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Movelawyer Advice Section

Read through some of our advice articles that may help you if you are considering buying a house

Freehold vs. Leasehold Properties


Most properties in England are either freehold or leasehold, and it is important that you understand the difference between the two and the implications of this for your property ownership.

freehold property vs leasehold property


Properties in the UK can be freehold, leasehold, flying freehold, commonhold or, in the case of Scotland, ‘feuhold’.

What is a freehold property?

Purchasing a freehold property will give you immediate ownership of both the property and the surrounding grounds. Having a freehold interest in land means that there is no time limit on your period of ownership, and you have the right to live at the property for as long as you wish. You are allowed to make alterations and extensions to the property as you own both the property and the land it sits on, however, these alterations will need to be in line with the law and local planning restrictions. You must seek planning approval in order to make structural changes to the property, and doing so will be especially crucial if your property is an older building which is listed or is located in a conservation area.

Although freehold properties tend to be houses, there are an increasing number of freehold flats becoming available, whereby the ownership and responsibilities of the freehold are shared between the flat owners. Because a freehold confers greater ownership, owning the property is more straightforward and, hence, (unsurprisingly) more desirable and expensive.


What is a flying freehold?

A property is a flying freehold when it is a freehold property which has a part of it overhanging or lying beneath a part of another person’s freehold property. Flying freeholds are fairly common and exist where, for example, part of a bedroom of one house lies above an alleyway running between two houses. The term ‘flying freehold’ really only applies when the ‘flying’ element is occupiable, meaning that things like overhanging drain pipes and guttering are not counted.

Flying freeholds can provoke some sticky legal issues regarding the cost of repairs to, for example, storm damage or major DIY renovation if your neighbours refuse access or protest at your plans. In most cases, flying freeholds do not have to present any issues at all, so long as you maintain friendly relations with your new neighbours.

Due to its position in a legal grey area, some lenders are hesitant to lend money to buy a flying freehold property, and are likely to ask for a very common type of cover known as ‘flying freehold indemnity insurance’.


What is a leasehold property?

When purchasing a leasehold property, you are buying not the property itself, but the right to live in it for the period of time specified in the lease – this can be as long as 999 years. Buying a leasehold property means that you do not have outright ownership or the property and the land within its boundaries. Additionally, buying a leasehold property previously owned by someone else does not ‘reset’ the duration of the leasehold – if they have lived in a 100-year-leased property for 30 years, you are only purchasing the right to live in the property for the remaining 70 years.

The remaining lease-duration of a property is an important piece of information and should always be made clear on the property listing, but if it is not or you are simply in doubt, contact the estate agent and ask. The length of lease will affect the property’s value, and anything less than 60 years could make it difficult to find a mortgage.


The lease

Leases vary, and it is important that you read yours carefully and take legal advice because it will contain information concerning your rights and entitlement such as whether or not you can sublet or own a pet, how much noise you can make, and whether you can undertake certain alterations. Failure to comply with your lease could not only lose you a lot of money but also the property altogether.


Annual charges

Purchasing a leasehold property means that you have an obligation to make payments to its freeholder in order to cover the costs for its maintenance and repairs – these are known as ground rent and service charges. It is crucial that you inquire about these fees before you purchase the property, also, be aware that maintenance charges can rise annually without limit.


Extending the lease or buying the freehold

It is possible for you to extend the leasehold of your new home to up to 999 years, but extending your lease can be an expensive option – up to around 20% of the value of the property – and you will need to employ a property lawyer in order to liaise with the freeholder. If the asking price on a leasehold property is unusually cheap, this may be due to a short-remaining lease, so make sure you investigate leasehold extension costs before you confirm your offer.

It is also possible for you to purchase the freehold of the property, but this will require an additional fee. Furthermore, as a leaseholder, you may be entitled to manage the property as if you were a freeholder although you do not own the freehold; contact the Leasehold Enfranchisement Advisory Service for more information.


Commonhold property, or 'share of freehold'

Although this is unusual, some blocks of flats and apartments are sold on a commonhold basis whereby the occupants mutually own their block of flats with no overall landlord. Each flat will have a freehold owner – this is usually a member of the commonhold association – that is responsible for maintaining the communal areas of the property. Having a commonhold is advantageous because it means that decisions concerning the building are made collectively by the owners and without the influence of a freehold landlord who may not have their best interests at heart.



# #freehold property, #leasehold property, #leasehold vs freehold

Negotiating and Making an Offer on the House


After saving up for a house deposit, the last step to take before entering the buying process is placing an offer on your desired house.

Negotiating and making an offer on the house

In the period between negotiating a house offer and entering the legal aspect of the property-transaction, there are a few hurdles you need to be aware of, so we’ve listed below some pointers on how to: liaise and deal with sellers, understand the seller’s mind-set, and cope with a chain of sales.

Pre-offer advice

When you find a house that meets your requirements, you should check the seller’s asking price and compare it to the local and national housing market. You’ll be able to find out roughly how much similar properties in the immediate area have sold for by looking at Land Registry reports for properties in the same area. It’s also a good idea to check whether any surrounding properties have planning permissions for new developments or alterations which may affect your quality of life; use the Government’s Planning Portal to find out if any large-scale building works are planned that could possibly lower your enjoyment of the area and affect the price of your desired house in future. Although these ‘searches’ will be carried out formally by your conveyancing solicitor later on in the process, knowing this information could prove useful in the negotiating stage.

Making your opening offer

Every property is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it, so there’s no fixed price tag on your desired house and you should not be fixated on comparing the house prices of neighbouring properties. For your open offer on a house, it is a good idea to bid a lower amount than the asking price; you may want to bid as much as 10% lower than the asking price because although it is likely to be refused by the seller, it can provide a good starting point for future bids until agreement is reached. Speak to family or friends who have experience of the local area in order to get advice on what might constitute a good opening offer. Remember that you can always increase your offer but you cannot lower it without a good reason, such as a survey revealing defects or damages in the property.

It’s all too easy for buyers to consider their emotions too highly during the decision-making process. Think carefully about what the property’s actual value is, for example, does it have enough storage space, how would living there affect your commute to work; how easy might it be to sell in a few years’ time should you wish to move on? Do not fall into the temptation of bidding too highly for a house; buying a house is a major financial commitment and it pays to be practical.

Ensuring a seller is receptive to your offer

How the seller responds to your opening bid will depend on a number of factors, especially how quickly the seller wants to sell, how long the property has been on the market, and how many other parties have indicated interest in the property. Appealing to the emotions of the seller could help you in having your offer accepted, so it is a good idea to try and form a friendship or connection with them. If you are part of a moving chain, showing patience and understanding will ensure that you are remembered favourably by the seller. Strike up a connection with them by showing an interest in their future plans, letting them know how keen you are to buy their home and why their property is so ideal for you. For most people, their home is full of treasured memories, so why would they want to sell it to a buyer they think unworthy of appreciating it in a similar manner?

Having said that, it is also important that you don’t appear too keen as this will indicate to the seller that you are willing to pay a high price for the property. Your negotiating powers will be severely and immediately limited if you declare absolute dedication to a property.

The home-owner is likely to be involved in acquiring their own new house, and if you can demonstrate to them that you are a serious buyer who’s able to move in quickly – e.g. you’re living at home with your parents, you have a mortgage agreement in principle, and you already have a conveyancing solicitor in mind – then they are more likely to negotiate with you than with another prospective buyer who appears less serious. Remember that when you make an offer, the seller’s estate agent will ask to see your proof of ID, so have the necessary documentation to hand in order to avoid any delays.

Having an offer accepted

Whether it took a short, few days or several, drawn-out weeks, coming to the end of negotiations and receiving a formal acceptance of your offer in writing makes it all worthwhile. Ensure that the seller is aware of any terms and conditions of your offer (e.g. repairs which need to be made to the house), and that you liaise with your conveyancing solicitor in order to ensure that your offer is made subject to a satisfactory survey result so that you have an escape route should the survey reveal anything which causes you to want to withdraw or alter your offer.



# negotiating, offer on house

The Timeline for Buying a House


Buying a new house can feel like a lengthy and tedious process. A six-month gap between looking at properties and actually moving in is not unusual and can be even wider if delays occur at any stage in the process. It may sometimes – and very frustratingly – feel like nothing is happening, but rest assured that there will be a lot going on behind the scenes as your team of experts – surveyors, solicitors, mortgage brokers, lenders and estate agents – all do their part in helping you buy your new house. Have a look at our house-buying timeline below in order to get an idea of what to expect at each stage of the process.

STAGE 1: Finding the right property for you & making an offer

How long it will take you to find the right property depends on a number of factors, e.g. your moving-in deadline, how buoyant your local property market is, and whether or not you’re looking for your ‘perfect’ property. If you want to be proactive at this stage, you could begin speaking to mortgage brokers or lenders in order to get a better idea of how much you are likely to be able to borrow. Getting a mortgage agreement in principle makes sense as it will put you in a better position when negotiating the purchase price with estate agents and sellers. Once you’re happy with the price, it’s time to make an offer.

The gap between first starting to look at properties and making an offer is typically three months.


You will need a solicitor who will deal with the legal side of your property purchase. Hiring a surveyor to do a thorough and comprehensive property survey is a good idea because although the lender will arrange for their own property valuation, hiring your own surveyor can help avoid later and potentially costly problems.

Mortgage applications can be subject to unexpected delays, so it is a good idea to be well prepared with any documentation or information which may be requested by the lender, e.g. payslips, bank statements or any other information needed to verify your income. It is also a good idea to check your credit records before applying for a mortgage.

Applying for a mortgage directly with a lender or using a mortgage broker as an intermediary makes no difference to your timeline as there is generally a one-month gap between making the application and receiving a formal mortgage offer.


The legal aspects of the process play a crucial role at this stage. You and the seller will sign legally binding contracts committing to the transfer of property ownership, and then your solicitor and theirs will exchange the contracts. At this stage, your solicitor will also liaise with the Land Registry, the local council and the seller in order to obtain relevant information about the status of the property, e.g. its ownership, planning permissions and land boundaries.

The process of exchanging contracts and obtaining the required information normally takes around a month.


This final stage involves: paying the deposit and any outstanding solicitors’ fees; finalising the mortgage (paying any arrangement fees); and setting up the direct debit to collect your monthly mortgage payments.

Usually, there is a four-week deadline from the exchange of contract to the exchange of keys, but a different timeframe can be used if both the buyer and seller agree so. At the end of this process, your new mortgage will start and you can move into your new house.


The actual timeframe will differ depending on personal circumstances and whether you are in a chain. Some estimate that it takes 3-6 months to buy a house.

- It will probably take you anywhere between 30-90 days to find a house and make an offer.

- Mortgage offer will take 15-30 days.

- 20-30 days is the period that it takes to find a solicitor, instruct them and start the searches.

- 20-30 days to complete the process, exchange contracts and receive your house keys

You may also find more useful info by visiting our FAQ section, Guides or News and Blog.

# buying a house, timeline, how long does it take

Getting a Mortgage to buy your home


For most people, buying a house means getting a mortgage as they are not in a position to buy a property outright using their own finances. A mortgage is a loan granted by a lender – usually a bank or building society – for the purposes of buying property.


Most mortgages operate on a monthly repayment basis, whereby each month you pay back some of the amount you borrowed and the interest accrued over an agreed repayment period. By the end of the term, the amount loaned is fully repaid and you own the property entirely. If you fail to keep up with your repayments, the lender has the legal right to take possession of your home.

Some lenders offer interest-only mortgages. With this type of mortgage, during the repayment term, your payments to the lender cover only the interest accrued, so that the full amount of the loan is still outstanding at the end of the mortgage term. In order to receive an interest-only mortgage, you must be able to show the lender how you’ll repay the mortgage at the end of the term – i.e. you must prove what ‘repayment vehicles’ you will use – and your lender will take a view about whether your chosen repayment vehicles are likely to pay off the capital at the end of the mortgage. Examples of repayment vehicles include savings in a savings account or ISA, stocks and shares, pensions, and investment bonds – you cannot use the promise of a windfall such as an inheritance or bonus as a repayment vehicle. You – not the lender – are responsible for creating and maintaining a credible repayment vehicle, but the lender will check at least once during your mortgage plan that your repayment plan is on track to cover the amount borrowed.

Finding the Best Mortgage Deal

In the UK, there are dozens of mortgage lenders and thousands of different mortgage deals on the market. With so much choice, it can be difficult to find the right mortgage deal for you and most buyers use one of the three following methods in order to do so:

Shop around – This requires a lot of legwork as it involves comparing mortgage deals directly by visiting high-street banks and building societies, phoning around or checking lenders’ websites. Although this approach may help you find the best high-street deal, it also puts you at risk of missing out on potentially better deals being offered by less mainstream lenders.

Use price comparison sites – Although this will provide you with a quick overview of some of the best deals on the entire market – so you’ll see what’s on offer from smaller or more specialist lenders – you must be aware that some comparison websites generate revenue by referring customers to affiliated lenders, so the recommendations you receive may not be as impartial as they appear.

Deal with a mortgage broker – As well as providing impartial advice on which mortgage deal would best suit your needs and dealing with the application on your behalf, mortgage brokers and independent financial advisers often have access to the widest range of deals available from both mainstream and specialist lenders. Another benefit of having a mortgage broker is that many lenders have special broker-only mortgage deals that may be better than equivalent high-street rates.

In choosing the mortgage for you, remember that the lowest interest rate does not necessarily equal the best deal. Other factors to consider include whether the mortgage rate is variable (the interest you pay may go up or down) or fixed (the interest rate will not change), and what mortgage arrangement fees will be incurred. If you are a first-time buyer, keep an eye out for special mortgage deals offered only to first-time buyers which often include incentives such as cashback or a free valuation.

Agreement in Principle (AIP)

Once you’ve found the mortgage lender and deal for you, your next step should be getting an agreement in principle – different lenders may have their own name for this, e.g. a ‘decision in principle’ or a ‘mortgage promise’, but it is still the same thing. An AIP is a written statement confirming how much you can borrow from your lender. It is based on the personal details you provide about how much you want to borrow, how much you earn, your employment status, other factors, and a credit check run against one of the UK’s credit reference agencies. Having an AIP is not the same as having a full mortgage offer, which will involve extra checks such as employers’ references, but it does increase your likelihood of securing your desired house when you have made an offer on it as it shows the seller that you are a serious buyer and have the necessary finances.

Applying for a Mortgage

Processing a mortgage application from beginning to end normally takes several weeks, and you can aid this process by being properly prepared. It’s a good idea to obtain a copy of your credit records before you begin your mortgage application so that you can determine whether there is anything in your credit history which could affect your application; this could be something as small as a missed payment or a dispute with your mobile phone company or utility provider. The UK has three credit reference agencies, and you can get your credit record from any of them:

It is also a good idea for you to prepared with any documentation or information which may be requested by your prospective lender, such as: payslips; bank statements or any other information needed to verify your income; a direct address or named contact for your employer’s Human Resources department – this will allow your lender to follow up on reference requests; (if you are self-employed or a freelance worker) up-to-date copies of your account and answers to any questions concerning the sustainability of your income.

The Mortgage Offer

You will receive a formal mortgage offer and a copy of your lender’s mortgage terms and conditions once your application has been approved. Your conveyancing solicitor (or licensed conveyancer) will also be sent copies of these documents in order to review them and provide you with any advice or guidance required for your understanding of your rights and obligations under the terms and conditions.

Congratulations on securing the funding to buy your new home!

# getting a mortgage

Buying a New Build Home vs. Buying an Existing Home


When deciding which house is right for you, you may have to choose between a new or older building. Both types of property have their advantages and disadvantages, and we’ve listed some of these below in order to help you decide what kind of home is best for you.

buying new build vs buing old build

Reasons to buy an older home

Neighbourhood - Because most existing properties are located in an established neighbourhood, buying an older home could not only offer the opportunity to get to know your new neighbours before you move in, but also the possibility of having an established Neighbourhood Watch action group maintaining the safety and well-being of occupants.

Character – Having been lived in is likely to have given an older property a sense of character and a unique history. You could be a fan of the previous owner’s work in the garden or simply like the idea of living in a house with period features.

Negotiating power – The purchase price of an existing home is negotiable between the buyer and seller, and the mutually agreed price could even be influenced by the owner’s desire to sell and move on.

Reasons to buy a new home

Personal taste – A new build offers a clean slate to its first owners as you’ll be able to fit your home with the tiling, flooring and decorating that you desire. This may not be so easy to do with an existing property as you would essentially need to ‘undo’ the decorations and fittings of the previous owner, and this could prove to be considerable work.

No moving chain – Purchasing an existing home means you will be a part of a moving-chain, and this could threaten your completion date. With a new build, this stress is avoided as there is no uncertainty over the move-out date of previous owners (however, delays in the completion of the building work could affect your move-in date).

High specifications – Because new homes have to comply with the latest building regulations – such as the most up-to-date heating systems and insulations – they are more likely to be fitted with modern, high-specification appliances and materials. This is highly advantageous because it means you will be able to settle straight in to your new home rather than worrying about potentially expensive maintenance costs and DIY.

A new community – The idea of joining a new and emerging community may appeal to you more than joining an established neighbourhood because it offers the opportunity to make new friends who are in a similar situation to you. If that’s the case, then a new build is certainly advantageous.

Energy efficiency – Living in an energy-efficient home can save you hundreds of pounds each year on energy bills, and, on average, new-build homes are six times more energy efficient than their older counterparts with each household generating around 60% less CO2 emissions.

Warranties – Because there are some problems associated with new-build properties, around 80% of them carry the NHBC (National House Building Council) 10-year warranty, which means that your home is automatically insured against these problems.

Leasehold – New-build homes are often sold for longer leaseholds, which means that buying one could save you money as you do not need to spend money renewing a lease.

As listed above, there are pros and cons for purchasing a new-build property and also for buying an existing home; you’ll need to carefully consider what matters most to you in your new house in order to make the right decision for you.

# buying new build, buying older home

The Last 10 Steps to Your New Home


You’ve spent months searching and viewing properties, you’ve found your dream house, you’ve made an offer and it’s been accepted, what now?

First of all, congratulations – you’re one step closer to moving into your new home.

However, you’re still at an early stage of the property purchase process as you can withdraw your offer without facing a financial penalty, and the homeowner can choose to take a higher offer from someone else or choose to not move at all. Below are the 10 more steps you need to take before the property is legally yours.

1. Ask the estate agent to take it off the market

It’s possible that the estate agent already did this when your offer was accepted, but it’s a good idea to ask and make sure that the property is taken off the market as soon as possible. This will prevent someone else from visiting the property and making the homeowner a higher offer.

2. Hire a conveyancing solicitor

Your conveyancing solicitor will be completing the legal aspects of your move, so it is very important that you hire a professional and reputable solicitor. At movelawyer.co.uk, we only partner with conveyancing solicitors who have been regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) or the Council of Licensed Conveyancers. When you receive your quote from movelawyer.co.uk, you can rest assured that the conveyancers and conveyancing solicitors that we recommend are professional and experienced.

3. Apply for a mortgage

Most home-buyers need a mortgage in order to fund their house purchase. Once the homeowner has accepted your offer, apply for a mortgage and provide your lender with the required documentation. This will include proof of ID, address and earnings, and recent bank statements.

(Tip: If you haven’t yet made an offer, it will be useful for you to research the mortgage you will be getting and have an agreement in principle from the lender. Having an AIP increases your likelihood of securing the house you have made an offer on as it shows the seller that you are a serious buyer and have the necessary finances.)

4. Arrange an independent survey

Although your mortgage lender will organise a mortgage valuation survey, you should hire a RICS surveyor to provide you with a detailed report on your desired new home. The mortgage valuation simply ensures that the property is worth what is being paid for it, while the independent survey will provide you with an in-depth and impartial account of the condition of the property and thereby aid you in your decision about whether to purchase it or not.

5. Get quotes for a removal company

It’s a good idea to contact a removal company even though you don’t have an exact move date yet. This is because doing so guarantees enough time for a pre-move survey assessing the volume of your belongings, it also gives you an opportunity to discuss the requirements of your move, for example, whether there are parking restrictions at your old or new address.

6. Exchange contracts and pay deposit

Following your mortgage being approved and your conveyancing solicitor completing their search, you and the seller will sign legally binding contracts committing to the transfer of property ownership, and then your solicitor and theirs will exchange the contracts. After this, you will be required to pay the deposit – typically 10% of the property’s value; through the government’s Help to Buy scheme, this can be reduced to 5%.

At this stage in the process, you cannot withdraw from the transaction without losing your deposit and the other costs that were incurred.

7. Confirm a completion date and the date of your move

Once the contracts have been exchanged and the deposit paid, you and the seller can agree a completion date. On this day, the seller will have to vacate the property, so with this date in hand, you can choose a move-in date and arrange the details of your move with your removal company.

The length of time between the exchange of contracts and the completion date is typically between 5 and 20 days.

8. Completion

At this stage, the mortgage lender releases the funds for the cost of the house and its ownership is transferred from the homeowner to you. The property is now legally yours.

9. Pick up your keys

After completion, you can collect the keys to your new home from the home-seller’s estate agent – it’s advised that this collection date i) precedes your move-in date, and ii) is arranged weeks in advance so that a convenient time can be kept free by both parties.

10. Move into your new house

Congratulations! The hard work is now finally over – except for your unpacking, but you can do that at a leisurely pace.

Enjoy your new home!

# 10 steps to your new home,

Explained: Lifetime ISA and Help to Buy ISA


First-time buyers are able to use one of the government schemes Lifetime ISA or Help to Buy ISA in order to help them save up for a house deposit. A Lifetime ISA account can only be opened by savers aged between 18-40 and allows you to save up to £4,000 each year towards a first home or retirement, while the Help to Buy ISA is intended to boost the savings being accumulated by those buying a first home.

Lifetime ISA

What is it?

The Lifetime ISA offers under 40s the opportunity to save and receive a government bonus of up to £32,000 towards your first home or retirement by saving up to a maximum of £4,000 per year until the age of 50. The accumulated savings, interest and bonus can be used towards a deposit on your first home of up to £450,000. The Lifetime ISA account is tax-free and can be as cash savings, stocks or shares investing. The accounts are available to each first-time buyer, not each household, so for couples looking to buy property together, both of you can save.

How does it work?

The government contributes a state bonus of 25% to your savings, so if you save the maximum of £4,000, at the end of the tax year you will receive £5,000. In order to receive the full state bonus of £32,000, you would need to open a Lifetime ISA at the age of 18 and deposit £4,000 in it each year until you are 50.

How can you be eligible?

In order to be eligible for opening a Lifetime ISA account, you must be a UK resident aged between 18-40 years.

Help to Buy ISA

What is it?

For individuals looking to buy their first home costing up to £250,000 (or £450,000 if the property is in London), the Help to Buy ISA is available. Individuals can save any amount up to £200 per month and earn tax-free interest in the form of a bonus of 25% from the government.

How does it work?

The amount you will need to have saved in your ISA before you can claim your bonus is £1,600 as the minimum government bonus available is £400. The maximum bonus you can receive is £3,000, and you will ned to have saved £12,000 in order to do so.

A Help to Buy ISA account is available to each first-time buyer, not each household, so if you are buying with someone else, you could receive a government bonus of up to £6,000.

In order to be eligible for a Help to Buy ISA, you must:

-Be a UK resident aged over 16 years

-Be a first-time buyer who does not own any property anywhere in the world

-Be looking to purchase a house costing up to £250,000 (or £450,000 if the property is in London) in which you will live

Once you are in the process of buying your first home or flat, your conveyancing solicitor or conveyancer can apply for you to receive the government bonus.

How much can you save?

Although the account has a monthly-deposit maximum of £200, your very first deposit can be up to £1,200, meaning that you can earn an initial bonus of up to £300. The Help to Buy ISA is designed for regular saving, but there is no commitment to make deposits into the account; so if there are certain months when you can’t afford to save £200 or anything at all, that’s fine. You can also withdraw cash from your Help to Buy ISA account anytime between exchange and completion to help contribute towards your deposit.

Remember that the Help to Buy ISA account is a cash ISA, and this means that you cannot invest money into another cash ISA within the same tax year.

How do you receive your government bonus?

You will be able to receive your government bonus after completion on your desired property. You will need to inform your Help to Buy ISA provider that you will be closing your account and they will produce a closing letter for you which you will give to your conveyancing solicitor. Your conveyancing solicitor will then apply for the ISA bonus on your behalf through an online portal, and you will be charged up to £50 plus VAT for this service. It is important that you inform your ISA provider that you are closing your account and do not simply withdraw all of the money from your account because without the closing letter you will not be eligible for the ISA bonus.

# lifetime ISA, help to buy

What You Need to Know About the Help to Buy Scheme?


There are a number of government schemes available to help make the dream of home ownership a reality. Most of these schemes can be termed as ‘Help to Buy’, and many of them are specifically aimed at assisting first time homebuyers. The nature of Help to Buy schemes ranges from helping buyers save in order to build up a property deposit, to incentivising lenders to make mortgages more readily available.

The Help to Buy Scheme

The Help to Buy scheme was originally created by the government to enable the purchase of a home by those who do not have a large deposit but can afford the monthly mortgage payments.

The eligibility criteria for the Help to Buy scheme is that you must:

-Have at least a 5% deposit

-Be seeking to purchase a house which costs £600,000 or less

-Be buying a property you plan to live in as your main residency (not as a buy-to-let)

-Not have any share in another property

Reducing the minimum deposit frees up funds for other costs incurred by the property purchase process. This is likely to be your biggest purchase, and so it is crucial that you have a quality and experienced conveyancing solicitor for your move in order to ensure that the experience runs smoothly. At movelawyer.co.uk, we only partner with conveyancing solicitors who have been regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) or the Council of Licensed Conveyancers. When you receive your quote from movelawyer.co.uk, you can rest assured that the conveyancers and conveyancing solicitors that we recommend are professional and experienced.

There are currently three Help to Buy schemes available, and they are detailed below.

Help to Buy – Equity Loans

Equity loans are available to both first-time buyers and existing homeowners seeking to purchase a newly built home in England costing up to £600,000. You fund 80% of the purchase; you must provide a deposit of at least 5%, and can take out a mortgage for up to 75% of the purchase price. The remaining 20% is covered by a government ‘equity loan’ which is free of interest charge for the first five years. From the sixth year, you’ll be paying a monthly administration fee on the loan which increases each year from the seventh year.

Help to Buy – Shared Ownership

You are eligible to buy a home through this scheme if your household earns £80,000 a year or less, and there are specific shared ownership schemes available for older people and those with long-term disabilities.

With the Help to Buy Shared Ownership scheme, you will be able to take out a mortgage to buy a share of a house – between 25% and 75% of the property’s value; the local housing association will own the remaining share of the house on which you will pay a proportional rent – this is usually around 3% of the LHA’s share of the property value. It is possible to buy further shares in the property at any time, but these share prices will be based on the market value at the time of purchase and you will have to pay for the valuation to be carried out. In order to increase your stake in the property, you will need a shared ownership mortgage; because you part-own the property, you will need a smaller mortgage and also a smaller deposit – 10% pf the share you are buying.

You are entitled to sell your shared ownership home at any point, and should you wish to do so when you own a 100% share, the housing association has right of first refusal. However, if you wish to sell your home when you own less than a 100% share of the property, the housing association has the right to find a buyer and 8 weeks to do so. The 8-week process will begin once the housing association receives your signed contract of sale, and this can only be completed once you have:

-Informed the local housing association that you wish to sell your house

-Paid the fees for a chartered surveyor to survey and value your home (your housing association will provide you with a list of recommended surveyors)

-Agreed with the housing association what your share of the house sale will be based on the valuation

-Included the details of your conveyancing solicitor who will be working on the sale

-Had all of the necessary parties sign the contract of sale – i.e. if you bought the property with someone else, they also need to sign

-Confirmed that an Energy Performance Certificate has been commissioned before you attempt sell your home.

If after 8 weeks, the housing association has not found a suitable buyer, you can sell your property through an estate agent or privately. If you use an estate agent, they will need to complete a shared ownership form to ensure that the potential buyer is entitled to buy your home.

Help to Buy – ISA

In order 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, and the house you wish to buy must cost up to £250,000 and be purchased with a mortgage.

This ISA allows you to save any amount up to £200 per month, and your savings will receive tax-free interest and a bonus of 25% from the government. The amount you need to have saved in your ISA before you can claim your bonus is £1,600 as the minimum government bonus available is £400. The maximum bonus you can receive is £3,000, and you will need to have saved £12,000 in order to do so.

A Help to Buy ISA account is available to each first-time buyer, not each household, so if you are buying with someone else, you could receive a government bonus of up to £6,000.

Lifetime ISA

This ISA account can be opened by savers aged between 18-40 and allows you to save up to £4,000 each year towards your first home or retirement. Besides this yearly limit, your savings do not have a monthly minimum or maximum amount and will earn you a 25% bonus, just like the Help to Buy ISA. In the case of the Lifetime ISA, the bonus on your savings is paid every year until your 50th birthday, and the accumulated savings, interest and bonus can be used towards a deposit on your first home of up to £450,000.


If you want to find out more about the Help to Buy Scheme or if you’re looking to buy a home in the Midlands through a Help to Buy scheme, then have a look at the Help to Buy Midlands website.

# what you need to know, help to buy scheme