Help Buying A New Build Home

Navigating the property market can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to purchasing a new build home. Fortunately, there are various schemes are available to assist buyers, particularly first-time homeowners. In this article, we’ll explore three key schemes: Shared Ownership, Deposit Unlock, and the First Homes Scheme, providing insights into their benefits, eligibility criteria, and how they operate.

Rear garden of brand new modern three storey brick built home constructed in traditional style on housing development in Suffolk, England

Shared Ownership

What is Shared Ownership?

Shared Ownership is an innovative scheme in the UK designed to assist individuals who find it challenging to purchase a home outright. It’s a part-buy, part-rent system, offering a practical pathway to homeownership, particularly for first-time buyers and those with limited financial resources.

Key Features

  • Part-Buy, Part-Rent: You buy a share of your home (typically between 25% and 75%) and pay rent on the remaining share. This share is usually owned by a housing association.
  • Lower Deposit: Because you’re only buying a portion of the home, the deposit required is correspondingly lower than if you were purchasing the entire property.
  • Staircasing: This unique feature allows you to increase your share of the property over time. You can buy additional shares in your home whenever you can afford to, potentially leading to full ownership.


  • Affordability: The scheme makes it easier to get onto the property ladder, as the combined monthly mortgage and rent payments can often be cheaper than buying outright or renting a similar property.
  • Flexibility: You can choose to buy a larger share of the home when you can afford it, giving you flexibility and control over your investment.
  • Quality Properties: Shared Ownership properties are usually new build or recently built, ensuring a high standard of living.

How it Works

  • Choosing a Property: Shared Ownership properties are offered by housing associations. You can choose from a range of new build or resale homes.
  • Assessing Affordability: Before you can buy a Shared Ownership home, the housing association will check you can afford the regular payments.
  • Buying More Shares: Over time, you can buy more of your home – a process known as staircasing. As you buy more shares, you’ll pay less rent.


  • Income Requirements: Your household earns £80,000 a year or less (£90,000 a year or less in London).
  • First-Time Buyers or Previous Homeowners: Ideal for those who are either first-time buyers or used to own a home but can’t afford one now.
  • Current Shared Owners: If you’re already a shared owner, you can apply to buy a different home under the scheme.

Drawbacks of Shared Ownership

While Shared Ownership offers several advantages, it’s important to consider its potential drawbacks before deciding if it’s the right choice for you.

Limited Resale Market

  • Resale Restrictions: When you want to sell your share, the housing association usually has the right to find a buyer before you can put it on the open market, potentially limiting your pool of buyers.
  • Valuation Changes: The value of your share can go up or down depending on the property market. This means you could end up selling for less than you paid if property values fall.

Additional Costs

  • Service Charges: You’ll typically have to pay service charges for maintenance and communal areas, regardless of the share size you own. These charges can be significant and may increase over time.
  • Staircasing Costs: Buying additional shares in your home involves costs such as valuation fees, legal fees, and possibly stamp duty, which can add up.

Limited Control

  • Alteration Restrictions: Making significant changes or improvements to the property often requires permission from the housing association, which may not always be granted.
  • Leasehold Status: Most Shared Ownership properties are leasehold, meaning you own the property for a fixed term and not the land it stands on. This can come with certain restrictions and responsibilities.

Financial Implications

  • Rent Increases: The rent on the portion you don’t own can increase, subject to the terms of your lease.
  • Mortgage Considerations: Not all lenders offer mortgages for Shared Ownership, which can limit your financing options. Also, if you struggle to pay your mortgage and rent, you risk losing your home.

Complex Process

  • Complexity in Buying and Selling: The process of buying a Shared Ownership home, particularly the staircasing aspect, can be more complex than a standard property purchase. Similarly, selling your share involves additional steps and restrictions.

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Shared Ownership

Shared Ownership stands out as a viable option for many aspiring homeowners, particularly those facing financial constraints or looking for a flexible path to owning a home. Its appeal lies in the lower initial deposit, the ability to purchase additional shares over time, and accessibility for a range of buyers, including first-time homeowners and those who previously owned a home.

However, the scheme is not without its complexities and potential drawbacks. The restrictions on selling, additional costs like service charges and staircasing fees, limited control over property modifications, and the implications of leasehold status are factors that require careful consideration. The potential for rent increases and the complexities involved in buying and selling a Shared Ownership property add layers of consideration that cannot be overlooked.

In essence, Shared Ownership is a scheme that offers a unique blend of affordability and flexibility, making it an attractive choice for many. Yet, like any significant financial commitment, it demands a thorough understanding of both its benefits and limitations. Prospective buyers should evaluate their long-term financial plans, lifestyle needs, and the specific terms of the Shared Ownership scheme to determine if it aligns with their homeownership goals. Seeking professional financial and legal advice is also a prudent step in navigating this process and making an informed decision.

Deposit Unlock

Deposit Unlock is a fairly new scheme designed to help homebuyers in the UK, particularly those purchasing new build homes, with a more accessible route to securing a mortgage. This scheme is especially beneficial for those who can afford the ongoing monthly mortgage payments but struggle with accumulating a large deposit typically required for buying a new build property.

Key Features

  • Lower Deposit Requirement: One of the main attractions of the Deposit Unlock scheme is its low deposit requirement, often as low as 5% of the purchase price. This significantly lowers the barrier to entry for buying a new home.
  • Backed by Industry and Lenders: The scheme is a collaboration between homebuilders and mortgage lenders, providing a safety net and confidence in the mortgage process for both parties.
  • New Build Focus: Deposit Unlock is specifically tailored for new build homes, making it an ideal option for those looking to purchase a brand-new property.


  • Accessibility: The scheme opens up homeownership to a broader range of buyers, especially first-time buyers and those without substantial savings.
  • Flexibility: It offers more flexibility in choosing a mortgage product, as several lenders support this scheme.
  • Supporting Housing Market: By making new build homes more accessible, Deposit Unlock also supports the construction industry and broader housing market.

Applicant Criteria

  • First-Time and Existing Homeowners: The scheme is open not just to first-time buyers but also to existing homeowners who are looking to move.
  • Financial Viability: Applicants must still pass the usual mortgage affordability checks to ensure they can comfortably meet the monthly repayments.

Potential Drawbacks

  • Property Type Limitation: The scheme is exclusive to new build homes, which may not suit all buyers’ preferences or needs.
  • Mortgage Terms: As with any mortgage, the terms, including interest rates and duration, will vary depending on the lender and the buyer’s financial situation.
  • Market Risks: Like any property purchase, there’s a risk that the home’s value could decrease, affecting the buyer’s investment.

Deposit Unlock represents a significant step forward in making homeownership more attainable for a wider populace. Its lower deposit requirement, combined with the backing of the construction industry and mortgage lenders, provides a much-needed boost, especially for first-time buyers and those struggling with high upfront costs. As with any major financial decision, potential buyers should consider the scheme’s specifics, including their eligibility, the terms of the mortgage, and the long-term implications on their finances, to make an informed decision about whether it aligns with their homeownership goals. If in doubt seek professional financial advice.

First Homes Scheme

The First Homes Scheme is a notable initiative by the UK government, designed to help local first-time buyers, including key workers, purchase their first home at a more affordable price. This scheme specifically targets those who are finding it challenging to step onto the property ladder due to high housing costs.

Key Aspects of the First Homes Scheme

  • Significant Price Discount: The most striking feature of the First Homes Scheme is the minimum discount of 30% offered on new build homes. This discount can go higher, depending on the local area’s policy, making these homes substantially more affordable.
  • Targeted Buyers: It’s aimed primarily at first-time buyers, with a particular focus on local residents and key workers such as nurses, teachers, and police officers.
  • Long-term Affordability: One unique aspect of the scheme is that the discount stays with the property forever. When the first buyer sells the home, the same discount is passed on to the next eligible first-time buyer, ensuring continued affordability for future homeowners.


  • Improved Affordability: The significant discount makes homeownership more attainable for individuals and families who might otherwise be priced out of the market, especially in areas with high property values.
  • Community Focus: By prioritising local residents and key workers, the scheme helps maintain community ties and supports those who are integral to local services.
  • Sustained Impact: The perpetuity of the discount ensures that the benefits of the scheme are not just a one-off but have a lasting effect on housing affordability in the community.

Eligibility Criteria

  • First-Time Buyers: Applicants must be first-time buyers and may need to meet certain age and income criteria.
  • Local Connection: Priority is often given to buyers with a connection to the local area where the property is located.
  • Price Caps: There are caps on the price of homes available under the scheme, after the discount has been applied, to ensure they remain affordable.


  • Property Selection: The scheme is limited to specific new build homes, which may not suit all preferences or locations.
  • Resale Factor: While the discount remains with the property, this also means that the future resale value is affected, as the same discount must be applied to future sales.
  • Long-Term Commitment: Buyers need to consider the long-term implications, particularly if their circumstances change and they need to move or sell the property.

The First Homes Scheme is a significant step in making homeownership more accessible to first-time buyers in high-cost areas, particularly benefiting local residents and key workers. The scheme’s focus on sustained affordability and community integration is commendable. However, potential buyers should carefully consider the scheme’s specific criteria, the type of properties available, and their long-term housing needs and plans. As with any property purchase, it’s advisable to seek professional advice to fully understand the implications and benefits of participating in the First Homes Scheme.

Each of these schemes offers unique advantages and caters to different needs and circumstances. Whether you’re a first-time buyer struggling with a deposit, someone looking for an affordable route into homeownership, or a key worker seeking to live close to work, there’s likely a scheme that can assist you. As with all financial decisions, seeking professional advice that is specific to your circumstances is always advisable.