Councils 'could get help to buy unsold homes'

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The Independent Online

Councils could get help to buy repossessed and unsold properties under new plans to be announced by the Government, it was reported today.

The measures, which are expected to be announced next week, will give councils and housing associations the means to intervene in the flagging property market.

Local authorities will be able to offer financial help to borrowers unable to pay their mortgages in return for a stake in their homes or outright ownership, according to The Times.

It is understood the measures will be aimed at first-time buyers and people on low incomes, particularly young families.

The extent of the housing crash was disclosed yesterday with the latest figures showing the average UK property had lost 10.5 per cent of its value during the past 12 months - the biggest fall in prices since 1990.

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable said it was likely about 300,000 people now owed more on their mortgage than their property was worth, and he warned that the figure could quadruple if price falls continued over the next year.

Similar measures are already being offered in Liverpool where first-time buyers can seek help with deposits from the local authority in return for a small stake in their properties.