High quality affordable housing
throughout the South West of England

Frequently asked questions

What is affordable housing?

Affordable housing: Social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. Eligibility is determined with regard to local incomes and local house prices. Affordable housing should include provisions to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households or for the subsidy to be recycled for alternative affordable
housing provision. (National Planning Policy Framework, 2012)

What is a Discounted Market home?

A discounted market home is a property that is sold (leasehold or freehold) to qualifying local people at a price which is below its Market Value.  The home is valued as soon as it is completed and First Step Homes then offer this home at a reduced price.  The percentage discount will be specific to the development (as an example our Cheddar development is offered with a 20% discount).

First Step Homes do not retain any equity in the property and no rent is charged.   The home is owned by the purchaser who can sell it whenever they choose.  However, when the home is sold it must be offered to a qualifying local person and the same discount that originally applied must be strictly adhered to.

What is a shared-ownership home?

A shared-ownership home is one where you buy part of the equity of the property (typically 40%) and pay rent on the remainder.  Shared-ownership homes are normally provided by Housing Associations.

First Step Homes do not offer shared-ownership homes themselves but where they are required we will partner with a Housing Association to provide them.

What is Market Value?

Market Value is defined by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors as;

The estimated amount for which a property should exchange on the date of valuation between a willing buyer and a willing seller in an arm’s length transaction after proper marketing wherein the parties acted knowledgeably, prudently and without compulsion.

How do I know if I qualify?

You must be able to prove a genuine local connection to the Parish in which the development is taking place and be unable to afford a suitable open market property in this area.  The specific criteria for this are laid down by each Local Authority but are generally;

  • Persons who have been ordinarily resident in the Locality for the last three years or for a continuous period of five years at some time in the past.
  • Persons not resident within the Locality but employed in the Locality on a permanent basis within the last three years and who need to live close to their employment
  • Persons who can demonstrate a close family connection to the Locality in that the persons mother father son or daughter have been ordinarily resident in the Locality for the past five years and where a caring dependency relationship can be established

Locality generally means the Parish in which the development is taking place or the immediately adjacent Parishes.  These criteria are site specific and you should contact First Step Homes for the actual criteria against which you would be assessed.

How do I apply?

You will need to fill in a registration form and supply us with your proof of ID, proof of address and proof of income. These will then be sent onto the relevant Local Authority who will check that you qualify for an affordable home under their criteria.

You will also be required to see a financial advisor to get a mortgage offer in principle before we are able to finalise your place on the qualification list. First Step Homes are able to put you in touch with independent financial advisors who are experienced in this area.

Click here to register.

How do we manage to sell at these prices…. where’s the catch?
There is no catch. First Step Homes are able to offer heavy discounts on our homes as they are built on land that would not normally be given planning consent for development.  This significantly reduces the cost of the land and these savings are passed onto our purchasers.

Are you a housing association?
No. First Step Homes is a private company dedicated to the provision of affordable housing for local people.

Am I tied in for a period of time, or can I sell whenever I choose?
There are no restrictions on how long you must own your property before selling.

Do I have to sell the house through First Step Homes when I want to move on?
No, you can sell your property through your chosen Estate Agent as you would with any open market property.

However, any future purchaser would have to go through the same qualifying process that you went through when you bought the house.

I already own a house; can I rent it out and buy one of these houses?
No, our homes are aimed primarily at First Time Buyers.  A condition of the purchase is that you do not own another property and this will be researched by the Local Authority.

However there may be exceptional circumstances, for example if you jointly own a home lived in by parents / relatives but it is insufficient to be used as your own home, the Local Authority may allow you to proceed with the purchase.

Can I extend my property at a future date?
You must ask the permission of First Step Homes to carry out any structural alterations / additional building works, but consent will not be unreasonably withheld.

The required consents must also be obtained from the Local Authority to carry out additional works, together with Building Regulations where applicable.

Can I rent my spare room out?
Yes. The only restriction in the sales documentation is that the property cannot wholly be let without the permission of First Step Homes.

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