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Help to Buy – Practical Completion deadline extension

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Buyers using the government’s Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme have been given more time to reach a key deadline to prevent sales falling through.

When the Help to Buy scheme closed to new applications on the 31st October 2022, we issued an update to share the latest government guidance on what would happen next for buyers and developers.

The guidance highlighted key milestones (termed ‘Longstop Dates’) to be aware of before the scheme officially comes to an end on the 31st March 2023. One of these was 31st December 2022, by which time all Help to Buy properties were expected to reach ‘Practical Completion’ – i.e., they would have to be ready to live in and in possession of a new-home warranty for buyers to remain eligible for the government equity loan.

Following discussions between the Home Builders Federation, Homes England and government, Housing Minister Lucy Frazer has confirmed the government is now offering a one-month extension to the December deadline for developers should they need more time. This is to avoid buyers being disadvantaged by supply chain issues, labour shortages and other unforeseen circumstances putting completions at risk.

How does it work?

  • Developers must notify Homes England in writing by 20th December 2022 if they think any of their Help to Buy properties are not going to reach Practical Completion by the 31st.
  • Customers must have an Authority to Proceed (ATP) or Authority to Exchange (ATE) in progress to be granted forbearance.
  • If these conditions are met, the new deadline for Practical Completion will be 31st January 2023.
  • Cancelled applications cannot be reopened, nor will buyers be permitted to make any new or additional reservations.
  • 31st March 2023 is the final Longstop Date. This is the deadline for legal completion to have taken place (whereby the conveyancing process has concluded and the buyer has received the keys by 6pm). This deadline is final and no extensions will be granted.
  • Developers must therefore keep Homes England informed on their progress. They must also notify their Help to Buy customers as soon as possible if they believe it is not going to be possible to achieve legal completion by 31st March 2023.
  • As before, buyers who become ineligible for the scheme due to missed deadlines must be released from their contracts with developers and have their deposits and reservation fees refunded in full.

The government has updated its guidance accordingly – read it here.

If firms have any queries, please contact info@a-m-i.org.uk.

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