Lift Funds Increased

Housing Minister, Keith Brown has announced extra funding for the LIFT Scheme.  This is a government sponsored scheme designed to help first time buyers to buy houses inScotland.  The scheme is intended to target in particular, those on low or moderate incomes and to assist them buy their first house.  Effectively, the government provides an interest free deposit to house purchasers wishing to buy in the lower cost sector of the market – often called the “starter home” sector.  In return for the interest free deposit the Scottish Government effectively takes an equity share in the property.  A further £4.65 million housing is being made available to help the Open Market Shared Equity, part of the overall Lift scheme.  This is that part of the LIFT scheme which allows purchases of second hand properties as opposed to “new builds”. Figures suggest that the new money available could help around 250 first time house buyers into the market. David Borrowman, Managing Partner of Caesar and Howie, welcomed the announcement but suggests a sense of proportion be retained by all in considering the effect on the market. David comments “Caesar and Howie favour the Lift scheme – we have introduced it to many of our clients and they have found it useful to them in getting a start on the housing ladder.  So it is good news if more money is going into LIFT – this is really a good scheme for young house buyers.  There are two things, however, which would make this scheme much more effective.  The restriction in giving these funds to tenants renting in the private sector should be removed.  Plenty of private tenants are desperate to buy and with private rents going up, this group may be needs more help than those tenants of social landlords – yet these tenants are given priority under the scheme.  Also the amounts of money going in are pretty limited.  The Scottish Government are right to look at ways of helping first time buyers.  When a first time buyer buys a property the seller usually buys a new property as well.  That means you could give the market a much needed fillip with this LIFT scheme.   But in all honesty at this funding level it is a bit like firing a couple of airgun pellets when you really need a barrage of artillery to get a result.  When the City ofEdinburgh District Council(of all institutions) can find £150 million to fund social house building this government investment of under £5m in LIFT looks feeble.  So I would say to Mr Brown – you are on the right track – but much more money please if you want to get the market buzzing again.