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Getting your foot on the property ladder is a key concern for most renters in the UK. But with the average value of homes in England set at over £300K, it often takes a significant deposit to make the leap into homeownership.

The government’s Help to Buy scheme can speed up this process for you, offering a loan that makes homeownership possible with a 5% mortgage deposit.

📢 *UPDATE 06/04/2021: The Help to Buy scheme has now entered its third phase, so be sure to read our section on this to get up-to-date information. You can find the latest update here 🏠

Read on for more on how the Help to Buy scheme could work for you, and how to compare Help to Buy mortgages to find your best offer.


What is a Help to Buy mortgage?

Help to Buy is an initiative funded by the UK government offering financial assistance to people who could use some help with securing a mortgage for their first home.

Help to Buy is made up of a number of schemes, including:

  • Help to Buy Equity Loan (now in Phase 3)
  • Help to Buy Shared Ownership
  • Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee (this has now ended)

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This article is going to focus on the Help to Buy equity loan, but you can find out more on the full range of government-funded schemes. If you’re not eligible or have been declined for any of the above Help to Buy schemes, look into the Lifetime ISA, which has different criteria. This product enables you to earn a government bonus on top of your savings, to be used towards a deposit for your first home.


What is the Help to Buy equity loan?

With this Help to Buy (HTB) scheme you are given the opportunity to buy your home with as little as 5% deposit saved. The government will give you an additional 20% of the value of the property (more than this in London) in the form of an equity loan.

This means you’ll effectively have a deposit of 25%, and will be required to take out a mortgage for the remaining 75%. You won’t be charged any interest on the 20% loan for the first five years of owning your home.

After this five-year period, you will be charged a fixed fee of 1.75%, which will rise year on year by the increase of the Retail Price Index, + 1%. The image below illustrates how the scheme works for a property valued at £200,000:

London Help to Buy equity loan

To reflect the higher property prices in certain locations, the government has since raised the upper equity loan limit from 20% to 40% for those looking to buy within the Greater London area.

If you’re interested in buying a property in London and would like expert advice on how to secure your best Help to Buy mortgage, make an enquiry. We’ll put you in touch with an experienced London broker.


Help to Buy Phase 3

In April 2021, the Help to Buy scheme entered its third phase and several of the rules around it changed. The latest equity loan initiative works almost identically to its predecessors, but with these key differences…

  • Help to Buy equity loans are now for first-time buyers only
  • Regional property price caps are now in place
  • The latest phase runs until March 2023
  • Help to Buy Wales has been extended to 2022

Although the deadline for Help to Buy Phase 2 has come and gone, the government’s decision to extend the scheme has offered a lifeline to first-time buyers with only 5% deposit. But even with the scheme to help you out, expert advice is still recommended.

A mortgage broker who specialises in Help to Buy mortgages can guide you through the application process and give you a hand with all of that paperwork. More significantly, though, they could also save you time and money by introducing you to the right mortgage lender first time.

What regional property price caps are in place?

The table below shows the maximum property prices for Help to Buy mortgages in each region of the UK…

Region Maxiumum Property Price
North East £186,100
North West £224,400
Yorkshire and the Humber £228,100
East Midlands £261,900
West Midlands £255,600
East of England £407,400
London £600,000
South East £437,600
South West £349,000

How Help to Buy Wales has changed

Firstly, the Welsh government has only renewed the Help to Buy scheme until 2022 but has promised to review the situation ahead of this deadline to establish whether funding it for a further year is viable. Moreover, the maximum property price has been reduced from £300,000 to £250,000.

The scheme remains open to all home-buyers, with the exception of those who are buying a second home, buy-to-let investors or those seeking a part exchange on an existing property.

Who is eligible?

As well as assessing your individual circumstances, there are a few standard eligibility requirements you must meet in order to take advantage of the Help to Buy equity loan UK mortgage scheme:

First-time buyers

While previous phases of the Help to Buy scheme were open to first-time buyers and existing homeowners, the latest phase (2021-23) is only available to first-time buyers.

Property type

The Help to Buy equity loan is limited to new build mortgages only, although there is no restriction on the size of the property you purchase so long as you meet the remaining criteria. Many new buy mortgage lenders also have strict policies in place surrounding lending to non-standard property types.

The equity loan scheme is not intended for use on buy to lets (BTLs). If you have purchased a property using HTB, you are required to repay the equity loan before you can sublet.

Property value

While the HTB equity loan scheme has no restrictions regarding the size or number of rooms the property you’re purchasing has, it must not exceed the regional price caps that were introduced in April 2021.


What other factors affect my application?

Deposit size

5% is the minimum deposit requirement, but that doesn’t mean that you’re limited to putting forward just 5% if you can afford more. You can also take advantage of HTB to maximise your deposit contribution, provided you use at least 10% equity loan and 25% mortgage. So, whether you have a 95% LTV all the way through to 35% LTV, Help to Buy may be a viable option for you.

Help to Buy and 100% LTV mortgages

100% LTV mortgages are not generally possible through HTB schemes, but there are a number of other options you could consider to help you gather together the minimum 5% deposit required.

For example, some providers are happy to consider a family-gifted deposit or a family member guarantor on your application.

There are also bank schemes available for first-time buyers, such as Lloyd TSB’s Lend a Hand and Barclays’ Family Springboard programmes. Contact us to discuss any of the above in more detail and we’ll forward your enquiry to an expert.

The team we work with will be able to calculate the best rates available to you depending on the size of your deposit, and advise you on the next steps.

Affordability

All mortgage applicants are subject to affordability assessments, and this is no different if you’re using a scheme such as Help to Buy.

Lenders often have restrictions on how much they are willing to lend, which is calculated at a multiple of your earnings. The majority of providers will cap at 4.5x your yearly income, but a few be happy to offer you up to 5 – 6x your salary – under the right circumstances.

Bad credit

Mortgage providers are generally more cautious about lending to those who have a history of adverse. Those that will consider lending may charge higher rates, require a higher deposit, or cap the amount they are willing to loan, for example.

However, each has their own criteria as to what is and isn’t acceptable, which tends to depend on the recency and/or severity of the issue.

The most common forms of adverse, ranging from lowest to highest risk, are:

  • Low credit score.
  • Late payments.
  • Mortgage arrears.
  • Defaults.
  • County Court Judgements (CCJs).
  • Debt Management Plans (DMPs).
  • Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs).
  • Bankruptcy.
  • Repossession.

If you’ve experienced any of the above issues in the past, don’t give up hope. Contact us and speak to one of the advisors we work. They are experts when it comes to finding the right mortgage for people with bad credit! Alternately, you can find out how to get a mortgage with bad credit in our dedicated guide.

Age

Older borrowers are typically considered as higher risk than younger applicants, and as such many lenders have a maximum age for a mortgage application that they’re willing to lend up to. Others may have a limit on the term length they will offer you; others will not lend into retirement at all. This is why it’s important to contact a whole of market broker.


How to compare Help to Buy mortgages

The first step to comparing Help to Buy mortgages is to find out which providers participate in the scheme in your region. You can do an online search to get an initial idea of which lenders are available to you.

Or for a more targeted comparison, get help from a broker who will take the time to understand the details of your situation, your financial goals, and then compare mortgage offers for you.

An expert advisor is trained to help people find the mortgage product that works out best for them over the long term. Contact us today and we’ll put you in touch with an expert advisor who can compare Help to Buy mortgage rates to find the most competitive for your circumstances.


How do I find the best Help to Buy mortgage?

As with any major financial decision, it’s important you carefully assess the financial investment you’re making to ensure you’ve secured your best possible mortgage deal. To do this, you’ll need to shop around and inform yourself about all offers available to you, or for best results, speak to a whole-of-market mortgage broker.

There’s no replacement for years of experience and expertise when it comes to finding a mortgage deal that will save you money over the long run. Make an enquiry for access to vetted expert brokers who:

  • Are whole-of-market.
  • Have a working relationship with all lenders, not just a select few.
  • Will offer sound financial advice to suit your situation.
  • Are OMA Accredited advisors.
  • Have completed a 12 module LIBF accredited training course.

How do I apply for a Help to By equity loan?

Provided you meet the HTB and lender eligibility criteria, the process is relatively easy and no harder than getting a conventional mortgage.

You can submit your HTB application on the government website, or get in touch and one of the experts we work with will help ensure you get your best offer. We’ve helped thousands of people find the right mortgage, even those who may have been declined a mortgage or had bad credit history.


Help to Buy versus standard mortgages

You may be wondering how a Help to Buy compares to getting a normal mortgage. HTB mortgages can work out cheaper than a normal mortgage plan. This is because the government’s equity loan gives you a higher deposit which can open you up to more lenders and better rates.

So over the long term, you could end up paying less on mortgage interest. You’ll also pay no interest on the equity loan, provided you can repay within five years.

HTB mortgages can work out cheaper than a normal mortgage plan, but it’s still vitally important that you’ve taken the time to ensure you’re making a sound financial investment and have secured the right mortgage deal for your situation.  


Frequently Asked Questions

Why use Help to Buy over other schemes?

The Help to Buy initiative is one of many schemes available out there which can help give you a leg up onto the mortgage ladder. 

Can you port a Help to Buy mortgage?

Yes but your Help to Buy equity loan will need to be paid off with the proceeds from the sale of the property and then you may be able to port your mortgage, it’ll be best to speak to an expert before you look into porting your mortgage as they’ll be able to review your circumstances and what deals are available on the market and what options may be best for you. 

When does the Help to Buy equity loan run until?

The latest phase of Help to Buy runs between April 2021 and March 2023.

Can I use the Help to Buy scheme more than once?

This depends on which scheme you’ve used previously. Visit our Help to Buy advisor multi-use HTB section for more information.

Are there any armed forces Help to Buy mortgage schemes available?

Yes, the Forces Help to Buy scheme enables service people to borrow up to 50% interest-free of their salary for their first home, to move to another property on assignment, or if their family needs change. Visit the government website to find out more.

Can I get a Help to Buy mortgage on my own?

Yes, if you’re divorced or simply a single applicant looking to get a mortgage, HTB is an option provided you meet the affordability requirements and pass the other eligibility checks.

Can I get a Help to Buy mortgage if I’m self-employed?

Yes, although if you’re looking for a self-employed mortgage or a contractor mortgage,  lenders often have stricter affordability requirements. For example, some providers want at least 1 – 3 year’s worth of accounts to prove you have a stable income to keep up your repayments. Other lenders require more, some are happy with fewer.

Do Help to Buy rules vary depending on location?

Yes, in Greater London the HTB equity loan scheme has been extended from 20% to 40% to accommodate the high cost of living in the area. For all other parts of England, 20% is the maximum equity loan you’re eligible for regardless of the area but regional property price caps are now in place.

If you’re looking to buy a property in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, there are different HTB schemes in place. While there is still government mortgage assistance available, the products vary to those in England.

What lenders offer Help to Buy mortgages?

Many lenders are happy to lend to a borrower using HTB, but each have different eligibility criteria so it all depends on your individual circumstances. Contact us so we can refer you to one of the Help to Buy expert advisors we work with.

What is the maximum Help to Buy mortgage term length?

As with any lender, the minimum and maximum length a Help to Buy equity loan mortgage provider is willing to authorise will vary depending on the bank you choose.

This may be based on standard lender requirements: a typical mortgage is usually around 25 years, but some may be willing to extend to 30-35 years or more depending on your situation.

Maximum terms often apply to older buyers, but may also be imposed depending on other individual circumstances.


Speak to an expert today

If you’d like more information on Help to Buy mortgages or you’re ready to take the plunge into setting up your first mortgage loan, but you’re not sure which provider would give you the best deal, get in touch!

Call Online Mortgage Advisor on 0808 189 2301 or make an enquiry. We’ll find the broker with the right expertise for your circumstances. We don’t charge a fee, and there’s no obligation or marks on your credit rating.

FCA disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of the most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The information on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs.

Some types of buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the FCA. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. As a mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage. Equity released from your home will also be secured against it.

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