Buying a home is the most expensive purchase you will likely ever make in your life, and for many first time buyers, the cost is simply too high. That is why the Help to Buy schemes were introduced – to help buyers like you get on the property ladder.
At Bird & Co, we specialise in providing bespoke conveyancing services to clients across the UK and abroad. We can offer clear, practical advice to first time buyers, people who do not currently own property, and home movers who purchased their current home using Help to Buy.
Help to Buy is a series of Government-backed schemes which enable first time buyers to purchase new build property. We can assist with home purchases through all Help to Buy schemes, including:
- Help to Buy: Equity Loan (England)
- Help to Buy: Shared Ownership (England)
- HOLD (Home Ownership for People with Long-Term Disabilities (England)
- Older People’s Shared Ownership (England)
- Help to Buy ISA (anywhere in the UK) – this scheme is closed to new account holders, but buyers with existing accounts can save until 29 November 2029
- Help to Buy – Wales
- Forces Help to Buy – which can be used in conjunction with other Help to Buy schemes
We are one of few law firms that specialise in online conveyancing; our secure online system means you can check the progress of your case at any point during the conveyancing process and we can even exchange important legal documents online. This, combined with calls, emails, and video calls, means you can purchase your Help to Buy property without ever having to visit us at our offices (unless you want to).
What our Help to Buy solicitors can do for you
All conveyancing transactions require a solicitor to review and complete the relevant legal documentation. However, when buying with Help to Buy, it’s vital to consult a solicitor with experience with the schemes to ensure you are getting the correct advice.
Our team of Help to Buy conveyancing solicitors can provide you with the highest quality of guidance, as well as handling all aspects of your transaction on your behalf, including:
- Advising on the ins and outs of the scheme and how Help to Buy fits into the legal aspects of your transaction
- Liaising with the other party’s solicitors and other interested parties, including estate agents, mortgage lenders and surveyors
- Conducting conveyancing searches, such as local authority searches, water & drainage searches and environmental searches
- Completing the necessary legal documentation, such as the purchase and sale contract
- Ensuring monies and legal documents are transferred and exchanged at the right time so that the purchase or sale completes on time
- Advice on selling properties originally purchased with Help to Buy
Our solicitors can also assist with Help to Buy redemption, where Help to Buy home owners decide to pay their Equity loan back in order to sell their property.
How does Help to Buy work?
This depends on which scheme you use.
The Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme (2013-2021) has now closed to new applicants. The new Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme (2021-2023) opened to new applicants on 16 December 2020.
With the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, the government contributes up to 20% of the purchase price of a new build home (up to 40% in London). You must contribute at least a 5% cash deposit and obtain a mortgage to pay for the rest. You aren’t charged any interest or fees on the equity loan for the first 5 years.
When you eventually come to sell, the government will recover the same proportion that it put in. For example, if you purchase your property for £200,000 and the government contributes £40,000 (20%), if you sell the property after 5 years for £250,000, the government will take 20% of the sale price – £50,000.
What is the difference between the 2013-2021 scheme and the 2021-2023 scheme?
The main difference is that the new scheme includes regional caps on the maximum price of the property you can buy through using an equity loan.
For example, if you buy a property in London, the maximum property price is £600,000, but if you buy a property in North East England, the maximum price is £186,100.
Who is eligible?
You and anyone you buy the property with must be a first time buyer purchasing a new build home in England.
The Help to Buy ISA scheme is now closed to new accounts. If you opened a Help to Buy ISA before 30 November 2019, you can continue saving until November 2029.
The Help to Buy ISA is a type of savings account you can use specifically to buy a new build property. The government will boost your savings your savings by 25% up to a maximum of £3,000. The maximum you can save per month is £200.
Who is eligible?
You can only use a Help to Buy ISA if you opened one before 30 November 2019. To be eligible for a Help to Buy ISA, you must:
- Be a first time buyer who does not own any property anywhere in the world
- Be aged 16 or over
- Be purchasing a property worth up to £250,000 (or £450,000 in London)
- Not have another active cash ISA in the same tax year
When do you receive the Help to Buy ISA bonus?
Your conveyancing solicitor will apply for the money when you are close to buying your home. Once the money is received from the government, it will be put towards the completion monies. The bonus cannot be used to supplement your deposit or to pay for any other costs, such as the cost of getting an independent survey.
If you cannot afford a mortgage on 100% of a new build home, Shared Ownership allows you the chance to buy between 25%-75% and pay rent on the remaining share. You can buy additional shares later on (referred to as ‘staircasing’).
Who is eligible?
You can buy a home in England through Shared Ownership 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 can no longer afford to buy a home or you are an existing shared owner looking to move
- You want to buy a newbuild property
If you are older or have a disability, there are dedicated Shared Ownership schemes you can use to help you buy housing that suits your needs.
Help to Buy – Wales is an equity loan scheme for first time buyers in Wales. Like the England scheme, with Help to Buy – Wales:
- You must be able to raise at least a 5% deposit
- You can get an equity loan of up to 20% of the property purchase price
- You must take out a mortgage to cover the rest
You can purchase a new build property of up to £300,000 under this scheme.
What is the process of buying a house with Help to Buy?
There is a standard process for buying a house with Help to Buy that must be followed:
- Check your eligibility - you should be a first-time buyer, you cannot own any other property, you cannot have overdue loan payments and you have to contribute a minimum 5% deposit towards the purchase of the property to be eligible for Help to Buy.
- Find an approved property – only some properties will be eligible for Help to Buy so make sure to pick a developer registered with the scheme.
- Acquire your ‘Authority to Proceed’ – once you’ve found a property and paid your reservation fee, you need to apply to a Government-appointed Help to Buy agent who will help you complete the Help to Buy Property Information Form. If this application is successful, you will be granted an ‘Authority to Proceed’ which you can use for a mortgage application.
- Get a Help to Buy mortgage – there are only 15 mortgage providers in the country who currently offer Help to Buy mortgages. You can either apply to these lenders directly or use a mortgage broker.
- Instruct a solicitor – It is actually good practice to have a Help to Buy solicitor assist you from the start, but you will need one to carry out the conveyancing work once you have acquired a mortgage. The Help to buy conveyancing process is the same as regular conveyancing except the solicitor has to handle the special conditions that come with the scheme. This requires a lot of attention to detail so it’s important to choose experienced Help to Buy solicitors for this type of conveyancing.
- Review draft contracts – your solicitor will review a draft contract from the seller and raise/satisfy any legal enquiries.
- Exchange contracts – this is where you are legally bound to buy the property. You will have to pay a 10% deposit and your Help to Buy solicitor will need to obtain an ‘Authority to Exchange’ before the contracts can be exchanged
- Completion – the developer will give you two weeks’ notice to be ready to complete and, once you collect the keys, the property is yours.
How long does the Help to Buy conveyancing process take?
Once you’ve acquired a mortgage and have instructed a solicitor to carry out the conveyancing, the length of time until your house purchase is completed can vary. This variation is based on a number of factors, including:
- The length of time it takes to complete a final draft of the exchange contracts
- The 3-5 working days it takes to receive your Authority to Exchange so that you can exchange contracts
- The length of time it takes the property to be developed (the developer should give you an idea of when this will be)
- The 12 days it takes for Help to Buy funds to be released to the developer
Standard mortgage offers last between 3 and 6 months so it’s important to make sure your mortgage doesn’t expire before the purchase is final.
Why choose our Help to Buy solicitors?
At Bird & Co, we are committed to providing expert legal services and impeccable customer service to clients across UK and abroad. Our solicitors have strong links with our local communities in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, however, our enviable reputation and convenient online conveyancing service means we attract clients from across the globe.
Our Help to Buy conveyancers have been awarded the Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme Accreditation for their specialist skills.
As a firm, we are also accredited in Lexcel, the legal practice quality mark for law firms leading the way in client care and legal practice management. We have designed our services to make our clients’ experiences with us as smooth and straightforward as possible and we work tirelessly every year to maintain our accreditations.
Our Help to Buy solicitors’ fees
We will ensure that our Help to Buy conveyancing fees are proportionate and affordable for you. We understand that buying a house is a financially worrying time, and we believe legal fees should not add any unnecessary stress to your experience.
Wherever possible, we will agree fixed fees with you prior to undertaking any work, so you know how much your Help to Buy conveyance is going to cost from the outset.
We’ll remain completely transparent with you throughout the process; where you’re likely to incur third party costs (such as Land Registry fees), we will warn you well in advance (preferably at the beginning of your case), so you don’t encounter any hidden surprises.
Ultimately, the cost of your property transaction will depend on the individual circumstances of your case. However, for some general information about Help to Buy conveyancing and our fees, please visit our Conveyancing Solicitors page.