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Help available for first-time buyers in Scotland

Metta Stockman


Government schemes to help first-time buyers in Scotland

Scotland offers several government schemes to help first-time buyers under the Low-Cost Initiative for First-Time Buyers (LIFT), including the New Supply Shared Equity (NSSE) scheme and Shared Ownership schemes. Additionally, first-time buyers can benefit from ISAs and Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) relief.


New Supply Shared Equity Scheme (NSSE)

The New Supply Shared Equity (NSSE) scheme helps first-time buyers purchase new build homes from housing associations or local councils. Under this scheme, you won’t need to fund the entire cost of your new home. Instead, you’ll typically pay between 60% and 80% of the property’s price, with the Scottish Government covering the remaining share through a ‘shared equity agreement’.

Here’s how it works:

  • You buy a share of the home, usually between 60% and 80%.
  • The Scottish Government holds the remaining share.
  • Although you have full title to your home, a mortgage (or ‘standard security’) will secure the government’s share.
  • If you sell the property, the government will receive a share of the proceeds.

Eligibility for the NSSE scheme is based on income, and local councils or social landlords will assess whether you qualify. You must demonstrate that you cannot afford a new build home without this assistance.

For more information, visit the Scottish Government website.


Shared Ownership Scheme

The Shared Ownership scheme is another option for those unable to afford the total cost of a home. This scheme differs from shared equity as the housing association retains part ownership and charges a fee for the share you do not own.

Key points about shared ownership:

  • You can buy a 25%, 50%, or 75% share of a home.
  • The housing association owns the remaining share.
  • For example, if you purchase a 25% share, the association holds a 75% share.

To participate, contact the social landlord in your area for available properties and application details. Note that there might be a waiting list, and your housing needs will influence your position on this list. Eligibility is limited to those who cannot afford to buy a house outright.

For more information, visit the Scottish Government website.


Help to buy ISA and Lifetime ISA

Help to Buy ISAs are closed to new applicants but still benefit existing holders. These ISAs allow you to save up to £200 per month, with the government adding a 25% bonus (up to £3,000) on your savings.

Lifetime ISAs remain open for new savers and are a valuable tool for first-time buyers. You can save up to £4,000 per tax year, earning a 25% government bonus on your contributions. The interest earned is tax-free.

For more details on Lifetime ISAs, click here.


LBTT reductions for first-time buyers in Scotland

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) is Scotland’s equivalent to stamp duty, applied to property purchases. First-time buyers benefit from LBTT relief on properties valued up to £175,000, exempting them from paying this tax if the property is within this threshold.

If your property exceeds £175,000, relief is applied to the first £175,000, with LBTT payable on the amount above this threshold. To calculate your LBTT liability, visit the Revenue Scotland website.


These schemes provide valuable support for first-time buyers in Scotland, making homeownership more accessible. If you’re thinking about buying your first home and want more expert advice, TSPC hosts regular events for first-time buyers that offer free advice.