A Derry estate agent has welcomed the news that the Northern Ireland Executive is pumping an extra £40m into a co-ownership housing scheme and, with some properties selling at £35,000, Aaron McElhinney from Paul O'Keefe's office says there has never been a better time to buy houses in Derry.
Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has revealed that he will set aside £10m a year, this year, and for the next three years for those who want to buy property but cannot afford to get onto the property market. Under the scheme, they buy a share in the property in conjunction with a housing association.
Aaron says the scheme will mean an additional 600 people per year for the next four years will be able to achieve their dream and purchase a property.
"It will give potential home owners in Derry that don’t currently have a deposit the ability to get on the property ladder," he says. "They can take advantage of the lower more affordable prices. They have recently changed their criteria so that now second time buyers can also qualify for the scheme so a lot more people are eligible.
"And the co-owners can buy the property outright in the future. They can buy it in five per cent stakes but ultimately it’s a stepping stone for people to initially buy the property and then set out a target to where they can fully own the property."
Aaron says that in many cases in Derry it is now cheaper to buy a property than rent one.
"In some instances it can be cheaper to buy as rents are on the increase," he says. "For example someone buying a property at £50,000 with a 10% deposit over a 25 year term would pay around £276 per month which is cheaper than renting. Or through co-ownership with no deposit on a £60,000 purchase on a 25 year term where co-ownership have a 30% share 70% through a mortgage the monthly payments would be around £234. This shows that it is affordable.
"In terms of the last decade now the best time to buy a house. Without question buyers are getting a lot more value for their money, in the first 6 months of this year we have sold the same amount of houses that we did in the whole of 2010! With prices affordable there are bargains out there and people are buying."
Aaron is based at Paul O'Keefe Estate Agents and Financial Advisors in the Glendermott Road in the Waterside. You can contact them on 028 7131 8530 or check out their website on www.okeefeestateagents.com for further details.