Help to Buy

Let us help you to get on the property ladder

We’ll guide you through the whole process

Help to Buy is a government scheme which can help you buy a new build property under £600,000 (where the developer has registered for the scheme). The government can lend up to 20% of the cost of the property – up to 40% in London – and you only need a 5% deposit, with a mortgage for the rest. If you’re a first-time buyer or a home mover (i.e. selling and buying) who doesn’t own any other property, you may qualify for Help to Buy.

Our step by step guide on
how it all works

Find out how much you can borrow

Put bluntly, it depends on what you can afford along with what Help to Buy and mortgage lenders deem to be affordable.

That’s why we start with a review of your current finances, and we talk you through the various costs of buying a property. Before you start browsing the property pages, you need to know your budget, including how much deposit you have available.

Step 1
Get a Mortgage in Principle

A mortgage in principle is not a guarantee, but it does show that a lender is willing in principle to financially support your property purchase.

Step 2
Start house hunting

Know what you’re looking for (including your must-haves, nice-to-haves, and deal-breakers).

Then you need to know where to look, including websites, estate agents, and property developers.

Step 3
Find a solicitor

You’ll need a solicitor to take care of the legal work involved in purchasing a property.

1) They understand the property sale and purchase process

2) They handle the various pre-purchase searches so that there are no surprises,

3) They take care of the contracts,

4) They will request Authority to Exchange (ATE) from Help to Buy

5) They will register the property in your name

Step 4
Contact your mortgage broker

As soon as you’ve found your perfect place and paid your reservation fee. Contact us to let us know and we’ll start to get the wheels in motion for you. We’ll help you to complete the Equity Loan application forms.

Once Help to Buy have approved your loan they will issue an Authority to Proceed (ATP) which is valid for 3 months.

Step 5
Apply for a mortgage

We review the mortgage market and advise you on the best mortgage for you. We’ll then complete the mortgage application for you and deal with all the paperwork that the lender requires.

Step 6
Get a valuation

As part of the application process, the mortgage lender will carry out an independent valuation and survey of the property.

Step 7
Receive a mortgage offer

Once everything checks out, your lender should make you a formal mortgage offer.

Step 8
Exchange contracts with the seller

Exchanging contracts is the point where the purchase becomes legally binding and involves the lawyers on both sides confirming that both seller and buyer are ready to proceed. For you as a buyer, that usually means having a signed contract, funds for a deposit, the mortgage offer, and the Authority to Exchange (ATE) from Help to Buy.

Step 9
Move into your new home

Once contracts have been exchanged and the sale completed, you’ll have the keys and can move in when you want – it’s yours now!

Step 10

Helping to find you the best
possible mortgage

We deal with hundreds of lenders offering the best mortgages on the market

Talk to an expert advisor today
020 3102 9545

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Commonly asked questions

What is the maximum age I can take out a mortgage?

There is no blanket maximum age for applying for a mortgage – most lenders have their own age limits.

Usually, the maximum age at the end of the mortgage term is 75 or your intended retirement age, whichever is sooner. It’s not impossible to get a loan that goes beyond this age limit, but most options require you to provide proof that you can repay the mortgage when it extends into your retirement.

Some lenders will lend to clients up to age 80, using salaried earnings. And some will lend beyond that upon proof of a pension that can cover payments at 80+.

What type of Survey do I need?

This depends on the type, age and condition of the property you’re buying.

A survey is an assessment of the property’s condition. There are different levels of survey, each with their own benefits and level of detail.

Mortgage valuation (minimum requirement)

This should not really be classed as a survey, it’s an assessment by a valuer sent by the mortgage lender that the price is broadly correct. This assessment can vary from a ‘drive-by/desktop’ to a more detailed internal appraisal.

Homebuyer report

This type of report is suitable for more modern, conventional properties in reasonable condition. It comes in a standard format and provides an overview, rating each element of the property with a ‘traffic light’ system. The report should highlight any issues that could affect the property’s value

Full building survey

If you’re buying an older property that’s had significant building work, or that will need significant building work after you buy it, then a building survey maybe more appropriate. It’s more in depth and will highlight structural issues as well as the cost of potential remedial works. A building survey will also assess potential issues such as damp, dry rot, woodworm and any potential hazards such as tree roots close to the structure.

The surveyor will send you a report which will include a list of all defects uncovered, their probable cause, level of significance (if they require immediate action or can be ignored for the time being), and recommendations on solutions to these defects, along with costs.

It will also include technical details of the property’s construction, materials used, etc.

What type of mortgage should I choose (fixed vs. variable)?

It depends on what type of mortgage suits your circumstances and plans best.


As it says on ‘the tin’, your rate of interest is fixed or guaranteed not to change for a defined period (typically 2, 3, 5 or 10 years) regardless of changes to the Bank of England base rate. This type of mortgage gives you certainty, allowing you to budget effectively. They usually carry an early repayment penalty so it’s important to consider how long you wish to fix for (see the info on ‘porting’). The longer the fixed period, the higher the interest rate is likely to be; effectively paying for protection against any market rate changes.


The interest rate on a variable mortgage moves up and down, usually in response to the UK economy. An advantage of this type of mortgage product is that it’s often more flexible, with lower or no exit fees.

Variable mortgages fall into three categories: tracker, standard variable, and discounts.

Tracker – The rate tracks an economic indicator, most commonly the Bank of England base rate or LIBOR. It will be pegged above the indicator it is tied to by a fixed margin for the product term, typically two years or for the lifetime of the loan.

Standard variable rate – This is the rate you will typically move onto after finishing an initial structured rate. Each lender manages their own SVR, often following the Bank of England base rate but not necessarily. They can range from 2% to 5+%. There are no exit penalties for an SVR mortgage.

Discount – These products offer a discount against a lender’s standard variable rate for a defined period, typically two or three years. However, there is no guarantee that a lender will move their SVR down if the BBR rate goes down. Discount rates often don’t carry exit penalties.

The complete guide to buying your first home

Buying your first home is exciting! It’s also stressful, with plenty of ‘traps’ for the unwary.

Expert advice and guidance is essential, and we lay out the whole process – step by step and jargon-free – in our complete mortgage guide for first time buyers.

First time buyer - case study

Learn how Mai’s personalised experience saved her time and money, giving her the mortgage she wanted.

Read Mai's story

Hear what our customers think

Anthony & Victoria
Amazing. Cannot recommend enough. Tom & Louise were fantastic advising and supporting every step of the way. Professional, informative extremely helpful.
Tom was very clear and helpful throughout. Explained options very well and kept us updated promptly.
Vincent Moffat
This is the second property purchase I have had the benefit of Tom Knee of Caenstones invaluable expertise with a property purchase, not to mention remortgaging. I can't recommend Tom enough and I hope to avail of his services again in the future. Its really important especially in a fast moving market like London to have someone you can trust and depend on to help you with your next step on the ladder! Onward and Upward!
Meg Stephenson
My broker at Caenstone is Tom, and I’ve had an all round great experience! I’m a first time solo buyer so needed a lot of support which I received tons of throughout the entire process. The communication from Tom was brilliant every step of the way and I felt very looked after. My case was a little complicated and finding the right lender wasn’t straight forward, but Tom pushed forward and found the best option for me. I’d highly recommend this firm, and Tom in particular.
Rebecca Parry
Absolutely brilliant! Tom was there every step of the way and got back to any and all queries immediately. We changed purchase properties part way through the process and had an MIP within the hour. Went above and beyond to help us, changed to better deals without asking and have recommended to family and friends.

Talk to an expert advisor today
020 3102 9545

Too busy to talk now? Find a convenient time for you Arrange a callback