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Help to Buy ISA: What you need to know as time runs out on getting £3k from Government

The cash ISA, which was launched in 2015, and offers a government bonus of up to £3,000 for aspiring homeowners. Credit: PA

Time is running out to open the Help to Buy ISA, which is aimed at encouraging younger people to get on the property ladder.

The cash ISA, which was launched in 2015, offers a government bonus of up to £3,000 for aspiring homeowners.

The scheme is set to close on November 30 but providing you open an account before that date you can continue to save money for another 10 years.

Why is the Help to Buy ISA ending?

"The Help to Buy ISA has helped around 200,000 people on to the property ladder, and around one million other people still have an account," according to Helen Saxon, banking editor of MoneySavingExpert.com.

"However, with property prices so high, the addition of the 25% Help to Buy ISA bonus can feel like a drop in the ocean to some – this is perhaps borne out in the figures showing that the Help to Buy ISA is least used by buyers in London."

What should aspiring homeowners do after the deadline passes?

Ms Saxon advises: "If you want the Help to Buy ISA, it’s best to put whatever you can into it now, even if that’s just £1, as once the account’s open, you can continue saving £200 a month into it until December 2030."

Time is running out to open the Help to Buy ISA, which is aimed at encouraging younger people to get on the property ladder. Credit: PA

So how does the Help to Buy work?

Up to £200 can be put into a Help to Buy ISA each month. However in the first month, savers can put in an additional £1,000.

Once you put money into the account, the government will boost your savings by 25%.

So for every £200 first-time buyers save, the government will top it up with a bonus of £50.

But this government scheme is only available for people buying a home with a purchase price of £250,000 or less outside of London or £450,000 in the capital.

This means that if the property you're interested in is over this amount, you will not be able to get the additional government bonus of up to £3,000.

Which banks offer the Help to Buy ISA?

Several large banks and building societies offer the Help to Buy ISA, however the interest rates are variable so could often change.

The Government has a full list of providers in the scheme here.

There are other schemes to help first time buyers get on the property ladder. Credit: PA

Are Help to Buy ISAs only for new builds?

No. Unlike the Help to Buy equity loan, you are not restricted into buying a new build property.

What help is out there for people attempting to save?

Ms Saxon of MoneySavingExpert.com advises: "There’s the Lifetime ISA, designed for saving for a first home, or for retirement.

"And if you’re on a low income, claiming working tax credit or universal credit, you might be able to open a Help to Save account, where you can get a 50% bonus from the state, but only on small amounts.

"If you don’t qualify for either of these schemes, you just need to pick the right savings account for you from what’s there on the market."

Here's more details on the other options:

Help to Buy equity loan The Government will lend you up to 20% of the home's value, or 40% in the capital, after you've put down a 5% deposit.

But this type of loan can only be used to buy a new build property and would be on top of a normal mortgage.

Lifetime ISA There is another Government scheme called the Lifetime ISA, which gives anyone aged 18 to 39 the chance to save tax-free and receive a bonus of up to £32,000 towards their first home.

The scheme can be only used for first-time buyers or for retirement after the age of 60.

It allows you to save up to £4,000 per year and the Government will add 25% on top.

Unlike the Help To Buy - where you would put in up to £200 a month, you can put money in in bulk or however much you like each month.

You can continue saving in normal savings accounts or ISAs, or you can open the Lifetime ISA, which also offers a 25% bonus to first time buyers.

However, if you save into the LISA, you need to be sure that you will one day buy a home. This is because you can only access your money to put towards a property, or once you’re 60.

Withdraw cash at any other time and you pay a 25% penalty on the amount withdrawn. This is equivalent to losing the bonus, plus 6.25% of your own savings,

Shared ownership Co-owning your home with a business or housing association means you can buy a part of the property and pay rent on the remaining amount.

Aspiring homeowners can buy anything from 25-75% of the property depending on your co-owner.