The following products are no longer available through the FIRST STEPS programme and are provided for reference only.
For a list of products that are currently offered through FIRST STEPS you should visit the Your Options page.
A shared equity scheme available until it was announced in the 2013 budget that it would be superseded by 'Help to buy'. With FirstBuy, customers could purchase a minimum of 80% of the property with a mortgage and a deposit and raise a minimum deposit equivalent to 5% of the value of the property. There was NO fee charged on the loan for the first five years and after that there was a fee on each of the equity loans of 1.75%, rising annually by the increase in the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 1%. Firstbuy in itself was an amended version of Homebuy Direct (below) the other principal government equity loans product of recent years.
London Wide Initiative (LWI)
London Wide Initiative was a shared equity product for key workers, and in some cases local residents, at specific developments across London. Through LWI, the government retains a percentage of equity in a home and the home buyer will not need to make any monthly payments on the government's share. If the home buyer left their key worker profession within the first three years of ownership then they repaid the government's share or sold the home.
Open Market HomeBuy
Open Market HomeBuy helped first time buyers and key workers buy a home of their own on the open market with help of an equity loan. In 2008 two options replaced the old Open Market HomeBuy scheme that had existed since 2006, these options were MyChoiceHomeBuy and Ownhome.
MyChoiceHomeBuy was a government funded, low-cost-homeownership product that enabled eligible applicants to choose and purchase a home of their own on the open market with the help of a flexible equity loan.
Home buyers would raise a mortgage with a high street bank or building society and received a government equity loan of up to 50% of the property value. There is an annual charge on the loan of 1.75% in the first year that would marginally increase each following year.
The alternative scheme to MyChoiceHomeBuy was called Ownhome delivered by Places for People where home buyers could lend between 20% and 40% of the value of their chosen property, up to a maximum of £165,000. No interest payments were payable on the Ownhome loan for the first five years. After five years interest was charged at a fixed rate of 1.75% each year. After a further five years this would increase to a fixed rate of 3.75% p.a.
First Time Buyers' Initiative (FTBI)
First Time Buyers' Initiative was a government backed scheme started in 2006 delivered through English Partnerships (the then national regeneration agency, in collaboration with the Housing Corporation). It enabled aspiring first time buyers, who could not otherwise afford to buy a new home, to purchase a new property with an affordable mortgage and with government assistance on a designated FTBI development.
Assistance was paid to the participating house builder, not the first time buyer. The government would then be entitled to a share of the future sale proceeds which are equal to the initial percentage contribution required to assist the buyer. It enabled the FTBI buyer to take out an affordable mortgage (minimum 50% of the total purchase price) on which they would make repayments.
HomeBuy Direct was an equity loan product where the customer purchased a minimum of 70% of the property with a mortgage and a deposit, receiving two 15% equity loans, one from the Homes & Communities Agency and one from the house builder. The loan is interest free for the first five years. After that you will pay a fee on each of the equity loans of 1.75%, rising annually by the increase in the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 1%.
If you bought a home with FirstBuy, LWI, FTBI or HomeBuy Direct and are looking to take your next steps, visit www.myfirsthome.org.uk who can help and advise you on fee payment, equity repayment (in part, or in full) and other services such as remortgaging, transfer of ownership, further advances and much more.
20th September 2017
Shared Ownership Week returns for its fifth year, 21st - 27th September. Shared Ownership week raises awareness this home ownership scheme which offers a life line to thousands of first time buyers.
19th September 2017
Countdown to the London Home Show Autumn 2017: Our sponsor Crest Nicholson give you the low down on their fantastic development Dylon Works, available via Help to Buy London.
18th September 2017
Countdown to the London Home Show Autumn 2017: Hear Marco and Olga's story about buying their first home for their young family with Notting Hill Sales.
16th September 2017
Countdown to the London Home Show Autumn 2017: L&Q's Lucy Chitty dispells some of the myths about home ownership.
FIRST STEPS is committed to the promotion of all types of accessible housing in London. We want to make the journey into your new home as simple as possible and to be sure that you know what to look for when searching for an affordable accessible home. All developments must be rated according to the type of accessibility they offer. That is why we have the following guide, based on the information provided in the Mayor of London's Accessible Housing Register, to help you understand what the rating of each property actually means.
A - Wheelchair Accessible Throughout
Meets the design standards from the Wheelchair Housing Design Guide which superseded the Housing Corporation wheelchair design standards. These properties have been designed to meet latest wheelchair accessible housing design standards, offering extra space and full access to all rooms and facilities. This standard provides more space than previous wheelchair housing design guidance and also ensures that all rooms are accessibly. In view of the high density of new build housing stock in London, the parking features have been excluded from this category. This will enable wheelchair accessible homes built above ground floor level to be categorised as such.
B - Wheelchair Accessible essential rooms
Complies with the Wheelchair Housing Design Guidance within the Housing Corporation Scheme Development Standards. Properties designed of adapted to provide access for wheelchair users to essential facilities of the property (that is, a bedroom, bathroom, toilet, living room and kitchen). Other rooms in the house such as additional bedrooms or bathrooms may not be wheelchair accessible.
C - Lifetime Homes
Meets the space standards of the Lifetime Homes developed by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Designed to meet the space standards of Lifetime Homes. Main features include a level approach/entrance and wider doorways. This category will capture all new general needs housing built to Lifetime Homes standards. Properties achieving this category will not necessarily meet all Lifetime Homes design guidance as the LAHR framework does not assess features other than space and access. Properties may have an internal flight of stairs. If so, these will be wide enough to accommodate future provision of a stair lift subject to technical feasibility.
D - Easy Access
Compatible with the design standards in Mobility Standard Housing (1974) produced by the DoE and Housing Corporation Scheme Development Standards (pre-1999) and Part M of Building Regulations (2000). The main features of these properties include a level approach to the entrance, wider doorways and more space than in general needs housing. These properties may also have an internal flight of stairs and if so, there is enough space to accommodate future provision of a stair lift subject to technical feasibility.
E - Step Free
No published access design guidance. These are properties that are considered general needs housing but have a level approach/entrance into the property and throughout. Properties in this category that have an internal flight of stair will be likely to accommodate future provision of a stair lift subject to technical feasibility.
E+. Minimal steps
No published access design guidance. Properties that do not meet any accessibly housing design guidance and have a limited number of steps to enter the property. Properties in this category will have no more than four steps to access the front door and are likely to be ground floor properties or properties in a block with a lift and a small number of communal or property front door steps.
F - General Needs
General needs housing does not meet any of the above criteria. Properties in this category will have more than four steps or a ramp access that is steeper than 1:10 to access the property front door. These properties should be marketed with the number of steps to access the property as this will provide an additional factor for helping people choosing what to bid for.
The Accessible Housing Register captures the essential information which determines the category awarded to a property. Additional information is also collected. This includes:
- Details of major adaptations such as level access showers and stair lifts
- Private garden or balcony
- Proximity to local shops
- Proximity to public transport
Affordable housing schemes come and go, and sometimes change name. Shared Ownership is often referred to as Part-rent part-buy, or part-buy part-rent. If you need further clarification of the affordable housing schemes in London, refer to our pages about Shared Ownership, Rent to Save & Help to Buy.