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Help to Buy mortgages

Your guide to Help to Buy mortgages

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Help to Buy is a government scheme designed to give first-time buyers a helping hand, or assist home movers with limited equity. Under Help to Buy, you only need to provide 5% of a home’s value as a deposit.

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Your guide to Help to Buy

The Help to Buy mortgage scheme is available for the purchase of new-build properties and means first-time-buyers and home movers that also qualify for the scheme only need to put down 5% of a home’s value for a deposit. The government will then step in to boost this amount with an equity loan (typically 20%), meaning you need to secure a mortgage for the remaining 75% of the property.

The main Help to Buy scheme is available in England, with separate Help to Buy schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. London Help to Buy provides a bigger equity loan (40%) than the rest of England to reflect higher property prices.

Help to Buy mortgages

The government-backed Help to Buy schemes are designed to help first-time buyers and those looking to move up the property ladder buy new-build homes.

There are two different schemes under Help to Buy – an equity loan and a shared ownership scheme.

Help to Buy: Equity Loan

With the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme, a buyer puts down a deposit of at least 5% on a new-build property and the government lends up to a further 20% – or 40% if you’re buying in London – creating a total deposit of 25% (or 45% for Londoners). You then need to take out a mortgage to cover the rest of purchase.

There’s a maximum purchase price of £600,000 if you want to use the Help to Buy scheme and the government's part of the loan is interest-free for the first five years.

From year six, you’ll be charged interest at 1.75%. The rate increases every year after that in line with the Retail Prices Index inflation rate, plus 1%.

What is an equity loan?

An equity loan means the loan provider (in this case the government) takes a percentage stake in the property – rather than just lending you a fixed sum (as with a regular mortgage).

When you come to sell the property, because it’s an equity loan – rather than a flat amount – you’ll have to pay the government back 20% of your home’s sale price.  This is the case whether the value has risen or fallen.

For example, if you bought your home for £250,000 but sold for £300,000, the government will have leant you £50,000 (20%) initially, but you’d need to repay £60,000 (still 20%) when you sell.

You can repay the equity loan at any time before this though, without penalty, so long as it’s in chunks of at least 10% of your home’s current market value.

Help to Buy: Shared Ownership

Shared ownership is a scheme that helps people who can’t afford a mortgage on 100% of a property. Shared ownership allows you to buy a share of your home – between 25% and 75% of the home’s value – and pay rent on the remaining share.

You may have the option to buy a bigger share of the home at a later date. The scheme is available in England only and you can read the full details here.

Which banks offer Help to Buy?

You’ll need to contact a Help to Buy agent in the area you want to buy and use a participating lender to use the scheme. Participating lenders include:

  • Accord
  • Aldermore
  • Bank of Ireland UK
  • Barclays
  • Chorley Building Society
  • Cumberland Building Society
  • Halifax
  • Leeds Building Society
  • Leek Building Society
  • Lloyds Bank
  • Mansfield Building Society
  • Monmouthshire Building Society
  • Nationwide Building Society
  • NatWest
  • Newcastle Building Society
  • Newbury Building Society
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Santander
  • Skipton Building Society
  • Teachers Building Society
  • The Melton Building Society
  • The Mortgage Lender
  • TSB
  • Vida Homeloans
  • West Brom Building Society

London Help to Buy explained

The London Help to Buy scheme works the same way as in the rest of England except that if you’re buying in London, you’ll be able to borrow up to 40% of the property value instead of 20%.

Prospective buyers in London will still need to put down a 5% deposit towards a new-build home, the government will grant an equity loan of up to 40% and you’ll need to take a mortgage out for the remaining 55% of the purchase price.  

The scheme only applies to new-build properties worth up to £600,000 and the property you are buying must also be your only home. You cannot use Help to Buy to purchase a buy-to-let property.

You’ll only qualify for the 40% loan if you’re buying in any of the London boroughs or the City of London.

Which lenders have signed up for London Help to Buy?

Lenders that offer a mortgage through the Help to Buy scheme for England should offer one for London too – and you may even receive a more favourable interest rate.

This is because the government’s equity loan covers a larger portion of the purchase price (up to 40%) than the England scheme, meaning London Help to Buy mortgage lenders don’t have the risk of covering so much of the property’s worth.

More information on Help to Buy

If you are interested in Help to Buy, you’ll need to start by contacting a Help to Buy agent in the area you want to buy, as they manage the scheme rather than mortgage lenders.

Visit the government's Help to Buy website and click on the “Equity loan” tab to find details of Help to Buy agents, and more information on how the scheme works.

You can find out more about government schemes to help you buy a home here.

When will Help to Buy end?

The current Help to Buy equity loan scheme is due to finish on 31 March 2021. All new homes should have been built by the end of December 2020, but an extension due to Covid-19 has pushed the deadline back to 28 February 2021. The deadline for the legal completion of the sale remains the same – 31 March 2021.

A new Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme open to first-time buyers only will be available for two-years from 1 April 2021.

Unlike the current scheme there will be a price cap per region on eligible homes at follows:

  • North East: £186,100
  • North West: £224,400
  • Yorkshire and The Humber: £228,100
  • East Midlands: £261,900
  • West Midlands: £255,600
  • East of England: £407,400
  • London: £600,000
  • South East: £437,600
  • South West: £349,000

How can I build up the 5% deposit?

To build up as large a deposit as possible, the government backed Lifetime ISA can also be a good way to save for a home. Available as a cash or stocks and shares ISA, the government promises to boost your savings by 25% up to £1,000 a year until you turn 50.

Comparing mortgage quotes

Using MoneySuperMarket’s mortgage comparison tool could give you a better idea of the home you can afford and how much of a mortgage you’ll need.

You can play around with the tool to see how much of a mortgage you’ll need to add to your Help to Buy equity loan and deposit to then compare mortgage quotes.

You’ll be able to compare mortgage quotes based on initial monthly costs, interest rates, the duration of the deal, the maximum LTV and any product fees you may need to pay for each deal. It’s important to remember that any quotes you see won’t take into account the Help to Buy loan repayments you’ll need to start paying back after five years, so you’ll need to plan your budgeting to make sure you could afford both sets of repayment.

The comparison tool doesn’t take into account your financial situation or your credit history, which means that any LTV or interest rates you’re offered when you come to apply for a mortgage may be different.

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