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HomeBuy hope for buyers facing 10-year saving slog

Shared ownership can make property purchase dream a reality sooner and in a way that first-time buyers can truly afford, says Bev Hall, Sales and Marketing Director at Bromford Homes

TEN years to save a mortgage deposit? According to the latest headlines, that's how long it will take before one in four future first-time buyers are able to clamber on the first rung of the property ladder.

Their forecast − revealed in a new Building Societies Association report − comes as no surprise. And I'm not surprised either that the national newspaper story highlighting the saving struggle faced by so many first-time buyers didn't mention shared ownership.

It was a similar story a week or so ago when another story highlighted the plight of Generation Rent − the "army of renters" locked out of home ownership because they can't afford the tens of thousands of pounds needed for a deposit.

A very real problem but no mention of shared ownership as an equally real solution for many of the people who feel trapped in private rented flats and houses.

Why? Well, partly because although HomeBuy shared ownership has helped so many first-time buyers to realise the dream of affordable home ownership, it's misunderstood by some, myths abound and, despite publicity campaigns, our part buy-part rent package remains one of housing's best-kept secrets.

It's a fact − and all the more surprising at a time when the need for affordable housing has arguably never been greater and the aspiration to own a home remains as strong as ever.

Making dream a reality

Experts tell us that house prices have risen three times faster than real incomes over the past decade and, with the credit squeeze seemingly here to stay, 25% of future first-time buyers tell the BSA it will take them a decade or more to save the tens of thousands they need as a deposit for a traditional mortgage.

Saving is, of course, a good thing but ten years is a long, long time and shared ownership can make that dream of home ownership a reality much sooner − and without the need for huge deposits or stretching themselves beyond what they can really afford.

We've got lots of real-life examples here at Bromford Homes but let's look at just one − The Farthings in Telford, where cousins Jo Doody and Ellie Buttery and their respective partners have just bought beighbouring homes.

Both couples were living in rented homes before and wanted to realise their property-owning dreams but struggled with the high deposits and home loans needed for traditional outright purchase. They say they found the ideal solution with shared ownership, which means buying between 25% and 75% of a new home and paying low rent on the remaining share.

Get on the property ladder

"Shared ownership was the only way we were able to get on the property ladder. I would recommend it every time to anyone who, like us, struggles to become a first-time buyer," says sales and marketing co-ordinator Jo. Ellie, a 26-year-old library assistant who's on maternity leave with ten-month-old daughter Ivy, and her partner Jim are equally enthusiastic.

We've got more great examples of how shared ownership is making the home ownership dream come true for first-time buyers − and we'll certainly be highlighting them as part of Shared Ownership Week early next year. It's a real opportunity for us and everyone else in housing to dispel some of the most common myths as well as to highlight the benefits.

We welcome this annual publicity campaign led by the National Housing Federation and support the view that we all need to play our part in showing how shared ownership can make a difference to people's lives now and in the future.

Follow us on Twitter @BromfordHomes and @BevHallWM

19 December 2012