THE Scottish Government has announced a £1.3 million funding boost to help first-time buyers in the Highlands on to the property ladder.
The Rural Rent to Buy model will support those on low and modest incomes who will initially rent a newly built property for five years before purchasing it at a reduced price.
The initiative is being piloted by the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust, Highland Council and the Scottish Government.
A proportion of the rent paid during tenancy is retained by the Trust and returned to the tenant after 5 years as a loyalty cash back payment.
This payment funds the deposit required for a traditional mortgage, which first time buyers in particular, are finding very hard to come by.
Speaking at the annual conference of the Rural Housing Service in Birnam today, Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said: “People in Scotland who should rightly be able to afford a mortgage are still facing real challenges buying a home.
“We want to continue to do all we can to help. This £1.3 million boost is great news for individuals and families in the Highlands.
“As well as making home ownership a reality for people in rural areas who otherwise would be unable to access a mortgage, this project will also support the Highland economy by creating work for local contractors and trades”.
Ronnie MacRae, Chief Executive of the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust said:
“The HSCHT is delighted to pilot the introduction of a new finance model for the provision of affordable housing.
“It is essential that more housing options are developed particularly in rural areas that can help to retain the local population and support social and economic viability. Having a model based on loan finance is a very positive step forward.
“Also, by being able to place a “Rural Housing Burden” on the properties, the Trust can control any onward sale of these houses to ensure other local people on modest incomes receive priority, rather than the property being lost to the holiday homes market. In effect they are retained for the benefit of the local community in perpetuity”.