First-time buyer

Start your journey to homeownership

November 6, 2023
Information published was correct at the time of writing

Multiple affordable schemes and initiatives to get you moving...

If you want to purchase a home, you’ve likely encountered the term ‘affordable housing’. This refers to homes available for purchase or lease at a cost lower than their actual market value.

This is often part of a programme supported by governmental or local authorities. You’re not alone if you’ve been dreaming of owning your first home or moving to another home but find the financial hurdle daunting. Additionally, multiple schemes with varying eligibility criteria have led to confusion about how they function and who can benefit from them.


First Homes Schemes: A leg up on the property ladder

Aimed at assisting first-time buyers in England, the First Homes Scheme offers certain new build homes at 30% to 50% less than their market value. To qualify, you must be over 18, a first-time buyer, capable of securing a mortgage for at least half the price of the home, and have a total household income of no more than £80,000 (£90,000 in London). Note that the home will always remain within the scheme, meaning when you sell, you must offer your buyer the same percentage discount as you received. Although the scheme is beneficial, availability might be limited.

Visit for more information.

Shared Ownership: An alternative path to homeownership

Shared Ownership allows you to buy a share of a leasehold property – between 10% and 75% – and pay rent on the remaining portion. Over time, you can increase your owned share, a process known as ‘staircasing’. Local authorities or housing associations manage these schemes. The latest government model, launched in April 2021, introduces several new features, making it an excellent option for those who can’t currently afford to buy in their desired area or purchase a property of the size they need.

For full information, including how to apply, visit shared-ownership-scheme.

Deposit Unlock: Your key to competitive mortgage rates

Deposit Unlock, a privately run scheme similar to the government’s original NewBuy scheme, can be a game-changer if you have a 5% deposit. With 50 builders now to choose from, you can buy a new build home from one of the house builders participating in the scheme and benefit from an insurance-backed guarantee, allowing you to access competitive 95% LTV mortgage rates. This scheme is open to everyone, not just first-time buyers.

Visit the Deposit Unlock website for more details at www.depositunlock.

Mortgage Guarantee Scheme: Assurance lessens the risk for mortgage lenders

The Mortgage Guarantee Scheme, similar to Deposit Unlock, provides a viable route for potential homeowners to purchase a property with just a 5% deposit. The government’s involvement sets this scheme apart – they guarantee 15% of the loan. This assurance lessens the risk for mortgage lenders, providing a safety net if buyers default on their mortgage payments. This scheme has already paved the way for thousands of households to own homes and will remain open until December 2023.

Rent to Buy: Time to build up a deposit to buy a share or the entire property

Another avenue for prospective homeowners is the Rent to Buy scheme, which varies depending on the provider and location. For instance, in England and Northern Ireland, individuals can rent a newly built home roughly 20% below the market rent for up to five years. The money saved during this period can then be used to build up a deposit to buy a share or the entire property. Meanwhile, in Wales, tenants paying market-value rent have the option to buy the property after two to five years of occupation. They receive back 25% of the rent paid and 50% of any increase in the property’s value as their deposit.

Forces Help to Buy: A helping hand for Armed Forces personnel

If you’re serving in the armed forces, you may be eligible to borrow up to 50% of your annual salary, to a maximum of £25,000, interest-free for ten years. This Forces Help to Buy scheme is a pay advance that can be used to buy or adapt a home.


Beyond these schemes, developers often sweeten the deal with various incentives. These can include covering Stamp Duty (or Land Tax) fees, footing the bill for legal fees, offering free upgrades like flooring and appliances, and even gifting cash or gift cards for furnishing the new home. Some incentives may work in tandem with existing schemes, such as paying a few months’ rent on a Shared Ownership home. While eligibility for these incentives often depends on specific criteria or a stroke of luck, they are worth exploring to reduce initial costs and enjoy additional benefits.

LIFETIME ISA: A boost for your savings

The Lifetime Individual Savings Account (LISA ) is a savings product designed to aid you in accumulating funds for a home deposit or retirement. You can contribute up to £4,000 annually, and the government will augment this with a 25% bonus, up to a maximum of £5,000. To be eligible, you need to be aged between 18 and 39. Even better, you can continue to earn the bonus on new payments into the ISA until you reach the age of 50.

Don’t forget, our professional friendly advisors are on hand to support you and can help you explore all of your options.

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