Affordable: become a 'guaranteed' first-time buyer

New government schemes will offer a big leg-up for those struggling to find deposits
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Highbury Gardens
£68,750: a quarter-share of a flat at Highbury Gardens, named best place to live in an awards scheme
Details are emerging of the Government's New Build Guarantee Scheme, launching next month, which aims to help 100,000 buyers currently priced out of home ownership because of the big deposits required by mortgage lenders.

Housing minister Grant Shapps has confirmed that new-build properties (houses and flats) valued up to £500,000 will be available, a higher threshold than expected and welcome news for first-time buyers in the capital, where prices are higher.

Buyers will have access to 95 per cent mortgages and therefore will need only a five per cent deposit to get on the ladder. A Government-backed indemnity fund will cover lenders against any losses in the event of a repossession.

Shapps says it is a "manageable risk". A central administrator will create "silos" of funds that apply between lenders and developers. Participating lenders include Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Nationwide, Santander, Yorkshire and Clydesdale Banks, though there are no details yet on the type of loans or the rates. The scheme will operate through leading house builders, who will start to market homes next month.

The scheme is likely to be of use to a wider pool of buyers than the Government's FirstBuy initiative, which provides interest-free top-up loans of up to 20 per cent of the purchase price. FirstBuy has a limited allocation of money and only about 1,000 new homes in London are available.

Kingsway Square
£61,250: a quarter-share of a flat at Kingsway Square, SW11
Many of these homes are for sale through Barratt, at developments in east and west London. Visit barratt or call 0844 556 6166.

At Kingsland Basin, which is emerging as a hub for creatives priced out of Clerkenwell, a £65 million project is bringing 207 new homes, a health centre, café, shops and offices in a restored listed building.

The apartment blocks are a modern architectural take on traditional wharves and warehouses, and many of the homes have generous-size terraces and glass-fronted balconies. London & Quadrant housing association has launched a new phase called Canal Wharf. One-bedroom flats are priced from £250,000. Visit Kingsland Wharves or call 0844 406 9299.

Further west along the Regent's Canal, close to Angel, is Reflections, a new 14-storey tower, where 50 shared-ownership apartments are on offer. Prices start at £94,000 for the minimum 35 per cent share (full price £270,000). Contact or call 020 7089 1315.

Kingsway Square is a redevelopment of a listed Victorian college close to Battersea Park. Studio apartments are priced at £245,000 (£61,250 for a 25 per cent share). Call Genesis on 0845 600 4663.

Highbury Gardens, in Islington, was judged "best place to live" in the Mayor's London Planning Awards and praised for its elegant and green design.

Helena Towers
Press officer, Helena Towers, paid £173,995 for a one-bedroom flat at The Willows
The development has neoclassical architecture, while a landscaped courtyard is a sanctuary beyond the main entrance on busy Holloway Road. Some homes also overlook Highbury Fields. Southern Housing Group is selling 39 shared-ownership flats, with prices starting at £68,750 for the minimum 25 per cent share. Call 020 7409 8756.

'It was a no-brainer'

Helena Towers, 34, is a press officer for a central London publishing company. Fed up with paying rent into a black hole, she was desperate to buy a home that was also a longer-term investment. The hurdle she could not overcome was the substantial deposit required, typically £30,000-plus in London.

FirstBuy came to her rescue. She paid £173,995 for a one-bedroom flat at The Willows, in Morden, at the end of the Northern line.

"It was a no-brainer. I was paying £670 a month for a room in a shared house. My mortgage repayments are roughly the same — and the flat is all mine."

Housing associations are continuing to launch flats for outright sale and on a shared-ownership basis in established and up-and-coming areas.

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