LIFT scheme helps Scots buy their own home

A government-backed scheme for first-time buyers and other priority groups could help with up to 40 per cent towards the price of buying a home.

The LIFT Open Market Shared Equity (OMSE) scheme helps first-time buyers and other priority groups to buy a home
The LIFT Open Market Shared Equity (OMSE) scheme helps first-time buyers and other priority groups to buy a home

The Scottish Government’s shared equity initiatives can help by contributing towards the cost of a home and vastly reducing the size of the deposit needed at a time when mortgage lenders want a bigger deposit than ever.

For example, the LIFT (Low-Cost Initiative for First Time Buyers) Open Market Shared Equity (OMSE) scheme helps first-time buyers and other priority groups to buy a home if they have a low to moderate income. LIFT buyers can end up paying less per month towards a mortgage than they would on rent.

Through the LIFT scheme, buyers can get up to 40% towards the price of a home bought on the open market, from a Scottish Government contribution. Buyers fund the remainder themselves, usually through a combination of mortgage and deposit, and own the property outright.

Nicodim and his family had been renting privately and now own a four-bedroom home in Perth & Kinross thanks to the LIFT scheme, saving them over £500 per month.

Nicodim said: “The LIFT scheme is the best. It gives you the opportunity to buy a home even if you don’t have a high income. The deposit is small, and the process is fast.

“In two and a half years I paid over £25,000 in rent and that money is gone. The LIFT scheme helped me to buy my own home and I pay half of what I paid before. I advise everyone to do the same.”

Nicodim’s purchase details:

Property price: £194,000

Deposit paid: £5,300

Scottish Government contribution: £77,600

Monthly mortgage payments: £386

Previous monthly rent payments: £895

In this example, the Scottish Government contributed 40% of the price and will get the same percentage back when the property is sold. The Scottish Government’s 40% is repaid either when the property is sold, or the buyer can choose to increase their equity share in the property over time. There are no monthly repayments to the Scottish Government.

Stephanie was also renting through a private landlord when she decided to buy her first home – a two-bedroom property in Aberdeen – through the LIFT scheme, reducing her monthly payments from £570 per month in rent to £359 per month towards her mortgage.

Stephanie said, “It was a great experience from start to finish going through the LIFT scheme and I’ll be forever grateful I was able to buy my own home. I would 100% encourage people to go and speak to a mortgage advisor about LIFT to find out if they are eligible. It’s worth it!”

Stephanie’s purchase details:

Property price: £126,500

Deposit paid: No deposit required

Scottish Government contribution: £50,600

Not just first-time buyers

As well as first time buyers, the LIFT scheme is also available to:

Current social tenants,

People with a disability who can demonstrate a housing need,

Members of the Armed Forces,

Veterans who have left the Armed Forces within the past two years,

Widows, widowers and other partners of service personnel whose partner has lost their life while serving in the Armed Forces within the last two years, are also eligible.

Income based benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support, Universal Credit, as well as Carers Allowance, and Attendance Allowance are counted towards a buyer's income when applying to the scheme.

Kevin, a previous social tenant, recently bought a home in Aberdeen through the LIFT scheme. Kevin said, “LIFT helped us buy our first home. Council rent was £416 a month, our mortgage is £230 a month. We will be able to pay more mortgage off, repay government money, and own our own home.”

Over 60s

People aged over sixty, who can demonstrate a housing need, can also benefit from the scheme, and unlike other applicants, there is no requirement for them to take out a mortgage to fund their contribution.

Eligibility

To be eligible for the scheme, properties must be advertised for sale on the open market, for example on a website or a social media page, and be within the price threshold for the area. The size of property that can be purchased depends on how many people are in the household.

Link Housing administers the LIFT scheme on behalf of the Scottish Government in all 32 local authority areas.

Other support for home buyers

LIFT is one of several shared equity schemes created by the Scottish Government to help those on low to moderate incomes become homeowners. The scheme has helped over 12,000 households purchase a home in Scotland since it was introduced in 2005.

Other shared equity schemes provided by the Scottish Government include the First Home Fund, which provides first time buyers up to £25,000 towards an existing or new build home with no restrictions on price, size or household income.

The Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme provides up to 15% towards the cost of a new build property priced up to £200,000 provided the purchaser could not otherwise afford the purchase.

More information

Eligibility criteria apply. Always seek independent financial advice before applying. For more information and to apply online, visit www.linkhousing.org.uk/LIFT or text ‘LIFT’ to 66777.