Hundreds of buyers used Help to Buy ISAs to purchase first home in Lisburn and Castlereagh

Hundreds of first-time buyers purchased a house in Lisburn and Castlereagh through the Help to Buy ISA scheme in the year to March, new figures show.
File photo dated 14/10/14 of estate agents boards, as average UK house prices increased by 1.9% in the 12 months to May 2023, slowing from 3.2% in April, according to official figures. The average UK house price was £286,000 in May 2023, which is £6,000 higher than 12 months earlier but £7,000 below a recent peak in September 2022, the Office for National Statistics said.File photo dated 14/10/14 of estate agents boards, as average UK house prices increased by 1.9% in the 12 months to May 2023, slowing from 3.2% in April, according to official figures. The average UK house price was £286,000 in May 2023, which is £6,000 higher than 12 months earlier but £7,000 below a recent peak in September 2022, the Office for National Statistics said.
File photo dated 14/10/14 of estate agents boards, as average UK house prices increased by 1.9% in the 12 months to May 2023, slowing from 3.2% in April, according to official figures. The average UK house price was £286,000 in May 2023, which is £6,000 higher than 12 months earlier but £7,000 below a recent peak in September 2022, the Office for National Statistics said.

Hundreds of first-time buyers purchased a house in Lisburn and Castlereagh through the Help to Buy ISA scheme in the year to March, new figures show.

There was a drop in the number of first-time buyers using the scheme across the country. Experts said it reflected the wider market, as those who did not have a mortgage agreed before the autumn mini budget would have faced a challenging environment due to increased interest rates.

The latest Treasurydata shows 323 properties were expected to be bought in Lisburn and Castlereagh with support from the Government's scheme in the year to March — down on 600 the year before.

Under the help-to-buy scheme, the Government tops up buyers' savings with a 25% bonus. The scheme closed for new applicants in November 2019, but 3,098 bonuses have been paid to individual buyers in Lisburn and Castlereagh since its launch.

Married couples or partners can both claim for bonuses from separate ISAs to complete on a single property together.

Across the UK, 558,176 property completions have been carried through since the launch of the scheme in December 2015, with 2,176 of them in Lisburn and Castlereagh.

Nationally, there were around 60,300 properties sold through the Help to Buy ISA in 2022-23. This was fewer than the previous year, when nearly 88,000 new homes were secured.

Ben Thompson, deputy CEO at the Mortgage Advice Bureau, said: "We remain hopeful that inflation and interest rates will peak in the next year, upping the pressure on mortgage rates to begin to fall. This should see more buyers using their Lifetime or Help to Buy ISAs to complete their purchases.”

First-time buyers in Lisburn and Castlereagh received an average of £1,216 per month on top of their savings. This was about the same as the national average bonus of £1,217.

Current ISA holders can continue to save in their account until November 2029 and claim their bonus by December 2030.

Mr Thompson added: "For prospective buyers just starting out on their journey, it is still vital that they save as much as possible for a deposit. Using the current higher interest rates to their advantage by looking for better rates on their Lifetime ISA, or opening other savings accounts with good rates, is critical to getting mortgage ready."

A Treasury spokesperson said: “We are committed to helping first time buyers get on the property ladder. The Help to Buy ISA has so far supported over half a million property completions.

“To continue helping first time buyers, adults under 40 can open a Lifetime ISA and save up to £4,000 each year until they reach 50, with the Government providing a 25% bonus for the purchase of a first home under £450,000.”

The Government set a value limit of £250,000 for properties purchased outside London and £450,000 for those in London.