The LIFT Scheme Scotland: Your Key to First-Time Home Ownership

Many aspire to own their own home, but it can often feel out of reach, particularly for first-time buyers. Thankfully, to help more people climb that first property ladder rung, the Scottish Government has re-opened the Low-cost Initiative for First-Time Buyers (LIFT) scheme – providing an invaluable opportunity for Scots nationwide.

In our latest blog, we’ll explore the LIFT scheme in detail, discussing what it entails, who is eligible, and providing all the essential information you need to take advantage of this fantastic initiative.

What is the LIFT Scheme?

The Low-cost Initiative for First-Time Buyers (LIFT) scheme, also known as the Open Market Shared Equity (OMSE) scheme, is a government-backed program designed to help first-time buyers and other priority groups purchase property. This initiative aims to make homeownership more accessible and affordable by offering financial assistance in the form of shared equity.

Under the LIFT scheme, the Scottish Government provides a portion of the purchase price of a home, typically between 10% and 40%. The buyer then funds the remaining amount through a mortgage and deposit. The government’s equity share means that buyers don’t need to save as large a deposit or secure as high a mortgage to attain their home – thereby reducing the financial burden and making homeownership more attainable.

For example, under the LIFT scheme, if you pay 75% of a home worth £200,000 (£150,000), the Scottish Government will pay the remaining 25% (£50,000). 

According to the Scottish Government website, these shared equity schemes have helped over 12,000 people to buy a home since 2007.

Who Owns the Property?

Under the Low-cost Initiative for First-Time Buyers (LIFT) scheme, you will have full ownership of your home (called ‘complete title’), and your name will be on the title deeds. However, a mortgage (or ‘standard security’) will be on the home to protect the Scottish Government’s share. This also means that if you decide to sell the house in the future, the Scottish Government will receive a portion of the sale proceeds.

Under the LIFT scheme, you’ll be a standard homeowner, meaning you’ll be responsible for:

  • Paying your mortgage on time
  • Setting up home contents and building insurance
  • Overseeing and paying for repairs and maintenance
  • Paying council tax
  • Paying your heating, electric and water bills
  • Buying fittings and furniture for your home

With this in mind, it’s crucial to read the Home Report carefully before purchasing a home through the LIFT scheme. If the report suggests the property needs essential repairs and maintenance, make sure you can afford them before taking the leap.

Read our blog on everything you need to know about Home Reports for more information.

Who is Eligible for the LIFT Scheme?

The Low-cost Initiative for First-Time Buyers (LIFT) scheme is open to a wide range ofapplicants, with a particular focus on supporting those who might struggle to purchase a home through traditional means. Eligible groups include:

  • First-time buyers
  • Seniors aged 60 and over
  • Social renters (those renting from the council or a housing association)
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • Active members of the armed forces
  • Veterans who have left the armed forces within the past two years
  • Widows, widowers, and partners of service personnel, eligible for up to two years after their partner has lost their life while serving

An important thing to note is that the LIFT initiative is only for households with low to medium incomes. You’ll need to prove that you can’t afford to buy a suitable home without help from the scheme. If your application looks like you could buy a home on your own, it won’t be accepted.

How Can I Apply for LIFT Scheme?

If you’re eligible for The Low-cost Initiative for First-Time Buyers (LIFT) scheme and want to apply, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

1. Read the Information Leaflet – Begin by reading the full Open Market Shared Equity Scheme Buyer Information Leaflet on the Scottish Government website. This document provides detailed information about the scheme and helps you understand the process and requirements.

2. Submit Your Application – Visit the scheme’s administering agent, Link Homes, and submit your application online. Ensure you have all the necessary documents and information ready to complete your application accurately.

3. Receive Your ‘Passport Letter’ – If your application is approved, you’ll receive a ‘passport letter’. This letter confirms your eligibility and allows you to start looking for a home through the LIFT scheme. It will also specify the maximum price you can spend on a home and provide you with the next steps to follow.

4. Search for a Property – Start searching for a property that meets your needs and budget. Utilise online property portals, visit estate agents, and explore neighbourhoods you’re interested in. For more inspiration, check out our blog on how to find your dream home.

5. Obtain a Valuation – When you find a home you like, you’ll need to provide a copy of its valuation. This valuation is typically included in the Home Report, which the seller will provide. The Home Report contains important information about the property’s condition and value.

6. Hire a Solicitor – As you proceed with the purchase, you’ll need a solicitor to represent you. A solicitor will handle the legal aspects of buying the home and ensure everything is in order. You can read our handy article on finding a solicitor in Scotland for more guidance. The Scottish Government also has its own solicitor to manage its equity share in the property.

7. Finalise the Purchase – Once everything is in place, you’ll pay for your share of the home’s price as usual. Be prepared to cover additional costs such as legal fees, registration fees, and any applicable stamp duty.

8. Move Into Your New Home – After completing all the necessary steps and finalising the purchase, you can move into your new home and start enjoying the benefits of homeownership through the LIFT scheme.

Post Purchase: What Happens Next?

Increasing Your Share

Once you own a home through The Low-cost Initiative for First-Time Buyers (LIFT) scheme, you’ll have the opportunity to buy a larger share of the property if your financial situation improves. To increase your share, you must purchase at least 5% of the property each year.

In most cases, you can keep increasing your share until you own 100% of the property. When you reach full ownership, the Scottish Government will no longer have a stake in your home. This means that if you decide to sell the property, you will retain all the proceeds from the sale. However, when you decide to buy a larger share of your home, you will need to cover several costs. These include the valuation fees for assessing the property’s current value, legal fees for the solicitor handling the transaction, and administration fees charged by the organisation processing your request.

The ‘Golden Share’ Clause

In certain circumstances, a provision called a ‘golden share’ limits the maximum share you can own. The Scottish Government may retain a 10% share of your home, particularly in areas with fewer affordable homes. For example, if you initially bought a 70% share of the property, you could only increase your share up to 90% if the shared equity agreement included a ‘golden share’ clause.

To find out if your shared equity agreement has a ‘golden share’, you should check with your solicitor. Understanding this clause is crucial as it affects your ability to fully own the property. This provision is typically in place to ensure that affordable housing remains available in areas with limited housing options.

Give Your Homeownership Dreams a LIFT

The LIFT scheme is a beacon of hope for many aspiring Scottish homeowners, breaking down the financial barriers that often prevent them from purchasing a first home. By providing vital support and making the path to homeownership more attainable, the Scottish Government is fostering a more inclusive and accessible housing market. 

If you’re eligible and dreaming of owning your own property, now is the perfect time to explore what the LIFT scheme can do for you. Take the first step today, and let this initiative help you secure a brighter future in a home of your own.

Thinking of Selling Your Property?

If you’re thinking of selling your property, our team of experts is here to help you get the best possible price in the quickest possible time. With decades of experience under our belt, we’ve seen all possible market conditions over the years and are perfectly placed to help you navigate the current property landscape. Get in touch today!

Fill in our free online home valuation form here

Call us on 0345 646 0208 (Option 1)

or email [email protected] to organise a free valuation of your home or to get a full, transparent breakdown of the costs of selling your home.

Thinking of Buying?

Our specialist Purchasing Team helps thousands of buyers every year to get the best deal on their next dream home, while our friendly and expert lawyers will guide you step-by-step through the Scottish buying process until you have the keys in your hand.

Get a quote for buying online here

Call us on 0345 646 0208 (Option 2)

or email [email protected], and we’ll be delighted to help.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *