A SHARED-equity scheme to help first-time buyers get a foot on Jersey’s property ladder – using £10 million set aside in a previous Government Plan – has been announced by the Housing Minister.
Deputy David Warr said that States-owned affordable housing provider Andium Homes would manage the new ‘First Step’ scheme, which would enable eligible Islanders to access a government contribution of up to 40% towards the purchase of an open-market property.
The scheme is limited to first-time buyers, who will also need to provide a 5% deposit towards their purchase.
The news comes not long after estate agents warned that housing market transactions had ‘fallen off a cliff’ and urged vendors to be ‘realistic’ about their asking prices.
Jersey’s latest House Price Index showed that the average cost of a home during the spring was £666,000 – down £20,000 against the same period in 2022.
The number of sales was also down 42% on the same quarter of last year.
Deputy Warr said he hoped the scheme would create ‘a ripple effect that I believe will get the housing market moving again’.
It is estimated that up to 60 households will be able to benefit from the initial £10m investment, which the government has said it will consider extending should it ‘prove successful’.
The £10m was previously earmarked in the 2021 Government Plan – when John Le Fondré’s government was in power – and was also referenced within a housing action document produced by Deputy Warr’s predecessor, Russell Labey.
Mr Labey’s plan recommended that the funding could be used to maintain or alter ‘a single existing affordable ownership product’.
Deputy Warr stressed that First Step was different to Andium Homebuy, the affordable-housing provider’s existing shared-equity scheme, where first-time buyers can purchase a home utilising a deferred payment of up to 25% of the market value.
‘It’s not Andium properties. We’re looking at open-market properties,’ Deputy Warr explained.
‘The second area [of difference] is that we don’t want new developments. We’re not looking at helping people to buy a brand-new build. We’re looking at buildings that already exist and have maybe housed other people in the past,’ he added.
‘The idea is to keep recycling that money around. One of the objectives of shared equity against, say, a loan deposit scheme, is that we take away a bit of the borrowing from the individual on their home.
‘Obviously with a loan deposit they have to pay back that loan, as it were. Whereas in a shared-equity scheme, that borrowing, that element that the government has provided, doesn’t become real until the individual sells their home,’ he continued.
‘We would get, as a government, the uplift in the value. So in other words, if we’ve put in £100,000 and there’s been an improvement in price – and it comes back at £150,000 – that comes back into government. So that money would then be recycled.’
Andium Homes spokesperson Carl Mavity said the provider was ‘delighted’ to be working with the government on the initiative, ‘which will operate alongside our existing Andium Homebuy shared-equity scheme’.
The government has said that details on how the funds will be prioritised and allocated – including limits on the costs of properties available through the scheme – will be ‘further refined over the next few months’.
Islanders who want to be put forward for the scheme are being invited to register their details and interest on the Assisted Purchase Pathway waiting list, which can be found online.
Those already registered are being encouraged to contact Andium and ensure their details are up to date.
Household gross annual income limits to qualify for support through Assisted Purchase Home Ownership schemes
1-bedroom flat: £65,000
2-bedroom flat: £85,000
2-bedroom house: £105,000
3-bedroom house: £125,000
4-bedroom house: £135,000