First Home Buyer Guide
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic we have seen a strong government response to stimulate the housing market, paying particular attention to the first home buyer.
If you’re an inexperienced first homebuyer, it’s important to realise when doing your homework that first home buyer tips and advice found online are general in nature and don’t reflect your specific circumstances.
Even though first home buyers in almost every state and territory of Australia can access state-run incentives to build or buy a new home, the federal government fanned those flames of demand and delivered additional stimulus packages, with little regard for the supply side of the equation.
First home buyer tips and advice
Historically, the Australian property sector has a long and illustrious history of helping economies survive downturns and so, once again, as the pandemic washed over the nation, the federal government reached for the carrots.
However, not all first home buyers schemes went the distance and some, such as the HomeBuilder, burned brightly, albeit briefly, before being phased out. Others, such as the Home Loan Deposit Scheme, continue to help young real estate buyers get their foot onto the all-important first rung of the property ladder. Understanding these schemes and how they may help you in your situation could get you on the home ownership track faster.
So settle back while we skip through this first home buyer guide to see what may be available to help you.
The federal government announced a short-lived $25,000 grant scheme (which became $15,000 in its second phase) HomeBuilder program in a bid to boost the economy, throwing a lifeline to the home construction industry. It wasn’t designed to be used in isolation. It was, however, designed to shorten the journey from saving for a deposit to purchasing a home.
“For some first-home buyers, this will be their only opportunity to get into the market. Saving this kind of money takes most people years,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. However, it was never designed to be permanent, and HomeBuilder came to an end in April 2021.
For anyone who executed a contract prior to April 2021, however, there is still some relief available under this scheme, so our tip is to do your homework here.
What is the Home Loan Deposit Scheme?
The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme began on 1 January 2020 and was originally only going to go for a short period. Such was its popularity that it has been extended until 30 June 2022, helping home buyers who haven’t quite saved enough deposit to avoid paying lenders’ mortgage insurance.
This may be a very handy helper for you but be aware that it is only open to the first 10,000 people. You may have missed out this time (check with a registered lender on availability) but now that you’re aware, keep an eye out for a possible announced extension and get your paperwork in early.
The Home Loan Deposit Scheme, as mentioned earlier, helps the first home buyer to purchase a property with as little as a five per cent deposit and without the need to take out lenders mortgage insurance (LMI).
The government says this could save first-home buyers as much as $10,000. The Commonwealth Government guarantees the difference between what the first-home buyer has saved and the 20 per cent deposit threshold lenders usually require before they’ll provide a loan without LMI.
First Home Buyers Deposit Scheme
For instance, if you had $45,000 to put towards a $500,000 home, the government would step in and guarantee the first $55,000 of your loan bringing your security up to $100,000, or 20 per cent of the total value of the property (excluding government fees such as stamp duty). In this sense, the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme has a similar effect to a Family Guarantee but with the government playing the role of guarantor over the loan instead of a family member.
While the scheme doesn’t offer a cash payment, the good news for those with some first home buyer anxiety is that you can use it in conjunction with other government grants, schemes, concessions or waivers. For example, if you qualify for a First Home Owner Grant or the stamp duty concessions in your state that most first-home buyers qualify for, then these would still apply.
Am I eligible for the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme?
To be eligible for the scheme you must be an Australian citizen who’s over 18 years old. If you’re buying as a couple, it must be with your spouse or partner. You must also never have owned residential property previously in Australia, whether as an owner-occupier or investor.
There are other requirements you’ll need to meet, when it comes to your salary, your home loan and the property itself. We’ve set these out in more detail below.
1. Property requirements
Unlike a First Home Owner Grant, which usually requires you to buy a new home, there are few restrictions on the type of property you can purchase under the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme – both newly built and established properties qualify. However, there are thresholds on the value of the property. These vary depending on your location.
|State or Territory||Capital city and regional centres||Rest of state|
|Australian Capital Territory||$500,000||–|
For the purposes of the scheme, a regional centre includes any centre with a population greater than 250,000. This includes the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, the Illawarra and Geelong. Some other regions have different thresholds.
2. Buying as a single or couple
You can qualify for the scheme as an individual buyer or as a couple. To be eligible as a couple, you need to be married or in a de facto relationship. Unfortunately, you’re not eligible if you’re buying with people you have a different relationship with, such as a parent or grandparent, sibling or friend.
3. Salary threshold
If you’re purchasing a home on your own, you need to have earned $125,000 or less in the last financial year (as declared in your ATO Notice of Assessment) to qualify for the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme. If you’re purchasing as a couple, you must have had a combined taxable income of less than $200,000 in the last financial year.
4. How much deposit do you need to have saved?
To be eligible, you’ll need to have saved at least a five per cent deposit. The government says these need to be ‘demonstrated savings’, which means you won’t be able to count any First Home Owner Grant money towards this amount.
5. Principal and interest loan
Your loan usually needs to be a principal and interest home loan for the entire period of the guarantee. The exception to this is if you’re taking out a loan over both vacant land and to construct a new home. In these circumstances, interest-only loans are eligible while your home is in construction.
6. Owner/occupiers only
Finally, the scheme is only open to owner-occupiers, so you’ll need to be purchasing the home to live in it.
As mentioned previously, the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme can be used in conjunction with any of the state-based first home owner grants operated by the state or territory governments. The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme can also be used in conjunction with any of the stamp duty concession schemes.
As a general first home buyer guide this should give you some basic starting points for the federal schemes. Let’s move on to the next tier of government.
State-based first home owner grants
Most states and territories operate a first home owner grant scheme, along with offering stamp duty concessions, that give varying levels of support to first home buyers.
NSW first-home buyers have access to a $10,000 grant to put towards the cost of a new property or a substantially renovated property up to the value of $600,000. If you’re buying land to build a new home, the total price – the land and home combined – must be no more than $750,000. There is also no stamp duty payable on property under $650,000, or vacant land under $400,000, while properties between $650,000 to $800,000, or vacant land between $400,000 to $500,000 get discounted stamp duty. That’s a saving of up to $24,740 on a $650,000 home.
First home buyers in Victoria may be eligible for a $10,000 grant under the first home buyers scheme or $20,000 for new homes built in regional areas valued at $750,000 or less. Victorian first home buyers also don’t pay stamp duty on property under $600,000, with discounted stamp duty applying on property between $600,000 to $750,000. That’s a saving of up to $31,070 for a home worth $600,000.
Queensland first home buyers may be eligible for a grant of $15,000 to put towards buying or building a new house, unit or townhouse valued at less than $750,000 under the sunshine state’s first home buyers scheme. Queensland first home buyers don’t pay transfer (stamp) duty on homes costing less than $500,000, and enjoy the benefit of a discounted rate on property up to $550,000. That translates to a saving of $15,925 on a home under $550,000.
First home buyers in Western Australia may be eligible for a grant of $10,000 to put towards the cost of building or buying a new home under the first home buyers scheme. First home buyers are also potentially eligible for stamp duty concessions – zero on properties up to $430,000 and a discounted rate up to $530,000. Based on the purchase of a $430,000 property, a first-home buyer would save $14,440 in stamp duty.
The ACT does not operate a first home buyer grant scheme. The ACT Home Buyer Concession Scheme gives eligible first home buyers who pass all criteria tests, including the income threshold test, either no payable duty or discounted duty on the purchase of their first property, whether it is vacant land, a new or an established home. There is no limit to the transaction value, but the concession is capped at $35,910.
First home buyers who are building a new residence or purchasing a newly built residence may be eligible for a grant of up to $30 000 – applicable to properties of any value. Tasmania provides FHBs with a 50 per cent stamp duty discount on properties below $500,000, which equates to a saving of more than $9000.
A grant of $15,000 is available for new properties valued below $575,000 but the downside is that all property buyers pay some level of stamp duty in SA, although there is an off-the-plan stamp duty concession available of up to $21,330 on properties under $500,000.
Territorian first home buyers could be eligible for a FHOG of $10,000. The Territory’s stamp duty concession and discount for first home buyers ended 30 June 2021. The $2000 household goods grant has also ended.
Assuaging first home buyer anxiety
There is a lot of information to take in here in this first home buyer guide, but please, if you have questions or would like assistance with any of this, we’d love to help. It’s important to understand that while there are many websites that offer first home buyer tips and advice, when it comes to acting on that advice, make sure you seek the help of a professional. Your circumstances are unique and there may be additional benefits open to you that are not clearly spelled out in a general-advice website.
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So why not contact Intuitive Finance today to ensure you have the right information and expert support on your side no matter what stage of the property ownership journey you are on?The information provided in this article is general in nature and does not constitute personal financial advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information you should consider the appropriateness of the information with regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.
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