There are many schemes implemented by the government to help people get onto the housing ladder, or to help those already on it to climb to a higher rung. One such scheme is the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme which effectively allows you to buy a home, either newly built or existing, and lay down a deposit of only 5% of the price of the property. This Help to Buy scheme launched on the 1st January 2014 and details are now readily available.

As is stands, the information in this article is what we know at the time of writing, so is as up to date as you can get. The Help to Buy guaranteed mortgages are open to both first time buyers and those seeking to move house. There is no limit on the level of your income but you cannot use any Help to Buy product at the same time as other mortgage scheme that is publicly funded.

The qualifying criteria is; your new home must have a purchase price of up to £600,000, it must be your main home and fully owned by you as you cannot use this scheme to purchase a buy to let property or a second home and you cannot use it for a shared ownership or for a shared equity purchase. You must also be a UK citizen or be someone who has the right to remain in the UK indefinitely.

While this sounds all well and good on paper, there are many who are unhappy with the scheme and MP’s have warned the Chancellor, George Osborne, that his flagship Help to Buy scheme may not be that much of a help to first time buyers and may actually end up costing the Treasury huge sums. The government plans to guarantee mortgages for 3 years, starting in January, for those applicants who are able to put down a deposit of 5%.

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The Treasury Committee, however, has warned the Chancellor that his plans make the government an active player in the housing market with their financial stake effectively propping up prices.  Labour have also had their say, and their opinion is that those who are looking to trade up and gain access to a home loan if they do not have a substantial personal equity in existence.

Defending his scheme Mr Osborne said that the UK housing market has not recovered sufficiently following the financial crisis of 2008, and in the last 5 years the number of house purchases by first time buyers has dropped by 40%. He has also claimed that the plan, currently undergoing a consultation, could unlock a whopping £130bn worth of mortgage finance, giving the market it a much needed boost.

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