Almost 1,000 use Help to Buy to get on property ladder in Northern Ireland
Almost 1,000 people have been helped onto the property ladder in Northern Ireland using the Government's Help to Buy schemes, new figures have shown.
And the bulk of the 915 who used the scheme were first-time buyers - making up 776 of the completions.
Across the UK a total of 99,601 people have bought a home under Help to Buy, which enables people to buy a home with a fraction of the deposit they would normally require.
That total is made up of people using the equity loan and mortgage guarantee schemes launched in 2013 - with the latter being rolled out across the UK.
The newly released figures cover October 2013, when the scheme began operation after it was unveiled in Chancellor George Osborne's spring Budget, to the end of March this year.
And 85% of the applicants for the scheme in Northern Ireland were first-time buyers - that's higher than the UK average of 78%.
Mortgage completions in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales accounted for 18% of the total.
A spokesman for the Council of Mortgage Lenders told the Belfast Telegraph: "It is welcome to see the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme has helped nearly 1,000 borrowers purchase a home in Northern Ireland so far.
"With 85% being first-time buyers, the scheme appears to be delivering in Northern Ireland its intended objectives of predominantly being used by those getting on the housing ladder purchasing average-priced properties."
The number of people using the scheme in Northern Ireland made up 2% of the total number throughout the UK.
In the report into the success of the scheme - which was released by the Treasury - it said: "This is in line with Northern Ireland's share of overall UK mortgage lending. Since the scheme launched there have been 25,500 mortgage completions in Northern Ireland."
The average property value of Northern Ireland homes purchased under the scheme was £103,335.
As expected, that figure was the lowest of any UK region, with London topping the table at £287,109.
East Belfast boasted the largest number of mortgages taken out using the scheme, with 77 given the green light during the period.
The scheme is supported by several banks in Northern Ireland, including Ulster Bank, Bank of Ireland, HSBC and Santander.
Economist John Simpson said the initial numbers were positive.
"I thought Northern Ireland would have been slow to react, because we have more families here in negative equity," he said.
"The general presumption is that we have fewer people in the housing market."
Mr Simpson said with more families in Northern Ireland in negative equity, it "wasn't surprising" a larger proportion using the scheme were first-time buyers.
"The large numbers of first-time buyers is to be expected, which is a good thing.
"But we need things in the housing market to be more stable, and there are problems in terms of social housing."
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