The UK government has identified the need to concentrate investment, both public and private, on the provision of low-cost homeownership (LCHO) as first time buyers find it more and more difficult to access owner-occupation through traditional open market routes. New initiatives are concerned with increasing the role of private finance through equity mortgages as well as providing a range of shared ownership schemes aimed at key workers and pressure areas. This raises important issues for both these institutions and for government: the institutions are taking on new risks about which they know little, while government wishes to target assistance closely on those who cannot achieve owner-occupation in other ways. This paper reports on early results of a project looking at how the benefits and risks vary between areas. Using secondary data from 1999 ñ 2004. The paper aims to identify key issues relating to the demand for existing low cost homeownership schemes concentrated on: i whether the pattern of LCHO sales varies across different types of local housing markets (measured by the extent of pressure in the market and the gap between social housing and market housing costs); ii the attributes of LCHO purchasers and how they differ between areas; and iii the extent to which these groups and the dwellings they purchase represent different financial risks by identifying how the LCHO group fits within the local income distribution, and the property values compare to the distribution of the local house prices. Conclusions will then be drawn about the extent to which schemes are supporting appropriate groups from the point of view of government and financial institutions.