Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland buyers shun housing scheme

By Emma Clark

Just 33 of the 17,000 homes bought under the Government's Help to Buy scheme have been in Northern Ireland, according to the latest official figures.

The vast majority (80%) have been bought by first-time buyers, while 77% have been purchased outside of London and the South East.

However, Northern Ireland’s take-up is by far the lowest in the UK, although it is estimated that 15,000 households here could benefit annually.

The figures were released by Downing Street, just days after George Osborne announced it was to be extended until 2020 with a £6bn boost in the budget to help an estimated 120,000 more households purchase a new-build home.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Help to Buy is a key part of our long term economic plan, giving thousands more people the security and independence that comes from owning their own home.”

Of the 17,395 homes purchased with the Help to Buy scheme, the vast majority (14,823) were bought using the equity loan option while 2,572 were bought using the mortgage guarantee element.

Uptake of Help to Buy has been the least popular outside of England, with only 33 sales in Northern Ireland, 416 in Scotland and 131 in Wales.

Northern Ireland was hit hardest by the property crash, with many homeowners now in negative equity. However, house prices here are expected to rise by 4% this year.

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