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LIFT Mortgage Scheme Explained

Can I buy a property with the LIFT scheme? Find out here.

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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: 21st October 2019 *

If you’re looking for help getting on the property ladder in Scotland, the government’s LIFT Scheme could be just the thing. 

Although the initiative has helped many people, seeking expert advice before you start off is still recommended. The whole-of-market brokers we work with can talk you through your LIFT application and potentially save you time and money on your mortgage after that.

In this guide, we have gathered all the key information you’ll need to know about the scheme, including:

If you are looking for professional advice about how to get the best mortgage deal you qualify for through the LIFT scheme, make an enquiry and we’ll connect you to a broker for free.

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What is the LIFT mortgage scheme?

LIFT, (also known as Low-cost Initiative for First-Time Buyers) is a Scottish Open Market Shared Equity Scheme that helps buyers on low to moderate income buy a home.

The LIFT scheme provides eligible applicants with funding of between 10% and 40% to put towards the purchase price of a property.

How does LIFT work?

The scheme requires that you own 60%-90% of the property, with the Scottish Ministers providing funding for the remaining equity. 

For example, if the property has a market value of £100,000 and you wanted to own 70% of its equity, you would need to contribute £70,000. 

The Scottish Government would then fund the additional £30,000 (30%) of the property value. You would have full ownership of the 70% you hold and the government would own the additional shares.

Can I buy any property in Scotland through the LIFT scheme?

There are property size and price thresholds that you need to consider when buying a home through the LIFT scheme. The Scottish government has set limits that restrict buyers as they will only be able to purchase properties that are suitable for their needs.

For example, a single applicant with one child could be entitled to purchase up to a two bedroom property.

What are the price thresholds for properties bought through the LIFT scheme?

Limits on the price of a property you can buy through LIFT differ across the country as they are set by each local authority. 

For more information on this and to find out more about the property size and price thresholds in your area, make an enquiry. The brokers we can introduce you to for free can offer expert advice and help you get the best mortgage deal that you qualify for.

We’ll find the perfect mortgage expert for you - for free

Save time and money with the right mortgage advice, first time

  • Network of over 200 brokers all with whole of market coverage
  • Save up to £400 per year with a mortgage expert matched to you
  • We've helped over 100,000 people get the right advice
  • Our quick & easy form only takes a couple of minutes to complete

Do I qualify for the government’s LIFT scheme?

To apply for the LIFT scheme, you must be:

  • A first time buyer (although there are exceptions to this)
  • Aged 18 or over
  • A UK citizen
  • Planning on buying a property in Scotland

Are some buyers given priority for the LIFT mortgage scheme?

Although the scheme is open to all first-time buyers, it is also open to priority group applicants which includes: 

  • People aged over 60
  • Social renters (people who rent from the council or a housing association)
  • Disabled people
  • Armed forces members
  • Veterans who have left the armed forces within the past two years
  • Widowers and other partners of service personnel for up to two years after their partner has died

Do you need a deposit for the LIFT scheme?

You should be aware that a lender may expect you to provide a modest deposit in order to get a government-backed LIFT mortgage.

The amount of deposit you’ll need will vary depending on the risk you pose to a lender. Most residential lenders ask for a deposit between 10-15%, however, there are a few that only require a 5% deposit. 

Before applying, speak with your mortgage broker to discuss how much you may need for a deposit as every lender will have a different appetite to lend to someone with your circumstances. Make an enquiry and we’ll match you with one for free.

How much equity can I afford to buy?

The amount you can borrow depends on many factors including:

Is there a mortgage calculator for the LIFT scheme?

Many people come to us confused after using a LIFT scheme mortgage calculator. Online tools can provide a quick and easy estimate to help you gage how much you can afford to borrow. 

However, these calculators can be very vague and therefore leave out important factors that could affect the end figure you are presented with.

For an accurate insight into how much you can afford to borrow, speak to a mortgage broker who can look at your financial and personal circumstances in depth to provide you with a clearer estimation.

Alternatively, see our affordability section here.

Frequently asked questions about the Scottish LIFT scheme

In this section, you’ll find the answers to some of the questions we most often here about LIFT mortgages.

Can I increase my shares in the future?

Potentially, yes, as in most areas you can increase your share up to 100%.

Can I sell my home in the future?

Yes although, if you sell your home, you will be required to repay funds to Scottish Ministers.

Can I buy the property that I’m currently renting?

No. You will not be able to buy your existing home from your landlord through the Open Market Shared Equity Scheme. However, you may be eligible to buy a property that is for sale on the open market.

Are there LIFT scheme mortgage lenders?

There are providers who participate and have experience with LIFT mortgages, which can make the process of applying for a mortgage through the scheme a lot smoother.

Researching which lenders to go to for a LIFT mortgage can be time consuming and a little overwhelming for some, especially without the knowledge of the current rates and terms.

The good news is that we work with brokers throughout Scotland who have access to hundreds of lenders. Each one is carefully vetted by our team to ensure they have the necessary knowledge and competency to find you the best mortgage.

Can I apply for the LIFT scheme if I have bad credit?

Having bad credit doesn’t mean your LIFT application will be rejected. This will not make you ineligible for the government scheme, but it could mean that you need a specialist lender to get the best rates when it comes to applying for you mortgage.

You can read more about this in our guide to bad credit mortgages.

Where can I find a LIFT scheme application form?

Information about how to apply for the LIFT scheme is available on the Scottish Government’s website, but seeking specialist advice from a whole-of-market broker is recommended before you apply. One of the experts we work with can prep you for the application process and talk you through it, every step of the way.

Can I apply for the LIFT scheme online?

Yes. You can apply through the government’s website via the link in the section above, but be sure to seek specialist advice before pressing ahead.

Is the LIFT scheme the same thing as Help to Buy?

No, although both are shared equity schemes. You can read more about Help to Buy mortgages in Scotland in our standalone guide.

Why you should speak to a LIFT mortgage advisor

It’s important that you choose a broker who has a proven track record of negotiating mortgages, particularly LIFT mortgages.

Many mainstream lenders lack the specialist knowledge needed to properly assess your application which can unfortunately result in many people being unnecessarily rejected for a mortgage. 

To avoid this, we strictly only work with qualified advisors who are:

  • Whole of market brokers
  • OMA Accredited 
  • LIBF Training course qualified
  • Experts on LIFT mortgages and best positioned to offer bespoke advice on the scheme

We’ll find the perfect mortgage expert for you - for free

Save time and money with the right mortgage advice, first time

  • Network of over 200 brokers all with whole of market coverage
  • Save up to £400 per year with a mortgage expert matched to you
  • We've helped over 100,000 people get the right advice
  • Our quick & easy form only takes a couple of minutes to complete

Contact a LIFT scheme expert

If you have questions about the LIFT scheme or how to get a mortgage, speak to an expert for the right advice. Call Online Mortgage Advisor today on 0808 189 2301 or make an enquiry.

The brokers we work with are whole of market and they arrange mortgages for LIFT scheme applicants all the time. We’ll introduce you to the free of charge and their advice could help you save time and money on the path to your ideal home.

Updated: 21st October 2019
OnlineMortgageAdvisor 2019 ©

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 government schemes

Government Mortgage Schemes