Thinking of using the Government’s Help to Buy scheme? We take a look at where the initiative has been most widely used.

Wakefield in Yorkshire is England’s top Help to Buy hotspot with more people there using the scheme to buy a home than in any other local authority.

A total of 2,732 properties have been purchased in Wakefield, where the average new-build home costs £221,740, using the equity loan scheme since it was first launched in 2013.

It was followed by Wiltshire, where 2,725 equity loans have been advanced, and County Durham at 2,515, with Central Bedfordshire and Leeds completing the top five.

Wakefield was also the most popular area in which the scheme has been used during the past 12 months, followed by Central Bedfordshire and Tower Hamlets in London.

The findings come after separate research showed many first-time buyers were using the Help to Buy equity loan to buy larger, more desirable homes than they would otherwise be able to afford.

Why is this happening?

The Help to Buy equity loan scheme enables people to purchase a new-build property with just a 5% deposit with the Government topping this up with a five-year interest-free equity loan.

While the initiative is often seen as helping first-time buyers, it can be used by anyone trading up the property ladder.

Laura Howard, consumer expert at Zoopla, said: “Whilst it might be presumed that first-time buyers only use Help to Buy in markets with stretched affordability such as London, our analysis shows that its popularity actually spans the entire country.”

In fact, average house prices for the top 10 most popular locations in which the help to buy scheme was used in the past 12 months ranged from £196,783 in County Durham to £520,408 in Barnet in London.

Who does it affect?

As well as helping first-time buyers purchase a home, research shows the Help to Buy scheme has also enabled them to leapfrog the first rung of the property ladder and buy a larger, typically three-bedroom, property.

By entering their household income, preferred mortgage term and interest rate, it shows the maximum property value they could buy, how much they would need to save for a 5% deposit, estimated monthly mortgage repayments and monthly charges on the equity loan once the interest-free period comes to an end.

What’s the background?

While the Help to Buy equity loan scheme has helped thousands of people to get on to the property ladder, it is not suitable for everyone.

Potential buyers considering using the initiative need to weigh up the pros and cons, and while it may enable them to afford a bigger home, they are limited to purchasing a new-build property, while they can only use certain lenders.

Studies also suggest Help to Buy has inflated the cost of new-build properties, with first-time buyers in some areas paying a premium of up to 22% to use the equity loan scheme.