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Hope for 1st-time buyers amid bleak forecast

£650,000. That's the predicted price for the AVERAGE London home by 2020 and it's hard to see how the typical first-time buyer could afford anything close to that figure, blogs Alan Bradley, Head of Sales, Bromford Homes.

Yes, it's an extreme example − property prices in the capital being almost on another planet − but a just-published National Housing Federation report does forecast an average 35% property price rise over the next seven years.

That includes us here in central England and, with many first-time buyers already struggling to take that crucial first-step on the housing ladder, the NHF's Home Truths report offers a timely warning.

Hard-working people are already spending more and more of their income just to keep a roof over their heads and NHF chief executive David Orr warns today (Tuesday) that many could be forced to move away from their jobs, schools, family and friends.

His bleak forecast is that, unless the nation starts building more homes, many ordinary working people could be locked out of home ownership. Instead, they will be forced to rent from private landlords at prices that are forecast to rise almost 40% by 2020 and, in a growing number of cases, seek housing benefit to help make ends meet.

Far better, argues the NHF, to spend taxpayers' money on more housing that people can afford. For many first-time buyers and other people who can't afford to buy on the open market, that means shared ownership − where you buy between 25% and 75% of a new home, rather than buy it outright, and pay low rent on the remaining share.

This makes a big difference to people on lower incomes who can't − and possibly never will − save enough to put down a traditional open market deposit and can't borrow from what's now commonly called the Bank of Mum and Dad.

This part-buy, part-rent formula really does work. In the last two months alone, we've completed more than 40 shared ownership sales across central England and we've got another 15 in the pipeline before Christmas.

LarksRise Matt&Clare alt

It's quite literally a dream come true for first-time buyers like Matt and Clare (pictured above), who bought roughly 50% of their new two-bed home at Larks Rise, Coventry, earlier this year and were so pleased that they agreed to feature in a special shared ownership video.

Aspiring homeowners like them keep saying an enthusiastic YES to shared ownership and, with a typical 40% share of a new Bromford home costing around £48,000 at a development like The Beeches in Birmingham, it's easy to see why.

A minimum 5% deposit on that would be around £2,400 − so much less than if buying on the open market − and the total monthly housing costs (including low rent) are typically less than if buying outright or renting from a private landlord.

Shared ownership buyers can also increase the percentage that they own through a process that we call staircasing − if and when, for instance, they increase their earning power.

It's not a perfect system − nothing is − but it works well for the huge majority of our customers by enabling them to move into a home that they can call their own and offers them an affordable, more secure, alternative to private renting.

For most of our shared ownership buyers, it also means that they can stay in the same area where they work, send their children to school and have a cherished network of family and friends.

If all goes well up to the end of March, 230 buyers will have collected the keys to a new Bromford home during 2013-2014 and next year we hope to continue "doing our bit" for the affordable housing market, by building more shared ownership homes.

10 December 2013