Affordable home ownership schemes

Out of normal office hours contacts:

1. Overview

You may be able to get financial help from the government to buy a home.
You could get:

Buying your council or housing association property
There are also schemes for council tenants and housing association tenants.

2. Help to Buy equity loan

You can get a low-interest loan towards your deposit. This is called an equity loan.
The home you buy must:

  • be a new build
  • have a purchase price of up to £600,000 in England (or £300,000 in Wales)
  • be the only one you own
  • not be sub-let or rented out after you buy it
  • be one that you can show you can’t afford (if you’re applying in Wales)

How it works
With an equity loan:

  • you need a 5% deposit
  • the government will lend you up to 20% (up to 40% in London)
  • you need a mortgage of up to 75% for the rest (up to 55% in London)

You must buy your home from a registered Help to Buy builder – your agent should have a list.
There are different rules for equity loans in Wales.


For a £200,000 property Amount Percentage
Cash deposit £10,000 5%
Equity loan £40,000 (£80,000 in London) 20% (40% in London)
Mortgage £150,000 (£110,000 in London) 75% (55% in London)

Equity loan fees

You’ll have to pay equity loan fees, but not for the first 5 years.
In the sixth year, you’ll be charged a fee of 1.75% of the loan’s value. The fee then increases every year, according to the Retail Prices Index plus 1%.
Your Help to Buy agent will contact you to set up these monthly fee payments. You’ll also get a statement about your loan each year.
Fees don’t count towards paying back the loan.
Paying back the loan
You must pay back the loan after 25 years or when you sell your home – whichever comes first. The amount you pay back depends on how much your home is worth (the market value).


Market value of your home Equity loan Amount
Bought for £200,000 20% Borrowed £40,000
Sold for £250,000 20% Pay back £50,000

You can pay back part or all of your loan at any time. The smallest repayment you can make is 10% of the market value of your home.


Market value of your home Percentage Amount
Bought for £200,000 Borrowed 20% £40,000
Value at time of payment £220,000 Paying back 10% £22,000

How to apply

Apply through the:

3. Help to Buy mortgage guarantee

A mortgage guarantee lets you buy a home with a 5% deposit.
The guarantee is to the mortgage provider not to you as a buyer. The provider will check that you’ll be able to make repayments.
The home you buy must:

  • have a purchase price of £600,000 or less
  • be the only home you own
  • not be rented out after you buy it
  • not be bought through shared ownership, shared equity or any other publicly funded mortgage scheme
  • be bought with a repayment (rather than an interest-only) mortgage

4. Help to Buy ISA

If you’re saving to buy your first home, the government will top up your savings by 25% (up to £3,000). If you’re buying with someone else, they can also get a Help to Buy ISA.
You don’t have to pay it back.
The home you buy must:

  • have a purchase price of up to £250,000 (or up to £450,000 in London)
  • be the only home you own
  • be where you intend to live

You can use the scheme with a mortgage guarantee and an equity loan.

How it works

Your first payment to your ISA can be up to £1,200 and then you can pay up to £200 each month. When you buy your property, your solicitor or conveyancer will apply for the extra 25%.


Your savings Government payment Total
£1,600 (minimum) £400 £2,000
£4,000 £1,000 £5,000
£12,000 (maximum) £3,000 £15,000

5. Buying through shared ownership

You can get a shared ownership home through a housing association. You buy a share of your home (between 25% and 75%) and pay rent on the rest.
There are different rules in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Contact your local authority to find out about buying a shared ownership home in Wales.
You can buy a home through shared ownership if your household earns £80,000 a year or less (or £90,000 a year or less in London) and any of the following apply:

  • you’re a first-time buyer
  • you used to own a home, but can’t afford to buy one now
  • you’re an existing shared owner

How it works

Shared ownership properties are always leasehold.

Older people
If you’re aged 55 or over you can buy up to 75% of your home through the Older People’s Shared Ownership (OPSO) scheme. Once you own 75% you won’t pay rent on the rest.

Disabled people
You can apply for a scheme called home ownership for people with a long-term disability (HOLD) if other Help to Buy scheme properties don’t meet your needs, eg you need a ground-floor property. With this scheme you can buy up to 25% of your home.
If you’re disabled you can also apply for the general shared ownership scheme and own up to 75% of your home.
Buying more shares
You can buy more of your home after you become the owner. This is known as ‘staircasing’.
The cost of your new share will depend on how much your home is worth when you want to buy the share.
It will cost:

  • more than your first share if property prices in your area have gone up
  • less than your first share if property prices in your area have gone down

The housing association will get your property valued and let you know the cost of your new share. You’ll have to pay the valuer’s fee.
Selling your home

If you own a share of your home, the housing association has the right to buy it first. This is known as ‘first refusal’. The housing association also has the right to find a buyer for your home.

If you own 100% of your home, you can sell it yourself.

How to apply

To buy a home through a shared ownership scheme contact the Help to Buy agent in the area where you want to live.
Last updated: 18 August 2016