Frequently Asked Questions

If you do not see your question here, please call us on 0800 456 11 88 or email your question to info@helptobuysouth.co.uk.

What is a Help to Buy Agent?

Help to Buy Agents are housing associations appointed by the Homes and Communities Agency as a one stop shop and point of contact for people looking for an affordable home to buy or rent in their area. Help to Buy South is the Help to Buy Agent for Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Bristol, Bath & NE Somerset, North Somerset and Mendip.

If you want to live outside any of these areas, you can register with the Help to Buy Agent for the area you are looking for. Details can be found at www.helptobuy.gov.uk

 

What happens after I have registered?

Shared Ownership and Rent to Buy:

Once your application has been approved by Help to Buy South you are then registered for the Help to Buy Shared Ownership and Rent to Buy schemes. You will be able to start looking for and applying for properties available through housing associations and developers.

For further information, please read the What Happens Next Guide.

Help to Buy Equity Loan:

If you are interested in the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme, you do not need to register with Help to Buy South. For more information, please click here for the Help to Buy - Equity Loan process and the properties currently available

 

How do I get notified of properties?

Shared Ownership and Rent to Buy:

Once you have registered an interest in a property, the developer or Housing Association will be able to contact you directly with full details and an invitation to view the property (subject to your eligibility and prioritisation). You can contact the developer or Housing Association directly if you require further information on a property you have expressed an interest in.

Help to Buy Equity Loan:

The Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme doesn't require you to register with Help to Buy South and therefore you will not be notified about properties for this scheme. All you need to do is find a property from a registered developer and complete a Property Information Form and Reservation Form to proceed. For more information on the process, please click here

 

Who has priority for Help to Buy Shared Ownership/Rent to Buy properties?

Priority will be given to:

  • Serving Military personnel (or former members of the British Armed Forces that have been honourably discharged in the last two years, or bereaved partners of service personnel killed in action who apply within two years of bereavement) then:
  • First come, first serve (subject to a financial assessment)

It is important to note that applicants are not prioritised whilst on the Help to Buy South database. Once you have put your name forward for a specific property the housing association/developer will prioritise eligible applicants as above.

For more information on the priorities, please click here

 

What if I am an existing home owner or have owned a property before?

If you have previously owned a home, your application will be based on your current housing situation. However if you have any equity from the proceeds of the sale, these will be taken into account in your application.

Shared Ownership and Intermediate Rent:

If you already own your own home, including overseas and existing Shared Owners, you are generally not eligible for assistance through one of the government funded schemes.  However, if you need to purchase a larger home and are unable to because of financial constraints then you may be eligible.  In this instance you will need to demonstrate that you are in housing need and have the support of your local authority or have sold your home prior to applying.

Help to Buy Equity Loan:

The property purchased must be your only residence. Help to Buy is not available to assist buy-to-let investors or those who will own any property other than their Help to Buy property after completing their purchase. If you are a current home owner, you will need to have a sale in place before you can reserve on the Help to Buy scheme. 

 

What size property can I buy or rent? 

Shared Ownership and Intermediate Rent:

There are no restrictions on the number of bedrooms applicants can apply for, however some Housing Associations may allocate based on housing need.

Help to Buy Equity Loan:

The Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme doesn't have a restriction on the size of the property you can purchase. The property must be below £600,000 and the mortgage can not exceed 4.5 times your income.

 

Will the properties be Freehold or Leasehold?

Shared Ownership:

All Shared Ownership properties are sold on a Leasehold basis.

Help to Buy Equity Loan:

The majority of houses will be Freehold and the majority or flats will be Leasehold, however we advise that all applicants will need to check this with their solicitor or conveyancer

 

Can I use housing benefit?

You are unable to use housing benefit to purchase or rent a Help to Buy property. However Universal Credit will replace some of the benefits and tax credits that you may already be receiving, one of these being Housing Benefit. If you are eligible for Universal Credit, this is paid monthly and may include a housing element, with a payment towards your housing costs eg support for mortgage interest. You would be responsible for paying this direct to your landlord if you are renting, or the money would be paid direct to your mortgage lender if you own a property. How much Universal Credit you will get will depend on your circumstances when you claim. For more information and how to apply for Universal Credit, please visit www.gov.uk/universal-credit

 

What if I am self employed?

If you are self employed you need to be able to demonstrate that you can afford to maintain the costs of home ownership in the long term. You will usually need to provide two years past accounts and one year's projected earnings and it is important that you obtain independent financial advice.

 

Can I buy additional shares?

Shared Ownership:

If you buy a shared ownership property you can increase your ownership at a later stage and own the property outright if you wish to. This is called staircasing and many people who buy affordable homes staircase to become full owners.

Help to Buy Equity Loan:

If you purchase under the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme you can redeem part or all of your 20% loan at a later stage. The Equity Loan must be redeemed in full before or at the point your mortgage ends or after 25 years whichever is soonest.

 

What happens if I want to sell my home?

Shared Ownership:

You can get advice about selling your property from the Housing Association that dealt with the original purchase or by contacting Help to Buy South for advice. For more details please click here.

Help to Buy Equity Loan:

You can get advice about selling and redeeming your equity loan from the Mortgage Administrator, Target on 0345 848 0235 or visit www.myfirsthome.org.uk

 

Can I sublet my home or buy to let

Shared Ownership:

No, you must live in the home that you purchased or rent. In exceptional circumstances e.g. if you are a serving member of the Armed Forces away on a tour of duty then subletting may be considered but written permission from your housing association would need to be obtained.

Help to Buy Equity Loan:

Help to Buy is designed to assist you to move on to or up the housing ladder. If you wish to sublet, you will first have to repay the Help to Buy equity loan assistance. In exceptional circumstances (e.g. a serving member of the Armed Forces staff whose tour of duty requires them to serve away from the area in which they live for A fixed period, then sub-letting can be considered. In these circumstances you would also require approval from your mortgage lender)

Applications to sublet must be made to the Mortgage Administrator Target and, if it meets the above criteria, subletting will be approved. You can reach them by calling 0345 848 0235 or visit www.myfirsthome.org.uk