The Hard Graft of Saving
As the plan is really a monthly saving scheme, that’s a total of 55 months or 4 and a half years of solid saving…. In the meantime, property prices are probably rising, at least in-line with inflation. Oh… just remind me how long is the typical Government lifetime? How time flies.. and policies change.
The Housing Problem
Another clause being that Government hand out only applies if the purchase price is up to £250,000 or £450,000 in London…. In which case for Londoners, clearly this would be just over a 3% deposit, so you will need other resources. The property must be in the UK (do not ask me what that would mean should either Scotland or Wales leave the UK). Naturally the plan cannot be used to purchase a second property, so if Mum and Dad have put your name of the deeds somewhere else… well, it’s not for you.
Meanwhile, as the Help to Buy ISA is really a Cash ISA, the savings earn interest, which today is about nothing. OK you can get some better deals, but not much better.
Snakes and Property Ladders
The Plan cannot be used for anything other than a deposit, not stamp duty, fees etc. It cannot form part of the deposit provided at Exchange of Contracts either…. which is quite daft! It must also be closed before you buy, which means obtaining a statement from the Bank to confirm that the account is closed (which may be easy in theory but hard in the stressful throws of purchasing a first home.. whilst the pressures mount from those higher in the chain.. It’s actually the conveyancing solicitor that claims the Government hand out for you between the Exchange and Completion… (I’m guessing a fee would apply to claim it)… what could possibly go wrong? (property falling through perhaps?).
Still, there’s no place like home….
So is it worth it? Launched nearly a year ago (December 2015) over 22,000 people have used the proceeds to buy a property, which presumably means that they had at the very most 10 months of £200 and £1000 initial deposit (£2000 in all) so a £500 help to buy. OK, ok… better than nothing, but is this really solving the housing crisis or simply providing a bit more cash to meet the inflated property prices? I think you can probably guess what I think.
However, this is money for nothing (well, there are some strings). In practice, perhaps try to use the account, fill it up to the maximum then forget about it in the hope that the offer remains valid for years to come. It does form part of your annual ISA allowance, but in practice only £2400 for most people, meaning that there is still a lot of ISA allowance left. If you move abroad or never end up buying a home, then you can easily get your money back, it simply will not be worth much more than you put in, due to poor rates of interest. Much like the Wizard of Oz, there are no magical solutions to resolve the housing crisis but if you make the effort and reflect on your own resourcefulness, its amazing what can be achieved… and you will have a bit more cash to play around with.
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