/ first time homebuyer

21 First time home buyer schemes you can use(2018)

Getting on the property ladder has become increasingly difficult over the past few years. Luckily, the UK Government has been trying to level the playing field with first time home buyer schemes, some schemes do apply to those who aren't first time homebuyers and not all schemes are backed by the UK Government.

Let's take a dive into all the home buyer schemes currently available in the UK

  • Home buying scheme basics
  • Help to Buy equity loan
  • London Help to Buy equity loan
  • Shared ownership scheme
  • Right to Buy scheme
  • Preserved Right to buy
  • Right to acquire
  • Help to save scheme
  • Rent to buy scheme
  • Discounted sales scheme
  • Starter home Mortgage schemes
  • Social homebuy mortgage scheme
  • Resales home Buying scheme
  • Old People's shared ownership scheme(OPSO)
  • Home ownership for people with Long term disabilities(HOLD)
  • Self Build Portal
  • Armed Forces Help to Buy
  • Help to Buy guarantee scheme
  • Lifetime ISA
  • Help to Buy ISA

Home Buying scheme basics

To stay in line with expectations, it is important to note that most home buying schemes will require some income and some money already saved up as a deposit.Most schemes are innovative ways to borrow or simply. discounted borrowing.Some schemes don't necessarily help you get a home directly but rather serve as a way to save up a mortgage deposit tax free.

What is the Help to Buy equity loan?

The Help to buy equity loan scheme is a government first time buyer scheme that requires a 5% deposit and the Government will provide you another 20% in the form of a 5 year interest free loan( after which it is 1.75%.This then rises each year by the retail prices index (RPI) inflation measure + one percentage point. Assuming RPI is 4%, the interest rate would rise by 5% (4% + 1%). It is important to note that you only pay the interest from year 6 and not the capital repayments itself.). The Help to Buy equity loan is only available for new builds and in England, it’s only available for those buying a new build worth less than £600,000 (£300,000 in Wales, and £230,000 in Scotland). The scheme was set up to increase the supply of affordable housing in the UK.The help to buy equity loan is competitive as the 5+20% deposit puts you in a better Loan to Value band and hence a cheaper mortgage.The Help to Buy equity loan scheme is available from most lenders in the UK.

Interest-free for life Help to buy equity loan in Scotland.

The Scottish Government are more generous and will never charge any interest but rather will retain 20% of the property value when the property is sold.
This means that if property prices rise the government can make some money from that rise and vice versa.

Paying the Government back

You can pay back some or all of your equity loan without selling your home. You can make a partial payment called ‘staircasing’. This will only be accepted if it is 10% of the current property value or you are clearing the whole of the loan with the lender.

**Example. **

A home costs £400,000. You provide a 5% deposit of £20,000 and the government loans you another £80,000(20%). You then take a mortgage of £300,000(75%).The government loan effectively pushes down your LTV and ensures the loan is affordable.

Tip: combine the Help to buy Equity loan with the Help to Buy ISA for maximum effect

What is the London Help to Buy equity loan?

Due to the rising house prices in London, the Government decided to increase the loan amount it gives prospective buyers in London from 20% to 40%. This kicked in back in February 2016 but not so many people are yet aware of it.

So is the London Help to Buy equity loan any different?

Well no, the Help to Buy equity loan scheme is pretty much the same apart from the limit being raised. If you have 5% of your deposit the Government will give you 40% of the property value as an interest-free loan for 5 years.

There is no interest charge on the loan for the first five years but after which you begin to pay just the interest charge of 1.75%. This then rises each year by the retail prices index (RPI) inflation measure + one percentage point. Assuming RPI is 4%, the interest rate would rise by 5% (4% + 1%).

So what's wrong with the Help to Buy scheme? Is it the best idea for you?

The governments Help To Buy scheme seemed like a welcome help for those first time home buyers struggling to save for that ever elusive deposit, save 5% and the government will lend you up to 40% towards your deposit in London and 20% in the rest of England & Wales by way of an equity loan. You get 5 years of no interest or having to make payments then in year 5 you start to get charged interest and need to start thinking about repaying the Help To Buy loan which if the property is increasing in value will also increase the amount you have to repay back to the Government(in property value).

The Help To Buy scheme is only available on new Build homes for first time buyers or new build homes for those already first time buyers who want to move up the property ladder.

Can you use this help to buy equity loan on an older property where you can add value?

Help To Buy is fine if you don’t want to move in to an older property where you could negotiate a better purchase price or an older property that you could add value to by way of installing a new kitchen or bathroom.

Was the help to buy equity loan scheme really designed for you?

No, this scheme was designed to get house builders building, following the 2008/2009 financial crisis when banks stopped lending money to most potential homebuyers and insisting that those that met their very strict criteria had much larger deposits such as 25%.

The high LTV (loan to value) mortgages vanished and this stopped developers from building. Could we blame them? why would developers build properties if banks were not going to give home buyers mortgages to buy them?

When using the Help To Buy scheme your ability to negotiate the purchase price is removed, you have to pay the price which is set by the developer and we all know that a premium is being charged so a new build property will always be more expensive than an older equivalent property and likely to fall in value. The risk of negative equity is therefore ever present here.

What is the shared ownership help to buy scheme?

Shared ownership Help to Buy is a government scheme which works by allowing you to buy a share of the property(25-75%) and then paying rent on the rest. The rent you pay is charged at a discount rate and the properties are usually leasehold properties which means you pay ground rent which covers maintenance, insurance etc.You can then go on to buy more additional shares or equity in your property by doing what is known as staircasing. You ofcourse will pay less rent as you own more of the property after staircasing.

To be eligible you for a shared ownership mortgage will need:

To have an annual maximum household income of £80,000 outside London & £90,000 in London and a monthly income which is at least 65% more than the monthly cost of the shared ownership property you intend to purchase. This of course depends on the price of the property and how much you want to purchase(which will directly affect the rent you pay).

So what’s involved in a shared ownership scheme?

  • You have to pay rent on the percentage of the property you don't own.

  • You will also have to pay a monthly service charge and ground rent as you will do in a lease.

  • You can decorate the house as you please but anything that might alter the value of the property such as home improvements should be approved by the housing association or property developer who owns the rest to ensure they agree.

  • You will also be only able to sell your share of the property but of course you will still benefit in any rise in property value since you bought it.

  • Your housing association or property developer might place restrictions on how and when you can purchase extra shares in your shared ownership home.

  • You can't just sell the property to anybody, the person must be approved by the Shared ownership scheme.

  • You won't be allowed to rent or sub rent your shared ownership home.

  • Increasing your ownership can be costly because you essentially have to get another mortgage to cater for the cost of buying more shares in the property.The mortgage fees as well as other costs you need to put into consideration when staircasing can amount to a lot. You might be liable for further stamp duty,Solicitor costs(These will prove essential to understand your current obligations and then amend the agreement once the staircasing is complete) and valuation costs(You will need to get a property valuation from a qualified surveyor registered with the Royal institute of chartered surveyors)

  • It might be difficult to sell your property due to it being a shared housed home. Your housing association or property developer will likely have the right of first refusal on your property(even if you have purchased 100% of the property).This will insist you wait a certain period of time for them to find a buyer before you can sell it on the open market.

  • You could also face being in a position of negative equity as new homes usually include an extra premium on the sale price.. If house prices fall, you may fall into negative equity.

  • You don’t have greater protection under shared ownership

  • Your rights have not increased due to shared ownership so make your payments on time and follow the terms of your agreement.

  • The Shared ownership scheme is not exclusively run by the Government but by Banks and building societies as well.

  • The Shared ownership scheme is not unique to those on housing benefits or council tenants.

  • Anyone can purchase a shared ownership home as long as you earn less than £80,00 outside london(£90,000 in London) and don’t own a property.

  • Shared ownership does not mean you share your home with another person.Shared Ownership does not mean this but rather it means that you share the ownership with your landlord, this could be a bank, housing association or a company. You can then buy bigger shares in your shared ownership property by a process called staircasing.

  • Shared ownership can allow 100% ownership or not:You are not required to buy out your landlord's share in the property. You can simply own your shares and continue paying rent on the rest for as long as you want without any restrictions. The other option is of course that you slowly buy out your landlord's share of the property. Be aware that you buy your landlords shares at market value so timing the market might be the best chance of you getting a discount.

How do I apply for the shared ownership help to buy scheme?

For brand new Shared Ownership homes, you must first apply through the regional Help to Buy Agent for the area the property is located in. You must complete the application with them first, so they can check you meet the main eligibility criteria. You should then browse properties that you are eligible for, contact the provider and then the buying process begins!

Do I have to pay stamp duty on a shared ownership property?

So what is stamp duty?

Stamp duty in short is a tax payable on all property transactions in the UK.

A new stamp duty relief for first- time buyers gives them a 0% charge on properties up to £500,000. With 0% charged for the first £300,000 and 5% between £300,001 and £500,000. There will be non relief for those paying above £500,000.

Stamp duty might be due when you buy through a shared ownership scheme.You will have the option to make a one of payment (market value election)or pay your stamp duty in stages.

Paying stamp duty by Market value election

With a market value election you pay stamp duty on the full value of the property at the time of your initial purchase of shares. E.g the property is worth £300,000 and you are a first time buyer. In this case you will not be due any stamp duty as you are a first time buyer. If you weren't a first time buyer you would have paid £5,000 in stamp duty. 2% between £125,000 to £250,000 and another 5% between £250,000 and £925,000.

Paying stamp duty in stages

You can pay in stages.You will have to pay stamp duty on your initial purchase amount if this amount is above the stamp duty threshold. If your rent over the lifetime of the lease(net present value) is above £125,000.You will have to pay 1% of this amount in stamp duty.

Stamp duty obligation when Buying more shares

If you purchase more shares you won't have to submit a return until you own a minimum of 80% of the shares and further transactions after that.

You solicitor will advise you on the best way to proceed with your stamp duty and assist you in filing a Stamp duty return.

Do you pay ground rent on shared ownership?

What is Ground rent?

Ground rent is the rent you pay for the piece of land that your flat or house is built on. It is usually a small amount around £100 to £200 a year. Details of how much your ground rent is, and how often you need to pay it will be included in your lease agreement. Your landlord will usually notify you when a ground rent is due.

Yes, In most cases your shared ownership will be on a shared ownership lease agreement where there is a freeholder who after the lease term surpasses the right to the property returns to. In this case you might have to pay ground rent.

Rent review for Shared ownership homes

The rent paid to the Housing Association(if being paid to a housing association) on the share not owned by you will be reviewed periodically, usually every year, and will be increased in line with any proportionate increase in inflation. Note that the rent is only reviewed on an “upwards only” basis and will not go down when reviewed. Your shared ownership lease will provide an example of how this works.Unfortunately this review is not in place for ground rent.

How is rent calculated on shared ownership schemes?

Rent for shared ownership schemes are generally calculated as 3% of the equity owned by the landlord. E.g if the property is worth £150,000 and the share owned by the leaseholder is 70% the rent will be 3% of the remaining shares held by the landlord. In this case it will be 3% of the 40% share held by the landlord. In this case it will be £1350 per year.

Most agreements have a provision that allows the monthly lease cost to move in line with inflation.

Can a shared ownership property be freehold?

To answer this question we must first make the distinction between freehold and leasehold.

A freeholder is someone what owns the property, the ground it stands on and the air above it. You can make alterations to your property at any time. You can sell it to anyone and it belongs to you completely until you decide to sell it. Freehold is the common legal structure for which most UK homes are sold under.

A leasehold is a different structure which is very common with flats. With a leasehold you become the owner of the property for the duration of the lease which generally is between 80 to 125 years. Properties with below 80 years worth of lease remaining are considered as short lease properties and a buyer could struggle getting a mortgage on this sort of properties.

Leasehold properties are uniquely different from freeholds as you pay quite a few charges throughout the term of your lease.

Some of the Leasehold charges you pay include:

  • Ground rent
  • Service charges
  • Building insurance

Alterations cannot be made to leasehold properties without first consulting the leaseholder which will be your landlord.

So how does a shared ownership lease work?

Shared ownership properties are usually leasehold regardless of if they are flats or houses. The lease will usually be for 90-125 years.The leaseholder(you) can purchase further shares within 3 steps(see staircasing below) in the property to take them to 100%

The shared ownership lease contract is usual but with some more provisions including:

  • There are certain processes which must be adhered to by your mortgage lender( If your shared ownership property is mortgaged) if they want to repossess your property based on you defaulting on your mortgage payments.

  • You cannot just sell your property when you have less than 100% ownership and your landlord(housing association etc) might have a first refusal right on your property.

  • Rent you pay on the unowned shares of the property must be reviewed

You can view a copy of the lease at the land registry and it will include the above provisions as well as information on your mortgage(if you have one).

Can a shared ownership property be freehold?

Yes and No.

If a shared ownership property is a leasehold whereby there is a freeholder who the right of the property transfers back to after the lease term expires then no however under the leasehold reform Act 1967, if there is a provision for the freehold to be transferred to the leaseholder once they have purchased all the shares in the property then this is possible.

Other exemptions apply if the leasehold house was provided for the elderly or within a designated area referred to as a protected area.

A shared ownership leaseholder of a flat only qualifies for the statutory right to extend their lease as the holder of a “long lease” if they have “staircased” up to 100% ownership.

However, the landlord may have their own policy of allowing lease extension where there is less than 100% ownership. You will need to confirm with your landlord to see if such provisions exist.

As rent is paid on the part of the equity not owned by the leaseholder, a landlord can take action to repossess the property for rent arrears in the county court in the same way that a landlord of an assured shorthold tenancy can under the provisions of the Housing Act 1988. If the property is repossessed in these circumstances no compensation is payable to the leaseholder to take into account the balance, between the leaseholder debt and the market value of the leaseholder share in the property.

Yes, if the shared ownership property is a freehold property whereby the agreement between you and your landlord( the freeholder) is one of a shorthold tenancy agreement and not a lease then you should be able to acquire the freehold to the property when you have acquired 100% of the shares in the property.

Can you buy a shared ownership property outright?

Yes, You can own 100% if the shares in a property but this doesn't always mean you will own the freehold of the property.

Most shared ownership homes are flats which are on shared ownership leasehold. These are very similar to a conventional lease agreement but have some core components which make them particular to a shared ownership property. These components are registered with the lease at the land registry.

For 100% ownership where you also become the freeholder you will have to buy shares of a shared ownership property where the agreement between yourself and the landlord is not a leasehold agreement and a freehold can be transferred to you upon staircasing to a 100% ownership.

What are staircasing Mortgages?

People who cant afford for an outright mortgage on a property can opt to buy a proportion(25%- 75%) of the property and pay rent on the remaining to the housing association or property developer who owns the building.

In most cases after you have lived in the home for a minimum period of time (as stated in your agreement) you can then purchase more shares of the property(usually in 10% increments).This will allow you to own more of the property and pay less rent consequently. It is called “staircasing” and is usually only allowed 3 times on a shared ownership property.It’s always a good idea to consult a legal assistance before attempting to staircase.

What are the terms of staircasing mortgage?

Staircasing will usually depend on the lease agreement you have with your property developer or housing association.

The typical requirements of a staircasing mortgage include:

• Shared owners may purchase the entire property with a maximum of 4 steps including the initial purchase. This means you can only staircase on a maximum of 3 occasions to acquire the whole property.

• The valuation carried out on a property will be valid for 3 months and must be carried out by a RICS(Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) personnel approved by the property developer or housing association.The report must also be accompanied with two comparable property valuations.

• Any additional equity purchase must be at the current market value of the property when purchased.

• The shared owner must pay any rent or service charge owed during and up until completion of the staircasing.
• The valuation costs, legal fees and any mortgage fees including those brought about as a result of the developer or housing association disputing the valuation report will be the responsibility of the shared owner.

• The conditions surrounding the staircasing will depend on the terms of the lease.

• The leaseholder is required to buy a further share of a minimum of 10% and in multiples of at least 5% above this percentage except in the third and final share which would take the shared owner’s equity up to 100%.

Benefits of a staircasing mortgage

Staircasing allows first time buyers to get on the property ladder and then purchase their home in increments as their income rises.The rent being paid whilst on a shared ownership is subsidised(& much lower than rental rates) and therefore creates an interesting alternative in comparison to just renting outright.

• Shared ownership allows you to become a 100% owner there allowing you to benefit on any house price increases.

• By staircasing you reduce the amount of rent you have to pay.

• If you own your property outright you can sell your property at any time and to anyone rather to those who need to be approved and registered for the scheme.

• If you sell your home you will get to take a higher proportion of any increase in its value

Frequently asked questions about a staircasing mortgage

How do I get an application form?

Your landlord will send you the application form which you will fill and return to them
Pay the valuation n fee after which your landlord will send a RICS surveyor to your home to inspect the property and provide a valuation with comparable properties.(valuation lasts for 3 months)
Once the purchase is complete your landlord will send you your new costs

What happens to my current mortgage?

If you have a current mortgage you can simply ask for a further advance or you can get a new mortgage with a new lender..so a remortgage.

Will I need a solicitor to staircase?

Yes, a solicitor will be needed to assess your new lease.

Will home improvements made to my home by me increase the valuation when I staircase?

Any improvements you make will not be taken into account for the valuation.

What is the Right to buy scheme?

The right to buy scheme allows council tenants to buy their homes at a discount price if they have been council tenants for a minimum amount of time.This scheme has also been piloted for council housing association tenants.This scheme was initially introduced by Margaret Thatcher.

How does the Right to Buy scheme work today?

Right to Buy is available to tenants of council authorities, registered social landlords with secure tenants, fire authorities, passenger transport executives, Government Departments, the NHS and most public bodies.

The Right to Buy scheme allows tenants who have lived in their accomodation for a minimum 3 years to buy their home at a minimum discount of 35% of the property value.Tenants who have had occupancy for more than 5 years will receive an additional discount of 1% for every extra year up to a maximum discount of 70%.This discount rises to 2% for those who have lived in flats. The maximum discount is £78,600 across England and 104,900 in London boroughs.

To begin the process contact your landlord after which you will need to fill in an application form to start the process.

The scheme applies for people who:

Who don't share any rooms with people outside your household
It is your main and only residence
A legal contract exists between you and the landlord
Your landlord has been a public sector landlord for at least 3 years, which necessary doesn't have to be consecutive.

If your home was owned by the council previously and they sold it to another landlord whilst you were living in it, you may still qualify for the Right to Buy scheme. This is called 'Preserved Right to Buy'. Ask your landlord if this applies to you.

You can also make joint applications or applications with family members who have lived with you for the preceding 12 months.

The scheme is only available in England. The welsh Government plan to cease the scheme from operating by 2021 and the discount available is half the size as in the UK. The scottish government has ceased operating the Right to Buy scheme.

Can I get a Right to Buy mortgage?

You should firstly be aware that you will not receive any housing benefits once you become a homeowner. There is no specific mortgage for a right to buy scheme. The mortgage process is the same and you will need to meet the affordability criteria set by the lenders as well as have a suitable mortgage deposit to purchase a property under the right to buy scheme.Always check your credit score as it might need a little boosting before you apply for a mortgage.Try a right to buy calculator to see what your costs are likely to be. Costs like stamp duty, conveyancing costs, property survey costs are definitely worth considering before thinking of a mortgage.

Don't forget, If you buy a flat with a leasehold, you will be responsible for ground rent and maintenance.

For more detailed information on eligibility and exceptions to the Right to Buy you can download Your Right to Buy Your Home – A Guide (PDF).

The future of the Right to Buy

The Government announced in the Autumn Budget 2017 that there will be a voluntary right to buy pilot. More details will follow in the coming months. You can view the Housing associations which were involved in the pilot below.

What is the preserved right to Buy?

The preserved right is a legal right given to former tenants of local authority tenants with a secure tenancy to buy their home.If you were a secure council tenant and your home was transferred from your council to another landlord such as a housing association then you might have a preserved right to buy.

This only applies if you were living in the home when it was transferred. Your current landlord should be able to tell you if you have the preserved right to buy.You will not be eligible if you moved to a home owned by a different type of landlord.

The Right to Buy only applies if you were a tenant with these local authorities on these dates: West Berkshire District Council 4 December 1989 Christchurch City Council 28 March 1991 Vale of White Horse District Council 9 February 1995 Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council 20 March 1995 .

The preserved right to buy scheme is only available in England and you can get a maximum discount of £78,600 outside London and £104,900 in London.

Properties not included in the Preserved right to buy

  • Specialist housing for the elderly
  • Housing for the disabled or those with mental issues
  • Temporary housing
  • Lettings in connection with employment
  • Properties scheduled for demotion

To be eligible for the preserved right to buy you need to:

• have spent a minimum total period of 2 years in social housing or armed forces accommodation

• You occupy your house as your only or principal home

• A housing association owns the freehold or has sufficient interest in your current property to grant a lease. There are some other cases where the right to buy may apply covering the following types of cases:

• If you are a joint tenant of someone who may be able to exercise the preserved Right to Buy

• If you were assigned the tenancy by a member of your family who immediately before the assignment would have been eligible; or

• If you became the tenant of your house under divorce legislation in place of a person who would have been eligible; or

• If you are a family member of a previous sole tenant who would have been eligible and inherited the tenancy

• If you are the partner of a deceased tenant who acquired the preserved Right to Buy by succession

• Please note a family member can join in the preserved Right to Buy if they can prove they have lived in your home for at least 12 months before you apply. This 12 month period does not apply to spouses or civil partners.

**Who is not eligible for the right to buy under the Voluntary sales policy? **

You may not exercise the right to buy if one or more of the following applies to you:

• A housing association is not your landlord

• You have not spent a minimum total period of 2 years in social housing or armed forces accommodation (or 5 years if you were a public sector tenant for the first time on or after 18th January 2005)

• You do not occupy the property as your only or main home

• Your home is let to you in connection with your employment

• Your home is designed for people who are physically disabled, for people with a mental health problem, or who have other special needs, and is one of a group of such properties.

• Your home is particularly suitable for elderly residents. Please ask for more details from your landlord of whether this applies to your home.

• Where you have been served a notice that your landlord intends to demolish your home within a specific period

• Where a court order is made which means you have to leave your home by a specific date, or if the terms of a suspended court order are breached

• If you are bankrupt

• If your tenancy has been temporarily demoted to an assured shorthold tenancy in the case of anti-social behaviour.

How do you begin the right to buy process under the voluntary sales policy?

• Your landlord will supply you with an application form which you must complete and return for them to start the process.

• They will let you know in writing if you qualify for the preserved right to buy within 4 weeks of receipt of your application (8 weeks if the qualifying period includes time with another landlord)

• If you qualify for the right to buy a valuer will contact you and arrange to visit your home to carry out an open market valuation. It is worth noting that any improvements you have made to the property will not be included in the valuation.

• Within 8 weeks(if you live in a house) or 12 weeks(if you live in a flat) your landlord will send you a written offer notice(section 125 notice) setting out the sale terms. This offer will usually describe the property, the price it is offered for and any defects found on the property during the valuation.The offer notice will also include any discount you are entitled to which allows you to buy the property under market value.

If you are told that you are not eligible for the preserved right to buy then you can contact the citizens advice bureau for more advice or engage the services of a solicitor. Alternatively you can write to the Residential Property Tribunal Service, 10 Alfred Place, London, WC1E 7LR.

You must also return your decision to buy or not to buy within 3 months if not you will lose your right to an independent district valuer. The housing association will usually send you a reminder before this timeline elapses.

If the housing association delays the sale by not sending you the acceptance form and your offer notice within the times mentioned above or they delay the sale in some other way, you may be allowed a reduction in the purchase price. To receive this you must complete the initial notice of delay(Form RTB6) giving them 28 days to issue a counter notice and resolve any delay. If the delay remains after this period, then you may serve an operative notice of delay(Form RTB8). This allows any rent that you pay during this period of delay to be taken from the purchase price if you still go ahead and complete the sale.

How are properties valued for the preserved right to buy?

• Your landlord will instruct an independent valuer who will produce a valuation on the property

• Your landlord will then calculate how much discount on the price you are entitled to

• You must have lived in the property for a minimum 2 years . This could be a local authority or armed forces accommodation (or 5 years if you were a public sector tenant for the first time on or after 18th January 2005). The initial 2 year period entitles you to a 44% discount if your home is a flat or 32% if your home is a house. For each additional year above the minimum qualifying period you are entitled to further 2% discount for a flat and a further 1% discount for a house.

• The discount can be no more than 70% of the open market value if it is a flat and 60% if it is a house. However, discount entitlement can never be more than a maximum determined by the Government, which varies according to the region in which your home is located. Your landlord will advise you of the maximum discount available to you in your area on request.

• If you are not happy with the open market valuation you can ask your landlord to instruct the District Valuer to undertake a final valuation, within 3 months from the date of your offer. The District Valuer’s valuation is final and will be the value used to calculate the purchase price even if it is higher than the first valuation.

• If your home is a flat (or a house that benefits from communal facilities) you will also pay service charges. This is for your contribution to day-to-day expenses (lighting, cleaning etc), and any contribution you may have to make to substantial major works and improvement costs (lift repairs, roofing repairs etc) that will add to the value of your home. Your offer notice will contain details of service charges, and for certain service charges there are limits for the first 5 years of your ownership.

  • You must pay any outstanding debts owed to your landlord during the sales process if not they are within their right not to complete the sale with you. You will have to arrange a mortgage if you are not paying in cash. There will be costs involved with this such as mortgages fees, conveyancing fees, property surveys, home insurance and stamp duty.

  • You will also have costs associated with running your home all taken care by yourself including your regular mortgage payments, council tax, any ground rent or maintenance fees.

  • You will no longer be eligible for any housing benefits as you now own and occupy your own home. You might be able to claim income support but this usually takes 9 months before a payout is received once you have applied. Elderly people will have the value of their homes taken into account when considering if they are eligible for financial help in regards to their residence.

Your right of appeal for preserved right to buy

If your preserved right to buy application is refused you have the right to appeal within 56 days. Details of how to apply will be included in any offer letter sent to you by your landlord

Selling your Preserved Right to Buy home

You can sell your home at any time you want, If you sell it within 5 years of buying it you will have to repay some of the discount.

If you sell within the first year you will have to pay all the discount.
If you sell in the 2nd year you will have to pay ⅘ of the discount.
If you sell in the 3rd year you will have to pay ⅗ of the discount.
If you sell in the 4th year you will have to pay ⅘ of the discount.
If you sell in the 5th year you will have to pay ⅕ of the discount.

The discount will be taken as a percentage of the property value when resold. You will not be required to pay any discount after 5 years of owning the property.
You will have to offer the property to your previous landlord if you sell it within 10 years and it is in an area of natural outstanding beauty. If your landlord takes up the offer they will have to pay you the full market value.

You can find further information by contacting the Department for Communities and Local Government or here

What is the Right to acquire scheme?

The right to acquire scheme is a government scheme which allows housing association tenants to buy their homes at a discount. To apply, simply contact your landlord who will provide you with an application form. Once returned, your landlord will have 4 weeks to get back to you or 8 weeks if they have been your landlord for less than 36 months.

If your landlord agrees to sell the property to you they must send you an offer within 8 weeks or 12 weeks if the property is a leasehold property.

The Right to Acquire offer stage

Once your landlord gives you an offer, the offer should contain how they came to those figures, any issues with the property, how much your discount is, any known issues found with the property and any future costs you may owe to them such as ground rent or maintenance for leasehold properties.

You will have 12 weeks to inform the landlord of your decision. The landlord will usually send two reminders labelled RTA4 and RTA5 reminders.If you don't get back to your landlord within the time set in the reminders, your application can be binned.

If for any reason you don't accept your landlords valuation, you can ask for an independent valuation to be carried out after which you have 12 weeks to accept the offer.

Who is eligible for the right to acquire scheme?

To be eligible you would:

  • Need to have a had a public sector landlord for a minimum for 3 years.

  • The property must have been built or bought by the housing association after 31st March 1997 and funded through a social housing grant funded by a housing corporation or council.

  • The property must have been transferred from a local council to a housing association after 31st March 1997

  • Your Landlord must be registered with the homes and communities agency

  • Your home must also be a self contained property and your only home

  • You will be able to make the application with someone who shares your tenancy and up to 3 family members who have lived with you for the past 3 months

  • You won't be eligible if a court order has been made against you to leave your property

  • You won't be eligible if you have been made bankrupt

  • You won't be eligible if you are a council tenant

  • You won’t be eligible if you have preserved right to buy

What discount is available with the right to acquire discount?

You will be eligible for a discount of between £9000 to £16000 and this is based on location.

Your landlord will let you know how much discount is available to you. You can view a list of discounts by region here.

If you have used the scheme before there might be a deduction on the amount of discount available to you.

Selling your Right to Acquire home?

If you wish to sell your home within 10 years you must first offer it to your landlord.Your landlord will agree on a price with you. If you disagree on the price you can request an independent valuation at no cost to you.

If you sell your home within 5 years you will have to pay some or all of the discount.You will pay back the discount amount you get in relation to your property sale price.

So what is the help to save scheme?

The help to save scheme is a government scheme aimed at helping low income workers or those on universal credit to save more and hopefully put that towards a mortgage deposit.

The scheme will offer over 3.5million people who save the maximum amount(£3600) access to a bonus of £1200 over four years. The scheme is expected to be released in October 2018.

How does the help to save scheme work?

You are able to save up to £50 per month for 2 years initially after which if you have saved the maximum amount you will qualify for a £600 bonus which is 50% of your current savings.You are then allowed to continue saving which would qualify you for another £600 bonus if you have saved the maximum amount over two years of £1200.
Your account can be managed via a GOV.UK account which will allow you to monitor transactions, check your balance and pay in money to the account.
You can withdraw your money at any time but this may nfact affect the size of your bonus after the 2 year period

Are you eligible for the help to save scheme?

To be eligible you will need to receive working tax credits or universal credit with an individual or household income of £542.88 in your last month before you apply.
If you qualify for the scheme and during your term your situation changes and you no longer qualify. You will still receive the bonus at the end.

How does the help to save scheme compare to other government schemes?

The help to save scheme really will not help many first-time buyers get on the property ladder. And in comparison to other schemes the bonus received per year isn't much. E.g the Lifetime ISA pays a bonus of £1000 per year with a maximum deposit of £4000 contributed by you.

The Help to save scheme is however targeted towards low income individuals or households. Those considering getting on the property ladder should look into government backed schemes such as the help to buy equity loan or the shared ownership scheme as a way of taking their first steps on the property ladder in addition to the help to save scheme.

What is the rent to buy scheme?

The Rent to buy Government scheme is a first time buyer scheme which allows prospective first time buyers to save money for a deposit whilst renting.

The Rent to buy scheme works by the Government providing £400m to housing associations or registered providers to build new homes. These funds are cheap loans provided by the Government. The Government will provide half of that to London and the remaining £200m to other regions of England. The target amount of houses to be built stands at 10,000.

A housing association or registered provider will offer you rent at 20% below market price, this means you can save the remaining 20% up until the point at which you have enough money to put down a mortgage deposit.The Housing association or registered provide will give you an initial contractual rental commitment of 6 months with the option for you to increase this as you wish up to at least 7 years after which you will have first refusal on the property.

You can also buy the property you are renting via the shared ownership mortgage scheme.

To be eligible for the Rent to buy scheme you must not:

  • Be a current homeowner
  • Have a combined household income of more than £60,000 or £64,300 if you are looking for properties in London
  • Have any credit problems such as debts, county court judgements etc

The rent to Buy scheme seems a good option but as house prices continue to rise you must consider if the savings you put away will surpass the rise in house prices or vice versa.

What is the discounted sales scheme?

This is a scheme operated at random by housing associations or councils. The Discounted sales scheme works by allocating some properties including those built by property developers at between 25-50% discounts of their property value.

Who is eligible for the discounted sales scheme?

Discounted sales are set by the local councils and therefore the eligibility criterias are all different for most councils.

You will need to contact your local council to see what properties are available for this scheme and what the council's eligibility requirements are. In most cases you will need to have some association with the council who offers the discounted sales scheme. Not all councils offer the discounted sales scheme and the scheme is only available in England.

The typical criteria for the discounted sales scheme:

  • You must live or work in the area where the property is located
  • Your household income must not be more than £60,000
  • You have a deposit for the property
  • You must be employed
  • You qualify for a mortgage
  • You can show that you are not in mortgage or rent arrears or in breach of your current tenancy agreement
  • You are aged 18 or over and have a bank, Post Office or building society account

How do you apply for the discounted sales scheme?

To apply you must first find a property with a discounted sale scheme available for it and contact the local council to confirm your eligibility and get an application form.

You must now apply using the discount sales application form. You should receive a confirmation on the process and if you have been accepted.

You should then seek advice on how to acquire the property and begin the home buying process.

Selling a discounted sales property

If you choose to sell the property, the original discount is passed on to the next person. For example, if you bought the property with a 25% discount you can only sell the property at 75% of the market value. You must inform the Housing Association you bought the property from before you sell.

What is the starter homes scheme?

The starter home scheme is designed for first-time buyers and homemovers under the age of 40 to purchase new build homes.

How does the starter home scheme work?

The starter homes are sold to borrowers for 80% of their current value with a maximum price of £450,000 in all London boroughs and £250,000 outside London.

How do I apply for the starter home scheme?

Properties are not always available for this scheme so you will need to register your interest here to make sure you get updates on when properties become available.

Once you purchase the property via the starter home scheme you will not be able to sell or let it in the open market for at least 5 years. This is of course put in place to discourage investors from exploiting this discount. In any case, an application for a starter home mortgage scheme does not guarantee your acceptance.

What is the social home buy scheme?

To be eligible for this scheme you would have had to live in a social housing property for 5 years minimum after which you would be able to own a share of the property and pay subsidized rent on the other share.

**Who qualifies for the social Homebuy scheme? **

Those who have lived in social housing for at least five years and your landlord must be a member of the Social HomeBuy scheme.

What is the Discount available with the social home buy scheme?

You’ll get a discount of between £9,000 and £16,000 on the value of your home, depending on where your home is and the size of the share you’re buying. You buy a minimum 25% share of your property. You then pay a subsidized rent on the rest. When you can afford to, you can increase the share of equity that you own. The property price will always be assessed at the time you want to purchase more shares of the property.

Social homebuy scheme Property eligibility?

The property must be owned by the council or housing association.

How to apply for the social HomeBuy scheme?

Some housing associations and councils have not joined the schemes. Aside from this, you should be able to apply for the scheme via your council or housing association. Make sure to confirm if your council or housing association is part of the scheme first.

What is the Self Build Portal scheme?

So you can’t afford a mortgage deposit, Cant get a shared ownership scheme and for some reason can’t find an affordable housing at your local council or housing associations.

This scheme is for people who want to build their own homes or have it built for them.

To start this process check out the self Build portal website here.

What is the Resales home buying scheme?

If you can’t afford to buy a whole home, you could buy the share of a home bought by its current owner when they used a shared ownership scheme (part rent/part buy). These homes are advertised by housing associations as "Resale".

The share you would buy would be between 25% and 75% of the home’s value and you would pay rent on the remaining share to a housing association. You could buy bigger shares later when you can afford to in a process called staircasing.

You could buy a shared ownership resale home in England if:

your household earns £80,000 a year or less, or £90,000 a year or less in London.
you are a first-time buyer, you used to own a home but can’t afford to buy one now or are an existing shared owner looking to move.

Only military personnel will be given priority over other groups through government funded shared ownership. However, councils with their own shared ownership home-building programmes may have some priority groups, based on local housing needs.

What is the older people's shared ownership?(OPSO)

The older people's shared ownership is a government scheme for people aged over 55 who are based in England. The scheme allows you to buy any home which is available on a shared ownership scheme.

Shared ownership schemes work by allowing you to buy a share of the home then paying rent on the remaining equity, you can then buy up the remaining equity through a process called staircasing.

How does the older people's shared ownership work?

The older people's shared ownership scheme works a bit differently than the conventional shared ownership scheme. Firstly, you are allowed to own a maximum of 75% then pay rent on the remaining 25%.

If the property is sold the 25% must be returned back to the council.

You can buy an old people's shared ownership home if you are over 55 and meet the below requirements:

  • Your combined household income is less than £80,000 outside London or £90,000 in London
  • You are a first time buyer
  • You are not a first-time buyer but don't own a home and can't afford to buy one.
  • You are currently on a shared ownership and want to move property
  • You cannot own any property to be eligible for this scheme

You can be added to a priority list if you are ex military or if your council chooses to add you based on your situation.

This scheme is also used fairly by pensioners looking to downsize. Always seek financial advice!

For more information see here.

What is the Home ownership for people with long term disabilities scheme?

The Home ownership for people with long term disabilities scheme is a home ownership scheme for people with long term disabilities. The scheme is a type of shared ownership scheme which allows you to own between 25% - 75% of the home and pay rent on the remaining equity.

Who is eligible for the home ownership for people with long-term disabilities?

  • People who have less than £80,000 of combined income outside london and £90,000 outside London are eligible.
  • You have a long term disability
  • You are a first time buyer
  • You used to own a home but can no longer afford to buy a home
  • You don’t currently own a home
  • You have special needs which ordinary shared ownership homes don't meet your needs

You can get a priority list for the Home ownership for people with long term disabilities scheme if you are ex military or the council deems your situation as such.

For more information see here.

What is the Armed forces help to Buy scheme?

For those serving in the armed forces. A special scheme is in place to offer reduced initial costs.The scheme offers armed services personnel to borrow up to 50% of their salary at no cost. This is available for first-time buyers and home movers.The maximum loan is £25,000.

Am I eligible for the Armed forces help to buy? You need to:

  • have completed a minimum length of service
  • have more than six months left to serve when applying
  • meet the right medical categories

In some cases, the scheme can still be qualified for without meeting the above criteria. E.g medical situations.

What was the Help to Buy guarantee scheme?

This scheme is no longer operational:*

The Help to Buy guarantee scheme was designed for those who could only raise a 5% mortgage deposit.It ended in December 2016.The home would have had to be less than £600,000 and £300,000 in wales.There were no restrictions on the property.e.g new build.

In this case, the property would be owned outright by the borrower. The monthly payments were somewhat higher as the loan provided by the government was not interest-free.

How did the help to buy guarantee scheme work?

The scheme was essentially an insurance from the government which committed to cover some of the costs of any borrower default. This did not take the responsibilities away from the borrower. The Lenders were essentially able to lend at between 80%- 95% LTV.

**How did I get the help to buy guarantee scheme? **

This scheme was obtained simply by applying. Whilst this scheme is no longer available it is still possible to obtain loans with similar Loan to value rates.

With this scheme, buying a £100,000 home would have initially required a £5000 deposit and if at any point you defaulted the government would have stepped in to cover some of your arrears.

The help to buy equity loan scheme is however still available as well as other mortgage schemes.

What is the Lifetime ISA?

The lifetime ISA is a financial product that allows you to put a maximum of £4000 a year in it compared to the Help to buy ISA which allows you only £2400( excluding your initial first deposit limit of £1000 extra). The Lifetime ISA can either be shares & stock ISA or a cash savings ISA. The lifetime ISA is designed to help first-time buyers with a deposit for their first home or for retirement savings.

How does the Lifetime ISA work?

The Government pays a 25% bonus on savings every year and if you have the maximum of £4000 deposited in your account you will earn £1000 for that year.

The bonus is however only paid on contributions you put into the account( the government bonus is also considered a contribution by you) and not on interest gained by the account or any capital growth.

The bonus payments cease when you are 50. The maximum bonus you can receive from the account is £33,000. To be eligible for a Lifetime ISA you have to be between the age of 18-40 on opening the account.

So who is a first-time buyer?

A first-time buyer is someone who has NEVER owned a property anywhere in the world before.

**However, you are still a first time buyer if: **

(a) you are named as a beneficiary of residential property in the will of a person who is still living; or, (b) if the trust to which you are or were a beneficiary was only created for the purpose of selling the property and other assets following a death or divorce, and the title of the residential property was never transferred to your name or to a trust which you are an ongoing beneficiary; or (c) if you are only acting in a trustee role and will not be entitled as a beneficiary in the future, (and do not have any other interests in residential property).

For a first-time buyer to be eligible for the scheme you must be buying a property that costs a maximum of £450k in the UK.

The scheme is available per person and if you are buying a house with someone who is also on the scheme the max limit of £450k does not double.

You can mix the Lifetime ISA with other government schemes such as the help to buy equity loan or the London help to buy equity loan. Similar rules apply for those respective schemes so you cannot rent or sell the property within 5 years and you will begin paying interest rates on either of those loan schemes after year 5.

Your Lifetime ISA can only be used towards your new home as a qualifying first-time buyer if you have had your lifetime ISA account open for 12 months.

So what's the difference between the help to buy ISA and the Lifetime ISA?

You can have a Help to Buy ISA and a LISA.

However, you can only use the bonus from one of them towards buying a home.
Use the Help to Buy ISA for the 25% bonus and you’d have to pay a penalty to use your LISA savings for a property. Though you’d still be able to use it and get the bonus for retirement savings.

The Help to Buy ISA was launched in December 2015, and like the LISA, it has a 25% bonus that’s added to what you save, if you use it towards a first home.
While the LISA allows you to save more, the Help to Buy ISA wins for some as this table shows:

Lifetime ISA VS Help To Buy ISA – Which is better?

Lifetime ISA(For Home Purchase) Help to Buy ISA
Max Contribution £4,000/year £2,400/yr (£3,400 in year one)
Lump sums Yes No, need to save monthly
Max bonus £33,000 (assumes max contribution every year from 18-49) £3,000 (assumes max contribution over four years and eight months)
When is the bonus paid? First year’s bonus paid in April/May 2018; after which it’s paid monthly On completion, when you buy a home
Investment option too? Yes, via stocks and shares LISA No. Cash savings only
Max property price £450,000 £250,000 (£450,000 in London)
How quickly can you use it? After the LISA has been open for 12 months Once you’ve £1,600+ saved (can be done in min 3 months)
Who can open it? Anyone aged 18 to 39 Any first-time buyer aged 16+
What can it be used for? The home deposit and the mortgage deposit Just the mortgage deposit
Can I withdraw money if I am not buying a home? Yes, at age 60+; if earlier you don’t get the bonus and will pay a penalty Yes, at any time, you just don’t get the bonus

**So can you transfer your Help to Buy ISA into your Lifetime ISA? **

Yes, but you should seek independent financial advice before transferring your help to buy ISA into your Lifetime ISA as the jargon can be somewhat confusing.

Can you have the lifetime isa and help to buy isa?

Yes, you can have both but you can't use the first time buyer bonus on both.You can use the Help to buy ISA bonus for your home and the Lifetime ISA for retirement.

What is the Help to Buy ISA?

The help to buy ISA is a Government-backed ISA which is especially targeted towards first-time buyers.The government will give you a 25% bonus for every £200 you save and will pay you up to a maximum of £3000.

Who is eligible for the Help to Buy ISA?

To be eligible for the Help to buy ISA you will need to be:

  • Be of 16 years of age or over
  • Be a first-time buyer
  • Be a UK resident
  • Not own any property on Planet earth
  • Have a valid National Insurance number (NINO)
  • Not have any other active ISA accounts in the same tax year
  • It is worth noting that the Help to Buy ISA is available for those employed(self employed) or unemployed.
  • In some cases, if you have a current IS which was opened in the current tax year you may be able to switch to a help to buy ISA.

Switching to a Help to buy ISA

You can switch to a help to buy ISA by transferring your current Cash ISA to a help to buy ISA. There's currently a limit of £1200 which you can transfer to your Help to Buy ISA from your Cash ISA.

Everything over the £1200 can be moved to any other ISA product such as an innovative finance ISA or shares and stocks ISA.

You must not exceed your total personal limit for ISA, so be sure to ensure you stay within your total limit by adding up all your ISA products.

In some cases, some specialist ISA managers offer their ISA portfolio in a CASH ISA bundle which allows you to hold multiple ISA products but total personal ISA limits will still apply.

Frequently asked questions about the Help to Buy ISA

Can I open a Help to Buy ISA?

Yes. As long as you are over 16 and a UK resident. To open your Help to Buy ISA just walk into any bank or go online and get started. You can find a list of Institutions that currently have the scheme available here. You can also switch your Cash ISA to a Help to Buy ISA even if you have already opened a Cash ISA in the current tax year.

Can I open a joint Help to Buy ISA with my friend of family?

No you cannot. If you both plan to buy the same property then you can both benefit from the scheme. This includes the Government bonus and savings.You can't open an account on behalf of someone else either.

Can I open more than one help to Buy ISA?

No you cannot. You are only eligible for one Help to Buy ISA account per year. This does not affect your right to switch your Help to buy ISA between different providers.

When does the Help to Buy ISA come to an end?

You will not be able to open a Help to Buy ISA account after 30/11/2019. You will however still be able to pay into your Help to Buy ISA and claim the benefits of the Help to Buy ISA until 30/11/2029. If you opened a Help to Buy ISA account before 30/11/2019.The Bonus from the help to Buy ISA will cease on 1/12/2030 so be sure to claim it before then.The Help to Buy ISA allows you to save a maximum of £200 every month with an extra £1000 for the first month.

How do I qualify for the Help to Buy ISA Government bonus?

To qualify for the government bonus you must be considered a “first time home buyer“.The property you plan to purchase must also cost less than £250,000 outside london and £450,000 in London.

Can I combine first time home buyer Government schemes?

Yes you can indeed as long as you qualify for the other schemes. You can get a Help to buy ISA and also still get a Help to buy Equity Loan.

Does transferring the Help to Buy ISA account to a new provider qualify me for another initial bonus deposit allowance of £1000?

No.

How do I claim my Help to Buy ISA Government bonus?

To claim your bonus you need to inform your ISA manager that you intend to withdraw all your money and close your account. Afterwhich a closing statement will be issued which you can then use to claim your bonus.You must claim your bonus within 12 months of closing your account.

**How do I apply for my Help to Buy ISA Bonus for my new house? **

Your solicitor ( who deals with the exchange of contracts during the mortgage process on your behalf) will apply for the Help to buy bonus on your behalf. You must ensure you acquire a closing statement from your ISA provider or manager as your solicitor will need this. You need to have saved at least £1600 to qualify for the government's minimum bonus of £400.

In conclusion

If you’re a struggling first-time buyer trying to put together a mortgage deposit with no luck so far. You will be glad to know that the Government is here to help you via its Mortgage schemes.
Government schemes may well get you on the property ladder faster than you thought but first what should you consider which ones are best for you and the pros and cons of each.

Which First time buyer scheme is best for your situation?

Before we go any further you must first consider the parameters that will define any success. Firstly you should have a deposit of 5% at least. This will open so many doors and allow you to compare options. However, if you don’t have this then there are still other routes to the property ladder.You should also consider the mortgage types you want to go with. Joint or single?

So Which Mortgage scheme is right for you?

Well, that depends on the answers you give to the below questions.

How much is your mortgage deposit?

If you have a 5% deposit then a help to buy mortgage is right up your alley and should be the first mortgage scheme considered.
If you are a London resident then the London Help to Buy scheme should work too

And if you’re a first-time buyer with savings then Help to Buy ISAs will help you get more out of your savings as they are tax-free and offer up to £3000 in matched funding from the Government.

Are you happy buying a new build property?

If yes, then both of the Help to Buy schemes above work even better. Another option is the Starter Homes scheme which is only available for those under 40 years old.
New builds are known to be overpriced by at least 10%. This means negative equity becomes a real risk and remortgaging goes straight out the window as your mortgage debt becomes bigger than your property value.

Are you happy just owning a share of a property and paying subsidized rent?

If you are happy owning a minimum 25% of the property then the social HomeBuy scheme will work perfectly fine. It allows you to own a minimum 75% which you get a £9000- £16,000 discount on and pay a subsidized rent on the remaining share of the property which is owned by your council or housing association. The shared ownership scheme will also work fine.

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21 First time home buyer schemes you can use(2018)
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