MORE than 100 homes in St Helens have been bought through the government’s Help to Buy equity loan scheme, according to the latest figures.
The lending appears to have given a boost to first time buyers and house builders sitting on development sites across the borough.
It sees the Government lend up to 20 per cent of the cost of new-build homes, so people only need a five per cent cash deposit and a 75 per cent mortgage to make up the rest. House hunters can then benefit from lower rates on mortgage deals.
In the first 11 months of the scheme, 104 house or apartment sales in St Helens have been as a result of Help to Buy. It is the second highest rate in Merseyside, next to Liverpool, where 150 sales have been made.
Some critics have warned the borrowing could create a property bubble but the Government argue it is kick starting housebuilding.
According to Land Registery figures, the average sold house price for St Helens in February this year was £93,882, which remains considerably lower than the figure of about £130,000 from when the market reached its peak in 2008.
Housing minister Kris Hopkins said the scheme has “proved itself a valuable alternative to the Bank of Mum and Dad” and is driving the economy by “getting the country building again”.
New home owners and developers have backed the initiative, meanwhile.
Darren Kirkman recently secured his first home at Bishop’s Gate, in Newton-le-Willows and said Help to Buy took away the struggle because he and his partner could put down a low deposit.
Taylor Wimpey, which has built Bishop’s Gate, has reported a similar rise in demand among first time buyers with its Cunningham Grange apartment blocks, off Knowsley Road.
And Morris Homes has sold nine homes on its Waterside Village development off Lowfield Lane site in the last six weeks.
Chris Minshall, regional sales director at Morris, said: “We’ve been inundated with enquiries. Much of the success is due to the popularity of Help to Buy, which can help all types of buyers.”
The 20 per cent equity loan from the Government is interest-free for five years. After that there is a yearly loan fee of 1.75 per cent, rising by the change in the retail prices index, plus one per cent, each year.