More than 17,000 homes bought under Help to Buy scheme
More than 17,000 households bought homes under the government's Help to Buy scheme in its first nine months, figures have revealed.
They also showed that 88% of the 17,395 were first-time buyers.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the scheme, which is made up of two parts, was a key strand of the government's long-term economic plan.
But Labour has warned that rising demand must be met with increased housing supply for people to afford it.
End Quote David Cameron Prime Minister
Help to Buy is a key part of our long term economic plan, giving thousands more people the security and independence that comes from owning their own home.”
According to the government's own figures, 77% of homes bought under the scheme as a whole were outside London and the South East.
And the average value of a property bought through the initiative was £194,992.
There are two parts to the Help to Buy scheme - the equity loan and the mortgage guarantee.
With the equity loan, which was launched in England in April last year, in Scotland in September, and in Wales in January 2014, buyers can put down a deposit of just 5%.
This has to be on a new build, and it enables them to take out a mortgage of up to 75% of the property's value. The difference is made up with an equity loan of up to 20% from the government.'Security and independence'
The mortgage guarantee, which began across the UK last October and will run until the end of 2016, offers a government guarantee against losses for lenders who are prepared to offer mortgages to people with only a small deposit.
The government says that sales of newly-built homes have jumped 29% since April last year thanks, for the most part, to its Help to Buy (HTB) scheme which encourages new house building. While some construction firms and a report by the investment bank Morgan Stanley will support that analysis, it's very difficult to prove.
After all who's to say that as the economy started recovering last spring, that builders wouldn't have ramped up their house building anyway - with or without HTB.
But the biggest "phew" for the government will be its findings that the vast majority of people using its HTB schemes are first-time buyers and outside London. Had it been the opposite, the defence of the second part of the scheme (where the government acts as guarantor of part of the mortgage) would become untenable.
Not that a property bubble is not in the making. Another year of double digit price rises could force the Bank of England to step in and deflate - just as the government hopes to get re-elected.
Almost 15,000 of the 17,395 homes bought through Help to Buy were done with the equity loan, the figures revealed.
Use of the equity loan was at its highest in south-east England, while the highest number of people buying a home through the mortgage guarantee was in Scotland and north-west England.
Mr Cameron hailed the scheme, saying: "Help to Buy is a key part of our long-term economic plan, giving thousands more people the security and independence that comes from owning their own home."'Cost-of-living crisis'
But shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds warned that new homes still need to be built.
"Any help for first time buyers struggling to get on the property ladder is to be welcomed," Ms Reynolds said.
"But rising demand for housing must be matched with rising supply if this scheme is to bring the cost of housing within the reach of low and middle-income earners.
"Instead, under this government house building fell to its lowest level in peacetime since the 1920s and home ownership continues to fall.
"You can't deal with the cost-of-living crisis without building more homes."
Ms Reynolds said the country needs a "help to build" policy to both boost housing supply and tackle the cost of living.
She added that Labour was committed to getting at least 200,000 homes built a year by 2020.
Other highlights in the government figures included:
- The average value of a property bought with the mortgage guarantee (MG) was £148,048, and £203,137 with the equity loan (EL)
- 82% of MG customers and 89% of EL customers were first-time buyers.