Almost 150 East Lothian first-time buyers joined local mortgage brokers Stisi Group and Clancys Solicitors and Estate Agents at an event in Musselburgh this weekend, to find out more about the newly-launched help to buy First Home Fund.
The two family businesses teamed up to run two free First Home Fund workshops in a bid to ensure that local first-time buyers don’t miss out on the Scottish Government scheme, which offers a free loan of up to £25,000 towards a first property deposit. Funding will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis, across Scotland. The buoyancy of East Lothian’s property market – while good news for the region – makes purchasing a first home here more challenging.
Both workshop sessions, held at Eskmills Business Park on Saturday, were fully booked within a week, highlighting the need for financial assistance for local first-time buyers to purchase property in the area.
The latest figures from ESPC (Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre) reveal a thriving property market; the December 2019 average selling price saw an increase of almost 12 per cent on December 2018, to £250,972. This rise isn’t a one-off event either – ESPC report an 18 per cent rise in average selling prices from 2010 to 2019. In addition, selling times are getting quicker; down from an average of 86 days in 2010 to just 27 days in 2019.
Stisi Group and Clancys have welcomed the launch of the new help to buy scheme, which recognises the difficulties now faced by those trying to get a foot on to the property ladder. The First Home Fund is a shared equity pilot scheme launched in December 2019, with an initial £150m funding pot.
First-time buyers may apply for up to £25,000 towards the cost of the deposit on their first home, whether a new build or existing property. This loan will bring homeownership within reach for many who have been struggling to save for a house deposit, with the Scottish Government estimating that up to 6,000 first-time buyers will be able to use the scheme to purchase their first home.
Ross Stisi, Stisi Group Managing Director, said: “We were delighted to welcome so many local first-time buyers to our information sessions. The First Home Fund is a genuinely exciting new help to buy scheme, and we’re looking forward to seeing it boost homeownership in East Lothian.
“Strict lending criteria is making mortgages with low deposits harder to obtain and we know it’s not easy for everyone to save up for a large deposit. As the First Home Fund is a shared equity scheme, it works like an interest-free loan with no monthly payments. It’s a real opportunity for first-time buyers to buy a property, and to buy locally.”
Paul Clancy, Property Director at Clancys Solicitors and Estate Agents, added: “We put this workshop together with the intention of educating the attendees, and I was just blown away by the engagement in the room and the number of questions asked.
“One of the things I really love about the First Home Fund is that it’s not means-tested like other shared equity schemes so I feel this will be able to help a lot more first-time buyers in the EH postcode area. Already the response has been overwhelming, with a lot of first-time buyers looking to take this forward.”
Billy Barclay, a first-time buyer who attended the workshop, said: “It’s great to see local businesses spreading the word about the Government initiatives that are available to help first-time buyers. The information given at the event was really valuable, and I’m now looking to apply to the First Home Fund. It’s exciting, as my dream of buying my first place is a step closer to reality!”
In response to the overwhelming interest in the First Home Fund workshops, Stisi Group and Clancys are now planning further sessions in East Lothian and Edinburgh. They also welcome any enquiries from first-time buyers unable to attend, but who would like to know more.
Dates for these additional workshops will be announced in the next few weeks. In the meantime, anyone interested can call Stisi Group on 0131 510 1240, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @StisiGroup on social media.