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First Time Buyer Homes 10 October 2003

The Department of Local Government and the Environment has announced that it is seeking approval at the October sitting of Tynwald for a sum of £5.7 million to be released from the £20m Housing Reserve Fund to allow the Department to continue to assist first time buyers under the House Purchase Assistance Scheme.

Tynwald approved an amendment to the Scheme in July 2002 to enable the Department to provide grants and top-up loans for first-time buyers who would be allocated new homes from the Departments programme of new approved properties. Purchase prices typically range around £105,000 for a Two Bed Apartment to £128,000 for a Three Bed House. The Scheme also continues to provide grant assistance to eligible applicants purchasing existing properties, mainly flats, up to £90,000.

Tynwald also approved at that time the transfer of £3.0m from the Housing Reserve Fund to add to capital funding already approved in the budget to meet first time buyer commitments. This additional funding has enabled the Scheme to provide assistance of £3.80m for 84 new home owners who have purchased their first time buyer property during the last twelve months. The average grant plus top up loan has been around £45,000 for each approved new property. A further £700,000 has provided grant assistance for over 40 first time buyers who have purchased existing properties. The average grant for these properties has been around £15,000. Richard Senior, Director of Estates and Housing, said,

"The Department has undertaken to provide about 600 new approved properties over a five year period. To date over 140 properties have been delivered from the programme. A further 133 properties have either commenced on site or are scheduled to commence in the near future and that is why Tynwald approval is being sought for a further draw down from the Housing Reserve Fund to ensure that those allocated new homes can get assistance they need to make the purchase".

The Department also reported recently that its First-time Buyer Register was being updated and that all existing applicants were being sent a revised application form. Reporting on this update Richard Senior said,

"Over two hundred application forms were returned in the first week and they continue to arrive each day in quite large numbers. At the end of October we will carry out an analysis of the forms to try and get a better picture of the needs and personal circumstances of the first time buyer applicants. The housing market is always under review so we will be using up to date demand and market information to decide whether recommendations should be made to amend the House Purchase Assistance Scheme and our development programme."

He went on to say,

"The high level of returns from prospective first-time buyers indicates that there is still high demand in this sector of the housing market. I hope, therefore, that private house builders will give serious consideration to shifting the focus of their development programmes to build a greater number of properties at a price that will help meet this demand."

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