Mayor launches property portal to help Londoners become homeowners

01 July 2013

The Mayor has launched a new property portal making it easier for hard-working Londoners with modest incomes to buy or rent at a price they can afford.

Part of the Mayor’s continuing commitment to increase the accessibility and supply of low cost housing to buy or rent in the capital, his new FIRST STEPS portal, hosted in partnership with Sharetobuy.com, provides a direct link between first time buyers and affordable home ownership schemes developed through the Mayor’s FIRST STEPS programme, making the process of finding a home quicker and easier.

Aspiring homeowners who are keen to access low cost home ownership can now enter ‘FIRST STEPS’ into any search engine to reach the new portal. Similar to sites like Zoopla and RightMove, it is the only site to advertise every property available on either a part buy/part rent or reduced market rent basis in the capital.

Once online, interested users can register in three easy steps, cutting out unnecessary form-filling, with the site matching these aspiring homeowners directly with providers selling the homes.

The service is part of the Mayor’s Housing Covenant to help increase supply, expand products and improve homes for working Londoners. This includes cutting red tape, broadening the range of schemes available to intermediate home buyers, and making it easier and more attractive to buy in the capital.

It builds upon and improves the former FIRST STEPS website and will be delivered at no cost to the public purse. In fact over the next three years the new portal will save London’s taxpayers £5m and allow the Mayor to focus even more funding at delivering much needed affordable homes.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “We’re investing huge sums in affordable housing in the capital and this fantastic new portal shows potential homeowners what they can rent and buy, and where. With homes available right across London there’s a variety of buying options to suit every pocket, making it easier for people to move into affordable home ownership.”

The new portal is hosted by Share to buy, originally a mortgage broker, who use their mortgage knowledge in the portal to list each property with clear and transparent affordability information – e.g. how much deposit is required to buy each listed property.

They first launched a property portal focused entirely on shared ownership properties in November 2010.

James Cartlidge, founder and Director of Sharetobuy.com, said: “At Share to buy, we are passionate about the challenge of making housing affordable and are delighted to have been invited by the Mayor of London to take over the running of his FIRST STEPS property portal. Products like shared ownership can appear complex, and our aim is to break down barriers of understanding by utilising robust affordability information in every property we display on the portal. Thus, at sharetobuy.com/firststeps, you can search not just by area, but also by the deposit and monthly budget you can afford”.

For more information visit www.sharetobuy.com/firststeps 

Notes to editors

- FIRST STEPS is the Mayor’s programme to help low and modest income Londoners to buy or rent in the capital at a price they can afford

- The former FIRST STEPS website launched in April 2011 as part of a much wider publicly funded service. The Mayor inherited the service contracts as part of the devolution of Housing & Regeneration powers in the capital to the Mayor, and at the first opportunity, sought to radically improve the value for money of the service. Share to buy were selected to run the reconfigured service, without public subsidy, following a competitive tender initially to 31 March 2016 (3 years from 1 April 2013).

- Share to buy started out as mortgage brokers focused on affordable home ownership but in November 2010 diversified by launching a property portal dedicated to shared ownership schemes. The portal quickly went from strength to strength in generating leads for affordable housing providers not just in London but across England, utilising the firm’s specialist mortgage knowledge to incorporate affordability tools that are popular with customers and help them to understand the likely costs of buying a part buy part rent home.