Help To Buy: Doubts Over Success Of Scheme
The second phase of the government mortgage guarantee scheme Help to Buy launches today, three months earlier than expected - but experts are sceptical the initiative will help buyers.
Lack of capacity in the housing market, and a statement from one bank saying it cannot confirm whether it will take part in the scheme, means some would-be buyers could be left empty-handed.
Exclusive research by Sky News shows interest from potential buyers has skyrocketed since the Government surprised the market.
Property website Rightmove says clicks on its Help to Buy pages numbered 14,807 on Saturday, the day before last Sunday's surprise announcement.
When David Cameron revealed, on the eve of the Conservative Party conference, that the launch date had been brought forward from January - clicks, measuring potential buyer interest, spiked to 59,571.
Now, almost a week later, they remain far above average at 23,660.
There is concern that pent-up demand cannot be met by existing market services, while Barclays has issued a statement saying it is not able to guarantee a launch date.
"Whilst we cannot take a decision over participation in the new scheme before the terms are set, we are encouraged by the tone of the discussions so far," the bank said.
RBS and Natwest however, have said they are ready to take part in the scheme when it goes live and are planning to extend opening hours in many branches to deal with demand.
"From launch date customers will be able to visit any of our 2000 branches or call us to see how we can help them to get ahead on the property ladder through the scheme," said a statement.
Lloyds Banking Group will also be participating in the second stage of Help to Buy - but exact timings are currently unclear.
"We will be introducing a range of products shortly through our Halifax (and Bank of Scotland) brand, enabling customers to benefit from 95% borrowing this year," said a spokesperson.
However, some estate agents are still worried about a lack of capacity to deal with interest in the scheme.
Robert Ellice, of Clarke Hillyer, told Sky News: "At the moment we've got big delays in the whole process anyway, mortgages are still taking a long time to be offered and taking a long time to be verified on values."
Despite the concerns, the government insists that the scheme is still on track to be a success.
A Treasury statement said: "Two major lenders - Lloyds and RBS representing around 30% of total mortgage lending - have already announced that they will be launching new mortgage products because of Help to Buy.
"This is great news for those who can't get on - or move up the property ladder because of the huge cost of deposits."