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The Innes & Mackay Little Guide to Buying your first home

5The property market for a First Time Buyer can be daunting but help is available. Here are some of the options/incentives available to you when buying a property for the first time 

LIFT — Low Cost Initiative for First Time Buyers

This enables a first time buyer to purchase a home with the assistance of an interest-free loan from the Scottish Government and by putting down only a small deposit. The loan available is based as a percentage of the market value of the property.

There are two options available under the LIFT scheme both of which are a good stepping-stone onto the property market.

  1. The Open Market Shared Equity Scheme

This option allows you to purchase a home that is on the open market. However, there are certain price restrictions and conditions, all based on your individual circumstances.

  1. The New Supply Shared Equity Scheme

This option allows a new home to be purchased which has been built by either a Local Authority or Housing Association. In this scheme the Government has the option to buy the property back from you if you wish to sell which allows them to retain newly built housing stock for other first time buyers

Full details of the LIFT scheme can be found on the Scottish Government’s website.

Help to Buy

This is a popular choice for the first time buyer who wishes to purchase a new-build property. The Scottish Government can provide up to 15% of the purchase price, with the purchaser putting down only a 5% deposit. Your mortgage is based on 85% of the purchase price, thereby reducing your monthly payments to a more affordable level. Your mortgage must be based on repayment of both capital and interest. An interest only mortgage is not acceptable. Only certain builders and mortgage lenders support this scheme and Help to Buy funding can only be applied to newly built properties.

Help to Buy lSA

This is a UK Government backed savings scheme specifically for first time buyers. A Help to Buy ISA allows you to save up to £200 per month. Once you have saved £1,600 you are entitled to a 25% top-up bonus from the UK Government. The maximum bonus you can earn is £3,000 on savings of £12,000 or more.

Your Solicitor must apply to the UK Government for the top-up bonus and will require a copy of your Help to Buy ISA Closing Statement, along with a First Time Buyers Declaration. This declaration is signed by you before payment of the top-up bonus. The top-up bonus from the Government can only be applied towards the purchase price of the property and is paid directly to your Solicitor. Only certain banks have committed to take part in the scheme but it is worth asking your bank for more details.

Land and Building Transaction Tax (LBTT):- First Time Buyers Relief:

This used to be known as Stamp Duty and is the amount of tax you pay based on the price of the house you are buying. The amount you pay is based on the value of the property you are purchasing. This tax is paid to Revenue Scotland by your Solicitor on your behalf upon completion of your house purchase.

In 2018/19 the Scottish Government announced a new relief for first time buyers. There is now no tax due on residential properties up to a value of £175,000. Currently around 80% of all first time buyers in Scotland pay no tax at all.

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