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1,000 first-time buyer homes planned

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CREATING 1,000 first-time-buyer homes for hundreds of Islanders who are struggling to get on the property ladder has become a priority for Jersey’s social housing developer.

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John Hamon, the chief operating officer of Andium Homes, said that after holding an open-day earlier this year, company representatives were ‘shocked’ at the demand for first-time-buyer homes and had consequently updated its business plan to create 1,000 properties by 2025.

Andium, which took over the States’ social housing portfolio in 2014, plans to do so by offering existing homes at a discount via its Homebuy scheme, as well as by building new stock, which it plans to offer at discounts of up to 25 per cent.

Mr Hamon said that half of the 110 units planned for the newly acquired Gas Works site in St Helier could be built as first-time-buyer homes, adding to ongoing schemes to build 65 units at St Peter’s Village and 40 at Samarès Nurseries in the next few years.

According to the latest figures, 877 Islanders are registered on Andium’s affordable housing gateway as potential first-time buyers, while exactly the same number are interested in renting social housing.

Mr Hamon said that he feared an entire generation of Islanders could miss out on home ownership as mortgages have become more difficult to obtain following the 2008 global financial crisis.

‘There has always been a huge demand for rental, but with our open days back in April, we had 600 people there and they were just desperate for an opportunity to get on the property ladder,’ he said.

‘What you will see in our new business plan is a lot more homes for first-time buyers. Between now and 2025 we would be looking at 1,000 homes for first-time buyers.’

He added: ‘We are concerned that there could be a lost generation, who are never able to afford their own home and we need to do something about it.

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‘There have been some comments that we should concentrate more on rentals, but there is the same level of demand for first-time buyers as there is for rentals, so it has become more of a priority for us.’

Mr Hamon said that if more Islanders moved into their own homes, it would have the added advantage of freeing up more rental stock.

‘It’s a double win for us. It’s a change of tenure – someone has moved into their own home and it also brings an extra rental unit onto the market,’ he said.

Earlier this year, the Jersey House Price Index, produced by the States Statistics Unit, identified that the cost of three- and four-bedroom homes had reached their highest ever level in Jersey.

The figures also showed that the average price of a home had risen by 44 per cent since 2005, while average salaries had increased by just 28 per cent in the same period.

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