1. Governance
June 3, 2015

Even the people in the government's Help To Buy case studies need family money to buy houses

By Jonn Elledge

Oh, hey, so this is funny, but which I do of course mean “so depressing I want to gouge my own eyes out”.

Britain’s ever caring government offers a scheme called “Help To Buy”, under which the government will loan house buyers some of the money they need to get a deposit together. It’s a response to the way that, as house prices have climbed ever further into the stratosphere, the deposit you need to buy a home has grown increasingly ludicrous too. (The average deposit, fact fans, has risen from just over £2,000 in 1980 to £30,000 in 2014.)

To combat that, under Help To Buy, the government will lend you up to 20 per cent of the price of a home; all you need to find is the last 5 per cent. The policy is meant, in other words, to level the playing field between those buyers who have rich and generous relatives, and those who are not so blessed.

Anyway, this morning, the website which publicises the Help To Buy scheme posted the story of a pair of “primary school teachers Matthew Walker and Alice Clark, both 24”, who’ve used the scheme to buy their first home near Doncaster. Here’s the bit that has us clawing our own eyes out.

They used a 20 per cent equity loan under the Help to Buy scheme along with a deposit from their own savings and inheritance, and arranged a five-year fixed rate mortgage with Santander through London & Country Mortgages, their independent mortgage adviser.

“This is a house we’ll be able to grow into,” says Matthew. “We were fortunate with the deposit in that I’d inherited some money from both sets of grandparents, but Help to Buy has made it possible to buy a home that is more spacious than we thought we’d be able to afford.”

Emphasis ours.

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Far be it from us to harsh Matthew and Alice’s buzz on this happy occasion. They seem like good people – best of luck to them.

But if even the people that the government has chosen to highlight, to show how much it’s on the side of first time buyers, could only buy with the help of inheritance, then doesn’t that suggest that something has gone a tiny bit wrong with the housing market in this country?

Incidentally, the Help To Buy scheme was this morning extended until 2020. Which is great as it’s going to solve all our problems and definitely isn’t just going to inflate the housing bubble yet further. Noooo.

Source: Twitter.

UPDATE: Here’s the response from the Department for Communites & Local Government.

“Anyone who wants to follow in the footsteps of the 100,000 people who have already bought a home through Help to Buy needs just a five per cent deposit – a fraction of the deposit that an aspiring homeowner would otherwise need.

“Help to Buy is one of a number of measures the Government is taking to help hard-working people who want to own their own home do so.”

So, there you go.

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