First time buyers in North Herts to get help

DOZENS of first-time buyers may get help with putting down a deposit for a property, after a council agreed to put forward �1m for a scheme.

North Herts District Council’s cabinet approved a move on Tuesday to put forward the money under the Local Authority Mortgage Scheme (LAMS), and a final decision will be made by Full Council next month.

Herts County Council would also put �1m in, meaning there will be �2m in the pot.

The scheme is intended for people or families who have at least a five per cent deposit – not the 25 per cent often required by lenders – and who can afford to pay a mortgage.

The council will then guarantee the remaining 20 per cent.

Cllr Terry Hone, portfolio holder for finance, said at the meeting: “The reason we are doing this is we want to assist people into housing.

“This authority does a lot of work in all sorts of ways to help people into housing, particularly in the social side, but it’s just as important to help people into their own private property.”

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Cllr Hone added the scheme was low risk for the council, with national figures showing very low rates of default.

Applicants would have to undergo credit checks and the same process as other borrowers.

Cllr Bernard Lovewell, NHDC’s portfolio holder for housing and environmental health, said: “This scheme will help first time buyers, with at least 50 households in North Hertfordshire set to benefit from it. Many more will benefit indirectly as it will have a positive knock-on effect for the property market throughout the district.

“Many hard-working people who can afford to keep up with mortgage repayments have real problems raising the deposit required by most banks and building societies. We are providing them with the help they need to open up a wider choice of mortgages, support that will be matched by Herts County Council.

“Cabinet agreed that it’s a low risk way of providing much needed help to people who are trying hard to get their feet on the housing ladder.”

The scheme will just be restricted to people in the North Herts area, but Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) is also considering entering into it as are all other councils in the county, except St Albans.

SBC is slightly behind NHDC in the process, but is expected to make a decision later this year.

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