There are a variety of schemes available to first time buyers in Scotland to help them on to the property ladder, from the popular Help-to-Buy scheme to the First Home Fund and Lifetime ISAs. Paul Demarco from ESPC Mortgages discusses some of the most common first time buyer schemes in this article. 

Help to Buy scheme in Scotland

The Help to Buy (Scotland) Equity Loan Scheme for new build homes is extremely popular. This can help you move home with just a 5% deposit and an equity stake from the Scottish government of up to 15% loan from April 2016 and is restricted to a maximum purchase of £200,000. Speak to your local developer to find out more.

The Scottish Government recently extended this scheme to March 2022.

First Home Fund

Launched in December 2019, the First Home Fund is another equity scheme which shares some similarities with Help to Buy. One crucial difference is that it can be used on both new build and resale properties. Through the scheme, the government provide an equity loan of up to £25,000 to boost your deposit (you must have saved a 5% deposit in order to be eligible for the scheme).

The Scottish Government has recommended that you seek independent mortgage advice before applying to this scheme. It has proven popular in recent times due to many mortgage lenders requiring higher deposits, as the scheme can help first time buyers save up the deposit required to qualify for a mortgage.

The Scottish Government invested an additional £50 million into the First Home Fund in July 2020 to help first time buyers onto the property ladder.


LIFT is another shared equity scheme which is available for properties on the open market. The LIFT Open Market Shared Equity scheme allows people on low to moderate incomes to buy homes that are for sale on the open market. Buyers require to put towards a modest deposit for the property and in return own an equity stake of 60% to 90% in the property.

The Scottish Government pays for the remaining balance under an agreement with you. When you come to sell your home, the government receives the equivalent stake on the sale value. There are restrictions under the scheme on the purchase price which is linked to the number of bedrooms.

Shared ownership

There are a variety of shared ownership schemes available whereby you purchase a percentage of a property which is owned by a housing association. This can be a 25%, 50% or 75% share. You will then pay an occupancy charge on the remainder to the housing association.

Lifetime ISAs

It can sometimes be tricky to save for your first home deposit. That’s where the lifetime ISA comes in – a 25% tax-free government boost is available on savings. If you save the maximum amount into the ISA each year (£4,000), the government will boost your savings by £1,000.

The savings and bonus amount can then be used for your deposit for a home. But if you decide not to use it for that, then you can also use it for retirement.

The Lifetime ISA is replacing the Help to Buy ISA, which closed to new accounts on 30th November 2019.

As you can see, there is a vast array of varied schemes available. When considering any of these schemes, it is important to investigate all the technical aspects and their implications before deciding if it is right for you.

ESPC Mortgages

As independent mortgage advisers, ESPC Mortgages can help with all aspects of understanding your budget, applying for a mortgage and dealing with the relevant insurance requirements. Email us at or give us a call on 0131 253 2920.

You may also be interested in...

Scotland’s First Home Fund: everything you need to know

Here's everything we know so far about Scotland's First Home Fund, a scheme to help first time buyers by boosting their house deposit by up to £25,000.

Mortgage and property market predictions

David Lauder, Independent Mortgage Adviser with ESPC Mortgages, makes some predictions for the 2020 mortgage and property market.

Mortgages for first time buyers

We break down everything you need to know about getting your first mortgage. 


The information contained in this article is provided in good faith. Whilst every care has been taken in the preparation of the information, no responsibility is accepted for any errors which, despite our precautions, it may contain. No individual mortgage advice is given, nor intended to be given in this article.

The initial consultation with an adviser is free and without obligation. Thereafter, ESPC Mortgages charges for mortgage advice are usually £350 (£295 for first time buyers). YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON A MORTGAGE OR OTHER LOANS SECURED AGAINST IT.

ESPC (UK) Ltd is an Appointed Representative of Lyncombe Consultants Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.