Council to launch shared ownership scheme to help home-buyers

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New Forest shared ownership
New Forest property prices have reached an average of £397,977, according to online estate agent Rightmove

HOME-buyers struggling to afford a mortgage in the New Forest could receive help from a new initiative being drawn up by the district council.

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Under proposals for a shared-ownership scheme, the authority would offer a lower price by selling a proportion of the home, instead of the whole property. The buyers would then pay rent on the remainder.

The properties sold in this way would be part of the construction target of 600 new council dwellings by 2026 which the NFDC set itself at the end of 2018.

There are more than 3,000 people on the waiting list for council homes. The aim is to counter expensive New Forest property prices which, according to online estate agent Rightmove, has reached an average of £397,977 – nearly a third higher than the national figure of £309,399.

As reported in the A&T, the scheme was trialled by NFDC’s Conservative leader, Cllr Barry Rickman, when the annual budget was set last month.

He said it would particularly support those unable to make the leap from private sector renting to buying on the open market. He declared then: “This scheme will help a group of people ignored for so long.”

New Forest council tax
Cllr Barry Rickman (right) presents the budget next to deputy leader Cllr Edward Heron

The first public details have been laid out in a report to councillors on NFDC’s housing overview and scrutiny panel, which is due to meet next week.

It said: “The council’s new shared ownership scheme aims to give those people who are unable to buy a property outright – due to the high property prices in the district – long-term housing stability by getting them onto the property ladder when they might otherwise not be in a position to afford a home.”

Shared ownership might range between 25% and 75%, it said, with a lease granted to cover the remaining part on which rent would be paid.

There would also be an option to purchase the property outright in stages, known as staircasing, which would normally be funded by a mortgage.

The report said the system has the potential to reduce monthly outgoings as the combined costs of a mortgage and rent can be cheaper than privately renting.

There would be “financial implications” for the council, it went on, including launching the scheme and marketing the homes.

The scheme will be discussed by councillors on Wednesday at NFDC’s Appletree Court HQ in Lyndhurst, who will decide whether to recommend it to the ruling cabinet.

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