The government has announced an extension of the Help to Buy scheme, benefitting buyers whose new home purchases have been delayed as a result of coronavirus.

House builders now have until 28 February 2021 to finish building qualifying homes. The previous deadline was the end of December 2020.

Help to Buy is designed to make a foot on the housing ladder more affordable. It offers both first-time buyers and movers an equity loan of up to 20% when purchasing a new-build property – 40% in London.

As a result of the scheme, London buyers with a 5% deposit can apply for a 55% loan – making it easier for them to secure a mortgage and find an attractive rate, as well as reducing their monthly repayments. However, after five years, interest will need to be paid on the loan.

The government has also confirmed that some buyers will be given extra time to complete their purchases. As long as they reserved their home by 30 June this year, and have experienced purchase delays as a result of coronavirus, they will have until 31 May 2021 to complete.

A new version of Help to Buy will launch in April 2021, but it will only be open to first-time buyers and will involve price caps. The scheme will close completely in 2023.

Many eligible projects were delayed during lockdown because building sites were shut for weeks, only reopening once strict social distancing measures were in place.

Alex Rose, director of new homes at property portal Zoopla, said: “Demand for Help to Buy properties is unwavering, so this news is a temporary relief for house builders and agents alike, but most importantly to those thousands of buyers whose Help to Buy purchase might otherwise have been jeopardised.”

Read more about this story in the Evening Standard Homes & Property and Mail Online websites.