The deadline for the completion of new homes through the Help to Buy scheme has been extended by two months to allow for delays in construction arising from the pandemic.
Originally, building work on new homes would have needed to be finished by the end of December in order for buyers to qualify for support through the scheme, but the government has confirmed that this deadline would be extended to February 28.
It says the deadline for the legal completion of the sale will remain the same – 31 March 2021.
The government says there will be a further safety net for buyers who have experienced severe delays as a result of Covid.
If buyers had a reservation in place before June 30, Homes England will “assess their situation and look to provide an extension where necessary”. In such cases, buyers would have until May 31 to legally complete.
The new Help to Buy scheme, which is restricted to first-time buyers and includes regional caps on purchase prices, will come into place from April 1 as planned and run until March 2023.
Housing minister Christopher Pincher says: “This government is committed to helping a new generation to realise their dream of home ownership, and since 2010 we’ve helped more than 640,000 families into home ownership through our support including Help to Buy and Right to Buy.
“Today’s announcement will help provide certainty and assurance for Help to Buy customers whose new homes have been delayed due to coronavirus and affirms the government’s commitment to helping more people to own their own home.”
Kensington Mortgages new business director Craig McKinlay says: “Extending the Help to Buy scheme is great news – both for first-time buyers and developers.
“It will help ensure that buyers who have had completion dates pushed back do not miss out.
“For many, the scheme is a lifeline to stepping onto the property ladder. “And especially now more than ever when it is really hard for people to build deposits
“Lenders are only gradually returning to the high LTV market again – so it effectively makes up the loan difference and bridges the gap between lenders and buyers.”
Home Builders Federation policy director David O’Leary says: “This is a welcome move that will ensure thousands of homebuyers do not miss out on their new home purchase.
“It will mean buyers of homes where completion was delayed because of the coronavirus shut down will still be able to use this government support to get on the housing ladder.
“With mortgages for first-time buyers now few and far between, Help to Buy is more important than ever and this flexibility will help smooth the transition the replacement scheme opening in April.
“It’s particularly important for many first-time buyers in the midlands and northern regions where the criteria for the new Help to Buy scheme will be much more restrictive and many fewer homes will be available.”