Government data highlights popularity of Help to Buy ISA as it prepares to close

More than a quarter of a million property purchases have been supported using the  Help to Buy ISA scheme which closes tomorrow.

Official figures show the tax-free savings product, which lets first-time buyers save to purchase a property and pays a 25% government bonus, has been used for 256,564 transactions between its launch in December 2015 up to the end of June 2019.

The typical age of a first-time buyer in the scheme is 28 compared to a national first-time buyer age of 30.

The product, which doesn’t have to be used for a Help to Buy property, closes to new users tomorrow.

Shaun Church, director at mortgage broker Private Finance, said: “The Help to Buy ISA scheme has already enabled 250,000 property completions, making it more popular than the equity loan scheme which has been used to purchase just over 230,000 properties despite launching more than two years earlier.

“With the average age of a first-time buyer using the ISA scheme two years younger than the national average, it is clearly helping buyers jump on to the property ladder faster than they otherwise would.”

Meanwhile, the number of property purchases using the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme is approaching a quarter of a million and there are predictions of a rush before the housing initiative is reformed in 2021.

A new Help to Buy scheme will run from March 2021 that will restrict support to first-time buyers and be based on regional price caps.

The latest government data shows there have been 236,313 new-builds purchased using the Help to Buy scheme between its launch in April 2013 up to the end of June 2019.

First-time buyers made up 81% of buyers.

There were 14,869 completions in the second quarter of 2019, up 42.8% on a quarterly basis but down 1.1% annually.

Commenting on the data, Andrew Southern, chairman of property developer Southern Grove, said: “Almost a quarter of a million homes have now been purchased since Help to Buy was launched six years ago.

“The feeding frenzy at the Help to Buy table shows no signs of slowing down, with the value of properties bought using the scheme bounding over the £60bn milestone in the second quarter of 2019.

“However, looming large over the frenetic activity is the March 2021 cut-off, when the scheme is replaced with one which will only be available to first-time buyers and will set regional property price caps.

“This deadline is likely to inject even more urgency into the market.”

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