Buying your first home

It’s a hard slog getting together the money for a deposit to buy your first home, so it’s as well to know where you can get some help.

The Government has set up what is known as a ‘Help to Buy’ ISA scheme, whereby it will contribute some money towards the buying of a new home.

For every £200 you save, the Government will donate £50 up to a £3000 limit (for which you will have saved £12,000 in total).

So how do you go about setting things up?

Firstly you choose a Help to Buy ISA from a range of banks and building societies. Under the Government stipulations, you will need to save £1600 in this account before you can claim the minimum bonus of £400.

You can save up to £200 per month. You can miss a month’s payment, but you can’t then pay in more than the £200 limit the following month to make up the shortfall. The bonus scheme’s set to keep paying out on Help to Buy ISA savings until December 2030. So you could put in just a small amount per month and build up your bonus over a number of years. However, you risk a future government changing the rules before 2030, meaning they’ll stop paying bonuses.

If you’re a first-time buyer, buying with another first-time buyer, you can both open an ISA. So, together, you can save £400 a month and double the bonus.

When you buy your first home, the solicitor or conveyancer you use can apply for the Government bonus once you have told the bank or building society that you’re closing your Help to Buy ISA. The money can then be put toward the cost of your first home.

The bonus must be included with the funds consolidated at the completion of the property transaction. It can’t be used for the deposit due at the exchange of contracts, to pay for solicitor’s, estate agent’s fees or any other indirect costs associated with buying a home.

To qualify for the ISA, you must be a UK resident over 16 years of age, have a valid National Insurance certificate. And you must be a first-time buyer with no other properties owned abroad.

The property has to be in the UK, have a purchase price no higher than £250k, or £450k for London, be the only property you will own (i.e. not one of multiple homes), where you intend to live and it must be purchased with a mortgage.

It’s possible to benefit also from other Government schemes at the same time, including the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme and Shared Ownership.