The Government has extended the deadline on its Help to Buy scheme and given builders an additional six weeks to finish off homes. The decision, which could save hundreds of new first-time buyers’ purchases from falling through, means developers now have until 17 March to complete the new build homes. Initially, homes built under the scheme were supposed to be finished by the end of December last year. Still, that deadline was pushed back to 31 January due to construction delays.
In a letter to the Home Builders Federation last week, housing minister Lucy Frazer said it was “disappointing” that some developers were asking for more time but that she was prepared to offer another six weeks to “support the few remaining transactions over the line”.
The minister said there would be “no consideration” of any additional deadline extension as this could risk completions achieving legal completion by 31 March.
Ms Frazer added that some developments are delayed by “longstanding issues” and unlikely to be resolved before legal completion. “In these cases, it is crucial that developers, in compliance with their contractual obligations, refund customer reservation fees as soon as possible,” she wrote.
The Government said that developers who wish to use the extra time must provide Homes England with details of the plots, the reasons for the delay and the date they expect the plot to complete.
The Help to Buy scheme was launched by then-chancellor George Osborne in 2013. It was described as the “biggest intervention in the housing market since Right to Buy”. It aimed to get buyers on the property ladder through government-backed equity loans of 20% of a property’s value, or 40% in London. The discount scheme closed for applications on 31 October 2022, and buyers must legally complete the by the end of March to remain eligible. With the build deadline set at the end of January, those approved for a loan were set to miss out if their homes were incomplete by this date.