Some things seem to go on forever. The Holy Roman Empire. The Simpsons. The final chapters of Ulysses… But all things have to end, and after nearly a decade, Help to Buy looks to have finally bitten the dust. But is Help to Buy really ending, and if you’re a first time buyer, what does this mean for your house hunt?
When is the Help to Buy scheme ending?
The Help to Buy equity loan scheme finally ends on 31st March 2023 – ten years after it was first introduced. As we all know, first time buyers need all the help they can get, and the stated purpose of Help to Buy was to get those with smaller deposits onto the housing ladder. At the time of typing, more than 361,000 homes have been purchased under the scheme.
Is Help to Buy still available?
That depends on what you mean. The deadline for reserving a Help to Buy property (and submitting your application) was 31st October 2022. But for those whose purchases are still in motion, it’s not over yet. If this applies to you, the property you buy must be physically built and ready – not tumbleweed – by 31st December 2022. Finally, you’ll need to have legally completed on the property (and taken the obligatory doorstop selfie) by 31st March 2023.
Why is Help to Buy ending?
Help to Buy has enabled tens of thousands of people a year to buy their first property. But just like Ed Sheeran’s music, not everyone’s a fan. Critics say that the scheme has artificially pumped up house prices, making homes costlier than they would otherwise be. Others point out that Help to Buy has only been available on new build homes, which restricts buyers’ choices. Given new build properties often come with a higher price tag, some question whether these homes will retain their value.
What will happen after Help to Buy ends?
Now that Help to Buy is about to be kiboshed, it’s understandable if first time buyers are approaching their big move with a touch of trepidation. The prospect of having to rustle up a deposit of 10% or more is not exactly music to anyone’s ears. In fact, according to Barclays, the average first time buyer deposit last year was £61,000.
Fortunately, while Help to Buy won’t be officially extended or replaced, there are various alternatives to Help to Buy that could give first time buyers a helping hand. The Shared Ownership scheme is here to stay, and unlike Help to Buy, doesn’t simply apply to new build properties. So if you’re happy to own a share of between 10% and 75% of a home’s market value, start searching for that 18th century weavers’ cottage.
It’s also possible that the new First Homes scheme – which is hot off the press and therefore tiny – will grow to become Help to Buy’s natural successor (though we’re just speculating). The new policy gives key workers and those with a local connection a discount of between 30% to 50% on their first home. The caveat is that the discount will also apply to the person who ultimately buys the property off you, and naturally, the homes will be newly built by developers (or originally built as part of the scheme).
Lastly, if you’re up for a different route to home ownership, there’s even a new Help to Build equity loan that may go some way to filling the Help to Buy void. The aim is to open-up self-build and custom-build homes to a wider range of people than simply hedge fund managers and descendants of William the Conqueror.
Will house prices fall when Help to Buy ends?
If the critics are right and Help to Buy has ‘inflated house prices’, doesn’t that mean the cost of buying a home should come tumbling down once the rug is pulled? No one has a crystal ball, but it’s fair to say that it’s a bit more complicated than that.
House prices are affected by various factors such as mortgage affordability, supply and demand, and whether Homes Under The Hammer gets commissioned for another series. Perhaps what really matters is not just the purchase price, but your ability to pay the mortgage. This brings into focus a whole bunch of questions. How secure is your work situation? Do you need space for a growing family? Do you have any savings, or a plan B if things don’t work out?
Everyone’s situation is different, but Even’s eligibility checker can help you figure out your buying potential and how best to tackle the property pickle. We may not be able to resurrect Help to Buy from the dead, but we can give first time buyers the chance to loan up to two times a deposit (interest-free) and help you get the keys to your new gaff.