In some ways, Help to Buy is already more of a success than its predecessors. The problem with NewBuy, FirstBuy and the Scottish equivalent MI New Home is when you speak to people who don't work in the property industry about them, for the most part, they look bewildered. For those outside the business, these names are jargon which developers push on house buyers and that more often than not provoke an air of suspicion or indifference. Whether the reason these schemes haven't filtered through is down to a lack of funding, a lack of coverage or a lack of desire on the Government's part for these schemes to reach their full potential is up for debate, but I'd argue a mix of all three.
When I interviewed Stewart Baseley, the executive chairman for House Builders Federation (HBF), to celebrate NewBuy's one year anniversary I expected to be fighting with other journos for his time. However, the day arrived and WhatHouse.co.uk was the only news portal to cover the event. I can't imagine the situation being the same when it comes to next year's budget, the anniversary of Help To Buy, because for the first time people are talking about it.
Help to Buy is an amalgamation of FirstBuy and NewBuy, oddly despite the continued availability of both schemes, but with a few added benefits and a much bigger budget (£3.5billion to be precise). Almost anyone can use the scheme, you can also own another house which you rent out as long as you don't have another mortgage, and the price range has been bumped up to £600,000.
One of the key areas of concern with Help to Buy is the second home option. This is obviously aimed at people who do not need help to get on the ladder and encourages the greed culture of owning multiple properties which could be a pitfall in the recovery of the property market. The recession should have taught people that a house is a home first and foremost- unfortunately this scheme has the potential to produce collective amnesia.
It seems people aren't completely sold on this scheme so far. According to a recent survey by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) which asked 8,813 adults about their plans for buying a new home, almost half said they didn't think schemes like Help to Buy would improve their chances of getting a mortgage. The suspicion continues and after all, why should a government who have offered little and taken much be trusted?
On a site visit recently, a representative of Redrow Homes told me the scheme has now been implemented on all of their homes in Lancashire whereas previous schemes were only available on certain developments. While the Scottish Government hasn't made the decision whether to implement it or not, CALA Homes East managing director explained that the interest in the scheme has given house- hunters a fresh desire to view new homes. According to developers, it has given house hunters the confidence to start looking again and that is no bad thing.
Will this rise in demand from the interest in the scheme drive prices up or down? Is it just a token tactic from the government to get voters back on side after brutal austerity measures? Is it crazy to expect hard-working people to be able to provide a 5% deposit in the current climate? The general consensus from housebuilders is that the publicity surrounding Help to Buy is a blessing, but only time will tell whether the people who need help are benefiting.