‘Help to Buy’ is a government-backed initiative aiming to help people buy their own homes. Launched in 2013, it’s run jointly by the Treasury and the Department for Communities and Local Government, delivered in partnership with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and is available through appointed Help to Buy agents and mortgage lenders.
A number of schemes are available offering help with saving for a deposit, providing interest free equity loans and giving mortgage guarantees. A Ministry of Defence scheme offering interest free loans to members of the armed forces is being trialled.
As housing is a devolved policy there are regional variations in what’s available. Although Help to Buy: ISA and Help to Buy: Mortgage Protection are available nationally, Help to Buy: Equity Loan only applies in England, the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland having similar schemes.
Help to Buy: ISA
HTB ISAs were replaced by Lifetime ISAs on 1 December 2019, although contributions to them can continue until 30 November 2029.
Help to Buy: ISAs were designed to help first-time buyers save for a deposit by boosting their savings with a government-funded bonus of 25%: for every £200 saved, the Government adds £50 to the value of the ISA when it’s closed.
The minimum government bonus is £400; the maximum is £3,000 so to receive that you’ll need to save £12,000. Help to Buy ISAs were available on a personal basis which means if you’re buying a property jointly, you can have two ISAs and receive a bonus totalling £6,000.
Introduced in Budget 2016, the Lifetime ISA is designed to save for both home purchase and retirement, superseding HTB ISAs on 1 December 2019.
As with the HTB ISA, the government pays a 25% tax-free bonus into the account but, with the scheme now covering both house buying and retirement, the most noticeable difference is that it’s paid on a monthly basis rather than when the account is used as a deposit for a house.
The scheme’s eligibility criteria has a maximum-age cap – anyone from 18 to 39 can open a Lifetime ISA so it offers only those in that particular age range an additional source of government-supported saving.
Help to Buy: Equity Loan and London Help to Buy: Equity Loan
Help to Buy: Equity Loan is available to first-time buyers and existing homeowners buying a new-build home up to the value of £600,000. The government loan covers up to 20% of the cost of the property – potentially £120,000 – which means you’ll have to raise a 5% cash deposit and find a 75% mortgage.
Although the original Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme was successful across England, it was less successful in London where the 20% loan was insufficient against the capital’s higher property prices. On 1 February 2016 a specific, London-orientated scheme was launched, doubling the value of the loan available to 40% (potentially £240,000). London Help to Buy: Equity Loan is only available for properties in the capital’s 32 boroughs and the City of London.
You won’t be charged any interest for the first five years of owning your new home, but after that you’ll be charged 1.75% of the loan’s value, a rate that increases annually against a statutory, Retail Price Index-related formula. The loan can be repaid at any time during the mortgage term but has to be repaid after 25 years or when the property is sold.
The scheme is run by Help-to-Buy agents who will help you through the entire process, explaining the eligibility and affordability criteria, guiding you through your purchase and administering the scheme itself. The scheme also offers access to a range of competitive mortgage rates.
Help to Buy: Mortgage Guarantee
Help to Buy: Mortgage Guarantee offers mortgage providers the option to purchase a guarantee on mortgage loans. Protected by this guarantee, mortgage providers can then offer borrowers a higher loan-to-value mortgage, say 80%-95%, meaning that it’s possible to arrange a 95% mortgage with a minimal, 5% deposit.
The mortgage works in exactly the same way as any other mortgage so you are still fully responsible for your mortgage repayments.
The scheme is offered by mortgage lenders across the UK.
Forces Help to Buy
Forces Help-to-Buy is a loan scheme offered by the Ministry of Defence and enables regular armed forces personnel to borrow up to 50% of their salary, interest free, to either buy their first home or move.
The scheme is on trial, the pilot scheme finishing in 2017. Armed forces’ personnel can get advice through their Chain of Command and personnel agency and can apply for the loan online through the Joint Personnel Administration system. For more information, please visit the government’s website.
None of the Help-to-Buy schemes can be used to buy a buy-to-let property and the scheme is only available for (capital) repayment mortgages, not interest-only mortgages.
For more information, please visit the government’s official Help to Buy website.
How can One Financial Solutions help you?
One Financial Solutions is here to help you no matter whether you’re a first-time buyer, thinking about ‘buy-to-let’ as an investment opportunity or wanting to know the pros and cons of equity release.
Buying a property is probably the greatest financial undertaking most of us will ever make; it’s a huge commitment and one that needs to be thoroughly considered, ideally with the help of an expert guide. As a truly independent firm of financial advisers we’ll make sure the mortgage we recommend to you is selected from the entire market and is the one that is best for you.
So, if you’re looking for a mortgage or just want advice on an associated subject, please call us on 020 3714 9565 or ask us to call you by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.