Young people keen to own a home in London will now be able to get help with the launch of the government-backed "top-up" deposit scheme operating through selected housing associations and private developers.
The scheme, called FirstBuy, provides 20 per cent of a new-build property's value in the form of an interest-free loan to all Londoners — not just public sector key workers — earning under £60,000 a year.
This is so buyers can get over the "deposit hurdle" caused by lenders restricting mortgages to 75 per cent of a property's value. With a 20 per cent top-up, buyers will have to contribute only five per cent from their personal savings or the bank of mum and dad.
Halifax, Nationwide and Barclays have been chosen as FirstBuy lenders, so it makes sense to approach these for a mortgage.
Top-up loans will be interest-free for the first five years, with the rate rising to 1.75 per cent in the sixth year and then one per cent above the retail price index. The loan can be paid back at any time or deducted from the proceeds when the property is sold.
About 1,000 affordable new homes in London are becoming available with the first £20 million tranche of government funds. And not before time.
New research by management consultant Hay Group reveals it would take a London employee with average earnings 18 years to raise a 20 per cent down payment when saving 10 per cent of pre-tax income.
The average London house price of £344,324 is nine times the average salary of £38,470 — the highest ratio in the UK.
Most FirstBuy homes will start to come on stream later this summer. Housing associations allocated funding include Genesis, L&Q, Moat, Catalyst and Metropolitan, who will market the new homes individually and through a new website: www.firststepslondon.org. For other low-cost home ownership initiatives, visit homebuy.co.uk.
Barratt is the first private developer out of the blocks, announcing FirstBuy homes at three London schemes.
New South Quarter in Croydon is a 13-acre "urban village" built on a former gasworks. Modern-looking apartment blocks up to nine storeys high are clustered around courtyards and landscaped gardens.
A concreted-over section of the River Wandle has been reinstated and now crosses the site, while an adjacent park has been upgraded.
A new tramline runs to the development and connects with Croydon's two train stations, where journeys to London Bridge and Victoria take from as little as 13 minutes.
Prices start at £161,995, meaning FirstBuy purchasers need to put down £8,000. Call 020 8688 0688 for details.
At The Willows, Morden, prices start at £169,995 (call 020 8640 1140). At Holmesgate Place, Hayes, three-bedroom houses priced from £283,995 are available as well as flats. Call 020 8848 7396.
Barratt is urging people to register sooner rather than later as demand is likely to far exceed supply.
Housing associations are reminding buyers that the FirstSteps website lists about 30,000 homes for sale and rent and that new developments are added regularly. Some properties are available "off-plan", usually several months before they are complete, allowing buyers to organise their move.
Homes are available at designer developments in central London, and include waterside apartments, those overlooking parks and those with special eco features. Buyers can get on the ladder for less than £600 a month by purchasing the minimum 25 per cent shared-ownership stake and paying a subsidised rent on the remaining equity. Call Notting Hill Housing on 020 8357 4444.
Putney is popular with singles and couples who want the convenience of Tube connections, the buzz of a high street and the tranquillity of surrounding leafy open spaces. At a former college site on Putney Hill, housing association A2 Dominion is selling 54 new apartments where the minimum shared-ownership price is £82,500. Call 0800 783 2159 for details.
Caspian Apartments is the first phase at a new 215-home "green" scheme in Limehouse, Docklands. Homes have solar panels and a landscaped communal roof terrace. Prices from £199,950 for an outright sale, also through A2 Dominion.
Mildmay is a new affordable homes development in the fashionable N1 Islington postcode. It is made up of 91 apartments with 21 different layouts, set around a quadrangle with landscaped gardens.
The crisp and clean-lined architecture has brick, cedar and zinc finishes, while eco-friendly features include brown roofs (for extra insulation and wildlife diversity) and a communal heating system, reducing fuel bills. There is a car club, too. Prices from £270,000. Call Lovell on 020 7226 4611.