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Have you considered using the LIFT scheme to buy a house?

Written by: Fraser Symon
11 February 2022

Schemes designed to help people buy their homes have been available since 2005. One of the main help to buy schemes is the Low-cost Initiative for First Time Buyers (LIFT Scheme).

Who is eligible for the LIFT Scheme?

As the name suggests, this scheme is primarily available to first-time buyers. However, people in certain priority groups can also apply. The following is a  list of the different groups of people who can apply:

  • First-time buyers
  • Social renters   
  • People with a disability who can demonstrate a housing need  
  • Members of the armed forces    
  • Veterans who have left the armed forces within the past two years   
  • Widows, widowers, and other partners of service personnel who have lost their life while serving in the armed forces within the last two years    
  • People aged over 60 who can demonstrate a housing need 

In respect of people who are aged over 60, the housing need you have to be able to demonstrate must be at least one of the following:help to buy feb blog

  • You are living in a property that is too large and need to downsize.
  • You need to move closer to family or friends to receive care and support.
  • Your existing property is no longer suitable e.g., due to stairs.
  • You are living in private rented accommodation. 

So far, this scheme has helped over 13,000 people to buy their home since it was introduced. 

How does the LIFT scheme work?

The basic concept of the LIFT Scheme is that the Scottish Government provides a loan of between 10% and 40% of the price of the home. You must make up the remaining portion of the price through your deposit and mortgage.

In exchange for providing the loan funding, the Scottish Government then takes a stake in the property. This type of arrangement is called a “shared equity” arrangement.

Because it is targeted mostly at first-time buyers, there are price caps placed on the value of the property you can buy. That value varies by local authority area and by the number of apartments in the house. An apartment is considered to be a living room, dining room, bedroom or boxroom but not a kitchen or bathroom

For instance, in East Lothian, the cap placed on a 3-apartment house (e.g., a living room and two bedrooms) is currently £160,000. To view the full list of price limits for the different size of houses and local authority areas, please click here.

Is there any other restriction on what property you can buy?

There are two versions of this scheme. There is the Open Market Shared Equity Scheme and the New Supply Shared Equity Scheme. This means you are not restricted to the previously owned housing market and are able to buy a new build home provided you meet the criteria, and the price does not exceed the threshold in the local authority area where the house is situated.

How do I find out if I am eligible?

The scheme is administered by Link Housing and you can find further information and make an application by clicking here.

If you are thinking about buying a house, and would like some legal advice or discuss the process, please contact us.

Written by:

Fraser Symon

Partner
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