28 February 2015
Last updated at 08:23
The starter homes scheme applies to newly built houses only
First-time buyers under the age of 40 in England can now register to buy new homes at a discount of up to 20% off the normal price.
The offer is part of the government’s new “starter homes” scheme to encourage home ownership and construction on previously used “brownfield” land.
The government hopes that 100,000 new houses will be built specifically for first-time buyers by 2020.
Labour said the plans would ring hollow for those priced out of the market.
The 20% discount is achieved because homebuilders on brownfield sites would not have to pay local authority fees of at least £45,000 per dwelling.
The government said there would be no compromise on quality or energy efficiency, but first-time buyers would have to repay the 20% price advantage if they sold within five years.
Housing minister Brandon Lewis urged first-time buyers to register on the starter homes website from Saturday.
He said: “We’re actually at the start of an affordable house building programme that’s the fastest build rate in about 20 years.
“And this new starter homes programme is another 100,000 homes on top of everything else that we’re doing, allowing those first time buyers, people who want to own that home of their own, to be able to do that – a good design, well-built home, with a 20 per cent discount.
“When you link that with help to buy it opens up the ability to own a home to a whole new group of people.”
The Help to Buy scheme was launched in April 2013
But Labour said that the government had presided over the lowest levels of house building since the 1920s and home ownership was at its lowest level for three decades.
The number of houses being built in the UK fell during the final three months of 2014 – the first such decline for nearly two years.
The 0.2% drop in new home construction compared with a 6.1% increase in the previous quarter.
Overall, total construction output fell by 2.1% in the quarter, the Office for National Statistics said.
The government introduced a scheme called Help to Buy in England in April 2013.
It was aimed at helping those trying to get on the housing ladder who could afford mortgage repayments but were struggling to raise a deposit.
In March 2014, Chancellor George Osborne announced that the scheme in England would be extended to 2020 rather than December 2016, as planned.
Are you a first-time buyer struggling to get on to the property ladder? Would you register for this scheme? You can share your thoughts by emailing [email protected]. Please include a telephone number if you are willing to be contacted by a BBC journalist.
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