connection or are key workers.

The scheme is available to qualifying buyers who earn less than £80,000 (£90,000 in London) and take out a mortgage to cover at least 50% of the purchase price, putting down a minimum 5% deposit.

Unlike Help to Buy, there’s no loan to repay, and the discount will apply every time the property is sold, so that future purchasers can benefit, too.

The maximum price post-discount is capped at £250,000 everywhere apart from London, where it’s £420,000.

Although First Homes is still in its pilot phase, contracts have recently been awarded to housebuilders across England to deliver 1,500 homes by March 2023, and as many as 60,000 are expected over the next decade.

Eastleigh Borough Council in Hampshire has also pledged to offer 200 homes – and this deal actually represents the largest commitment to date – and Vistry Parterships is building First Homes at Walkmill Lane in Cannock, Staffordshire.

Coming soon is Elder Gardens in Newton Aycliffe, Country Durham, a development from Keepmoat Homes which was also responsible for Meadow View in Bolsover, Staffordshire where the first residents to buy using the First Homes scheme have now moved in.

‘This was too good to miss’

Laura, a 27-year old nurse, and her partner Carl, who’s 28 and a stairlift engineer, have been together for five years and saving to buy a home for half of that time.

Rather than wasting money on rent, they’d lived with their respective parents in order to be able to maximise their deposit.

‘We’d open Help to Buy ISAs and were able to save more than expected during the pandemic as we weren’t going out or on holiday,’ says Laura.

‘We’d originally hoped to buy early in 2020 but house prices had gone up, and we looked at the Help to Buy equity loan but didn’t like the idea of having to pay it back.

‘We’d actually come across Meadow View and seen a house we liked before finding out about First Homes, and the scheme seemed perfect. After checking my eligibility as a key worker, Keepmoat put us in touch with the Mortgage Advice Bureau, which found us a mortgage through Leeds Building Society.

‘Buying off-plan meant we weren’t able to see our own three-bedroom detached house until September, but we viewed a similar one on another site, and were able to choose the kitchen cupboards, flooring and tiles. We expected teething troubles as the scheme is so new, but everything was very straightforward and we got our keys on October 29.

‘It’s very peaceful here, in the middle of where both our families live and convenient for work. We feel very lucky and First Homes was too much of a good opportunity to miss.’

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