A TOTAL of £7 million has been loaned to first time house buyers at Warrington in an innovative new mortgage scheme operated by the borough council and Lloyds TSB.
But the money in the scheme is running out and first time buyers who have not taken advantage of the initiative are being urged to take action quickly.
More than 50 people who already been offered the low-interest mortgages and many have already picked up the keys to their new homes.
Warrington was one of the first councils in the country to make the "Lend a Hand" scheme available, in partnership with Lloyds TSB.
The council made £2 million available to indemnify the scheme - and £1.3 million has now been allocated.
The Lloyds TSB Local Lend a Hand is a new concept designed to help first time buyers purchase a home with a deposit of just five per cent, with the help of their local authority.
The fixed rate mortgage products available through this scheme are at a lower rate of interest than would normally be available for this level of deposit.
Raising a deposit is a crucial challenge for many first time buyers looking to take their first steps onto the property ladder, and is highlighted by many as the key hurdle to buying their first home. The Local Lend a Hand initiative invites local authorities to take on the role of "helper" for those who are not able to get help from parents or other family and friends
James Jackson and his girlfriend Nina Wood, both in their early twenties, have recently taken advantage of the scheme and moved into their home in the past couple of weeks.
James said: "We had been living at Nina's parents' house, trying to save enough of a deposit to purchase our first home. We have just had our first baby so we were keen to get on the ladder as soon as possible. Once we were told that we could qualify for the Lloyds TSB Lend a Hand mortgage scheme we jumped at the chance.
"We now have a great house that is perfect for us with the new baby, and as the mortgage rates are lower than we would normally be able to get with the deposit we had, it means our mortgage is more affordable than the rent we had previously been paying. None of this would have been possible without this scheme."
Stephen Noakes, commercial director, mortgages, at Lloyds TSB, said: "The aim of Local Lend a Hand is to make the housing market more accessible to first time buyers in Warrington, and it's great to see that the scheme has really helped many people in the area move into their new home so quickly.
"It shows that Local Lend a Hand really is providing a solution for people that might otherwise be put off by the size of deposit they'd need. We would urge any other first time buyers to go and find out more while the funding lasts."
Lynton Green, chief finance officer at Warrington Borough Council, said: "The Local Lend a Hand scheme has proved really popular in Warrington and we are delighted that so many first time buyers are already benefiting from the scheme.
"We are encouraging all first time buyers in the area to contact their local branch of Lloyds TSB if they are interested in applying so that they don't miss out on this opportunity."
Subject to the bank's usual lending criteria, first time buyers are able to select a property within the local authority area and borrow up to a maximum loan size of £350,000.  They will put down five per cent of the property price, and the council will provide a cash backed indemnity of up to 20 per cent as additional security. The local authority then earns interest on this amount.
The first time buyer owns the property in its entirety, unlike shared ownership schemes.