Martin Lewis has an urgent warning for wannabe first-time buyers

Open a help-to-buy ISA now or risk missing out

Everyone’s favourite financial expert Martin Lewis returned to This Morning today to deliver an urgent warning to anyone planning to buy their first home, aged 16 or over.

‘The easiest and simplest form of help is something called a Help To Buy ISA,’ says Martin. ‘It gives you a 25 per cent bonus on top of money saved for a mortgage deposit, so if you save £1,000, you get £1,250.

‘But it closes to new applicants on the 30 November 2019 – so that’s now less than three months.’

Related: Calling all first-time buyers! Leading high street bank launches 100% mortgage – to make property dreams come true

‘However, if you open one beforehand, even with just a quid, then it continues working for a decade and you can put money in and get the bonus, so many people should think about putting the quid in.’ In fact, Martin Lewis reckons that you could be missing out on up to £3,000 free cash by not opening one.

‘The difficultly is, there is another product Lifetime ISA or LISA, that also gives the bonus. Now you can have both, but you’ll only get the bonus on one of them, so you need to choose and the choice is complex. 

Luckily, Martin has advice on which is best for you, depending on your circumstances…

Martin Lewis’ Help to Buy ISA advice

What is a Help to Buy ISA?

Martin Lewis help to buy Isa

Image credit: Steve Parsons/PA Archive/PA Images

When the Help to Buy ISA was launched in 2015, it was a godsend for first time buyers.  It gave renters, who had almost given up hope on scrapping together enough money to fulfil the dreams of owning their own home, a glimmer of hope.

This specialist ISA is available at a range of high street banks, which the Government will top up by 25 per cent.

The founder of MoneySavingExpert says on his website, ‘Newbies have only got until 30 November 2019 to open one. So if you’ll be able to save the max £1,200 for month one by then, do that and open your ISA before the deadline.’

£1,200 is the maximum amount that you can open the account with in a lump sum. After that you are limited to topping it up with £200 a month. However, he adds that even if you don’t have the full amount if could still be worth opening one and depositing just £1 to keep your options open.

The scheme is set to keep paying out the bonus’s until 1 December 2030. So you can take the time to slowly build up the amount to the minimum £1,600 to qualify for the government bonus. As long as you put the money towards a deposit before 2030 you can expect to receive the government top up of at least £400.

What is a Lifetime ISA?

Martin Lewis help to buy Isa 1

Image credit: Colin Poole

The LISA which will be taking the Help to Buy ISA’s place was introduced in April 2017. It will also give you a 25 per cent bonus on top of what you save. The main difference is that you can save £4,000 a year, almost double what you can with Help to Buy.

However, you need to wait a year before using it to buy a home. So, if you’re looking to buy a home quickly you’ll be better opting for the Help to Buy ISA. If you’re not sure which one will work best for you, the good news is you can open both and decide later.

Martin Lewis writes, ‘They’re a great way to save for older children. If your kids are 16 and over for a Help to Buy ISA ,or 18 and over for a LISA, the bonus means these are a great place to give them money to save in. If you have it.’

Related:  Doing this one simple thing when buying a house could save you £3,000

You still have three months to open help to buy ISA. Will you be following Martin’s advice?

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