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What is Help to Buy?
Help to Buy is a government scheme designed to make buying a home more affordable for first-time buyers.
There have been various iterations of Help to Buy, however the current scheme is the Help to Buy: Equity Loan which was launched on 1 April 2021 and runs until March 2023.
Help to Buy: Equity Loan 2021 – 2023
Taking over from the previous Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme which ran until March 2021, the new Help to Buy: Equity Loan is for first-time buyers aged 18 or over who intend to buy a new-build property in England.
With a Help to Buy: Equity Loan, the government will lend first-time buyers up to 20% of the cost of a newly built home, and up to 40% in London, subject to eligibility, terms and conditions.
As well as being exclusive for new-build properties, there are regional price limits on the homes that you can buy with a Help to Buy: Equity Loan. For London the maximum purchase price is £600,000 and for West Midlands the maximum purchase price is £255,600. Please refer to the government website for the full regional list.
How does the Help to Buy: Equity Loan work?
Once you have reserved your property with a registered homebuilder they will assess your eligibility for the scheme.
As well as confirming your status as a first-time buyer, the Help to Buy agent will assess your financial viability for the property that you are purchasing. It is important to note that if you have ever owned a residential property in the UK or abroad you cannot get the equity loan regardless if you are still in possession of that property.
Once your eligibility has been satisfied the Help to Buy agent will issue an Authority to Proceed which is valid for three months. Within this time you will need to apply for a repayment mortgage up to 75% of the purchase price with a minimum 5% deposit.
The equity loan will then cover up to 20% of the property purchase price, or up to 40% in London. The equity loan percentage you borrow is used to calculate your interest and equity loan repayments. There is no interest to pay for the first five years, although you can start repaying the loan whenever you want to. For full details on interest repayment rates and how to repay your equity loan, please refer to the government website.
Help to Buy London
Help to Buy London offers extra help to first-time buyers in London.
By increasing the Help to Buy: Equity Loan amount available to 40% you will be able to take out a smaller mortgage, making it easier for you to be approved by lenders and give you access to better mortgage rates.
The qualifying criteria for the Help to Buy: Equity Loan in London is exactly the same other than the property price can be up to a maximum value of £600,000
For more information read our guide on Help to Buy London.
Help to Buy ISA
The Help to Buy ISA closed to new accounts on the 30th November 2019 and is no longer available to open, but if you already have an existing account that you opened before this date, you can still continue to deposit money into it until November 2029.