A third of first-time buyers don’t understand Help to Buy scheme

Confusion about the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme  is still widespread, two months after its launch, says a new report

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The Independent Online

Figures from Rightmove show that of first-time buyers who say that they understand phase two, actually nearly a quarter wrongly believe it is only for new build properties and around a fifth do not realise it is available for homes up to the value of £600,000. Around a third think it is simply an extension of phase one of Help to Buy, the equity loan scheme.

The effect of Help to Buy is reflected in increased traffic to Rightmove's web site since the phase two announcement, with visitor figures up 30 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Earlier today, Halifax reported that house prices in the last three months had risen 2.1 per cent over the preceding three and 7.7 per cent higher than the same period last year.

Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis,  said: "Stronger demand, combined with an insufficient increase in housing supply, has resulted in increases in house prices accompanying higher activity this year. Low interest rates, improvements in consumer confidence and official schemes, such as Funding for Lending and Help to Buy, all appear to have boosted demand."

The Rightmove study among over 40,000 people suggests ore than one in five people are either looking to buy because of the scheme or bringing forward their plans to buy. Another 31 per cent say they are ‘waiting to see what happens’ before buying or selling. 

Miles Shipside, director and housing market analyst at Rightmove, said: "Although it’s still too early to judge the impact of the scheme, we anticipate that more first-time buyers getting onto the bottom rung of the housing ladder could have knock-on effects further up, helping more people to trade up and downsize.  Many have postponed their move over the last few years as either limited equity or lack of confidence has left them unable or unwilling to. This scheme has the potential to offer hope and confidence to many of these homeowners enabling them to come to market and free up some much-needed supply.

“But there’s clearly a lot more that still needs to be done to make sure the maximum number of people who could benefit directly from the scheme or its knock on effects, can do so.  A significant proportion of people say they are waiting to see what happens – but if they better understood how the wider benefits of the scheme could help them trade up or downsize it might open up more supply and lead to a healthier and more sustainable housing market."