Affordable housing is high quality housing, subsidised to reduce the cost to rent or buy, to assist people who cannot afford open market housing to access suitable accommodation.
Affordable housing is a key priority for Wirral Council; the Housing Strategy team work alongside Registered Providers, developers and Planning to ensure affordable housing is being delivered to meet the ongoing need and demand within the Borough. Find out more about Wirral’s Strategic Housing Assessment.
House prices have increased faster than incomes, creating affordability issues. In Wirral in 2013/14 the median house price was £135,500. When compared to the average household income for Wirral residents of £32,657 , this translates to a buyer capacity (based on 3.5 times) of £114,300. Average earnings in Wirral compared to average sales prices present problems in housing affordability, especially for those at the lower end of the earning scale such as young first time buyers who have limited savings to assist with deposits.
Affordable Housing for rent
Affordable housing for rent is provided by Registered Providers of social housing (previously known as Registered Social Landlords or Housing Associations). Most Registered Providers in Merseyside belong to Property Pool Plus, where vacancies are advertised. You must be registered with Property Pool Plus to apply for vacancies. There are two different tenures for affordable housing for rent:
- Social Rent housing is offered at the lowest rents under guidance from Central Government (in line with the Retail Price Index).
- Affordable Rent housing was introduced by Central Government in 2011 to allow Registered Providers to charge up to 80% of open market rents. This enables the Registered Providers to generate their own income to build more affordable homes without housing grant.
General Affordable Housing for sale
The Government recognises that accessing open market housing can be difficult for different households with different needs. There are now a number of schemes available for first time buyers, tenants and home movers to help them purchase affordable housing for sale:
- Help to Buy (Equity Loan) is available to both first time buyers and home movers looking to purchase a new build home under £600,000. A minimum 5% deposit is required, with the Government supplying an equity loan of up to 20%. The equity loan must be repaid after 25 years or earlier if the property is sold. The loan is interest free for the first five years. After the five years, there is a 1.75% fee rising annually by the annual Retail Price Index increase (if any) plus 1%. Find available schemes in Merseyside.
- Help to Buy (Mortgage Guarantee) is available to first time buyers and home movers looking to purchase new build or previously owned homes up to the value of £600,000. The mortgage guarantee is provided directly to the mortgage lender. There is no limit on the household income, but buyers must have a minimum 5% deposit and would have to borrow from an approved participating mortgage lender.
- Help To Buy (New Buy) is another scheme for new build properties with a minimum 5% deposit.
- Shared Ownership is normally provided through Registered Providers or developers and allows tenants to purchase a share of their property (25-75%) whilst paying rent on the remaining amount. Find available new schemes and re-sales in Merseyside.
Assistance for social tenants to purchase their home
- Right To Acquire offers tenants of social housing (for more than 5 years) to purchase their home at a discount.
- Social HomeBuy is similar to Shared Ownership, however tenants can purchase a minimum of 25% share of their home, but with a discount available.
- Right To Buy offers Council tenants (and some previous Council tenants whose home was stock transferred to a Registered – called Preserved Right To Buy) the opportunity to purchase their homes at a reduced price.
Other Low Cost Home Ownership Options
- HOUSED is a scheme by Wirral Council offering empty properties that have been refurbished to a high standard, for sale at a 10% discount.
- Own Place is a scheme by Riverside Housing Association, which offers properties for sale at a 25% discount.
- Self Build - Building your own home can be more affordable than purchasing on the open market.