About Help to Buy schemes

Help to Buy schemes are run by the government. They are designed to make it more affordable for people to own their own homes. As a Help to Buy agent, we help to deliver two separate schemes

  • Help to Buy: Equity Loan
  • Help to Buy: Shared Ownership

Help to Buy: Equity Loan

What is a Help to Buy: Equity Loan?

Help to Buy: Equity Loan is a government scheme that allows you to borrow a low-interest loan to put towards the cost of purchasing a newly built home.

Separate schemes are available in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. This information is about how the scheme works for homes bought in England.

Your property must be purchased from a house builder registered for the Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme.

The equity loan is for the value of up to 20% of the purchase price for homes that are outside of London. For homes inside London, the equity loan is up to 40% of the purchase price.

You add the equity loan to the deposit you have saved and to the amount you need to borrow on a repayment mortgage. Together these cover the total cost of buying your newly built home.

Please remember, your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or other loans secured against it.

These examples show the percentages and values you might be able to borrow, based on your circumstances, the value of your new home and its location:

Help to Buy: Equity Loan in England - outside London
New home market value £200,000
Buyer's repayment mortgage75%£150,000
Buyer's deposit5%£10,000
Help to Buy: Equity Loan20%£40,000
Help to Buy: Equity Loan in England - inside London
New home market value £400,000
Buyer's repayment mortgage55%£220,000
Buyer's deposit5%£20,000
Help to Buy: Equity Loan40%£160,000

Who can apply for a Help to Buy: Equity Loan?

You will need to meet the eligibility criteria in order to receive a Help to Buy: Equity Loan


Help to Buy: Shared Ownership

This information is about how Shared Ownership work for homes bought via the scheme, in England.

Please be aware that Shared Ownership schemes in London are managed by the Greater London Authority.  

Separate schemes are also available in Wales  and Scotland  

What is a Help to Buy: Shared Ownership?

Help to Buy: Shared Ownership gives those who can't afford to buy a home outright the opportunity to buy a share of it. This can be between 25%-75% of the home's value.

You will pay rent on the percentage of the property that you do not own. The amount of rent paid is agreed and fixed at the outset, and there is a maximum amount by which it can increase each year.

The more of the property you own, the lower your rental payments will be.

Over time you can purchase more shares in your property – this is known as ‘staircasing'. This can be done at any time after initial purchase and it will reduce the amount of rent you pay as the share of the home that you do not own will have got smaller.

You can buy a shared ownership home by taking out a mortgage and using your savings. Any deposit you pay will be smaller than if buying outright as you will not be purchasing the whole of the home.

Applying for a shared ownership home 

If you are interested in applying for a shared ownership home you must first register with a Help to Buy agent.
We can then see if you are eligible to apply, and support you with the application process. 

We are one of the three agents appointed to cover England (excluding London), are managed by the Greater London Authority. We cover the South of England which includes properties in Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Bristol, Bath, Somerset & Mendip, Buckinghamnshire, Cambridgeshire, Cornwall (including the Isles of Scilly), Devon, Dorset, East Sussex, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire & Isle of Wight, Hertfordshire, Kent, Norfolk, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, West Sussex and Wiltshire. 

The other two agents cover properties in the:
•    North of England  - covering Merseyside, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Cumbria, Cheshire, Durham, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and East Riding of Yorkshire.
•    Midlands and London - covering London, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, West Midlands, Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire.

If you wish to purchase a share of a property in an area covered by one of the other agents, or by the Greater London Authority, you will need to contact them directly.  

Please remember, your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or any loan secured against it.

Shared ownership products designed for specific groups of people

Some shared ownership products are designed for specific groups of people.

Home ownership for people with long-term disabilities (HOLD)

If you have a long-term illness or disability, and if the properties you are searching for through other schemes are not suitable to your needs, you can use Help to Buy: Shared Ownership to buy a suitable property on the open market.

For example, you may have a long-term physical disability that means you need access to a single storey, ground floor property, close to those who help support you.

Older peoples shared ownership (OPSO)

If you are over the age of 55, and meet the criteria for shared ownership, you may be able to access the OPSO scheme.

These types of homes may be smaller in size, yet they are designed for older people who are looking to downsize. They may contain special design features including communal and recreational areas. In some cases, specialist support, such as an on-site warden, may be available.

OPSO allows you to buy a share of between 25% and 75% of your home. You will pay rent on the share of the property that you do not own.

The amount of share that you can purchase is limited to 75%, to ensure that such properties remain available for older people in the future.

Once you own 75% of your home, you will not pay any rent on the share that you don't own.

In addition to any mortgage and rent paid to the landlord, there may also be a service charge for the maintenance of any communal areas.

Rent to Buy

Rent to Buy properties are new build homes that are available to rent initially. The rent you pay is approximately 20% cheaper than the market rent paid on similar properties in the area.

The discounted rent aims to help you save for a deposit over a minimum of five years. You can then buy the property outright after five years if you can afford to.

Alternatively, you can apply to buy the property through shared ownership before the five-year period has ended, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria for shared ownership.

It may be possible to remain in the property as a tenant if you are not able to afford to buy it either outright or through shared ownership at the end of the five-year period. The options available to you after this time will be discussed with your landlord.

To qualify for Rent to Buy you must either be a:

  • working household intending to buy your own home at the start of the letting period
  • first-time buyer or returning to the market following a relationship breakdown.

You can find homes available through Rent to Buy on our property search. If you are interested in a Rent to Buy property, you will need to contact the landlord directly.

Which homes are available through Help to Buy: Shared Ownership?

Through Help to Buy: Shared Ownership you can buy:

  • a newly built home, through a shared ownership landlord registered to provide the scheme
  • an existing home, through a resale programme managed by shared ownership providers.

Property locations

In most cases, you can apply for a home in any location you desire. You do not have to live or work in the area that you are interested in buying a home in.

However, there are a few exceptions. Some shared ownership homes in rural areas will be limited to people with a local connection to the area (either through work, family or an existing home). These are known as rural exception sites.

Such sites are defined by the government or the local authority. These restrictions are intended to make sure that local people in rural areas can access affordable housing, in order to remain in the area.

In these cases, you may only be able to purchase up to 80% of the property. This restriction is to make sure that affordable homes developed in rural areas remain as affordable housing for future buyers.

Properties where these restrictions apply will be identified when you search for properties

Increasing your share of ownership – ‘staircasing'

You may be able to buy additional shares in your home through shared ownership. This is known as ‘staircasing' and, in many cases, will enable you to own your home outright one day.

Buying additional shares is optional depending on your situation. This can be done at any time after you purchase your home. You may not want to buy more shares, or you may not be able to afford to do so. You can still remain in your shared ownership home for as long as you want to, without buying additional shares in it.

Who owns the rest of a shared ownership home?

The remainder of your home will be owned by what is called a Registered Provider. In most cases this will be a housing association.

Housing associations are organisations set up to own and manage affordable housing for those in need. In some cases, your landlord could be either a local authority or other an alternative organisation which has received funding from Homes England to help build your home.

The landlord owns the rest of your home. You will:

  • pay rent on the percentage that you do not own
  • agree and sign a lease.

Although you will own a share of your home, you will remain as a leaseholder. This means that you sign a lease (a contract) with your landlord that sets out the rights and responsibilities of each party and details what you can and can't do.

More information

For more information on shared ownership, please visit:

  • applying for shared ownership
  • shared ownership – frequently asked questions