As Forces Help to Buy Specialists, we often get asked the same questions again and again by our clients. Here are the most common questions, and our answers:
Q: Is Forces help to buy the same as government help to buy?
A: No it isn’t. Forces Help to Buy is very different from the standard Help to Buy scheme and they are not to be confused with each other. There are in fact a number of other Help to Buy schemes available, find out more here: https://www.helptobuy.gov.uk.
Q: Great, so does that mean I can use both types of help to buy together?
A: Yes, it is possible to use Forces Help to Buy with the Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme. Help to Buy (Scotland) and Help to buy (Wales), but not the HMT Mortgage guarantee scheme. Please also be aware that not all lenders that do Forces Help to Buy will automatically let you do both together as well.
Q: Does the property I buy have to be a new build?
A: No, it just depends on your personal circumstances and if you are using the equity loan scheme as well.
Q: Is the money only for a deposit?
A: No, it can be used towards the other costs related to your purchase, such as legal fees and surveyors. We would always advise you check the extent to which you will get help with your other related costs to avoid any nasty surprises! With a purchase, excess funds cannot be held back for decoration for example.
Q: Is the scheme only for First Time buyers only?
A: No, it is designed for First Time buyers AND for those needing to move to another property, either because they are assigned elsewhere or as a result of certain extenuating family or medical circumstances.
Q: I want to keep my current property, but it is not suitable for my family anymore, can I use this the FHTB loan to help?
A: If due to an assignment or as a result of certain extenuating family or medical circumstances you need to extend or modify the property, an application would be considered.
Q: Can I/We let out the property?
A: The property must be intended for the Service Persons own immediate occupation, or that of their immediate family. It is not intended for the purchase of ‘buy-to-let’ properties or any other second property. However, you or your immediate family move in initially you may on assignment apply to your CO for permission to let. If approved, they will charge interest. For more details on this and other terms and conditions around letting please refer to section 7 of JSP 464 chapter 12.
Q: How long does it take?
A: Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule for this, as it really depends on your personal circumstances such as is it a new build, the people you are buying from and how busy the lender or FHTB office is for example. A typical house purchase takes around 3 months but this really is a general guide. Forces Help to Buy itself, requires a 2 week draw down after approval with no flexibility. You do need to be aware of these timescales to manage your stress levels and other expectations – it also helps for when you are booking the march out and removals!
Q: What does it mean once my FHTB application is ‘approved’?
A: As you would expect there is eligibility criteria and a sign off procedure to follow. Once the serving person has completed the form on JPA, there are various signatures they need to obtain, this all gets sent off, matched up with the mortgage and legal paperwork and then your formal offer of acceptance is issued. You know you are close when you get sent the promissory note. This is a legal term for the acknowledgement of the loan and your intention to repay.
Q: How does it work with entitlement to SSFA/SFA?
A: If the property that you propose to buy is within 50 miles of a current posting/drafting you will lose you entitlement to SSFA/SFA. If you need a couple of months’ grace for example due to schooling reasons or for major renovation before you move in, it is worth speaking to you CO to see if they will support you in an application for both as a short term measure.
Q: I’m still not sure if this scheme is the right one for me/us, can you help?
A: Yes, as experienced whole of market mortgage brokers Evolution Forces Families can guide you through the different options and work out what it best for you. Forces Help to Buy is not always the most suitable choice for some, there are a wide range of affordable housing schemes on offer, in addition to standard ones. The amount that different lenders will offer you will also vary considerably. A whole of market mortgage broker and military expert will be able to help you weigh up the options and find out what suits your circumstances the best.
Q: What do I/we need to do next?
A: We are always asked, what bit do I do first? We would always suggest that you have an initial chat with a whole of market mortgage broker first, to check your affordability and get an agreement in principle, this can save you a lot of disappointment or hassle later down the line. Once you have done this and found a house, you can apply for Forces Help to Buy and a full mortgage. This is because both are dependent on the property you hope to buy.
The Forces Help to Buy Scheme has been extended until April 2018. At Evolution Forces Families, we have developed our own Forces Help to Buy Guide, available for military personnel and their families to download for FREE! Get your copy here: bit.ly/forces-help-to-buy
If you have any other questions, or would like us to help you with any aspect of the Forces Help to Buy Scheme, please contact us on 0330 3322 614 (local rate) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer this service free of charge.