Government welcomes sign-up to under-fire mortgage guarantee scheme

One of the UK’s largest mortgage lenders, Halifax, has signed up to the government-backed NewBuy scheme to offer mortgages on new homes with just a 5% deposit, as predicted by Building last week.

Halifax, a subsidiary of Lloyds Banking Group which as a whole lends more home loans than any other firm, said this morning that it will offer two new mortgages for buyers with a 5-10% deposit.

Halifax’s announcement includes the launch of a “multi-user cell” (MUC) under the NewBuy scheme, a mechanism which potentially allows smaller housebuilders to take advantage of the £1bn government guarantee behind new home purchases at high loan to value ratios.

Halifax is only the second lender, after Nationwide, to offer an MUC, which are seen as critical to opening the NewBuy scheme to a wider range of housebuilders.

NewBuy sees the government provide a back-stop guarantee on losses incurred on the loans beyond 8.5% of the value of the house.

Halifax’s decision was welcomed by the government, which has been under fire over slow progress on the scheme, designed to support the construction of 100,000 new homes, since its launch in March.

Stephen Noakes, mortgage director, Halifax said, “We’re proud to supporting the NewBuy scheme. NewBuy will put the purchase of a new-build home back within the grasp of both first time buyers and homemovers, and will give a much needed boost to housing supply.”  

Housing minister Grant Shapps said he was delighted that Halifax will now offer the NewBuy guarantee to its customers. “The NewBuy Guarantee is offering help for thousands of people who in many cases had previously given up on the dream of home ownership. Thanks to the agreements we are striking with lenders and builders across the industry, those aspiring to get on the property ladder are now able to do so with a fraction of the deposit they would otherwise require.”

Halifax will offer a two-year fixed mortgage at 5.99% with a £999 fee, and a two-year fixed mortgage at 6.39%, with no product fee.

Building predicted last week that Halifax would join up.The announcement follows Building’s revelation that the government was in urgent talks with lenders over their slow roll-out of the scheme, and particular concerns over the ability of small builders to access it.

The UK’s second largest lender, Santander, is still to sign up, but is expected to do so in May.