Lack of knowledge about Homebuy could hinder first-time buyers

A survey has reveal a widespread lack of knowledge amongst estate agents about the governments Homebuy scheme, designed to get first-time buyers onto the property ladder by purchasing a home on the open market in certain areas for 75% of the asking price.

While many of the estate agents questioned were aware of shared ownership, over half had never heard of the governments Homebuy scheme.

The survey carried out by Plumlife, part of Manchester-based housing association, Manchester Methodist Housing Group, found that 89% of estate agents questioned admitted that there is still some confusion about Homebuy and other low cost home ownership schemes within the industry.

Amongst the estate agents questioned, only 43% had heard of Homebuy and only 1% had ever marketed any properties through Homebuy. 90% of the estate agents questioned had heard of shared ownership schemes, however only 26% of these agents had or were marketing properties through shared ownership.

Despite their confusion over Homebuy and shared ownership, 87% of those questioned believed that these schemes were the way forward to help first-time buyers get a foothold on the property ladder.

Matthew Harrison, deputy chief executive at MMHG, says: We believe this survey confirms the need for greater awareness amongst some estate agents about the range of options for first-time buyers, which may be resulting in a number of first-time buyers and qualifying households being unintentionally frozen out of perfectly decent and affordable homes in good neighbourhoods.

Both shared ownership and Homebuy are government-backed schemes designed to help first-time buyers onto the property ladder. However, unlike shared ownership, those purchasing through Homebuy do not pay any rent or fees on the un-owned share.

Funded by the Housing Corporation and offered by many housing associations and registered social landlords, Homebuy enables applicants to purchase a property for 75% of the asking price while the remaining 25% is provided by the housing association in the form of a no-interest loan.

Plumlife is offering training and advice to local agents and advisors in the Greater Manchester area to dispel any confusion and raise awareness of Homebuy

Harrison adds: We think there should be some provision for training within the industry, to ensure that first-time buyers are made aware of Homebuy and shared ownership schemes, some of which are often on their doorstep.

The affordable housing industry has worked hard over the past few years to dispel certain myths about shared and affordable home ownership, including the perception that these types of properties are second rate or built in areas of serious decline.