FAQs - General

What is Help to Buy?

Help to Buy is the umbrella term for all home ownership schemes, such as shared ownership, Help to Buy equity loan etc.

What is a local Help to Buy Agent?

Local Help to Buy Agents such as Help to Buy Midlands, are appointed by Homes England (formerly the Homes and Communities Agency).  Find out more about Homes England here

Help to Buy Agents have two main roles.  The first is to promote home ownership schemes and the second is to assess applicants for these schemes to make sure they are eligible and can afford them.  Orbit is the local Help to Buy Agent for both the East and West Midlands.

Why can’t I find any properties in the area I’m looking for on your website?

Help to Buy Midlands operates in the following areas:

o    Birmingham 

o    Coventry & Warwickshire

o    Derbyshire

o    Herefordshire

o    Leicestershire

o    Lincolnshire

o    Northamptonshire

o    Nottinghamshire

o    Rutland 

o    Shropshire

o    Staffordshire

o    Worcestershire

If you are looking for properties in any other areas, you will need to contact the Local Help to Buy Agent which covers that area.  For details of all local Help to Buy Agencies in England click here http://www.helptobuy.org.uk/equity-loan/find-helptobuy-agent


I already own my own home – am I eligible for Help to Buy?

Help to Buy shared ownership schemes are aimed at first time buyers but applications from existing home owners can also be considered.  You will need to sell your existing property although you may be able to do this simultaneously with buying a new shared ownership property.   

Please note: Your existing property must be sold subject to contract (you have formally accepted an offer for it) before you apply to us and we will require evidence of this, such as a Memorandum of Sale.

The Help to Buy equity loan scheme is available to both first time buyers and existing home owners.  If you already own your own home and want to buy through this scheme, you will need to sell your existing property by the time you complete on your new home.

Can I choose to buy a home on the open market and then get help through Help to Buy?

The Help to Buy equity loan scheme is only available to buy a new build property; it is not available to buy an older property for sale.  

Shared ownership resale properties are homes that have previously been bought through the shared ownership scheme and vary in size, age and type.

They come up for sale when their owners are looking to sell their share and move on. This means that shared ownership resales are a good way to get on the property ladder, especially if you want to buy a property in an area where there are currently no new developments.

Resales work in just the same way as shared ownership the only difference is that it's not a brand new home and you are usually buying the same percentage share as the previous owner. 

You can search for shared ownership resale properties through our online property search. 

How do I know if I am eligible for Help to Buy?

For details of eligibility criteria for the Help to Buy equity loan and shared ownership schemes click here.

Would I still need a deposit if I buy a property through a Help to Buy scheme?

You will probably still need at least a 5% deposit and some lenders may require a larger deposit than this.

To find out more about mortgages, we would recommend that you take some independent financial advice.  If you are unsure where to go for this, you can find details of our panel advisors here

I don’t know anything about mortgages and I’m not sure if I could afford one. Can you advise me?

Whilst we can’t give you advice on financial matters, we do have a panel of financial advisors and mortgage brokers who may be able help you.

I applied for Help to Buy schemes recently but my application was classed as ineligible. Can I appeal?

The reason for your application having been declined should have been detailed in the e-mail sent to you.  However, please contact us on 03458 50 20 50 option 2 and we will be happy to discuss your application in more detail.

Can I sublet my Help to Buy home?

No, Help to Buy is designed to assist you move on to, or up, the property ladder.

You must live in the home that you purchase or rent through shared ownership, rent to buy or intermediate rent schemes.  You cannot use the scheme for a buy-to-let investment.

Subletting of shared ownership homes is not permitted unless you have purchased all of the remaining shares and you own the property outright.

If you have purchased a home using the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, you would have to repay the equity loan before you would be allowed to sublet.

In exceptional circumstances, i.e. if you are a serving member of the Armed Forces away on a tour of duty, subletting may be considered with written permission from your housing association or registered provider.  If you purchased your home using the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, you would also need approval from your mortgage lender. 


I bought my home through one of the old schemes (HomeBuy Direct / FirstBuy). Where do I go to find out about repaying my equity loan?

Target HCA is the Mortgage Administrator for these schemes.  Find out more at their website here.

What are service charges?

Service charges may be payable on leasehold properties, particularly flats and apartments.  However, these will vary from property to property so contact the relevant housing association for specific details.

These service charges will cover costs such as maintenance and upkeep of communal areas (e.g stairwells), communal gardens and services such as cleaning the external windows in a block of flats.  These charges will also include major work such as repairs to the roof of a block of flats.

What is the difference between being a freeholder and leaseholder?

A freeholder owns the land that the property is built on; a leaseholder buys the right to live in a property for an agreed period of time but does not own the land the property is built on.

Can I apply online?

You can apply for Help to Buy products using our online application forms. Depending on which scheme you are interested in you will need to choose from the following links:


I am self-employed – can I still apply for Help to Buy schemes?

Yes, but in order to get a mortgage, lenders usually require you to produce three year’s accounts from your business. For more advice, you might want to talk to a Financial Advisor or Mortgage Broker.

Why do you recommend that buyers talk to a Financial Advisor before going ahead?

A Financial Advisor will be able to look at all your current income and outgoings and help you to work out how much you can sustainably borrow when buying a property.  It’s important that you do not overstretch your finances so that you have difficulty paying your mortgage or other charges in the future.

Can you recommend a financial advisor to me?

We have a panel of financial advisors who work with us on a regular basis and who are knowledgeable about Help to Buy schemes.

You do not have to use one of our panel financial advisors but we would recommend that whoever you use, you make sure they understand the schemes you’re interested in.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the umbrella term used to describe the legal process of buying a property.  It starts when your offer on a property is accepted and ends when all the monies have been transferred and you receive the keys.  It’s a good idea to employ a solicitor to help you with conveyancing as they will check all the legal documents, explain what they mean and make sure all the relevant property searches and enquiries are undertaken on your behalf.

Can you recommend a solicitor to me?

We have a panel of solicitors who work with us on a regular basis and who know about Help to Buy schemes.   You do not have to use one of our panel solicitors but we would recommend that whoever you use, you make sure they understand the schemes you’re interested in. 

Find out more about our Solicitor Panel.