Military families helped by ownership schemes
New figures released today reveal that, over the last two years, more than 780 military households have either bought or reserved a new home through FirstBuy and its successor Help to Buy: equity loan; initiatives that help people purchase a new build home with a fraction of the deposit normally required.
Both schemes provide an equity loan worth up to 20% of the value of a new build property, interest free for the first five years, so a home can be bought with a 5% deposit.
Hopkins, a former soldier who served in the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, said he was proud that the government had pushed military families to the front of the queue for assistance to purchase homes.
He said too often members of the armed forces had been denied the dream of buying a home because their job makes it difficult to get a mortgage.
In 2011, when FirstBuy was launched, ministers ensured military families were made the top priority and given extra help so they could be the first to benefit.
Government-backed housing agents were dispatched to military barracks and bases, both in the UK and overseas, to raise awareness and help members of the armed forces purchase homes through the scheme.
In March this year FirstBuy was replaced with the Help to Buy: equity loan, ensuring military personnel who are existing homeowners, but struggling to raise a large enough deposit to purchase their next property, can also benefit.
On average more than seven households each week have seized this opportunity and have bought homes through both schemes with at least three quarters of those first time buyers.
Last month Defence Secretary Philip Hammond offered aspiring first time buyers in the military an additional option to purchase homes through Forces Help to Buy. The £200m scheme will enable service men and women to borrow up to 50% of their salary, up to a maximum of £25,000, interest-free, to buy their first home.
In addition to these homeownership schemes, the government has also worked closely with credit agencies and Royal Mail to ensure that those living on a base or serving abroad are not disadvantaged when applying for a mortgage.
And new guidance, published for consultation last week, will ensure councils can make members of the armed forces a top priority category for social homes, and not be disadvantaged because of their work.
Hopkins said: “Our military men and women make a commitment that is far beyond just coming to work and doing a job.
“And yet often the perverse consequence of this service to their country has been enormous difficulties when trying to put down roots and buy a home.
“That’s why, from the outset, we ensured our troops were prioritised for homeownership schemes, and sent housing agents into military bases to help members of the armed forces with the process of buying a home.
“I’m delighted that hundreds have seized this opportunity to buy and reserve new build homes with a fraction of the normal deposit.”
But Hopkins said there is still more to do and he urged military personnel that are interested in buying their own property to contact their local Help to Buy agent, and investigate the schemes on offer.