Is it true that the Government is scrapping the Help to Buy Scheme
A. Well partly, yes. Last month, the Chancellor Philip Hammond did indeed announce that the mortgage guarantee element of Help to Buy - one of the flagship housing policies introduced under David Cameron - is to come to an end on December 31st.
So, what significance does this move have? Does it signal the abandonment of the Government's efforts to support the housing market, particularly by helping first time buyers?
Personally, I don't think so. Of course, some commentators have been quick to jump on the announcement and call it a U-turn, but the simple truth is that this part of Help to Buy was never scheduled to continue past the end of 2016. In any case, the other elements of the scheme - namely the Help to Buy equity loan scheme and the special ISA - will continue to operate. Admittedly, the former can only be used on new-build properties, but at least that means that it is linked to a certain extent with the supply side of the property market, while the ISA scheme effectively gifts additional money to people who have saved a deposit.
Besides which, the £12bn guarantee scheme has actually been very successful in what it set out to do. Launched in January 2014, and available to buyers of both new and secondhand properties, it was basically designed to give lenders the confidence to offer 95% mortgages by reassuring them that if they had to re-possess a property, they wouldn't lose out. Not only has it directly helped some 86,000 households over the last 2½ years, according to the Chancellor, but - arguably even more importantly - it has also led many high street lenders to include higher loan-to-value products in their offerings. Today, quite a few are once again prepared to offer 95% mortgages for the first time since 2008.
With this in mind, I think it's fair to say that the withdrawal of the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme may not have a dramatic impact on the market at all.
But of course, if you're not convinced, it's still not too late to take advantage of the scheme. You just need to get your skates on a bit!
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