Launched in June 2021, the First Homes scheme has been introduced by the government to help first-time buyers get onto the property ladder. This is achieved by providing a discount of at least 30% on the prices of new-build properties compared with their market value. Such a big price reduction gives first-time buyers a much-needed break when it comes to being able to afford their first home. High prices usually put properties far out of their reach but this scheme means buyers can apply for a smaller mortgage and pay a lower deposit than would otherwise be required.
This scheme also aims to provide locals with a way to buy a home in their local area rather than having to search further afield for a more affordable property. As well as that, key workers will be prioritised so that they can buy homes in the areas they work in. Those serving in the armed forces and recent veterans will also be prioritised and don’t need to meet any local connection criteria set by local councils.
What does the First Homes scheme involve?
Available in England, this scheme offers newly built properties at a discount of at least 30% to first-time buyers. Local councils have the ability to offer higher discounts of 40% or 50% as long as they can demonstrate the need for this to the government. The property prices will be capped at £250,000 after the discount has been taken into account or £420,000 in London. Lower price caps can be set by local councils at their discretion.
The discount given remains with the property thereafter as the property has to stay in the scheme. This means that if you buy a property with a 30% discount and decide to sell it in the future, it has to be to another first-time buyer via the scheme and they will also benefit from a 30% discount of the market value at that time.
As a first-time buyer using this scheme, you will need to secure a mortgage of at least 50% of the purchase price. This smaller mortgage requirement makes you more appealing to lenders as you’re less of a risk than if you needed to apply for a higher loan amount. You also need to pay a minimum deposit of 5%. As you’re given a 30% discount on the property price, you only need to pay 5% of the balance. This makes it much easier to save a deposit than if you decided to buy your first home outside of this scheme.
At Trinity Finance, we can help you find and secure a competitive mortgage for your first home. We are not tied to specific lenders, which means that our mortgage brokers, located throughout Kent and London, can search the market for the best first-time buyer mortgage deals for you with the most competitive rates. Give us a call on 01322 907 000 to speak with one of our friendly advisers or send us an enquiry via our contact form and we will reply to you as quickly as possible.
What criteria have to be fulfilled?
The property you buy needs to be a newly built one that’s registered under the scheme. To be eligible for the scheme, you need to meet the following criteria:
- You must be a first-time buyer, as does anyone you apply with.
- You must have a household income of £80,000 or less or up to £90,000 in London.
- The property you are buying must be for your main residence.
- You need to have a mortgage for at least 50% of the discounted purchase price.
- You need to pay a deposit of at least 5% of the discounted purchase price.
Other costs to consider
As well as paying your deposit, there are other costs to budget for when buying your first home. These can include a valuation fee, a mortgage arrangement fee, a surveyor’s fee, your solicitor’s fees, insurance costs and removal costs.
The current stamp duty requirements for a first-time buyer allow you to buy a property up to a value of £300,000 without having to pay any rates. If you want to buy a property in London, however, you will be liable for a stamp duty charge of 5% of the relevant portion between £300,001 and the scheme’s cap of £420,000.
You will also need to pay a reservation fee when you have found the property you want to buy. This must be paid before your application to the scheme is submitted but is refunded if you’re deemed not to meet the eligibility criteria.
How to apply for the First Homes scheme
There’s no set application process for this scheme. Various new-build developments throughout the country will advertise properties registered with the scheme so you need to check your local developments for availability. When you’ve found a property you’d like to buy as your first home, you need to reserve it and then make an application to the local authority via the builder.
To save time during the application stage and to avoid disappointment if you’re later found not to be eligible, we recommend you speak to one of our mortgage brokers in advance about your first-time buyer mortgage. Your dedicated mortgage consultant can ascertain how much you can borrow and arrange your mortgage in principle with a lender.
What happens next?
When the local council has reviewed and accepted your application, you will receive an Eligibility Certificate and an Authority to Proceed (ATP). You need to give these to your mortgage broker and solicitor. At this point, you can formally apply for your mortgage. It’s important to wait until you have received your ATP first because if you do this the other way round and are declined, you may have to pay fees incurred for your mortgage application.
Once you’ve received your mortgage offer and the necessary legal checks have been carried out by your solicitor, exchange of contracts can take place. This is when you pay your deposit and the contracts are exchanged. A completion date is agreed and you can look forward to receiving the keys to your new home!
Get expert advice
Before searching for a new home via the First Homes scheme, speak with your mortgage broker. He or she can give you impartial advice on this scheme and any alternative options that are available to you. Having checked your circumstances and after establishing how much you can borrow, your broker can help you decide which option is the best one to suit your needs.
As well as offering financial advice, our specialist mortgage brokers in Kent and London are available to help guide you through the home-buying process. Buying your first home can seem daunting but our experts will explain everything to you in a clear, jargon-free way and ensure that your first home-buying experience is a straightforward and enjoyable one. To get started on your property journey, get in touch with our mortgage specialists on 01322 907 000 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.