HSBC has announced details of new Help to Buy mortgages for people who have at least a 5% deposit to put down.
And they look pretty good – particularly compared to the other mortgages on offer in the second part of the scheme from Halifax/Bank of Scotland and NatWest/Royal Bank of Scotland.
From Monday (25th November), HSBC will be offering a two-year fixed rate with an initial interest rate of 4.79% and a five-year fixed rate with an initial rate of 4.99%. Both come with a £99 booking fee.
Here's a quick reminder of how the Help to Buy scheme works.
How Help to Buy works
There are two parts to Help to Buy. The first, which was launched in England in April and in Scotland in August, offers a mortgage of up to 75% of the value of the home, plus a loan of up to 20%. This can be used to buy any new-build property up to a value of £600,000 (£400,000 in Scotland).
In England, you'll pay interest on the equity loan after five years, but in Scotland you won't have to at any time. You need to go through a mortgage adviser to get hold of one of these mortgages.
The second part, known as the mortgage guarantee scheme, launched in October and is available across the UK on any property, not just a new-build, up to a value of £600,000. It offers 95% mortgages, which are guaranteed by the Government.
HSBC has now joined Halifax/Bank of Scotland and NatWest/Royal Bank of Scotland in launching its mortgage guarantee offerings. Aldermore has said it will launch its mortgages before the end of the year, with Santander and Virgin Money to follow in the new year.
HSBC now offers the top two-year fix, though if you want to fix for longer it can definitely be beaten. However, this table does show how much of an improvement its mortgages are on the previous Help to Buy offerings.
So make sure you shop around. You may even want to wait until the new year now, as the launch of the remaining Help to Buy mortgages is likely to trigger more competitive 95% mortgages from other lenders as well.
Of course with all these things, the value it adds depends on the property you have to start with, and the kinds of improvements you make, but Which? estimates the cost of a new kitchen at £8,000 and HSBC calculates the added value to your property at £4,500 - which is a clear loss.
This has been done by 41% of people in the last three years, and 29% of people plan it in the next three. It's cheaper than a kitchen, and Which? estimates the cost at £3,000. This is roughly the same value that HSBC says it will add to your property - so you'll break-even.
It may be difficult, but getting your property ready for sale means depersonalising it.
Clutter can distract viewers and more than half (60%) of the property valuers who took part in the 2012 HSBC Home Improvement Survey said that the number one way to increase a property's chance of selling quickly, and for a good price, was to de-clutter.
This has been installed by 31% of us in the last three years, and 15% plan it in the next three. Installing central heating is a disruptive job, and according to WhatPrice it will cost you around £3,235. However, this is the first of the top ten to actually pay off. Property expert Phil Spencer says it will add £5,000 to the value.
A quick splash of paint can work wonders on tired-looking walls, and sticking to neutral tones is the safest bet.
Keeping the colour scheme simple, fresh and inviting will help potential buyers to see themselves living in your home.
Some 18% have added one in the last three years, and 30% will in the next three. This is another huge job, but with more people struggling to move and deciding to improve instead, it's increasingly popular. The amount it costs will depend on an enormous number of things, from the area you have to work with, to the size of the extension. However, assuming you add a single room you could spend around £20,000. HSBC estimates it will add around £15,500 to the value of the property, so you are unlikely to gain as much as you spend.
According to Halifax valuers, loft conversions - which require lofts with a roof height of at least 2.4 metres - are a good way to increase the potential sale price of your home.
Be sure to stick to your budget, though. The average loft conversion will cost between £10,000 and £30,000, while HSBC's figures show that they typically add £20,876 to the value of a property.
Putting in new windows adds around £5,265 to the value of the average property and can reap big rewards when it comes to energy efficiency.
It is, however, sensible to ensure that your new windows are in line with the style of your property to maximise the added value - particularly as putting them in can set you back about £5,000.
Off road parking or a garage can be especially advantageous in areas where parked cars line both sides on the street.
Nationwide's figures show that adding a garage, which can cost anything between £8,000 and £25,000, can increase the value of your property by 11%.
Outside space is just as important as inside - especially when people are seeing your home for the first time.
While 63% of the HSBC survey expert respondents said that repainting or varnishing a front door would make a difference, only 23% of homeowners recognised this. Peter Dockar at HSBC said: "It is often the smaller jobs like painting the front door that can make all the difference when looking for a sale."