For first-time buyers who are saving toward a deposit, opening a Help to Buy ISA really is a no-brainer. Offering a 25% bonus of the total you have saved, in addition to interest accrued, there is no other savings account that can get close to these returns.
For many first-time buyers, saving for a deposit represents the biggest hurdle between them and getting on the property ladder. For this reason, the Help to Buy ISA will be music to many people’s ears.
The government backed scheme means that for every £1,000 you save, the government will credit you with an additional £250. This type of return is streets ahead of traditional savings platforms and is why over 1 million people have opened accounts since their inception.
If you want to reap the rewards of this scheme you will need to act fast;
the deadline to open a Help to Buy ISA account is 30th November 2019.
The account allows for regular saving; the first instalment can be of up to £1,200, with a maximum of £200 able to be deposited in each month thereafter. Whilst there is no limit on the amount that can be saved into a Help to Buy ISA, the bonus is capped at a maximum of £3,000. In other words, you will attract the 25% bonus on the first £12,000 of savings only. Given the monthly caps on deposits, it would take just over four and half years to qualify for the maximum bonus so opening an account early is essential to fully make use of the scheme.
The accounts are available to anyone aged 16+ and can be used to buy a property of up to £250,000 (£450,000 in London). If you are looking to buy with a partner or friend, you can each open an account meaning your bonus could total £6,000. Although the accounts are designed for longer term saving, the bonus can be applied to as little as £1,600 meaning it is still worthwhile opening an account, even if you are as little as three months away from purchasing.
What are the alternatives?
In some circumstances, a Help to Buy ISA may not be the best fit; perhaps you wish to buy a property in excess of the threshold or you wish to deposit more than the ISA allows.
Whilst the Help to Buy ISA has had much press, the Lifetime ISA (LISA) has flown largely below the radar. One of the reasons for this is the lack of availability; to date, only a handful of providers offer the LISA. Another is its name; the Lifetime ISA is predominantly thought of as product for retirement planning.
Lifetime ISA (LISA)
Sure enough, a LISA has many benefits for retirement planning, but it can also benefit first time buyers in much the same way as a Help to Buy ISA, with some key differences.
With a LISA, you are not capped at £200 per month and you can pay in anything up to £4,000 per financial year, in a lump sum or regular instalments. This could suit you if you already hold savings as you can invest much more quickly. With the end of the tax year just a few days away, you could make a £4,000 deposit now (before 5th April 2019) and then invest a further £4,000 as soon as 6th April 2019.
Upon withdrawal, the LISA will also qualify for the 25% bonus, providing the account has been open for at least 12 months. The £4,000 yearly limit means a potential bonus of £1,000 per year with essentially no cap on the maximum bonus allowed (the bonus is capped at £33,000 meaning you would have to have the account for more than 33 years to hit the limit).
The LISA also allows for a higher purchase price outside of London with a £450,000 limit applicable anywhere in the country.
There are many factors that will determine which type of account is right for you. The table below highlights some of the main features and differences of each:
Help to Buy ISA vs Lifetime ISA
|Help to Buy ISA||Lifetime ISA|
|Opening age||Anyone aged 16+||Anyone aged 18-39|
|Maximum contribution||£200 per month (£1,200 in the first month)||£4,000 per tax year|
|Maximum property value||£450,000||£250,000 (£450,000 in London)|
|Penalty if you don’t buy a house||None|
(You just don’t get the bonus)
|Yes, unless you leave it until you are aged 60+|
|How long before the account qualifies for bonus||Once you have saved £1600 (minimum 3 months)||12 months from opening the account|
|When is the bonus paid||On completion||On exchange|
Should you have any questions, or need help deciding if a Help to Buy ISA is best for you, please contact one of Temple Wealth’s advisers. We can advise you on all aspects of the house buying process – from beginning to save for your deposit to finally buying a house and getting the right mortgage for you.
Call 01329 282882 or use the form on our Contact Us page.
The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Investing in shares should be regarded as a long-term investment and should fit in with your overall attitude to risk and financial circumstances.
Your home maybe repossessed if you do not keep up repayment on your mortgage.