Demand for first-time buyers scheme three times more than expected

The new HomeBuy Direct scheme – allowing buyers earning less than £60,000 to take out a mortgage for 70 per cent of the cost of a property and an interest-free loan for the remaining 30 per cent – has been so successful that developers say they are in danger of running out of stock by summer. Housing minister Margaret Beckett said that demand had been three times the amount the government had expected, particularly in London. The government originally said the scheme would help 18,000 first-time buyers, but Barratt, one of the developers involved, said that 20,000 potential buyers had registered interest with them.