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By Pete Mugleston | Mortgage Advisor

Pete has been a mortgage advisor for over 10 years, and is regularly cited in both trade and national press.

Updated: 11th June 2020*

Saving a deposit for a mortgage can be tough, so it comes as no surprise that many customers have asked about the government Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee scheme, and whether it’s still available.

While the original mortgage guarantee scheme has been discontinued, there are several different Help to Buy products still on offer.

If none of the Help to Buy schemes seem to fit your needs, there are still plenty of alternatives for finding your way onto the property ladder.

In this article we cover:

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How did Help to Buy Mortgages work?

Help to Buy is a government initiative made up of various schemes aimed to give financial assistance to those struggling to save for their own home. While the term is often used to refer to the now-defunct Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme which ended in 2016, the spirit of the initiative lives on in a range of newer products.

The old Help to Buy mortgage guarantee gave first-time buyers or home-movers a better chance of getting approved for a mortgage by contributing to their deposit.

The Mortgage Guarantee applied to existing homes as well as new-builds, which set it apart from the Equity Loan scheme, which we discuss later.

As with a Help to Buy equity loan, under the Mortgage Guarantee scheme buyers were only required to save a 5% deposit, with the government providing up to an additional 15% on top.

While the guarantee scheme is no longer available, there are still a number of alternatives available if you’re looking for help getting a foot on the ladder.

What are the alternatives?

Fortunately, a wide range of products and initiatives have since been brought to market to replace the original help to buy scheme, including some that are government funded. So there are still plenty of ways to get help with saving for a mortgage deposit Here are some of the most popular:

Help to Buy Equity loan

The equity loan scheme is a popular Help to Buy product which is available in the UK until 2020. This allows first-time buyers with as little as 5% deposit to get a boost from the government of up to an additional 20% of the property’s value (this rises to 40% in Greater London).

You would then take out a 75% mortgage as usual (55% in London) to make up the rest. The equity loan scheme is interest-free for the first five years, after which time a 1.75% is charged, rising annually by the increase of the Retail Price Index +1%.

Help to Buy ISA

*UPDATE: The Help to Buy: ISA scheme is now closed to new applicants. For more information, read our guide.

The Help to Buy ISA is another government-funded scheme which can add to your deposit savings fund up to a maximum of 25% (max. £12,000), meaning you could receive up to an additional £3,000 bonus to put towards your first home.

You can open up your ISA with an initial deposit of up to £1,000. The minimum sum you need to save to be eligible for the government contribution is £1,600 (so a £400 bonus).

Lifetime ISA (LISA)

The LISA is available to first-time buyers aged between 18 and 39. After opening one, you can save a maximum of £4,000 a year, and the government will add a 25% bonus on top. So, if you save £4,000 per year, there’s an additional £1,000 to be earned.

As long as you’ve held the LISA for over 12 months and are a first time buyer, you can use these funds towards a deposit for any residential property up to the value of £450,000.

Help to Buy Shared Ownership

The government Help to Buy Shared Ownership scheme is aimed at first-time buyers or low income households (up to £60,000 combined income per year).

It allows you to buy a share (typically 25-75%) of a resale or new-build home, while you pay significantly reduced rent on the remaining share. Later on down the line, you have the opportunity to purchase a larger share of the property.

Bank Schemes

Some high-street lenders offer specialist mortgage packages for first-time buyers. These include, but are not limited to the “Lend a Hand” scheme from Lloyds TSB, and “Family Springboard” from Barclays.

These schemes allow a borrower’s relatives to contribute to their deposit. Typically, the borrower will need to contribute a minimum sum, and the second party will provide an additional 10% of the property’s price into an interest-bearing account as security.

With these mortgages, the money from the relative isn’t a contribution to the deposit, the relative simply deposits money into an account and they get that money back with interest – usually after three or five years.

As with any mortgage assistance scheme, each has their own criteria and requirements. For example, the Family Springboard scheme does not apply to new-builds. Each bank will have their own mortgage eligibility calculators if you want to get a rough idea as to whether you’re eligible.

What other factors do I need to consider when applying?

When you apply for a mortgage under any government-backed Help to Buy or bank scheme, you will be subject to the same checks as you would with any other mortgage application.

There are also restrictions in place to prevent you from using any one particular scheme in conjunction with another; contact us to speak to a specialist advisor for more information on this point if you’re unsure of which schemes are affected.


Everyone who applies for a mortgage is subject to affordability checks.

When assessing your income, lenders tend to cap loans at a multiple of your earnings using an affordability calculator. The majority of providers will cap at 3-4x your yearly income, but some are more generous than others.

Depending on your other financial commitments, some lenders may offer you up to 5-6x your salary in the right circumstances.

Adverse credit

Mortgage providers are generally more cautious about lending to those who have a history of bad credit.

However, all lenders have different stances on the type of adverse they will consider, and it tends to depend on the recency and / or severity of the issue. Visit our bad credit section to find out more.


Older borrowers can struggle to get a mortgage as they can be perceived as higher risk. As a result, many lenders have a maximum age cap at the time of application, or a maximum term length they’re willing to offer. Others will not lend into retirement at all.

A whole-of-market broker, like those we work with, can connect you with a wide variety of lenders who are happy to lend into retirement – and some have no age restrictions at all.

Property type

Typically, you are not able to take advantage of any deposit help scheme if you intend to use it for a buy-to-let (BTL) investment, nor can you sublet the property or enter a part exchange deal on a previous home.

Non-standard properties can also prove problematic as lenders can consider them as higher risk. For example, if you have a particularly old property, perhaps with a thatched roof (or anything than deviates from the non-standard definition), you could be perceived less favourably.

However, there are a number of lenders who are happy to consider a vaster range of property types. Visit our page on non-standard property for more information.

Property value

There are various restrictions surrounding the value of the property you wish to purchase when taking advantage of deposit help schemes; these vary depending on the lender and / or which scheme you use.

For example:

  • The Help to Buy equity loan cannot be used on a property under £600,000
  • A LISA can be used only if the property is £450,000 or less
  • The Help to Buy ISA is only available on properties under £250,000 (or £450,000 in London)

Help to Buy mortgage lenders

If you’re looking to buy a property under one of the schemes that replaced the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee, such as Shared Ownership for example, you’ll need to make sure you pick a lender that is signed up to the specific initiative you’ll be benefiting from. Speak to an expert to be sure you’re not wasting your time by approaching the wrong lenders.

While many of the best known providers such as HSBC, Halifax, Natwest and Barclays offer products designed to help boost your deposit, it’s always worth speaking to a broker with access to some of the more ‘hidden’ deals that may not be available direct to the public. This way, you know you won’t be missing out on any potentially great products.

The experts we work with are whole-of-market brokers with access to all the lenders in the market, from high street to specialist lenders they’ll source the right mortgage with the best available rate for you.

Speak to an expert

The advisors we work with are experts when it comes to helping first time buyers on to the property ladder, and they are ideally placed to help find the best current Help to Buy solution in your circumstances.

Call 0808 189 2301 or make an enquiry and we’ll match you with one of the whole-of-market mortgage brokers we work with. They will be happy to answer all your questions and explain which mortgages might best suit your needs.

With access to mortgage lenders across the entire market, they are perfectly positioned to ensure you get the right mortgage at the best available price.

Find out which Help to Buy mortgage or other alternative mortgage products might be suitable for your specific circumstances.

The service we offer is free, there’s absolutely no obligation and we won’t leave a mark on your credit rating.

Updated: 11th June 2020
OnlineMortgageAdvisor 2020 ©

FCA disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of 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 info 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.

Find out more about Help To Buy

Help To Buy Mortgages