Stoke council offers houses for a pound

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Ever wanted to live in Stoke? OK, don't answer that. Let's put it another way. Ever wanted to get on the property ladder for a pound? Now's your chance. So long as you are willing to live in, you've guessed it, Stoke.

The Stoke-On-Trent local council have decided to follow the example of Liverpool in offering some of its abandoned housing stock for just a pound to buyers willing to restore the properties in the Cobridge area. There have already been over 600 enquiries about the 35 properties on offer. Approved buyers will also be able to apply for a £30,000 loan for repairs and refurbishment.

Councillor Janine Bridges explained the project, "This is a long-running commitment to Cobridge on behalf of the council," she said. "This major project will see a rundown area of the city transformed." Depending on the success of the initial sale of 35 properties, there are plans to offer a further 89 houses to buyers in the future.

There are certain criteria that buyers have to fulfil to prevent an influx of speculators or buy-to-let landlords. Buyers must have been resident in the city for three years with an income of between £18-£30,000.

"The project will not only benefit the residents who are living next to properties that have been vacant for some time," Bridges continued, "it will also give some families moving into the homes the chance to take their first step on the property ladder."

The scheme is in its infancy, but may be a valuable way of cooling down the overheated property market, especially for first-time buyers. The Chancellor George Osborne was criticised for his plans to offer guaranteed loans to home-buyers on the grounds that it would maintain unrealistically high properry prices. At least in Liverpool and Stoke, there remains a small allocation of affordable first homes.

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