Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Home buyers' funding hope

Almost 2,400 families will be able to buy their first home following a funding boost from Stormont.

The Executive is throwing a lifeline to those seeking to get on the property ladder with a £40m revival of the housing co-ownership scheme over the next four years.

A breakthrough in talks with local banks and building societies - who have come under attack for failing to lend to first-time buyers - laid the foundation for the property-boosting plan to go ahead.

The scheme is designed for people who cannot afford to buy a house outright. Under the scheme, they buy a share in the property in conjunction with a housing association.

They may then gradually buy out the association in the coming years.

Housing Minister Nelson McCausland said the scheme would mean almost 2,400 families would be able to own their own homes over the next four years.

Mr McCausland and Finance Minister Sammy Wilson met with local banks and building societies recently to hammer out the proposal.

And representatives of the organisations taking part, Ulster Bank, Northern Bank, Bank of Ireland, First Trust, Lloyds/ Halifax, Progresssive, Barclays, Nationwide and Santander, were present at Stormont yesterday for the announcement.

Mr Wilson said: "This is evidence of the Executive's commitment to help people take their first steps on the property ladder and stimulate some much-needed activity in the property market."

And he said it was a "step in the right direction" for the construction industry which has "suffered extensively" in the worldwide recession but should have some confidence restored.

The DUP finance chief also said he had been assured by the level of commitment and support that has been expressed by the banks and building societies, whose loans to small-size businesses were said to have dropped by 30% over a six-month period.

Background

Co-ownership allows people to gradually become home owners through "equity sharing" involving the part-renting and part-buying of a property. The scheme - which became run-down when property prices soared in the years before the present recession - is aimed primarily at first-time buyers and people on low income. Most of the local banks and building societies have confirmed they have funds available to lend through a number of mortgage products some of which require a deposit on the mortgage element.

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