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Is Help to Buy right for me?

Help to Buy covers a number of UK Government programmes aimed at helping first time buyers, or those who’ve owned a home before but do not currently, to get on the property ladder.

Pros

  • Pay a smaller deposit
  • In the first five years there’s less to pay per month
  • Can get a newly built home
  • Invest in your own asset rather than renting
  • The loan is interest free for the first five years

Cons

  • May only be allowed to purchase a new build
  • Must not also own another home
  • Only particular lenders can be used
  • Subletting your property is not permitted
  • More likely to face negative equity if property prices fall

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Help to Buy Equity Loan

Under the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme, the Government lends buyers up to 20 per cent of the cost of a home, or 40 per cent in London.

The property must be a new build and you pay a deposit of five per cent or more, with a mortgage to make up the rest to a minimum of 25 per cent.

For the first five years of home ownership, you won’t be liable for interest on the 20 per cent loan.

A new Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme, beginning on 1 April 2021 and running until March 2023, will open for applications on 16 December 2020. It is restricted to first time buyers and includes regional price caps.

Help to Buy Shared Ownership

With shared ownership you can buy a share of a home between 25 and 75 per cent of its value if you can’t afford a mortgage on the whole property.

Rent is paid on the remaining share, your slice of which can be increased when you can afford it.

The property does not have to be newly built – you can buy resales through housing associations.

Help to Buy Government ISA

The Help to Buy ISA is a savings account for first time buyers which the Government will top up by 25 per cent of what you save up to a maximum bonus of £3,000.

The minimum bonus is £400 so you must save at least £1,600 to receive a top up.

The accounts closed to new customers on 30 November 2019 but existing ones can continue saving until November 2029.

The Lifetime ISA is an alternative option for first time buyers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Help to Buy scheme?

The Help to Buy Equity Loan, Shared ownership and Government ISA programmes aim to bring home ownership within reach of those who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

The deadline for completion on the purchase of a home under the existing Equity Loan scheme was the end of March 2021 but for those who reserved before 30 June 2020, that has been extended to 31 May in cases where coronavirus has made completion impossible.

How do Help to Buy Equity Loans work?

Introduced in 2013, the Help to Buy scheme is designed to assist eligible buyers in purchasing new-build homes to live in. The Government lends you up to 20 per cent of the cost of a new build home, or 40 per cent if you’re in London.

Deposits are a minimum of five per cent and for the first five years of owning the property, you won’t have to pay interest on the 20 per cent loan.

What properties can I buy with Help to Buy?

A Help to Buy Equity Loan restricts you to purchasing only new build properties up to a value of £600,000 in England and £200,000 and £300,000 in Scotland and Wales respectively.

Those using the Shared ownership and Government ISA schemes can buy resale properties too.

Who is eligible for a Help to Buy ISA?

Only first time buyers purchasing what will be their only home, and where they intend on living, are eligible. The purchase price must also be met with a mortgage and not exceed £250,000, or £400,000 in London. 

Individual first time buyers are each eligible for their own ISA, so two people buying together can both receive a bonus to put toward the same property.  

The scheme closed to new customers on 30 November 2019.

Can Help to Buy ISAs be used on a Help to Buy Equity Loan?

Yes they can – funds from a Help to Buy ISA can be used as a deposit for a purchase with the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme.

Who is Help to Buy shared ownership for?

The Help to Buy shared ownership scheme is for those who cannot afford to purchase 100 per cent of a home but are able to buy a portion of it. It is available to households with a combined income of less than £80,000 (or £90,000 in London) who are buying for the first time, as well as past homeowners who do not currently own a property and those currently in shared ownership.

Are all properties eligible for Help to Buy shared ownership?

Both new build and resale homes can be bought through Help to Buy shared ownership, but shared ownership properties must be leasehold and not freehold.

What is the Lifetime ISA?

As the Help to Buy ISA is currently not available to new applicants, there is one other scheme offering a tax-free bonus to first time buyers – the Lifetime ISA. You can contribute up to £4,000 a year into a Lifetime ISA and the Government will add a 25 per cent bonus to the contributions you make each month, up to a maximum of £1,000 a year. This type of ISA is available to anyone aged between 18 and 40 who wants to buy their first home, save for retirement or both.