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East Herts first time buyers urged to use council cash

By Herts & Essex Observer  |  Posted: May 13, 2013

Conservative candidate Colin Woodward for the Bishop's Stortford West Division Picture by Eleanor Patmore

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An East Herts district councillor is urging hard-pressed first time buyers to get help from the local authority mortgage scheme (LAMS).

Stortford's Colin Woodward, who is also a member of the town council and Herts County council, which also backs the scheme, said: "We now have five schemes in place with a total sum guaranteed of about £150,000. Total property value is £775,000:

"We pledged £1m into a scheme to guarantee higher loan-to-value mortgages for first time buyers. Lloyds provides the mortgage under their normal criteria, but in most cases they only offer 70 per cent loan-to-value meaning that properties are out of reach for new buyers who can’t raise a substantial deposit.

"Our scheme enables them to borrow a further 25% so they can get a mortgage at 95 per cent loan-to-value. The county started a scheme of their own soon after we did, as did other authorities. The schemes are broadly the same. If you know of anyone that may be interested in applying please send them to Lloyds in Hertford as there is still plenty in the pot."

His appeal comes as new figures show expectations for property sales in the East were at their most positive in over four years during April, as the government’s announcement on the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme began to make an impact on the housing market.

The latest RICS residential market survey says 33 per cent more surveyors now expect sales in the region to rise rather than fall over the coming months - from a negative balance of 19 per cent in February.

The last time surveyors were this positive was back in October 2008. The latest jump strongly suggests that ‘Help to Buy’ is beginning to have an impact on the market even if the mortgage guarantee element of the product is not due to come into effect until next year.

Jan Hÿtch, RICS East residential spokesman, said: "This is probably the most confident and sustained activity we have seen in the spring residential market for the last 4 years. Encouraged by the slight improvement in mortgage availability and LTV ratios, and with a few more sellers entering the market with real intent to sell their property, the signs are encouraging."

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