Essential Q&As on Help to Buy ISA

What is Help to Buy?

Help to Buy is a Government-backed scheme to allow first-time buyers and low earners to purchase a home. Introduced in April 2013, so far it has helped around 300,000 people to get on the property ladder. Currently it has funding of £10 billion that will allow it to run until at least 2021.

What are the different options?

There are three Help to Buy options: equity loan, Help to Buy ISA and shared ownership.

The equity loan is a loan of up to 20 percent of the purchase price of a property (40 percent in London), which is interest-free for the first five years. After that, you pay interest on the loan of 1.75 percent annually, rising by 1 percent above the rate of inflation every year after that. The interest payments do not reduce the loan amount. Instead the loan is repaid when the house is sold or the mortgage is repaid, whichever comes first.

A Help to Buy ISA lets you save money tax free for a deposit and the Government will boost your savings by 25 percent. For example, for every £200 you save, you get a bonus of £50. The maximum bonus you can receive is £3,000.

Shared ownership allows you to buy up to 75 percent of a newbuild or second-hand property and pay rent on the remaining share. When you can afford it, you can buy further shares in your home, a process known as staircasing.

Am I eligible for a Help to Buy ISA?

To qualify for a Help to Buy ISA, you must be aged 16 and over with a valid National Insurance number. Only UK residents can have an ISA. For this particular ISA, you must be a first-time buyer and not own a property anywhere in the world.

You cannot have another active cash ISA operating in the same tax year as a Help to Buy ISA.

You can use the Help to Buy ISA in conjunction with other Help to Buy schemes, such as equity loan and shared ownership.

How do I qualify for the Government bonus?

To earn the tax-free Government bonus, the property you intend to buy must be in the UK and have a maximum purchase price of £250,000 (£450,000 in London). This must be the only home you own, you must live in the property and you must be buying with a mortgage.

How do I open a Help to Buy ISA?

Banks, building societies and credit unions across England offer a Help to Buy ISA account.

When do I need a conveyancing solicitor?

Once you have raised enough money for a deposit and found a property to buy, you need to instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf for the purchase. Homeward Legal works with solicitors across England who are expert in dealing with Help to Buy purchases and can give you the precise advice and service needed. Call us on 0800 038 6699 now to find out what we can do for Help to Buy customers.