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Government Assistance for home buyers

Much has been made of the Federal Government’s First Home Owners Grant scheme, and the cash handouts it makes available to Australians purchasing their first home.

Much has been made of the Federal Government's First Home Owners Grant scheme, and the cash handouts it makes available to Australians purchasing their first home. 

But numerous other schemes also exist that can assist existing buyers. These generally come in the form of grants and stamp duty concessions, and their value depends greatly on your personal and financial circumstances, how much you are spending and where you intend to buy. In all cases, at least one buyer must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident to qualify.

Where you choose to live can have a big impact on the assistance you may receive, with more assistance generally available for buyers in regional areas. The NSW Government for instance, has a $7000 Regional Relocation Grant to assist with the cost of relocating from a metropolitan home to a regional home, where the value of the new home does not exceed $600,000. Numerous restrictions apply, and to qualify you must have been the owner of a metropolitan residential property (including areas around Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and the Byron local government area) and lived there within 12 months of purchasing the regional property.

Some governments also have schemes to encourage the building of new homes. The NSW Home Builders Bonus provides full exemption on stamp duty for new homes where the value does not exceed $600,000 and building has not commenced, and for vacant land up to $400,000. For newly built homes and homes under construction, a 25 per cent concession on stamp duty applies where homes are valued at $600,000 or less.

A similar program in SA provides a full stamp duty concession on a transfer of a new apartment or substantially refurbished apartment, where the contract is entered into between 31 May 2012 to 30 June 2014, but is capped at the duty payable on a $500,000 apartment and applies only in three specific regions in the city of Adelaide.

Some states also offer concessions to all home buyers when they are purchasing a property as their principal place of residence, regardless of whether they have owned property previously. The NT Government's Principal Place of Residence Rebate offers $3500 to all buyers looking to purchase a property as their home, but this is not available to people who qualify for the First Home Owner Concession. In Vic, NSW and Tas the governments will waive land tax on homes that are the owner's principal place of residence.

How much you earn can also be a factor in determining the assistance you can receive. In the ACT people whose gross income is $120,000 may qualify for the Home Buyer Concession Scheme, which offers a concessional rate on duty. In WA singles earning less than $70,000 and couples earning less than $90,000 may be eligible for a SharedStart loan, which enables them to purchase up to 70 per cent of a property in co-ownership with the Department of Housing.

Stamp duty exemptions and other benefits may also apply if the resident is disabled. In the ACT for instance, duty is not payable on the transfer or grant of a residential lease where the resident is the beneficiary of a Special Disability Trust.

Your age may also be a factor. Pensioners living in the ACT may also be charged duty at a concessional rate if they are moving to accommodation more suited to their needs. Whereas the NSW Seniors Principal Place of Residence Exemption provides a stamp duty concession to buyers who also qualify for its existing New Housing concession provided that the purchaser is aged 55 or older and the value of the property does not exceed $600,000.

Similarly, the NT Government's Senior, Pensioner and Carer Concession scheme assists eligible senior citizens, pensioners and carers that are not first home buyers to acquire a home or land on which to build a home. The scheme reduces the payable stamp duty by up to $8500 for properties where the value does not exceed $750,000 or land whose value does not exceed $385,000.

The various concessions available are often only available for limited periods, such as Qld's Building Boost Grant, which offered $10,000 to buyers or builders of new properties valued at $600,000 less, and which only applies to contracts signed before April 30.

Your local Mortgage Choice broker can keep you up-to-date on the latest Government schemes to help you get into your new home.

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