The government’s First Homes scheme is being used to offer a discount to first time buyers in England, to help them get on the property ladder.
The scheme requires a discount of between 30% and 50% off the price of the property compared to the market value. There is a price cap of £250,000, or £420,000 in London after the discount has been applied. Applicant households must have income less than £80,000 per annum (£90,000 in London) and a mortgage of at least 50% of the purchase price is required.
Telford and Wrekin Council has voted to increase the discount in its area to 40% market value, with the difference to be met by housing developers.
Around 30 homes will be labelled First Homes each year and the discount will apply to at least 25% of the affordable homes built in conjunction with larger developments.
The local authority does not select which home buyers can buy a First Homes property, but does approve the eligible buyer once the developer or seller handling the sale of the property seeks approval. The home buyer must live in the property themselves and it cannot be let out to tenants.
The local authority sets the criteria under which the sale to first time buyers can proceed, including requiring buyers to have a local connection to the area. Front line and key workers can get priority, although the definition of these terms can be determined locally to ensure that those jobs that are considered essentially locally are prioritised.
The First Homes scheme was introduced to help local authorities prioritise new homes for those who need them, and councils can set their own rules to determine who should be prioritised.
The scheme locks in the discount for future first time buyers, so the property will always be sold at the discounted price when it is resold. When it was first introduced in June 2021, several high street lenders promised to offer high loan to value mortgages to support the rollout, but Rightmove said that the small number of properties available made it unlikely the scheme would “satisfy the high levels of demand”.
If you’re interested in buying a First Homes property, find out which local developers are offering homes under the scheme. The application is made through the builder and there is no application deadline.
Make sure you protect yourself by asking an independent Chartered Surveyor for a building survey when buying any property.