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First Homes

Stepping onto the property ladder can seem like a distant dream, especially if you want to stay in your local area close to friends and family.

But through the Government backed First Homes scheme buying a brand-new Countryside home* could be within closer reach than you think.

If you are a First Time Buyer who meets certain other criteria you could be eligible to purchase a First Home, benefitting from at least a 30% discount to the price. Find out more about below to see if you could be eligible.

When buying a First Home, you will benefit from the same high-end specification and build quality that we take pride in across all our homes.

*First Homes available at selected developments only

First homes logo

What is First Homes?

First Homes is a government backed scheme that offers full ownership of new-build homes at a discount of at least 30% compared to equivalent properties on the open market.

The scheme is only available to first-time buyers, with a capped household income. The local authority may also give priority to those who already have local connections, key workers, and members of the armed forces. Full details of the eligibility criteria will be available at each development offering First Homes.

The maximum price of a First Home after the discount has been applied is £250,000, or £420,000 in London. The scheme is available on selected developments and may apply to both houses and apartments. 

The discount will apply to the First Home forever, so if you buy at a 30% discount, then that is the discount you will have to offer to the next eligible buyer when you decide to sell your home.

First Homes Customer Guide


Who is eligible?

There are several key criteria you must meet to be eligible to use the First Homes scheme, but local authorities can apply additional criteria.

The standard criteria to be eligible to use the First Homes scheme are as follows:

  • All purchasers must be first-time buyers
  • Purchasers must have a household income not exceeding £80,000, or £90,000 in London (this can be lower if set by the local authority)
  • You must have at least a 5% deposit
  • You must acquire a mortgage for at least 50% of the home
  • You must meet any local connection criteria, or key worker criteria, as determined by the local authority

The criteria that applies to the initial sale of the property will also apply to all future sales of each First Home. This means that buyers will continue to benefit from the scheme every time the property is sold.

Full details are available at Own Your Home | First Homes Scheme - Own Your Home or download the Customer Guide below.

First Homes Customer Guide

What are the steps to buying a First Home?

If you are interested in buying with the scheme, you will need to take the following steps:

1. Visit one of our developments where First Homes is available and speak to our sales consultants about using the scheme.

2. If it looks like you meet the criteria to purchase a First Home, we will help you with the submission of your application form to the Local Authority.

3. To complete the application, you will need to provide evidence of your eligibility, confirmation of your household income and provide a “decision in principle” confirming your mortgage affordability.  Our Sales Consultants can put you in touch with Independent Financial Advisors who can help you with this.

4. Once the application form is completed you can reserve your home with us and pay the reservation fee.

5. The application will then be reviewed by the Local Authority and if you meet all of their requirements, they will issue an ‘Authority to Proceed’ to you, your solicitor and Countryside.

6. You can now apply for your mortgage and continue through our standard buying steps with the help of our Sales Consultants.

Watermark - eligibility criteria

The Council (The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead) has defined the Local Connection Criteria as a person that has a local connection with the district of a local housing authority if they have a connection with it –

  1. because they are, or in the past were, normally resident there, and that residence is or was of their own choice,
  2. because they are employed there
  3. because of family associations, or
  4. because of special circumstances

Below are some of the more frequently asked questions. Please download the Customer Guide for further details.

First Homes Customer Guide
I am buying with a partner do they also need to be a first-time buyer?

If the First Home is being bought by more than one individual all purchasers must be first-time buyers. First Time Buyers must not have (either alone or with others):

  • previously acquired via purchase, gift, trust or inheritance a major interest in a dwelling or an equivalent interest in residential land situated anywhere in the world; and/or
  • benefited from any form of sharia mortgage finance.

On the rare occasions where only one half of a couple is eligible for a mortgage, the local authority will consider giving approval to use the scheme on a case-by-case basis.

Can I rent my First Home out?

Not typically, if you wish to rent out your home you will need to receive permission from the local authority and your mortgage lender. Lodgers are allowed but only if the home remains your sole residence.

Can I decorate my home?

Once you own your First Home, it is up to you decorate and update as you see fit. However, you will need to keep to any planning rules, leasehold restrictions and terms of your mortgage that may apply.

Are there any exemptions from the local connection criteria?

Members of the Armed Forces and veterans that have left the forces within the last five years are exempt from meeting any local connection or key worker criteria. Bereaved spouses and civil partners of service men and women whose deaths were wholly or partly a result of their service are also exempt. However, the first-time buyer status and household income criteria will still need to be met.

Can the Help to Buy: Equity Loan be used to purchase a First Home?

No, the Help to Buy scheme cannot be used in conjunction with the First Homes scheme. They are both provided as alternative ways for first time buyers to get onto the property ladder.

However if you have a Help to Buy ISA or a Lifetime ISA you can put this towards the purchase a First Home as long as the purchase also complies with the rules of the ISA schemes. 

The ISA schemes have price caps, which are currently:

  • Help to Buy ISA:  £250,000 (£450,000 in London)
  • Lifetime ISA:  £450,000

For a First Home purchase, these caps would apply to the price of the home after the discount has been applied.

How do I sell my First Home?

First Homes must be sold to eligible first-time buyers at the discount you purchased the home at. If this was a 30% discount, this is also the amount you will have discount your home by compared to its open market value at the time you are selling. This ensures the benefit you received when you bought the home gets passed on to the next generation.

A valuer accredited by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) must be selected to assess the market value of your home, they will then apply the same discount that was available when you initially bought the home.

You will also need to ask the local authority for approval to sell the property and share the eligibility criteria that you had to meet when you purchased the home with the estate agent. The rest of the selling process is the same as any other home.

Further details can be found in the Customer Guide.