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 below which select developments and plots the scheme is available on and 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 is available on selected developments & plots only
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.
First Homes is now available on selected one-bedroom apartments at Watermark, Maidenhead.
First Homes is now available on selected two-bedroom properties at Ashmere, Ebbsfleet Garden City, Kent.
Countryside at Tattenhoe Park
First Homes is now available on selected three-bedroom houses at Countryside at Tattenhoe Park, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.
First Homes will soon be available on selected two-bedroom apartments at Pullman Green in Hexthorpe, Doncaster.
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 –
- because they are, or in the past were, normally resident there, and that residence is or was of their own choice,
- because they are employed there
- because of family associations, or
- because of special circumstances
The criteria to be eligible to use the First Homes scheme at Ashmere are as follows:
- A purchaser (or, if a joint purchase, all the purchasers) of a First Home should be a first-time buyer.
- Purchasers of First Homes should have a combined annual household income not exceeding £80,000.
- A purchaser of a First Home should have a mortgage to fund a minimum of 50% of the discounted purchase price.
- Purchasers are to live within the Dartford area or are Armed Forces service Personnel with a connection to the Dartford area.
The criteria to be eligible to use the First Homes scheme at Countryside at Tattenhoe are as follows:
- Only available to first-time buyers (if a joint purchase, all purchasers need to be first time buyers)
- Maximum household income of £80,000 per annum
- A purchaser of a First Home should have a mortgage to fund a minimum of 50% of the discounted purchase price.
- You'll need funds to pay a £500 reservation fee, solicitor fees and moving costs.
- Please note, you can only sell the property to someone who is eligible to buy a First Home.
Below are some of the more frequently asked questions. Please download the Customer Guide for further details.First Homes Customer Guide
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
References to “we”, “us” or “our” are to the part of the Vistry Group (including Linden Homes, Bovis Homes, Countryside Homes, Drew Smith, Vistry Ventures or one of Vistry’s joint venture companies) from which you are intending to purchase a new home. References to "you” and “your” are to the prospective buyer or buyers of a new home from us.
*First Homes is available on our selected new build homes only, subject to contract and eligibility criteria. If you are purchasing through the First Homes scheme please note that you are required to meet the eligibility criteria under the scheme and to be issued with Authority to Proceed by the local authority. Please note that the Authority to Proceed is valid for three months from issue within which period exchange of contracts must have taken place. If Authority to Proceed has not been issued before reservation, then this reservation is subject to you meeting the eligibility criteria, a First Homes Application Form being submitted promptly to the local authority and an Authority to Proceed being provided. In the event that either (i) you do not provide the information required to submit the First Homes Application Form within twenty (20) Business Days of the reservation date, or (ii) the Authority to Proceed is not issued by the local authority within twenty (20) Business Days of receipt of the fully completed First Homes Application Form or (iii) the local authority confirms that an Authority to Proceed will not be issued or shall be withdrawn prior to exchange of contracts, then the reservation will be automatically be cancelled and the reservation fee shall be returned in full. To be eligible for First Homes you must meet the following criteria: 1: All purchasers must be a first-time buyer, even if more than one person is buying the new home from us. 2: You will need to meet any local connection criteria, or key worker restrictions set by the local authority. 3: Your household income must be no more than £80,000 in England, with the exception of London which is £90,000. 4: You will need at least a 5% deposit. 5: You will need to be able to obtain a mortgage for at least 50% of the new home to be purchased from us. We may also require evidence of your financial ability to proceed with the purchase of a new home from us. The maximum price of a new home covered by First Homes, after the discount has been applied, will be £250,000 (£420,000 in London). Local authorities can set lower price caps. The new home is sold at a discount of at least 30%. The discounts will apply to the new home forever, meaning that generations of new buyers and the local community will continue to benefit every time the property is subsequently sold. First Homes is only available on selected developments and selected plots. Please contact the sales consultants for further information regarding First Homes and the application process. First Homes is a government scheme and is subject to the government’s terms for the scheme. This offer is not to be used in conjunction with any other offer, discount, promotion or scheme. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on a mortgage or any other debt secured on it. Subject to individual lender terms and conditions. Our usual reservation and sales terms and conditions also apply. Please speak to one of our sales consultants for more details.