SAVING for a house can be a struggle, but there are schemes that can help you get on the property ladder.
House prices have rocketed, which means that budding buyers are having to raise more money for a deposit.
The average house price stands at £281,000 according to latest government figures, which is up £31,000 the year before.
That means a 10% deposit – the typical amount buyers are putting down for a home – is £28,100, up £3,100 from last year.
With a cost of living crisis, saving this amount of money is unachievable while bills are spiralling.
The government's Help to Buy scheme is designed to to make it easier for first-time buyers to save up the deposit typically needed to secure a home.
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We explain what the government's Help to Buy Scheme is, and if it is still available.
What is the Help to Buy Scheme?
The Help to Buy scheme is a government scheme that will give budding buyers and equity loan and allow them to put down a deposit of just 5%.
You can get up to 20% of the value of your property – or 40% if you live in London – under the scheme.
The loan is interest-free for the first five years – but budding buyers only have a matter of months to take advantage of it.
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To apply, you'll need to go through the Help to Buy agent in the area where you want to buy a home.
You can find one near you on the Homes England website.
Some disadvantages to using the scheme is that you can only buy a new build property to qualify for the loan.
That means those looking for a doer upper to increase the value of their home can't access the scheme.
Is the Help to Buy scheme still open for applications?
The scheme is set to end by March 31, 2023 – the date when all legal completions need to be finalised by buyers.
But you'll have to act a lot sooner if you want to secure a home through the scheme because of the time it can take to buy a property.
Homes England, which oversees the scheme, said new applications must be made by October 31 at the latest.
That means you have just a matter of weeks left to sign up.
Reports had originally suggested the deadline would be later on in the year, giving buyers more time to save for a deposit.
A spokesperson for Homes England said the date had been agreed with the government and was being relayed to key stakeholders.
What other government schemes can help first-time buyers?
Shared ownership lets first-time buyers purchase a portion of the equity in a property if they can't afford to take out a mortgage for the total value of the home.
You’ll co-own your home with a housing association, which will charge you rent on its portion of the property.
Buyers will find they'll likely need to buy a new-build home.
Buyers must purchase between 10% and 75% of the property to use the initiative, and they can then “staircase” – buy more shares in instalments – until they own 100% of it.
You can put down a deposit of just 5% using a shared ownership scheme.
You don't have as much freedom when it comes to selling up – if you own less than 100%, your housing association will get a set period of time to find a buyer.
That means you won’t be able to accept a higher offer from someone else.
Or, you might have to sell it back to the housing association instead of putting it on the market.
This means there isn't much competition to offer decent rates.
Help to Build
Last week saw the government unveil its Help to Build scheme to first time buyers.
You'll be able to build you own home with just a 5% deposit.
The government can give you an equity loan based on the estimated costs to buy the plot of land and build your home.
The loan amount can be between 5% to 20%, and up to 40% in London.
It will make building your own home more affordable, as currently, you'll need a deposit worth around 25% of land and building costs.
But there are some downsides.
Building costs can often run away – which means you could go over budget and end up forking out much more than you want to.
It could also be challenging finding land to buy and build on – including the faff of getting planning and a mortgage.
Companies offering loans with 5% deposits
There are companies offering loans to first time buyers with just 5% deposits to help them boost the home budget
It works in a similar way to Help to Buy – but the key differences are that you can get a loan to cover up to 25% of the total value of a property, and it doesn’t have to be a new build.
You can repay your loan at any point – for example, you could choose to pay it back at all once when you sell up.
Ahauz is another company offering equity loans to buyers with a 5% deposit.
But a word of warning – alternative finance firms can often charge significant interest rates offering loans like these.
We spoke to one first time buyer who is paying back more than double the interest he pays on his £30,000 Proportunity loan compared to his mortgage.
Plus, some lenders might not lend you a mortgage using an equity loan like this – so you might not get the best deal.
This new scheme lets you buy a new build house worth up to £750,000 with a 5% deposit.
You have to buy a home from a house builder participating in the scheme – which could limit your options.
It is a mortgage-indemnity scheme, which means the builder insures the mortgage you take out.
That means mortgage providers are more likely to take on the risk of lending mortgages on low deposits.
But not many lenders have signed up to the initiative – which lowers your chances of getting a deal.
You'll have to ask the builder of the house you want to buy whether they are offering the 5% Deposit Unlock initiative.
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