Comment: It is time to raise a glass half-full to the Help to Buy scheme

While not perfect, the initiative continues to help aspiring homeowners on to the property ladder, easing the strain for those with small deposits

They say you are either a glass half-full or a glass half-empty sort of person, with the way you see the world viewed through the prism of being a natural optimist or pessimist.

Take the Help to Buy scheme, for example. This month marks the sixth anniversary since the launch of HTB back in 2013, and the debate is still raging about whether it has been good or bad for the UK economy.

Depending on who you speak with, it has either been a vital lifeline for the thousands of aspiring homeowners struggling to save the deposit they need to escape the rent trap and buy their own house, or it has done nothing more than inflate new build property prices and boost the bottom lines of housebuilders.

As with everything in life, there are two sides to every story. I think it is fair to say that the scheme is not without its faults, but as a born optimist, I prefer to look past the negatives and instead concentrate on the positives.

Any scheme that helps first-time buyers achieve their home-owning aspirations is something which should be applauded.

What cannot be denied is that the scheme has achieved exactly what it was set up to do – to help hard-working people with small deposits take the first step to buying their own home.

The figures speak for themselves. The number of FTBs hit a 12-year high in 2018, thanks in part to HTB. According to the latest government statistics, there have been almost half a million completions using one or more of the HTB schemes, with nearly 90 per cent of them completed by FTBs. That is a lot of people now living in their own home who would otherwise have struggled to get a mortgage.

The announcement last October that the scheme is being extended to 2023 means thousands more FTBs stand to benefit. That will be music to the ears of the 3.4 million 20- to 34-year-olds who are still living with their parents, a million more than there were two decades ago. While this is down to a combination of factors, one of the main reasons is difficulty in raising a substantial deposit for a house if they are living in rental accommodation.

As one of the first specialist lenders to enter the HTB market, we recognise just how important the scheme has been. With the initiative being extended, we have reinforced our commitment by becoming one of the first specialist lenders in the UK to offer HTB remortgage products, to help the early adopters of the programme make the transition from becoming FTBs to established homeowners. We have also extended our offering north of the border by launching HTB loans in Scotland for the first time.

I believe in times when it is increasingly difficult for people to get on to the property ladder, it is vital that they continue to get all the support they need. We will continue to support HTB and carry on introducing new ways to help even more people benefit from the scheme.

Alan Cleary is managing director at Precise Mortgages

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