Prime Minister Boris Johson has pledged 95% mortgages for two million first-time buyers. The Government unveiled plans for ‘generation buy’ at a virtual Conservative Party conference. The Prime Minister said: “We need now to take forward one of the key proposals of our manifesto of 2019: giving young, first-time buyers the chance to take out a long-term, fixed-rate mortgage of up to 95 percent of the value of the home — vastly reducing the size of the deposit.”

 

How Will It Work?

The Government has revealed intentions to make 95% mortgages more extensively available for first-time buyers, but it is still uncertain how the proposals would work. The Prime Minister discussed the issue facing two million prospective first-time buyers who could afford to pay mortgage repayments but are having difficulty getting approved for a home loan. He believes the Government has a role to play in unlocking low-deposit loans to generate ‘the biggest expansion of homeownership since the 1980s’.

The proposal is also reminiscent of government-backed low-deposit mortgage schemes introduced after the 2008 crash. A similar program was launched as part of the Help to Buy plan during the 2008 recession because of banks withdrawing their high loan-to-value mortgage products. Previously, there were 100 percent loans on offer for buyers.

The Government has not released any details on how the scheme might work. According to a report by The Telegraph, one prospective design is for banks to get rid of the rigorous stress tests that were introduced after the financial crash. Rather than the stress tests, the Government could impose a guarantee for these higher loans. This would remove the risk placed on lenders, allowing them to offer low-deposit loans without worry. The tests are designed to assess whether a buyer will keep up mortgage repayments should interest rates rise from their current rate of 0.1%.

 

How Could The Scheme Help First-Time Buyers?

Boris Johnson said that the scheme will help up to two million people who can afford mortgage repayments but can’t currently find home loans. While high loan-to-value mortgages were widely offered at the begging of this year, the COVID lockdown caused many lenders to withdraw their products. Banks and building societies were inundated with a backlog of inquiries when the housing market reopened, and some became overwhelmed with the demand. The decision to remove the low-deposit mortgages may have been due to economic uncertainty – as the economy walks a tightrope many lenders wish to distance themselves from providing riskier loans. 

In theory, first-time buyers will be able to buy with a five percent deposit once again under the new proposals. The result hopes to “turn Generation Rent into Generation Buy.” However, buyers should still be aware of the possible risks that remain. When you buy a property with a low deposit, there is often a greater risk of negative equity if the property market doesn’t rise but instead declines.