Help to Buy Scheme Hailed a Success at Top End of the Property Market

by Heather Peebles

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Cala Homes - Albert Dock 001A renowned national housebuilder has praised the impact the Help to Buy scheme has had on the Edinburgh and Lothians market by helping buyers into properties previously out of their reach.

CALA Homes (East) has revealed the popularity of the scheme even at the high end of the market, enabling city professionals including an Edinburgh accountant and a university lecturer to purchase properties of the highest quality in the location of their choice.

Last month it was announced the first phase of Help to Buy, which applied to properties priced at £400,000 or below, had proved so popular that the fund was used up early. The next phase of funding is due to be available from April 2015 although interested buyers can apply for it now.

Within CALA’s portfolio Help to Buy was utilised predominantly at three developments, Albert Dock in Leith, Murieston Gait in Livingston and Fairmilehead in the south of Edinburgh.

Asha Patwari, 35, was one of those buyers, delighted to have moved into a three bedroom terraced home at the Fairmilehead development. The mum-of two, who works as an accountant in Edinburgh said: “We couldn’t have afforded a home of this size in this area had it not been for Help to Buy.

“My husband and I decided to up sticks and move from Glasgow to Edinburgh before our children were of school age so that they could benefit from the excellent education available in the area.

“To do this, we initially had to rent a property but we knew it made more financial sense to buy a property but even as two professionals we were struggling to gather enough for a deposit while also paying for childcare for my daughter who is at nursery.

“We were looking at flats but even those were too expensive in Fairmilehead. When we realised we could be helped into a two storey house complete with its own garden we were over the moon.

“It’s been fantastic to finally get the home we wanted in the area of our choice while still being able to live within our means and I would certainly recommend Help To Buy to other families looking to get onto the property ladder.”

Young Professionals

Meanwhile at trendy Leith development, Albert Dock, Ocean Drive, the initiative has also been heavily used by young professionals eager to purchase the smart city townhouses. Made up of 31 three and four bedroom townhouses, the development has been designed to mirror the traditional warehouse buildings that once stood there. CH 5

Dr Scott Dalgarno, 36, a Reader in Chemistry at Heriot-Watt University, moved into his new roomy four bedroom townhouse with partner Luisa Muir in June, aided by Help to Buy and said: “We had been looking at CALA properties to buy for some time because they have a stellar reputation for quality and we loved the Albert Dock development.

“It’s rare to find a city centre house of this quality, with such fantastic transport links as well as its own parking spaces, and we knew we just had to have it.

“We probably could have afforded to make the move without Help to Buy, however we would have been a little stretched at that exact point in time. By not having to commit so much money for the deposit, we were able to buy everything we needed for the house.

“Our last property was a furnished flat so we didn’t have nearly enough furniture to fill our new home, so it’s been great to have the financial freedom to do this without having to go beyond our means.

“We are really enjoying life in our new home. The townhouse style works really well for us. Luisa works as an intensive care nurse so often has to work nights but as the property is spread across three floors it means that she can sleep at any time without the worry of disturbance.

“We also love the outdoor space which is again something hard to find in Edinburgh. With the warm weather we have enjoyed over the summer the decking has been great for BBQs and sitting out.”

“The Albert Dock team were incredibly helpful throughout the entire process and it is safe to say that the quality of the CALA experience continues well past the point of sale.”

Cala Homes - Albert Dock 4Success Story

Sarah Stanger, Sales and Marketing Director at CALA Homes (East) said: “From our perspective Help To Buy has been extremely successful as it has enabled buyers to step into the type of homes they have always aspired to.

“At Fairmilehead it has been really helpful for young families like Asha’s who want to secure one of our three bedroom terraced Arthur properties in an area renowned for its schools.

“The Arthur is part of the CALA Homes Signature range with generous space across two floors and the all important garden being a real draw for families. They have what buyers expect from us in terms of location, proportions and quality and are priced from £385,000 which has been within the threshold for Help to Buy.”

‘Without the scheme CALA properties with an EH10 postcode would have been out of reach for many buyers and many of our new homeowners at Albert Dock would also have faced a similar compromise on quality or location without Help to Buy.

She added: “The flexible space spread across three floors at Albert Dock means a wide variety of people can enjoy the lifestyle Leith offers, from young professionals to families.

“While many of our younger buyers have taken advantage of Help To Buy, it’s also been a great way for couples to set themselves up for the future, purchasing a home, big enough to cater for a growing family without them having to make a large financial sacrifice at the outset.”

Future Funding

The next wave of funding is due to be available from April 2015 however buyers also have the option to investigate the Mortgage Guarantee system, where certain lenders offer a 95% mortgage backed by a government guarantee, meaning that buyers may only need a 5% deposit.

Sarah Stanger added: “We’d encourage anyone interested in our properties to fully investigate the various funding options on offer and we can put clients in touch with independent mortgage advisors who would be able to look into options for them. We find buyers are often surprised that our homes are more accessible than they initially think.”

“Although the Help to Buy funding will not be released until next year, buyers can actually apply for it today.

“This means that buyers can look into reserving our properties now, provided that their transactions are completed after April 2015.”

CALA’s reputation was earned on the high quality of the homes it builds in developments which are sensitively designed to augment the areas in which they sit. The result is that its homes are not only highly sought after, but retain their value over decades and earn loyalty from owners, who often live in a series of CALA properties.

Ms Stanger added: “We have many, many CALA home owners who have lived in a number of our properties, often trading up after stretching themselves financially to get a start in one of our sought-after homes.

“With that in mind, there is absolutely no doubt that Help to Buy has helped many younger buyers, especially younger families to achieve their property ambitions by helping them into the CALA lifestyle.”

Private: Heather Peebles

Based as a PR in Edinburgh, Heather Peebles is a highly-valued member of the team at Holyrood PR. Her work with the Scottish public relations consultancy sees her advising clients in healthcare, construction, renewables and logistics. As well as delivering numerous successful PR campaigns, she is also experienced in crisis PR and reputation management.

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