Help to Buy ISAS: The End of an Era. As one door closes…

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It will not have escaped the attention of first-time buyers that one major government scheme which was introduced to help first time buyers (the Help to Buy ISA scheme), will be no more from 30th November 2019. Help to Buy ISA’s were launched in 2015 to help first time buyers get on the property ladder. They introduced a bonus which is given to you in addition to the amount saved. Please click here for more details.

If you opened your Help to Buy ISA account before 30th November 2019, you will still be able to keep saving until 30th November 2029, but the bonus must be claimed by 1st December 2030.

Is it still worth opening an account?

Clearly the Help to Buy ISA has been a popular scheme and I have seen first-hand how it has helped first time buyers purchase their first home without the need to borrow from a relative or friend.

From our perspective, as the solicitor who would assist the first-time buyer to draw down the bonus (provided they meet and satisfy all the other scheme eligibility requirements), the scheme is not complex or overly onerous to administer. This is reflected in the statutory charges that can be levied for this element of work.

Is it the only option?

It is not within our expertise as solicitor to advise whether the Help to Buy ISA is the right scheme for your individual circumstances. Please seek advice from an independent financial adviser, who can help you consider all your options. For example, the Help-to-Buy ISA will close this year to new applicants and another popular home-buying resource – the Help-to-Buy equity loan scheme – is also potentially ending in the near future. If you are not aware, the Help-to-Buy equity loan scheme is to become more restricted over the next few years, and will stop altogether in March 2023 unless the government extends it.  See here for more details.

However, the “Lifetime Isa”, which has been available since April 2017, is an alternative option for those who want to save up to buy their first home OR build a retirement savings pot where the government will add a 25% bonus to your savings up to a maximum amount per year. Please see here for more details. You can withdraw money from your LISA if you’re buying your first home provided all the other scheme conditions are met such as the proposed property costs £450,000 or less, you buy the property at least 12 months after you open the Lifetime ISA, you use a conveyancer or solicitor to act for you in the purchase (as the ISA provider will pay the funds directly to them) and you’re buying with a mortgage.

So clearly there is life after Help to Buy ISA’s if you are able to take advantage of that particular scheme before it ends in November 2019.

Please contact our Residential Team and ask to speak to Adam or Maria on 01626 772441 or email us. We can provide you with all the necessary legal advice and discuss the mechanics and any added costs of using the Help to BUY ISA, Help to buy Equity loan Scheme or Lifetime ISA in the purchase of your dream first home.

Written by Adam Clinch-Othman, Partner Solicitor, October 2019

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