Help to Buy 

Calls for changes to Help to Buy

Calls for changes to Help to Buy

A number of brokers want Help to Buy (HTB) schemes to be restricted to first time buyers (FTBs) should the scheme be extended, while others are calling for further restrictions on loan size.

United Trust Bank’s (UTB) had polled 180 finance brokers and found 41 per cent wanted to see a first time buyer restriction if the scheme was to be extended.

A further 27 per cent wanted to see the scheme restricted to buyers with annual household incomes of below £75,000 in London and £60,000 in the rest of the country, while others called for a restriction by property size.

Help to Buy equity loans are available to first time buyers as well as homeowners looking to move.

According to recent government figures, cited by UTB, more than 169,102 properties have been bought using an equity loan since the scheme was launched in 2013 and about 80 per cent were for first time buyers.

The Help to Buy scheme has already been extended once with the equity loan facility being made available to purchasers until 2021. There is some indication that the government could look to extend the scheme beyond the current end date.

Brokers were also asked whether they believed the HTB initiatives have had a positive impact on the UK residential property market.

A considerable 56 per cent noted a positive impact, while 11 per cent thought it had had a largely negative impact.

Noel Meredith, executive director at UTB, said: "HTB has assisted thousands of people who may otherwise have been unable to get on to the property ladder to buy their own home.

"It has also provided support to developers, many of them SMEs, by offering their prospective purchasers a tangible financial helping hand and I have no doubt that HTB has boosted activity in the starter homes sector and encouraged house builders to develop more of the homes we need to overcome the UK’s housing shortage.

"Some of the suggestions for changes to the criteria make sense. Much of the criticism of HTB has come from the view that some of the people taking advantage of it are not the originally intended beneficiaries of the scheme."

He said a recent study by company Reallymoving had found the average price paid for a property using HTB over the past year was £278,000 compared to £257,000 for transactions which did not use HTB. This takes into account the 16 per cent premium new homes have over older homes.

Mr Meredith said: "Some interpret this as the scheme enabling purchasers to buy higher value homes at the tax-payer’s expense so reducing the maximum property value limit and household income limit may go some way to answering the critics."

Other suggestions from brokers included extending the scheme beyond just new homes and eliminating the requirement for the HTB agent to agree which valuer is used on a remortgage and instead just use the lender’s valuation.

Alan Lakey, director for Hertfordshire-based Highclere Financial Services, said: "The government's track record on housing policy and initiatives has been appalling.