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Big jump in co-ownership purchases as home-buyers struggle to save deposit

Pictured at Co-Ownership’s annual shared ownership month last year are the organisation's chief executive Mark Graham and customer services director Glynis Hobson with Tim McCauley, contracts manager of Windsor Developments Ltd, the developer behind the Hadlow scheme in Donaghadee

THE number of households in Northern Ireland purchasing a home through Co-Ownership Housing increased by 15 per cent to more than 800 in the last 12 months, new figures reveal today.

And the not-for-profit organisation,which has helped 27,000 people on to the property ladder since 1978, believes this reflects the fact potential home-buyers are increasingly struggling to save for a deposit.

With Co-Ownership, prospective owners can buy a share of their chosen property anywhere in Northern Ireland up to a maximum price of £165,000, and often don't need a deposit.

Research Co-Ownership carried out with potential first-time buyers has shown that 42 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds say that lack of a deposit is stopping them buying a home.

Co-Ownership Housing chief executive Mark Graham, said: “First-time buyers typically have to save many years for a deposit, and with many people now living in rented properties and paying high rents, saving is becoming increasingly difficult.

"As a result, more people are using Co-Ownership to buy a home. Working with all the major mortgage providers, people can take the first step into home ownership without the need for a deposit and with lower monthly housing costs compared with privately renting.”

He added: “For this reason, we hope to help 900 families become home owners through Co-Ownership in 2018/19.

“We are also planning to launch a new digital customer portal this summer which will provide a more convenient service for customers and allow us to give a much quicker decision.”

Co-ownership is regulated and part-funded by the Department for Communities (current funding of £100m aims to support the delivery of 2,800 shared ownership homes across the north in the four financial years from 2015/19).

DfC permanent secretary Leo O'Reilly said: “Co-Ownership has been a valued delivery partner of government over the past 40 years and we look forward to our continued partnership working to increase the supply of affordable housing and help many more lower income households to fulfil their aspirations of home ownership.”

Co-Ownership has also now introduced a rent-to-own scheme for people who aspire to buy a home, but aren't yet financially ready. It allows them to choose a new build property anywhere in Northern Ireland up to the value of £165,000 and rent it for three years.

After this, the tenant receives a 25 per cent rebate on their rental payments, along with a refund of their initial £2,500 down payment, to put towards a deposit to purchase that property. Thirty-one households are currently participating in the pilot.

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