Sarah is spreading the word about affordable home-ownership

affordable home-ownership – Source: orbithomebuyagents.co.uk With so many people still struggling to get onto the property ladder, Sarah Hipkiss has a mammoth task on her hands. She took on the role of Stakeholder Relations Manager East with Orbit First Step after they won the Homes and Communities contract to continue working as the HomeBuy Agent for Norfolk and Suffolk as well as taking on the agencies in five new regions – including Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

 
 affordable home-ownership

affordable home-ownership – Since starting her new job, Sarah's main task has been to raise awareness of the HomeBuy products that are available; “There are many ways we can help people into affordable home-ownership and hundreds of people who could benefit,” she said, “But the difficulty is that while there are so many people we can help, often they simply do not know about HomeBuy, or they don't think they will be eligible for our support. In fact, if your household income is less than £60,000 we may well be able to help you.” Sarah, who has worked in housing for almost six years, continued: “We need to ensure that everyone involved in the HomeBuy process – registered social landlords, local authorities, private developers, Choice Based Lettings providers, Key Worker employers, independent financial advisors and solicitors are fully aware of the products available and the eligibility criteria, so that they are better prepared to advise those in need of low-cost home-ownership and we are all able to provide the best possible levels of service.

People come to Orbit HomeBuy Agency through many different avenues and it is our job to make sure we have made ourselves as visible as possible in every way possible. So, a big part of my role is building and maintaining relationships with these key stakeholders and I'm also responsible for the marketing strategy for my area which includes advertising strategies and event planning.” The most popular schemes available to homebuyers at the moment are New Build HomeBuy (part-buy, part-rent) and HomeBuy Direct (a Government loan of up to 30 per cent of the property value with no interest to pay for the first five years).

Each scheme enables buyers to choose from dozens of brand new homes that are available through all participating registered social landlords (RSLs) and developers in the region. Rent to HomeBuy has also proved a welcome way of helping people into home-ownership by giving them the opportunity to rent their new home before they purchase it.

The HomeBuy Agencies play a vital role in promoting these schemes, said Sarah: “There are so many different products on the market now that without the HomeBuy Agencies it would be very difficult for applicants to access or understand what is available to them. But we are getting there – we are seeing a dramatic increase in demand for the products and we are delighted that we are able to play a part in helping people realise their homebuying dreams.”


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