The second phase of Help to Buy has launched successfully, the Government declared this week – but agents remain divided on the scheme, concerned that it may be ramping up demand but not supply.
One estate agent is being used by the Treasury as a case study. Sharon O’Donnell, 30, of Southampton, said: “Being an estate agent, I appreciated the importance of getting on the housing ladder. Without Help to Buy this wouldn’t have been a possibility.”
According to the Treasury, there have been 2,384 applications so far for the 95% mortgages, which will be backed by a taxpayer-funded indemnity. The applications have been made to RBS and Halifax.
Of those applications, ten have already completed, said the Treasury.
This is despite the fact that none of the funds will be released until January when the indemnity itself goes live.
The Government says that more than three-quarters of applicants are first-time buyers.
On average, they are looking to borrow £155,000 to buy a property worth £163,000 – close to the Land Registry’s average house price, although less than the £247,000 ONS figure the Government has quoted.
More than three-quarters of the applications are from outside London and the south-east.
However, Martin Robinson, of Hunters, said that it is still far too early to tell whether Help to Buy will result in a strong uptake.
He said: “The news today that it is already delivering is not our experience as a national company so far.
“We have certainly seen more enquiries from first- and second-time buyers who haven’t got the deposit to move on, but those transactions haven’t come to fruition yet.
“We have also seen an increase in enquiries from vendors about the scheme and many are taking the decision to hold off on reducing their property price, until they see the scheme in full swing.
“We have no doubt that the scheme will start having an impact soon, but it is still too early to really assess it properly. We think it has probably taken the market the first month to understand the full implications of it, as until recently it had remained a well-kept secret.
“The uptake figures being reported by Halifax and RBS are not even a drop in ocean in the context of the market as a whole. The challenging factor in the property market at the moment remains the lack of properties that are for sale.
“If you are now able to get a mortgage through Help to Buy, there is still a struggle finding something to buy.”