Housebuilders mourn loss of popular sales route as My Choice Homebuy closes in a number of regions

Housebuilders have called for more government help after it emerged this week that funding for a key shared-ownership scheme had run out in a number of regions.

Hard-pressed builders said the government scheme, called My Choice Homebuy, had been one of the few ways to achieve sales in the past six months.

A spokesperson from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) admitted it was possible the scheme, which was backed by £149m of government cash, had been closed to new customers in a number of regions but was unable to give details.

Charles Gallagher, executive chairman of UK and Ireland housebuilder Abbey, said he had been told there were only a couple of regions left with any cash to spend. He said: “It’s a pity because this was a good scheme – we had just got our heads round it, we’d had a lot of interest and closing it is problematic.”

Hill: Pleased with scheme’s success
Hill: Pleased with scheme’s success

A separate builder, who declined to be named, said: “It’s very disappointing. Frankly, it’s all we need right now.”

The scheme uses government and housing association cash to finance up to 50% of the value of a home. The scheme is not restricted to new-build properties, but has nevertheless aided the sale of hundreds of homes from private builders.

The scheme is administered by seven housing associations, known as zone agents. Zone agents Metropolitan Home Ownership and Catalyst Housing Group confirmed that they had reached the end of their potential funding allocation.

Graeme Moran, managing director of Metropolitan Home Ownership, said: “We’ve been doing 150 completions a month – this is one of the few schemes that lenders are backing, but unfortunately now we’re having to put the shutters down.”

Moran said he had been in talks with the Housing Corporation, now superseded by the HCA, over the possibility of further funding.

Farhaan Mirza, homebuy marketing manager at Catalyst, said he had “closed the door on new allocations” a month ago.

Richard Hill, director of investment and renewal for the HCA, said he was pleased with the success of the scheme.

He said: “We will keep under review the demand for this product with a view to flexing allocations if necessary.”