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Help to Buy ISA providers announced

Victorian terraced town houses in London, England

The Help to Buy ISA was announced in the Government’s Budget back in March. It aims to give first time buyers’ deposits a boost by giving them an additional £50 for every £200 saved. Read what the Budget 2015 means for first time buyers to find out more.

From 1st December 2015, the Help to Buy ISA will be available and six banks/building societies have already signed up to the scheme. These are Lloyds, Barclays, Natwest, Nationwide, Santander and Virgin Money. It’s possible to open the account with £1000 and earn an additional £200 from the Government that month. After your first deposit, it’s only possible to invest a maximum of £200 per month so it’s worth opening the Help to Buy ISA with that maximum amount.

The maximum contribution from the Government is £3000. You’ll need to pay in £12000 to get this, which gives you a total of £15000 towards your deposit. The bonus will only be paid to you when purchasing a house so you won’t be able to use your Help to Buy ISA to get free money to do whatever you like with. Shame…

The lenders will set their own interest rates so once they’re released it’ll be worth shopping around for the best rate. It’s also not possible to have more than one cash ISA (which the Help to Buy ISA counts as) during one tax year. This means that in the year that you’re planning on opening a Help to Buy ISA you need to make sure you don’t open, or pay into, another cash ISA.

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, predicts:

“Banks that want to sell you a mortgage may well offer stronger rates for Help to Buy ISAs than normal ISAs, in the hope that they can cross-sell you their mortgages later on. This is especially likely because you can only put a relatively small amount in a Help to Buy ISA each year, so it isn’t that expensive for them to pump out loss leading rates. Only time will tell though.”

The Help to Buy ISA will be available to open until December 2019. Once open you can keep it indefinitely. What’s great is that you can have one per person, so if you’re saving as a couple to buy a house so can each pay in £200 per month and each benefit from the bonus. I plan to do this with my husband so we can save more quickly. We’re aiming to have enough money for a deposit in 2 years. But that’s only because we’re planning on moving away from Kent to somewhere we can actually afford to buy a house. This BBC calculator is pretty interesting as it shows you where you can afford to live:Where the BBC affordability says I can afford to liveAs you can see, this rules out most of the UK for me! We might move to Yorkshire, where it’s possible to buy a lovely 3 bedroom house for £140,000.

Critics have pointed out that £12000 isn’t enough of a deposit for most people and that’s probably true. But don’t forget buying as a couple gives you £24000, which is much more like it. Yes, in some areas this still isn’t enough but you can still save additional money in another savings account if you want.

What do you think of the Help to Buy ISA? Will it help you? Let us know in the comments below.

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