'House prices were rising so fast I could not keep up'

9th May 2003 at 01:00
For teachers - particularly in London and the south-east - buying outright is not an option on a starting salary. Fortunately, there are already schemes targeted at helping key workers get on the property ladder.

In April 2000, the Government Housing Green Paper set out policies on home ownership, including a new proposal to help people into low-cost home ownership: the Starter Home Initiative (SHI).The Government is making pound;250 million available between 2000 and 2004 and the Starter Home Initiative is expected to help 10,000 key workers - including teachers - buy homes in areas where prices would otherwise prevent them from living in or near the communities they serve.

Different schemes are available in different areas, but the assistance largely consists of interest-free loans and shared ownership. The loans come in the form of a lump sum contribution towards a property that is repayable when it is sold.

Shared ownership refers to part-own part-rent schemes in which the key worker buys an affordable share of the property and pays rent on the share owned by the scheme manager. Many such schemes are run by housing associations and assistance varies from scheme to scheme.

A home ownership scheme enabled Anna Farnsworth, a primary school teacher, to buy a flat in Enfield, north London. "When I came to London I lived with a friend in a rented flat for a while," says Ms Farnsworth, 29, from Leeds.

"I was saving up for a deposit for a house, but soon realised it was futile - house prices were rising so fast I could not keep up. I 'd started thinking about moving back to Leeds."

Then she discovered Key Homebuy, a home ownership scheme available from Keys To The Capital, a consortium of housing associations delivering government subsidies for key workers.The programme is run by Metropolitan Home Ownership, a housing association that brings low-cost homes within the reach of those who can't afford to buy outright.

Metropolitan lent her pound;26,000, which was 20 per cent of the purchase price. Her mortgage is pound;101,000 and she does not have to pay back the loan - along with any growth in its value - until she sells the property.

"It would have been impossible for me to buy a property without this scheme," Ms Farnsworth says. "It's kept me living and working in London."

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