Welcome to the stakeholder page!
Here you will find the information and documents you require to get your Help to Buy case running smoothly.
Information for Developers
All house builders and developers are eligible to register to participate in the Help to Buy initiative. To register as a builder you need to complete the required Registration Form and send it off to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below you can download the guide for house builders and developers. This document gives an overview of the scheme, how to register and the role of Help to Buy Agents:
House Builder & Developer Participation Guidance
To advertise your properties on our website please contact our Digital Marketing Officer, Clare Taylor on 0300 790 0570. You can also download our Marketing Menu which highlights all the options available to you.
Download the Help to Buy Logo for use in your marketing material:
Information for Solicitors
If the applicant you are acting on behalf of has been successful in their application for Help to Buy assistance you will require the following documentation:
Solicitor Form 1
Solicitor Form 2
Guidance for completing Solicitor Forms
It is important to keep in mind accuracy and timescales when completing these forms to avoid disappointment:
- ATP’s – 4 working days
- ATE’s – 3 working days
- CTD’s – 2 working days
Download - Timescale Workflow for Small Developer Cases
Download - Timescale Workflow for Large Developer Cases
Information for IFA’s
It is at the applicant’s discretion whether or not they use an Independent Financial Advisor. If he/she has selected you to support them in their application, it is important you assess their long term sustainability. This should be done in line with the calculator used by the Agent and the associated policy. More details and affordability guidance can be found on the GOV.UK website.
If you are completing the Help to Buy application on behalf of the applicant we would encourage you to use our Online Application Form as this improves accuracy and processing times.
You can also download our Help to Buy Application Submission Checklist.
The Solicitors Guidance Pack can be downloaded here. All solicitors obligations are outlined in detail in this document. Please note this FAQ does not replace the detailed document and there remains a requirement for solicitors to read their obligations in full.
Developer FAQ's - Answers
How do I register on the scheme?
Initial registration is completed directly with the Homes & Communities Agency, who provide all the relevant documentation to get you signed up for Help to Buy. Once you’ve completed all the required paperwork, the central HCA team notify us that you have been added to the contract list and we can begin to accept and process applications for your sales. The HCA’s guidance and forms can be located on the gov.uk website https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/help-to-buy-equity-loan-registration-forms
Can you provide any help with marketing?
Our website has over 14,000 hits a month and contains a variety of useful resources, including specialist blogs and news articles, as well as a searchable database of Help to Buy properties in our region. We also maintain an active presence on social media, and as Help to Buy agent we will help you market your properties in various ways.
To receive a guide to uploading properties and get set up with a website login free of charge, please contact Clare Taylor, our Digital Marketing Officer on email@example.com.
How do I advise potential buyers?
All Help to Buy applicants need to complete a Property Information Form and a Direct Debit Form, and submit it to us with a copy of your reservation form. The reservation form needs to be signed by both you and the buyers, and include the plot details, the full purchase price and the date of reservation. We can’t accept a memorandum of sale, and if any of the details are missing from the reservation form, we won’t be able to process the application. If you don’t have a standard form, let us know and we can provide a template which contains all the details we need.
Do I need to wait for Help to Buy documents?
Yes. The buyers will be unable to secure their mortgage without our Authority to Proceed, and it’s a contractual obligation that you do not exchange contracts without an Authority to Exchange. You also cannot complete without a valid Confirmation to Developer. Failure to comply with these requirements are reported directly to the HCA, and can lead to funds being withheld or exclusion from future Help to Buy contracts. If you’re unsure that the documents you have are enough, please contact us to confirm before going further.
When will I receive funds?
As a small developer (under 40 units), we will access the HCA payment system (IMS) on your behalf to arrange funding. Due to the time it takes for funds to be approved and transferred, we ask for 12 working days’ notice of the intended completion date to make sure they are with your solicitors in time. However you do not need to wait for the funds to arrive – you can complete once you’ve received our Confirmation to Developer with our assurances the monies will follow, as long as you’re happy to do so.
Solicitor FAQ's - Answers
I haven’t received my client’s documentation – what should I do?
We send the Authority to Proceed and accompanying documentation out to the solicitors contact information stated on the applicant’s Property Information Form and our own contact list. If you haven’t received any expected documents, contact the office and we will forward them on, and add you to the contact list for future cases. Similarly, we know that you may be instructed to take over a purchase after the ATP has been issued – in this case, we’ll need to amend our records and paperwork, so please notify us in writing.
The figures on the ATP don’t match my client’s mortgage offer – can I still proceed?
It’s important that all our documents match, so if the lender’s offer comes in at a different level to that specified on our ATP, we’ll need to issue an updated version. Amended ATPs have to be processed in the same way as first requests, and as we won’t be able to issue any further documents until this is resolved, it’s important we’re made aware of the correct financial figures as soon as possible. The same is true of other differences between our documents and the mortgage offer – particularly the address of the purchase property.
How do I request Authority to Exchange?
We ask the buyers solicitor to submit a fully completed, signed solicitor’s form 1, along with a copy of the full mortgage offer and the CML incentives form. We will process and issue the documents within 3 working days, but we ask you to submit the request 5 days in advance just in case any issues arise. We’ll cross-check the mortgage offer against the ATP and make sure the financial incentives confirmed on the CML form don’t exceed 5% of the purchase price.
At this stage, we will update the IMS and issue ATE to the developer and solicitors acting for both sides. If you’re having any difficulties with the forms, we’ve produced this handy guide - and you can always call the office for help.
What is IMS?
The Investment Management System (IMS) is the HCA’s payment system. Larger developers have access to the system themselves, and will upload details of each individual property as early as possible. We can’t issue ATE without first completing our section of the IMS scheme, so we’re unable to continue processing if the property hasn’t been added to the system.
Small developers (under 40 units) don’t have access to IMS and we’ll act on their behalf to add the property information, authorise exchange and to request funding for completion – (see ‘How do I ensure funds are available for completion?’)
What is considered a ‘financial incentive’ on the CML?
The scheme rules are clear that any financial incentives offered to the buyer may not exceed 5% of the full purchase price - it’s your responsibility to ensure this is the case, and you’ll be signing undertakings to this effect in the solicitor’s forms. We consider anything with a pre-defined monetary value to be a financial incentive, so this could include things like gifted deposits, stamp duty payments and contributions to legal fees. All financial incentives must be listed on both solicitors’ forms 1 & 2.
Why haven’t I received my ATE/CTD?
There are various reasons we may have been unable to issue the documents, such as missing documentation, incorrect figures or an error on IMS. If, by the end of our normal timescales, you haven’t received an email from a member of the team, either enclosing the requested authority or informing you of what we need, please call the office. Please note that ATEs are only sent to the developer and the buyer’s solicitor, so you’ll need to liaise with them to confirm exchange has been authorised.
What should I do if exchange is delayed?
The Authority to Exchange is only valid for the timescale stated on it. If this date has expired, we need you to send in a new request for a new timescale so we can issue a fresh ATE – please don’t exchange without a valid ATE. It’s worth remembering that we can issue the authority for any period up to 28 days and you don’t need to provide a specific date, so it may be worth allowing some leeway if you’re worried exchange may not take place within a certain deadline.
Where do I find the Confirmation of Exchange form?
The Confirmation of Exchange Form (CEF) is attached to the bottom of the ATE. We ask that the CEF is signed, dated and sent back to us within two working days of exchange taking place. If you also happen to know the expected completion date at this stage, we’d really appreciate you letting us know too. We won’t be able to issue Confirmation to Developer without a CEF on file, so it’s important they’re sent in to us within timescales.
What is Confirmation to Developer?
Confirmation to Developer (CTD) is essentially our authority to complete, and is our signal that we will be releasing funds on behalf of the HCA. Once we’ve received a satisfactory solicitor’s form 2 and Certificate of Title, we’ll send the CTD out to the developer and their solicitors, with a set completion date. Please note that CTDs are valid for the exact date only, and if this is missed, we’ll need a new form 2 to issue a new CTD.
How do I ensure funds are available for completion?
HCA funds are sent directly to the developer’s solicitor, and as larger developers access IMS themselves, they will either request the funds in good time, or will be happy to complete without. As we are responsible for IMS on behalf of small developers, we need to be made aware of the completion date 12 working days beforehand to allow us to arrange the funds in time.
What are my post-completion expectations?
Once completion has taken place, we expect you to forward a signed and certified copy of the equity mortgage document within five working days. We also expect to be in receipt of an AP1 form alongside this as evidence the registration has been submitted at the Land Registry, so it is important to work with the developer to secure the lease and/or transfer as quickly as possible. You will not be released from your undertakings until we have received satisfactory copies of the Title Document and Plan from the Land Registry so please ensure these are sent to us promptly upon completion of registration.
Why have I received a letter chasing documents?
We’re unable to close our files and pass the case on to the equity loan Mortgage Administrator until we’ve received the Signed Equity Charge and Title Information Document registering the HCAs charge. As a result, we have an obligation to follow up on documents which haven’t been received within the expected timescales. We appreciate there are delays at the Land Registry, and this is outside of your control – our letters are intended to serve as a reminder and a prompt for you to chase and monitor these cases wherever possible.
IFA FAQ's - Answers
What area does Help to Buy NW cover?
We are responsible for all Help to Buy applications for sites in Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire. If you’re unsure which county or Local Authority a particular development falls into, you can check here https://www.helptobuy.gov.uk/equity-loan/find-helptobuy-agent/
What documents do I need to submit?
We request a fully completed Property Information Form, signed by all applicants, along with a copy of the reservation form from the developer and a completed Direct Debit mandate form. Any applications we receive which are incomplete or unclear will not be processed until the required information is sent in, and they are then subject to the standard working timescales.
What sort of reservation form do I need?
This needs to be an official document from the developer, signed by their representative as well as all named applicants, and also needs to state the purchase price and property address. Please note we cannot accept a memorandum of sale or a letter confirming an acceptance of the buyer’s offer. We do have a template available on request if the developer doesn’t have a standard form.
How do I check the developer is registered as part of the Help to Buy Scheme?
The developer should be aware, but we have a regularly updated contract list, so we’ll be able to confirm either way.
Can the applicant be gifted a deposit?
Yes. This amount just needs to be included in the total deposit figure stated on the PIF.
If any of the deposit is provided by someone else, it must be as a non-repayable gift, otherwise the amount will be treated as a debt. The person gifting the deposit must also hold no interest in the property.
If the gifted deposit is being supplied by the developer as part of the sales agreement, it will need to be included with any other financial incentives on the CML form all incentives combined must not represent more than 5% of the full purchase price. Please see Buyers Guide.
Can the Equity Loan scheme be used in conjunction with the Help to Buy ISA?
Yes. We can accept funds from an ISA as deposit, but we are not involved in the administration of the Help to Buy ISA scheme. The buyer’s solicitor will need to be registered to claim the ISA bonus, and will access an online portal to draw down the funds on behalf of the buyer before completion. More information can be found here https://www.helptobuy.gov.uk/help-to-buy-isa/how-does-it-work/
What is the maximum deposit?
There is a requirement that the mortgage taken out from the lender must be equivalent to at least 25% of the total purchase price, which subsequently limits the maximum amount of deposit permitted. For example if the buyer is taking a 20% equity loan, the deposit wouldn’t be allowed to exceed 55% of the purchase price. (E.g. a £200,000 house would need a minimum of £50,000 mortgage, an equity loan of £40,000, meaning the largest possible deposit would be £110,000.) Please see Buyers Guide.
Can I have a copy of the calculator/buyers guide?
All the documents you’ll need are downloadable from our website. Please see the Information for IFA's or the useful downloads below.
Can I appear on your panel?
We have lots of requests to be included on the list of IFAs we feature on our website, but we have a responsibility to our applicants to ensure we only include those we know to be proficient and experienced in the scheme. We ask anyone wishing to be included on our list to send over the details of multiple Help to Buy cases they’ve worked on so we can check the required standards have been consistently met before adding them to our site.
Can my client apply when they already own a property?
Help to Buy applicants may not own another property at the same time as the Help to Buy property. An existing homeowner can apply for the Help to Buy scheme, but they will need to have a firm interest in the sale of their current property and be in a position to complete the sale before completion takes place on the Help to Buy property. Please see Buyers Guide.
What if my client owns a commercial property?
Any type of property registered in the applicants name is seen as an asset and must be sold before completion of the Help to Buy Property. If the commercial property is registered under a company name the asset belongs to the business and this is acceptable. Please see Buyers Guide.
What if my client owns a property abroad?
Property owned outside the UK is still subject to the same rules we apply to properties owned here, and will need to be sold prior to completion. The rules relating to commercial properties abroad are also the same (see above). Please see Buyers Guide.
What are the normal timescales for an application?
From the time we receive a full and complete application; we will process it and issue a response within 4 working days. Please also take note of our opening hours as any documents received after 5pm will automatically fall into the next working day.
How do I check the progress of my client’s application?
We politely request that you allow the 4 working day turnaround time to elapse before chasing up any applications. After this time, please contact your client who will have received the ATP and all accompanying documentation, or a response from us outlining any issues or missing information. Please note that we are unable to send any documents directly to the IFA.
Why hasn’t my client been accepted on to the scheme?
There are various reasons we may be unable to process or approve an application, but we’ll always make the reasons clear to the applicant and do our best to suggest a resolution wherever possible.
What are the affordability parameters?
The general affordability criteria for the scheme includes:
- The mortgage loan is no more than 4.5x gross household income
- Minimum deposit 5% of the full purchase price
- Debt to household income must be no more than 45%
We’re aware this may differ from the rules set out by various lenders, but this is a fixed calculation and applications outside of this limit will not pass through our affordability calculator.
However these aren’t the only factors taken into consideration, so it’s better to run your figures through the calculator first, before submitting the PIF. The calculator and guidance documents can be found through the links on our Stakeholder Central page. This will avoid delays as we try to resolve any problems, and prevent any potential disappointment for the applicant(s). Please see Buyers Guide.
When should I submit the mortgage application to the lender?
As having a mortgage is a requirement of the scheme, it may be worth obtaining an offer in principle before applying but we expect you to be in receipt of our Authority to Proceed (ATP) before submitting the official mortgage application. Some lenders will require this for a Help to Buy mortgage anyway, but it also reduces the risk of having to wait for amended documents should the ATP require different figures from the lender’s offer.
What should I do if something changes with the application after I’ve submitted the PIF?
This will vary depending on the changes that need to be made, and when they emerge. If we haven’t yet processed it to issue ATP, we should be able to update the application without losing its place in the queue, but if it’s already been processed, it will be subject to normal working turnaround times.
While we expect all amendment requests to be made in writing and submitted to the team inbox (firstname.lastname@example.org) , we may also require updated versions of the PIF or reservation form too – if you’re unsure, call the office and we’ll let you know what’s needed.