The UK’s housing market attracts a lot of attention and something that’s continued to dominate that conversation is how historically high house prices are a huge barrier against first-time buyers getting onto the property ladder.
At the time of writing this, the average UK house price was £290,000 in January 2023, which is £17,000 higher than 12 months ago. Fortunately, the rate at which first-time buyers are eligible for on Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) relief has recently risen, from the previous £300,000 threshold to £425,000 as outlined below.
If you’re buying your first home
You can claim a discount (relief) if the property you buy is your first home. This means you’ll pay:
- no SDLT up to £425,000
- 5% SDLT on the portion from £425,001 to £625,000
You’re eligible if you and everyone else you’re buying with are first-time buyers.
Despite this tax saving, first-time buyers are still hard against it saving for a deposit at the current average house price. However, a fairly recent scheme ‘Deposit Unlock’ could be a way of helping those struggling for a deposit get onto the housing ladder.
What is Deposit Unlock?
A collaboration between lenders and the home building industry, Deposit Unlock is a scheme that enables first-time buyers as well as existing homeowners to buy a new build home with just a 5% deposit.
It is available on a wide range of UK new build properties up to £833,250* and is the low deposit mortgage solution designed to give more people the opportunity to buy their own home. Deposit Unlock works by offering participating mortgage lenders protection on mortgage products so they can lend to consumers at 95%.
The scheme was launched in response to the ending of the Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme in England, which closed to new applicants in Oct 2022 and those who applied must have the keys to their property by the 31st of May 2023.
What are the benefits of Deposit Unlock?
Similar to the government’s 95% mortgage guarantee scheme, Deposit Unlock breaks down the barrier and makes owning a home more affordable. The benefits include:
- You only need a 5% deposit and a normal 95% mortgage.
- Available to both first-time buyers and home movers.
- You benefit from an insurance-backed guarantee, allowing you to access competitive mortgage rates.
- New build properties are built to the latest building regulation meaning they’re often more energy efficient than older properties, saving you money on your energy bills.
- Available on new-build properties up to the price of £833,250* with no regional price cap restrictions.
- You own 100% of the property.
- Available with UK’s leading house builders.
- The scheme is available now.
Which home builders are signed up to Deposit Unlock?
At the time of writing this, the Deposit Unlock scheme is available through one of the following participating home builders:
- Ashberry Homes
- Barratt Homes
- Barratt London
- Bellway London
- Bewley Homes
- Bloor Homes
- Bovis Homes
- City & Country
- Countryside Properties
- Crest Nicholson
- Croudace Group
- Davidsons Homes
- David Wilson Homes
- Devine Homes
- Edenstone Homes
- Fairview Homes
- Hayfield Homes
- Ilke Homes
- Keepmoat Homes
- Linden Homes
- Mandale Homes
- Miller Homes
- Morris Homes
- Nicholas King Homes
- Norfolk Homes
- Pat Munro Homes
- Prospect Homes
- St Modwen Homes
- Taylor Wimpey
Deposit Unlock Mortgage Lenders
Currently, Deposit Unlock is available with participating bank lenders:
- Nationwide Building Society
- Accord Mortgages
- Newcastle Building Society.**
However, they’re only available through a broker – therefore, it’s worth seeking independent financial advice at the beginning of your journey to find out if the scheme is best for you and your circumstances.
What are the disadvantages of the scheme?
While the scheme intends to make homeownership more affordable for as many people as possible it isn’t without its drawbacks.
- Of the 50 house builders that are currently signed up to the scheme, which is a significant percentage of UK home builders, it’s not clear if they will offer the scheme on all their sites or if it’ll be limited to certain developments/properties
- There are only three mortgage lenders to choose from, each with its own lending criteria, meaning you may or may not meet their requirements. Furthermore, 95% mortgages aren’t as few and far between as they used to be, meaning you could still be eligible for a 95% mortgage that’s not just limited to new build homes but older properties too.
- New-build homes don’t tend to retain their value as well as older properties do, therefore if you’re considering the scheme you will want to think about living in the property for a long time rather than short-term.
- Could you save for longer to increase your deposit or could a family member top up your funds? It may be tempting to snap up the offer of getting onto the property ladder with the Deposit Unlock scheme but as we’ve mentioned it can restrict your options. Having a bigger deposit could widen the net across both new build and older properties and could mean you borrow less, reducing your monthly mortgage payments.
In conclusion, the Deposit Unlock scheme could be a helpful option for those who are struggling to save for a deposit on their own. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are only a limited number of mortgage lenders that offer this scheme, and there may be specific eligibility criteria that applicants need to meet. It’s always advisable to seek professional advice before deciding to use this scheme or any other mortgage option.
Finally, don’t forget that you’ll still need to pay for a licensed conveyancer to manage the legal aspect of buying the property, and sales of your home if you’re an existing homeowner. Plus you’ll need to consider any costs to cover SDLT if your property exceeds the £425,000 threshold, as well as any additional moving costs associated with buying a property.
If you’re looking to move home and you are looking for a professional licensed conveyancer to manage your property move – get a free instant conveyancing quote from Enact conveyancing today.
*Subject to lenders’ participation on selected homes and developments. Rates and maximum purchase price vary via lender, based on Nationwide Building Society’s current guidelines from November 2021
**Correct as of 8 November 2022.