Help to Buy completions totalled 10,160 in the first quarter of 2018, according to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government. This is below the record quarterly figure of 13,993 seen in Q4 but above the 8,212 completions recorded in Q1 2017. Since the launch of the Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme in 2013, 169,102 properties have been bought with an equity loan. Most of the home purchases in the scheme were made by first-time buyers, accounting for 136,657, or 81%, of total purchases.
Whilst the scheme certainly eases the issues with affordability and a raising a large deposit, over recent years we have seen mortgage lenders improving their core new build offering, providing further choice and reducing the dependency on the scheme for many borrowers.
It’s no secret that we need to build over 300,000 new homes a year to keep up with demand; and the Government will need to find a range of solutions in order to help meet this target. Whether it’s guaranteeing the scheme post-2021, increasing support for other affordable schemes such as Shared Ownership, or relaxing planning restrictions, we need new supply entering the market - stimulating growth and allowing it to better serve those who need it most.
It is great to see the development of schemes designed to assist consumers who would otherwise struggle to access the property ladder. The market contains pockets of borrowers like first-time buyers, who require extra support to reach their homeownership aspirations, particularly as the cost of living becomes ever more expensive. As an industry it is essential that we ensure that provisions are in place to cater to a wide range of needs.
Specialist lenders play an important role in this, helping the pool of customers struggling to secure funding after being deemed too ‘high risk’ by mainstream lenders. Many of these, such as the self-employed, can demonstrate affordability but are unable to fit traditional criteria because of factors such as unpredictable income streams. By assessing individual circumstances on a case by case basis, these lenders can deliver the best suited products to those who need them most.