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Help to Buy, Shared Ownership and Key Worker Housing

What is Help to Buy? Help to Buy Logo

Help to Buy (previously known as HomeBuy) is a government initiative that provides a 'one-stop shop' service to assist eligible individuals and families find affordable housing. The initiative provides information on a range of schemes that are available to people who may not be able to buy a home on the open market.

If you can't afford to buy your first home, Help to Buy can assist. You may be a first-time buyer who has been priced out of where you want to live, or be unable to raise the necessary deposit to buy a property outright. Whatever the reason - if you need help to buy your first home, this initiative can give you the chance to get onto the property ladder. In Elmbridge, Help to Buy also includes discounted rental options for those who are eligible.

Help to Buy Agents

The government has appointed a number of agents across England to administer Help to Buy. These agents are professional not-for-profit organisations that specialise in providing affordable homeownership opportunities. From 1 April 2014, Bedfordshire Pilgrims Housing Association (bpha) is the |Help to Buy Agent covering the East and South East of England(including Elmbridge). Applicants who were previously registered with Catalyst (the former Help to Buy Agent for Surrey) should have had their cases passed onto bpha.

The Help to Buy service is essentially a "one-stop-shop" service for government supported home ownership and rental opportunities that exist in Elmbridge and beyond. By registering with bpha, individuals are assessed to identify the schemes they are eligible for. They also work with a number of organisations including housing associations, private developers and local authorities to ensure customers are kept informed about all the opportunities available to them.

Elmbridge Homeownership Assistance Scheme

If you live or work in Elmbridge and are looking to buy a home of your own but need some financial support to do so, then you could be eligible to access up to 70,000 in the form of a low interest loan to help you onto the property ladder.
The Elmbridge Borough Council |Homeownership Assistance Scheme has been established by Elmbridge Council and Catalyst Housing. Applications from housing association tenants living in Elmbridge will be prioritised as this will free up much-needed homes for rent, with other applications processed on a first-come, first-served basis, as there are limited funds available.

The Elmbridge Homeownership Assistance Scheme is a local funded initiative and is separate to Help to Buy. To register your interest, you should call Catalyst HomeBuy on 0845 601 7729 or e-mail: equityloans@chg.org.uk.

What is available under Help to Buy?

There are a number of different scheme types that are offered under the Help to Buy initiative. Depending on your individual circumstances you may find that one or more of these are available to you.

Shared ownership schemes

Shared ownership is a part-buy/part-rent scheme that enables the purchaser to buy a percentage of a newly built or resale property, usually from a housing association, and pay rent on the remaining percentage.

Help to Buy Shared ownership - New build

Under this scheme, you need to purchase the maximum share that you can afford, which is normally a share of between 25% to 75% of the full market value. The combined monthly cost of your rent and your mortgage will usually be less than buying the property outright.
After one year of ownership, you are able to buy additional shares in increments of 10%, until you own 100% of your home. This process is called 'Staircasing'.

Shared ownership is especially appealing if you are unable to:

  • Raise a sufficient deposit to allow a mortgage to be approved.
  • Obtain an adequate mortgage approval to purchase a property outright even if you have a healthy deposit.

Priority on all new shared-ownership schemes developed in Elmbridge is given to households who live or work in Elmbridge and anybody interested in purchasing one of these shared-ownership homes will need to be registered with, and assessed as eligible for Help to Buy by Catalyst.

There are several sites in the borough where new shared-ownership homes are available in Spring 2014, including:

Molesey Road - Hersham

A2Dominion, in partnership with Elmbridge Borough Council is pleased to offer a mix of six one and two bedroom shared-ownership apartments for sale at Molesey Road, Hersham. These one and two bedroom apartments are available for sale on a shared ownership basis. Prices range from 64,750 for a one bedroom apartment and from 78,750 for two bedroom apartment based on a 35% share with a subsidised rent charged on the share retained by A2Dominion, along with a service charge.

The properties are expected to be completed and ready for occupation by Spring 2014. As at 15 January 2014, only two 1-bed properties were still available. For more information you can view a |brochure and the |price list or contact the |A2Dominion Homeownership team.

Priority is given to applicants who live or work within Elmbridge, but others will be considered, so long as they are eligible for Help to Buy and registered with |Catalyst.

Railton Place, Railton Close, Weybridge

Railton Place is a development of 48 affordable new homes, 24 of which are one and two bedroom apartments available on a shared-ownership basis. Paragon Community Housing Group is building the development and it is due to be ready for occupation in Spring 2014. As at 1 April 2014, Paragon had just one remaining one -bedroom apartment available for purchase. A 35% share is available for 73,500, based on the full market value of 210,000, with a subsidised rent charged on the share retained by Paragon, along with a monthly service charge. For more information you can view a |brochure or for more details please contact the Paragon Sales Department on 01932 235801 or e-mail: sales@paragonchg.co.uk or visit |Paragon's website.

Shared Ownership - Resales

Resales are shared ownership homes that become available when existing 'shared owners' wish to sell their stake in the property they currently own. This is normally as a result of them moving up the property ladder due to a change in circumstances. The share that can be purchased and the rent payable will differ from one property to another, as a result of differences in the percentage initially purchased and any staircasing activity that has occurred.

Re-sale properties in Elmbridge and the rest of Surrey will be advertised on the |Help to Buy Agent's website.

Help to Buy Equity Loan Scheme

Help to Buy equity loan is the latest homeownership scheme aimed at helping all home buyers across England to purchase a new build home with the assistance of low-deposit mortgages.
You will need to buy a newly built home from a participating registered developer, whether you are a first-time buyer or an existing homeowner. Unlike previous schemes, there is no upper income cap for buyers. The government will give you an equity loan of up to 20% of the full value of a new build home. The remaining purchase price of at least 80% will need to be funded by a mortgage (including the 5% deposit). There is no interest to pay on this equity loan for the first five years. Once you have found a home available through this scheme, please visit the |Help to Buy Agent's website to complete a Property Information Form to start the application process.

Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee scheme

The Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee scheme can help you buy a newly built home or an existing property with a deposit of as little as 5%. This scheme is not administered via Help to Buy Agents, you must contact participating lenders directly for more information.

The scheme works by offering lenders the option to purchase a guarantee on mortgages where a borrower has a deposit of between 5% and 20%. To qualify for this scheme, you must pass lender affordability checks and have no history of difficulties in meeting debt payments.

In order for your mortgage to be eligible for the mortgage guarantee scheme:

  • it must be a residential mortgage, so you will be planning to live in your house and not rent it out;
  • the property you want to buy must be in the UK and the purchase value must be 600,000 or less;
  • the mortgage must be taken out on a repayment basis, rather than interest-only;
  • the mortgage must be to buy your only property, so you cannot have an interest in any property, anywhere in the world; and
  • the mortgage cannot be for a shared equity or shared ownership purchase.

You can apply for a mortgage guarantee through a participating mortgage provider. The following lenders are currently participating in the scheme:

  • Bank of Scotland
  • Halifax
  • NatWest
  • RBS

Contact a participating mortgage provider directly for more information about how you can benefit from the Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee scheme.

Discounted Rental Options

Rented Homes for Key Workers

This option offers properties to rent on assured-shorthold tenancies at rents which are no more than 80% of open-market rents. All the intermediate rented schemes currently in Elmbridge are restricted to key-workers and the properties are owned and managed by housing associations

Key Workers are those who work in certain public sector jobs such as teachers, police, NHS staff, fire fighters etc. who may be eligible for discounted rented accommodation. If you are a key worker looking for accommodation, you must check that you meet the Homes and Communities Agency's definition of a keyworker before you apply for housing. You must then register with |bpha as the local Help to Buy Agent.

Paragon Community Housing Group provides rented homes for key-workers in eight schemes in Elmbridge, more details on each of these is available from |Paragon's Website. Vacancies are advertised as they arise on the|local Help to Buy Agent's website.

Am I eligible?

If you are finding it difficult to get on to the property ladder or to find a suitable private rental solution, why not look at Help to Buy home ownership or rented options to see if you are eligible.

Please note that you do not have to be on Elmbridge Borough Council's Housing Register to be considered for any of the schemes listed.

Help to Buy Shared Ownership

  • Your annual household income must not exceed 60,000
  • In most circumstances you must not have been in rent arrears over the last 12 months. Due to standard mortgage evaluation checks, it is unlikely that you will be able to purchase a property if you have a low credit rating
  • Your name, or the name of any joint registrant, must not currently be on the deeds of another property either in the United Kingdom or overseas.

The government has prioritised the following four groups for Help to Buy Shared Ownership:

Existing Social Tenants
Tenants who currently live in a council or housing association property on an 'assured shorthold tenancy' basis or in an 'affordable rent' property.

Ministry of Defence (MoD) Personnel
Specific categories of staff employed by the Ministry of Defence as specified by the government's Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). Please visit Catalyst's Website for more information.

Local Priorities
Some local authorities may specify individuals or groups that they want to prioritise in their area.

First-Time Buyers
Individuals and families who want to get onto the property ladder.

Other Priority Considerations
A number of other eligible groups as specified by individual local authorities, may be considered for Help to Buy options on a case by case basis. These include people who may be experiencing a major change in circumstances such as:

  • Overcrowding of an existing property due to a new family addition
  • A forced sale, e.g. divorce/separation
  • Needing to care for a sick relative.

If you have any questions about your eligibility for the Help to Buy initiative, please call the Catalyst HomeBuy team on 0845 601 7729.

How to register with bpha as the local Help to Buy agent?

Visit the |bpha website to register online or you can call 03333 214044 and ask for a registration form. Their e-mail address is helptobuyeastandsoutheast@bpha.org.uk

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