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PLEASE NOTE - This scheme ended on 31st October 2022 and is no longer available

Are you interested in getting onto the property ladder? If so, then it’s important to understand all the options available to you. You might not be aware that there are incentives in place that can help people purchase a home without needing to deal with the issues that make this process unaffordable for many.

These schemes are directed towards first-time buyers and that is certainly true for the Help to Buy Scheme. Let’s explore what this is and how it could benefit you.

What Is The Help To Buy Scheme?

Simply put, the Help to Buy scheme is designed to ensure that first-time buyers can afford to purchase a newly-built home. It is an equity loan and it is important that the purchase price for the property does not exceed the regional price cap for your area (further information below).

With this scheme, you will be able to borrow 20% of the purchase price without needing to worry about interest rates for the first five years. This will be the case if you have just five percent of the deposit. If you are purchasing a home in London, then you get an even greater benefit because you can borrow 40% of the purchase price.

However, this is to compensate for the fact that homes in London are considerably more expensive.

How Long Will The Help To Buy Scheme Be Available?

There were fears that the Help to Buy scheme would end in 2021. However, this notion has now been dispelled. The government has confirmed that the scheme will still be available through to at least 2023.

The new scheme is now accepting applications however legal completion may not take place until at least 1st April 2021.

All homebuyers under the scheme must now be first time buyers, where they could previously make use of the scheme to buy their next property if they were an existing homeowner.

Regional price caps have also been introduced, setting a maximum property purchase price to be eligible for the scheme.

Region New price caps eligible for Help to Buy Scheme
North East £186,100
North West £224,400
Yorkshire & Humber £228,100
East Midlands 261,900
West Midlands £255,600
East of England £407,600
London £600,000
South East £437,600
South West £349,000

What Stops Me From Accessing The Scheme?

There are certain situations where you will not be able to access this scheme. For instance, you are not able to use it to purchase a second home or purchase a property that you are going to rent out. You also can only take out a repayment mortgage and you can’t buy a property for more than the price limits. As mentioned previously, you must now be a first time buyer to be eligible for the scheme.

It’s worth noting that these schemes do exist in the rest of the UK and are not exclusive to England. For instance, there is Help to Buy Scotland and Help to Buy Wales.

How Does The Equity Loan You Take Out Work?

The good news is that this scheme is relatively simple to understand. You do need 5% of the sale price for your new build house or flat. This will be your deposit. The government then loans you 20% or 40% depending on whether you live in London. The rest of the money is borrowed from a mortgage lender and this will be set up on a capital and interest mortgage.

However, you are also borrowing the amount from the government. This needs to be paid back after 25 years (or a further 10 years if the term is extended). If you sell the property then you need to pay it back earlier. Crucially, you have to pay the money back based on the home value when it sells. So, the home could increase in value which means that you would pay back significantly more than you borrowed from the government initially.

So, let’s say that you want to purchase a home that costs £400,000. You would save £20,000 which is your 5% deposit. You then borrow £80,000 in the 20% equity loan from the government and the other £300,000 is borrowed with your mortgage. That covers the remaining 75%.

Buying a £400k property Amount Percentage
Cash Deposit £20,000 5%
Equity Loan £80,000 (£160,000 in London) 20% (40% in London)
Mortgage £300,000 (£220,000 in London) 75% (55% in London)

What About Interest Rates?

As mentioned, interest rates for the equity loan provided by the government won’t come into effect until the sixth year. At this point, you’ll start to pay a 1.75% rate which will rise each year in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI ) +2%.

It’s worth noting that the interest you pay on the equity part does not in any way reduce the amount outstanding and this will need to be paid separately on the sale of the property or using other means such as a re-mortgage etc. For instance, you might purchase a home for £400,000 but sell it for £500,000. This is an increase in the value of 25%. That means that the equity loan repayment is going to be £100,00 because you add on the 25% profit.

The good news is that you can use any profit you make on the sale to put towards your next home for the deposit. Remember, it’s likely by the time you sell you are going to have paid off quite a lot of the mortgage.

When Can You Pay Back Your Loan?

You can pay back your loan at any time. However, the minimum percentage you can pay back is 10% of the market value for your property. If you want to, you will be able to pay back the full value of the loan.

Finding An Equity Loan

So, how can you find an equity loan that is going to suit your needs and make your home purchase more affordable? Well, you can speak to a mortgage advisor. You can also think about looking for local developers in your area. It’s important that they are registered with Help to Buy. Otherwise, the new builds they are developing may not be eligible for this scheme. You should be able to find a Help to Buy agent in your local area to help you find the right option for you.

We hope this helps you to understand everything you need to know about the Help to Buy scheme and how it could benefit you if you are thinking about purchasing a newbuild property.

Hello, and welcome back to the Mortgage and Protection Podcast. And this week we’re going to be talking about the Help to Buy scheme, and I’ve got Haley from the Mortgage Store here with me. Hayley, how are you doing today?

Hi Alex. I’m good, thanks. How are you?

Brilliant, thank you. Thanks for spending your time with us. So I wanted to ask a few questions on Help to Buy, if I can, if you’re alright with that.

Yeah, of course.

So, first one I guess is, what makes you qualify for Help to Buy?

At the moment is available for first time buyers and home movers. The scheme is changing from the 1st of April next year. So as of then, it’ll only be available for first time buyers. So any home movers need to get in there quick basically. But yeah, as long as you’re a first time buyer you don’t own another… Sorry, let we start again.

Yeah, no, that’s fine. Okay, Hayley, so what would make me qualify for the Help to Buy?

So, if you’re a first time buyer or a home mover buying a brand new property, and the price limit is $600,000. So the property can’t be more than $600,000. And as long as you don’t own another property on completion of the new property, then that’s your main criteria. The scheme is changing as of April next year, and it will then be only available for first time buyers, but up until then, is available for home movers as well.

Okay, excellent. And anyone sort of listening back later on, by next year, we mean 2021. So it’s April, 2021, right, that, that change happens?


Yeah, okay, excellent. I thought if you half answered this, with the property values, but how much can I borrow on Help to Buy?

So the maximum property limit is $600,000. In London, you can borrow 40% from the government, outside London, you can borrow 20%. So you can borrow 4.5 times of your income as the mortgage, but up to 75% of the property value on the mortgage.

If I want to put more than 5% deposit down, can I do that?

Yeah, definitely. So minimum is 5%. You have to have 5% of your own deposit as a maximum of 55%. So anywhere between 5% and 55% of the property value as your deposit.

What happens after that initial five years, with the Help to Buy?

So for five years, you haven’t got to worry about it. You’ve got five years interest free. The only thing you will pay for the first five years is a 1 pound a month admin fee. And then after five years, if you do nothing, in the sixth year, you’ll start to pay interest on the equity value. So that will start at 1.75% of the original equity loan amount you borrowed from the government, and that will creep up each year. So the interest rate will go up by 1% each year, plus, if the retail price index changes. And what a lot of people plan to do is pay the Help to Buy off earlier, or after that five years, so they don’t have to pay the interest for too long, or at all.

I was going to say, I was just kind of a thinking, if I wanted to pay earlier, before that five-year where I’m not paying interest, can I do that?

Yeah, absolutely. So there’s fees involved to pay the Help to Buy off early, but you can do so at any point. So you don’t have to wait for the five years. What a lot of people do, is do it by remortgaging. So, if it’s affordable, and the bank will lend you enough, the property’s still worth enough, et cetera, you can try and borrow more money from the bank, to then pay the government off. You can’t pay off in small stages. It has to be either in one lot of 20%, or in 10%s. You can do it in one part or two parts.

And then after that five years then, if I’m repaying that’s basically just the same as a normal mortgage, in terms of, I’ll have my set monthly repayments.

So, if you paid off the Help to Buy-

Or if I do nothing, just say that I didn’t pay any off extra, and that five-year hits, I start paying interest. That’s just like a normal mortgage, right? Will I get a letter or something, notifying me how to repay the rest, yeah?

Yes. So when we apply for the Help to Buy loan, you do fill in a direct debit form. So that direct debit form is for the bank details, if you do start to pay the interest in year six, if you haven’t paid it off by then. But yeah, they will write to you. And then since the first year, you’ll know what you’re paying. And then if you still haven’t paid it off, it will go up a little bit the next year.

How long is the process? How long would it take me to get approved?

We’d help you deal with the forms. Average is about five working days, but can take a little bit longer, depending on how busy they are, but shouldn’t be any more than five, six days are normal times.

And why would a Help to Buy be declined?

There isn’t really many reasons why it would decline. As long as your broker has done the job properly to start with. We would check your affordability, check how much you can borrow with Help to Buy. We’ve got a copy of a Help to Buy calculator so we can see how much you’re eligible to borrow from the banks. And then as long as we’ve put those figures in correct, they’re the figures that we send off to Help to Buy, they’ll do their checks their end, and then it should come back fine. So as long as it’s been worked out properly from the start, there isn’t really any reason why that would come back declined.

I think we mostly answered this question earlier, but how long is the scheme available to first time buyers, do you know?

So first time buyers, the schemes available till March, 2023. It is changing as of April, next year, so April, 2021, where there will be regional price caps. So depending on what area of the country you’re in, there’ll be a maximum property price and maximum price. So for example, London will still be $600,000, but different areas of the country will have different price caps.

And is Help to Buy only available for new builds?

Yes, it is. Yes. So it’s only available on brand new properties, and it has to be with a participating developer, but they all advertise if they do the Help to Buy scheme. Most of your big developers can do the Help to Buy.

I think we’ve answered to all the most… All right, so I picked out the most commonly googled questions about Help to Buy, but are there any things that come up in conversations where people may be… Are there things that people don’t know, they don’t know? So, they potentially wouldn’t come up on a Google search, if that makes sense. Is there anything else we kind of need to think about, if this is on our radar.

Not that I can think of. And the only things that sometimes, people will ask us is, about the 20%, because the 20% does fluctuate. So for example, if you decide you want to pay the Help to Buy back after the five years interest free, you’ll need to get a new valuation on the property. And then that value will determine how much you owe Help to Buy. So it might be higher, it might be lower. It depends on what the value of the property is at the time.

And when’s a good time to speak to a broker about it? Do I need to go and find a property first, or is it best to come to you guys immediately to see what the affordability is like?

I would say to always come to us first, before you go out looking at property. So then we can establish your budget, because your budget using the Help to Buy scheme will be different than your budget if you were buying a pre owned property. And so it’s best to have a look, we establish your Help to Buy budget, and then you can go out looking at property. It’s just so that you know what you can afford.

Brilliant, Hayley. I suppose, one thing I ask is, why do you do what you do? And I suppose I haven’t really asked how, is Help to Buy one of your main focuses and I guess, as well, how long have you been doing it for?

I’ve been brokering for quite a long time now, for seven, eight years, I think, maybe a little bit longer. But I’ve been working with just new builds for just under a year. It’s nice working with new builds. It’s busy, a lot of people, and up sizing or buying their dream home, and it’s nice to then get to see people when they finally get the keys to their new home.

Hayley, that’s been amazing. Thank you so much. In 10 minutes, or less than 10 minutes, I think we’ve covered off everything about Help to Buy. So thank you so much for that. And we’ll definitely speak to you soon.

Thanks Alex.

Brilliant. Cheers, bye, bye.