Help to Buy explained Help to Buy (Scotland)

Help to Buy Scotland

Help to Buy (Scotland) offers equity loans of up to 15% on new-build homes

Help to Buy (Scotland) allows first-time buyers and home movers to buy new-build homes with deposits of just 5%. Find out how the scheme works with our expert guide.

The new version of the Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme, launched in March 2016, aims to help 7,500 home buyers over its three-year lifespan.

How does Help to Buy (Scotland) work?

The Help to Buy (Scotland): Affordable Home Ownership Scheme, to give it its full name, offers interest-free equity loans of up to 15% of the value of a new-build home.

To use Help to Buy (Scotland), you'll need a deposit of at least 5%, and your combined mortgage and deposit will need to cover at least 85% of the total price of your desired property. 

If you have a much larger deposit you might not be eligible, as the mortgage you take out must make up at least 25% of the total purchase price.

  • Mortgages for Help to Buy (Scotland) are only available from a few lenders. For independent, unbiased advice on getting a mortgage with this scheme, and guidance on the lenders who will be able to help, call Which? Mortgage Adviserson 0808 252 7987 for a free consultation.

What kind of home can I buy using Help to Buy (Scotland)?

You can only use this scheme to buy a new-build home.

Unlike the previous version of Help to Buy (Scotland), the maximum value of the property you can buy changes each financial year, and if your application straddles two years, the limit applies to the date the transaction is completed, not the date the home is reserved. The limits are as follows:

  • Before 31 March 2017: £230,000
  • Before 31 March 2018: £200,000
  • Before 31 March 2019: £175,000

A home bought using Help to Buy (Scotland) must be used as your main residence, so if you're looking for a buy-to-let investment this scheme won't be right for you.

How do I apply for Help to Buy (Scotland)?

To buy a home using Help to Buy (Scotland), you'll need to follow these steps:

  1. Get an accurate understanding of how much you can afford, ideally by talking to a mortgage adviser.
  2. Contact a participating house builder and view a show home.
  3. Speak to an independent financial adviser, who will put you in touch with one of the agents that administers the scheme.
  4. Request a Help to Buy (Scotland) application form from the agent.
  5. Reserve a property and obtain a reservation agreement.
  6. Submit the application form to the agent and await a decision.

Find out more: new-build homes - expert advice on buying a brand-new property

When will I need to pay back my Help to Buy (Scotland) equity loan?

There's no set deadline, but while you're paying it off you will be limited in what you can do with your property.

There are strict rules about improving or extending homes bought using Help to Buy (Scotland), so if you wish to carry out any work you'll need to receive written permission. 

As the scheme is designed to help home buyers get onto (or progress up) the ladder, the government is generally reluctant to allow changes that will increase the value of the property, so there's a good chance your request will be denied.  

Can I increase my share?

You can increase your share of the home by buying up 'chunks' of the government's stake. This process is often referred to as 'tranching up'.

You can buy a minimum of 5% in any one year, but bear in mind you'll be buying the 'chunk' of equity at market rate - so you'll need to get a valuation done before purchasing.

Are there any alternatives to Help to Buy (Scotland)?

Another government scheme called the Open Market Shared Equity Scheme (OMSE) has been created to help up to 2,000 first-time buyers on low or moderate incomes.

The scheme allows first-time buyers to purchase a stake of between 60% and 90% of a property for sale on the open market with a modest deposit. Priority is usually given to social renters, members of the armed forces and disabled people.

Alternatively, the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee is available across the UK.

More on this...

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

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