Under Help To Buy, which was launched in 2013, homebuyers can get an extra 20 per cent loan from the Government — or 40 per cent if they are buying in London.
This is on top of a mortgage obtained from a bank or building society and means they need to find only a 5 per cent deposit.
In Charles and Jessica’s case, they couldn’t have afforded the £205,000 apartment without this help.
Through Help To Buy, they got a £41,000 loan from the Government, which — together with their £10,250 deposit — meant they could get a £153,750 mortgage to cover the rest.
The idea was that they would stay in the flat for a few years while saving for a larger deposit. Then, when they sold the property, they could use this, plus any profit they had made through rising house prices, to afford a new home.
But since they bought their flat in September 2015, its market value has fallen by 15 pc to £175,000.
Charles, who works as a co-ordinator for a North Sea drilling firm, says: ‘We knew the flat was quite pricey when we bought it, compared with other homes nearby, but we assumed that was because it was a brand-new property. Help To Buy was our only option and so we just went for it.
‘Now we really need more space for our growing family, but we don’t have the money to pay back our mortgage lender.’
He adds: ‘We are still paying Jessica’s family back for the money we borrowed to put towards our deposit.’
Paula Higgins, the chief executive of consumer group HomeOwners Alliance, says first-time buyers need to do their research when they’re looking to buy a property to avoid falling foul of overpriced properties and developers’ hidden tricks to get you to purchase their homes.
She says: ‘First-time buyers need to go into the scheme with their eyes open and question whether the price makes sense — and negotiate with the developer or walk away if the price seems too high.
Help To Buy can be a great way for first-time buyers to get on the housing ladder, but just because a new-build home carries the Help To Buy badge, it doesn’t mean its quality or value is guaranteed.’
A spokesman for property development firm Scotia Homes, which sold the couple the flat, says: ‘The economy in the north-east of Scotland has a focus on the oil and gas sector, which for the past few years has been particularly challenging.
‘The resulting impact on property has been significant, with house prices having fallen by up to 20 per cent.
‘This fall, from a peak in 2014 through to its trough in 2017, has been across all price categories and has affected both second-hand and new-build properties alike.’