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Suffolk/Essex: Help to Buy house sales in Colchester same total as Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 17:17 12 May 2014

The report, entitled East of England: Broken Market, said the housing crisis will only be solved if more affordable homes are built.

The report, entitled East of England: Broken Market, said the housing crisis will only be solved if more affordable homes are built.

Archant

Fewer than 200 home-buyers in Suffolk purchased properties in the first year of the government’s flagship Help to Buy equity loan scheme.

A total of 188 sales were completed in the first 12 months under the equity loan scheme across the county – the same amount as Colchester in Essex.

The highest number of sales to March 31 was 57 in Mid Suffolk, while there were 43 in Babergh, 29 in Forest Heath and only 28 in Ipswich – an average of one almost every two weeks.

Elsewhere, there were 14 in Suffolk Coastal, 12 in St Edmundsbury and only five in Waveney. Nationally, 19,394 sales were completed.

In north-east Essex, there were 38 in Tendring, 37 in Chelmsford and 15 in Braintree, bringing the north-east Essex total to 278. Nationally, 19,394 sales were completed.

The Help to Buy equity loan scheme was launched last April in England and is specifically aimed at people buying a new build property worth up to £600,000.

Someone taking out a loan under the scheme can get a loan from the Government for up to 20% of the property price. With the borrower also putting at least 5% in, they would need a mortgage of up to 75% to cover the remainder.

Phase two of the initiative, which extended the scheme to all homes and not just new-builds, was fast-tracked by Prime Minister David Cameron to October last year from January 2014.

In March, Chancellor George Osborne extended the scheme until 2020.

Critics say the scheme will drive up prices by increasing housing demand without stimulating the supply of new properties, fuelling a new house price bubble.

But first-time Colchester buyers Tom Wray and Claire Campbell spoke of their relief after taking advantage of the Help to Buy scheme and landing a home.

The couple, who were both living their parents, bought their first home at Taylor Wimpey’s Blenheim Park development in the town.

Mr Wray, a 28-year-old high school teacher, said: “If you had said to us six months ago we would be buying a house, we would not have believed you. But with the Help to Buy scheme, it became affordable.

“We are made up to have such a great house and we have loved the peace of mind you get with buying a new-build house.”

Jan Hytch, the East Anglian-based president of the National Association of Estate Agents, said the scheme has helped those unable to afford a large deposit to buy their own home by encouraging them to explore the new-build market.

She suggested the signature policy has broadened access at the lower end of the property ladder to younger buyers, dismissing fears it is fuelling a fresh housing bubble.

Reflecting on the higher number of sales in north-east Essex than Suffolk, she added: “These figures are attributed largely to the sale of new homes, which is quite a restricted market.

“We will have a better picture in the summer because it can take around three or four months to process a transaction.

“There are more new homes to be bought in Essex than Suffolk, but I would be surprised if the ratio is the same with the market wide open.”

John Mowles, housing portfolio holder at Ipswich Borough Council, said the private sector needs to build more affordable homes for first-time buyers in the town.

Claire Astbury, east of England external affairs manager for the National Housing Federation, said: “The average home in Suffolk costs 10 and a half times the average local wage. It may well be that Help to Buy simply is not making enough of a difference to turn buying a home into a realistic option for most people.”

Housing Minister Kris Hopkins said: “Thousands of people have now achieved their dream of becoming home owners through Help to Buy.

“Housebuilding is at its highest level since 2007 and climbing.”

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