3rd August 2017
Becoming a homeowner may seem like a far-fetched dream for many young people in Bath, where the average house price is nearly 12 times the average salary. According to mortgage lender Halifax, the average age of a first-time buyer in the UK is currently 30.
However a report published in June shows that more than 285,000 people, including 240,000 first time buyers, were able to purchase a property through the government's 'Help to Buy' schemes since they were introduced in 2013.
One couple who took advantage of this scheme recently moved into their own home at Mulberry Park, Curo's development in south Bath.
Paul, 25, and Grace, 24, had been renting an apartment in Bathwick Street while saving up for a deposit, but thought they'd have to compromise on size or location to be able to buy a home in Bath.
"We wanted a home at Mulberry Park due to its great location in Combe Down," said Paul. "We were planning to use Help to Buy for a two-bedroom property as we didn't think we could afford a bigger home. Shannon, the Curo sales negotiator at Mulberry Park, discussed the numbers with us and we were delighted to see that we could actually get the three bedroom home we really wanted."
Going for a bigger property will allow the couple to make long-term plans and stay put for as long as they choose to, rather than being forced to move again by changing circumstances.
The government-backed Help to Buy scheme is available on all new build homes and can be accessed by first time buyers as well as existing homeowners looking to move up the property ladder.
Lisa Howells, Curo sales director, explains how it works: "With Help to Buy, you only need to put down a cash deposit of 5% of the property's value. The government will then lend you up to 20% through an equity loan that is interest and payment free for the first five years. This means you only need to get a mortgage for the remaining 75% of the property's value."
Saving up for a deposit while paying rent and bills is particularly difficult in Bath & North East Somerset, with private sector rents averaging at £1,096pcm – the highest in the South West.
"Equity loans through Help to Buy tackle this issue, supporting both people who aspire to own a home and those who are looking to move to a bigger property or a different area," said Lisa. "So far, nine of our homes at Mulberry Park have been purchased through Help to Buy."
Of course, the more a buyer is able to contribute towards a deposit, the lower the monthly mortgage repayments will be.
"Moving in was very exciting, and it's been brilliant so far" said Grace. "We've had a lot of support and advice throughout the process from the sales team at Curo."
"The guarantees that come with a new build have given us a lot of peace of mind as new homeowners. It was also great to be able to choose the finishes we wanted and personalise our new home."
"We look forward to taking advantage of the shops and restaurants that will be available at Mulberry Park and a much shorter commute to work. Having our own entrance and parking is amazing compared to before when I had to lug shopping up flights of stairs and struggling to park. We're also looking forward to being part of this community and meeting new people."