Builders call for Help to Buy extension as first-time buyer levels reach ten-year high



Karen Campbell

Homes for Scotland has called on the Scottish Government to extend the Help to Buy scheme to capitalise on new figures which revealed that the number of first-time buyers in Scotland is at the highest level for a decade.

Data published by finance and banking industry trade body UK Finance showed there were 8,800 new first-time buyer mortgages completed in Scotland in the fourth quarter of 2017, 3.5% more than in the same quarter of the previous year.

According to its report, the value of loans to first time buyers, who are typically 29 years old and have an income of £35,000, increased by almost 10% to £1.01 billion. The average loan to a first time buyer in the last quarter of last year reached £106,000, around 85% of the typical home value - 3.13 times the average salary.

Now, the umbrella body for builders has urged the Scottish Government to extend the Help to Buy scheme to further increase the number of first-time buyers.

Karen Campbell, director of policy at Homes for Scotland, said: “First-time buyers are the lifeblood of the housing market, triggering as they do a number of other transactions further up the property ladder so it is encouraging to see their numbers increasing. However, they still face a huge challenge in terms of the size of deposit they have to find. And this is where the new build sector can provide vital help since those eligible for the Scottish Government’s hugely successful Help to Buy scheme could purchase a new home up to £200,000 with just a five per cent deposit.

“With the majority of Scots aspiring to own their own home and increasing housing supply the single most effective way to address affordability concerns, we hope the Scottish Government will listen to our call to extend the Help to Buy Scheme beyond 2018/19. Not only will this allow more people to benefit from this support, relieving pressure on other sectors, it will provide builders with the confidence and certainty they need to invest in delivering more of the homes our country needs.”

Carol Anderson, chair of UK Finance’s Scotland mortgage committee, added: “The mortgage market has shown strong growth in Scotland, with first-time buyers and remortgaging levels at their highest for a decade.

“Remortgaging has also risen by a fifth compared to the same period in 2016, which demonstrates homeowners are shopping around.”

Earlier this month, separate research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies found that young adults are far less likely to own a home than ever before, with the decline in property ownership found to be most significant amongst young individuals aged between 25 and 34.



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