Help to Buy is a government scheme initially designed to help first-time buyers struggling to get on the property ladder. However, some of the schemes also help people who have purchased a property before. A range of Help to Buy home ownership schemes are available in England, but there are some restrictions and rules for applying. Here we will provide an overview of the different Help to Buy schemes out there and explain how they could work for you.
How does Help to Buy work?
The different schemes available are:
- Help to Buy: ISA ( if the account was set up before 30th November 2019)
- Shared Ownership
- Equity Loan
- London Help to Buy
The Help to Buy ISA
The Help to Buy ISA is no longer accepting new applications, but those that have set up an account before 30th November 2019 can continue saving for their first home. For these accounts, you can continue to save until November 2029.
This ISA helps you to save for your first home. You put money into the account and the government top it up by 25%. The maximum you can save into the account per month is £200, meaning the government will top it up by a further £50. The maximum you can receive from the government is capped at £3,000. The ISAs are available at lots of banks and building societies.
Who was eligible for a Help to Buy ISA?
- Your initial deposit can only be up to £1,200
- You must have saved at least £1,600 in the ISA before you can claim the minimum bonus of £400
- When you are buying your first home, you need to instruct your solicitor or conveyancer to apply for your government bonus
- You cannot use your bonus for the deposit due at the exchange of contracts, to pay for solicitor’s or estate agent’s fees or any other indirect costs
Read more about this at helptobuy.gov/help-to-buy-isa
Help to Buy: Shared Ownership gives you the chance to buy a share of a house and pay rent on the remaining share. If you can afford to, you can buy larger shares further down the line.
Who is eligible for Shared Ownership?
- You can use Shared Ownership it you have a household income of £80,000 a year outside London or £90,000 within London
- Your share of the property can be between 25% and 75% of the property’s value
- You can be a first-time buyer, an existing shared owner wishing to move or use the scheme if you owned a home but cannot afford to buy a new one
- You can buy a new build or an existing property
- You will require a mortgage for your share of the purchase price or enough in savings to fund the purchase
- There are specific versions of Shared Ownership schemes available for people with disabilities and the over 55s
- Shared Ownership properties are always leasehold
Not sure what Leasehold means? Try our Jargon Buster here
To apply for Shared Ownership you contact your local Help to Buy agent
Help to Buy Equity Loan buyers are offered up to 20% of the cost of a new build home by the government. You only need to provide a 5% cash deposit. You will need a mortgage to make up the other 75% of the property's value. You also won’t have to pay fees on the 20% loan for the first five years of owning your home. In the sixth year, you’ll be charged 1.75% interest, then the fee rises by inflation based on the Retail Prices Index (RPI), plus 1% each year.
The Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme finishes in March 2023.
Who is eligible for a Help to Buy Equity Loan?
To be eligible for a Help to Buy loan, you must:
- Be able to demonstrate access to savings or funds to pay a deposit of at least 5% of the purchase price, plus legal fees, stamp duty and costs of moving
- Be purchasing a property worth £600,000 or less
- Have a good credit history
- Take out a mortgage with a qualified lender (e.g. a bank or building society)
- You must not own any other property at the time you buy your home supported by the Help to Buy
You cannot apply for a Help to Buy loan if:
- You wish to buy a second home or a property to rent out
- You want a different mortgage other than a repayment mortgage
London Help to Buy
This scheme was introduced in 2016 due to rising house prices in London. The Equity Loan we previously explained is higher for properties in London with an upper limit from 20% to 40%. You aren’t charged any loan fees for the first five years that you own the property.
Who is eligible for London Help to Buy?
- This scheme is available to first-time buyers and existing homeowners looking to move
- The home you want to buy must be a new build with a value of up to £600,000
- You must not own any other property at the time you buy with London Help to Buy
- You cannot sublet the property or make a part exchange deal on your old home
The London Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme finishes in April 2021 and is run by the government-appointed Help to Buy London agent. To contact them go to helptobuylondon.co.uk.
How do I apply for Help to Buy?
Applying for a Help to Buy scheme is quite straightforward. Speak to estate agents and developers selling new homes stock with help to buy available. They'll often be able to recommend mortgage advisors who can guide you through the process. You can also look out for the Help to Buy logo on property developments.