If you’re looking to buy your first home, you should be aware of the First Home Owner Grants that are available.
Despite what you might have heard on twitter or from your co-workers, things are starting to look a bit better for first home buyers in Australia.
Data from the ABS reported that in June 2018, first home buyers represented over 18% of all housing finance commitments, which is the largest proportion since 2012. Recent boosts to various first home buyer grants and concessions around the country may have had something to do with this.
Australian First Home Owner Grants (FHOG) were first introduced in July 2000 through a national scheme separately legislated, funded and administrated by the different states and territories. The purpose? To provide a one-off payment to prospective first home buyers to help them break into the property market and buy their dream home.
Is it really that easy? Let’s explore by looking at the grants available in each state and territory.
First Home Owner Grants by State and Territory
At the time of writing, every state and territory in Australia offers some form of a FHOG. Read on to see how much you can get from the grant and any eligibility criteria that may apply:
- New South Wales
- Western Australia
- South Australia
- Northern Territory
New South Wales
In New South Wales, the First Home Owner Grant (New Homes) Scheme was amended on 1 July 2017 to cap the grant at new home purchases worth $600,000 and new home buildings at $750,000. The grant here is worth $10,000, provided you meet the eligibility criteria (see eligibility section below).
To apply for the New South Wales New Homes Scheme or to learn more, visit the NSW Government’s site.
In Metropolitan Victoria (aka Melbourne), first homebuyers buying or building a new home can be eligible for a $10,000 First Home Owner Grant, while buying or building a new property in regional Victoria can qualify you for a $20,000 bonus. In both regions, the grants is only available on properties that are valued at $750,000 or less.
Visit the State Revenue Office of Victoria for more information.
Could $10,000 help you buy a new property down this trendy Melbourne laneway? Probably not.
The Queensland First Home Owners’ Grant provides $15,000 towards a potential first home owner’s deposit if they’re buying or building a new house, unit or townhouse worth less than $750,000.
Visit The Queensland Government for more information on the First Home Owner’s Grant and how you can apply.
In WA, first home buyers can receive up to $10,000 towards building or purchasing new or established homes. The maximum value of the property that can be purchased with the grant depends on the property’s location. For example, homes in the Perth metropolitan area (south of the 26th parallel) must not be valued at more than $750,000, while houses north of the 26th parallel can be valued at up to $1 million.
Visit the Western Australian Government’s Department of Finance site for more information on how to apply.
Since January 2014, South Australia has offered a $15,000 grant to first home buyers building or purchasing new homes with a market value of $575,000 or less.
The South Australian Department of Revenue and Finance has more details on how you can apply.
The Tasmanian Government announced in the 2018-19 State Budget that the current $20,000 FHOG for buying or building a new home would be extended for another year, but after 1 July 2019, this will drop to $10,000. Unlike other states, Tasmania does not place a limit on the purchase price of the property.
The State Revenue Office of Tasmania provides more detailed information.
The Australian Capital Territory’s FHOG offers $7,000 to new homeowners buying or building a new home, ending 30 June 2019. As with some other states, this is only available to purchased homes worth $750,000 or less.
Visit the ACT Revenue Office for more information.
The Northern Territory offers the largest grant, with a maximum of $26,000 towards buying or building a new home. As in Tasmania, your income and house value does not affect your eligibility for the grant, but you should check out nt.gov.au for more information.
Stamp duty concessions
It’s not just property prices that have skyrocketed in recent years. Stamp duty costs – aka the transfer tax you pay when purchasing a property or vacant land – has also increased significantly. For example, a $750,000 owner-occupied dwelling in New South Wales will set you back approximately $29,500 in stamp duty fees, based on current regulations.
To alleviate this cost, the different states and territories also offer stamp duty concessions to prospective new home buyers. At the time of writing, these are the available concessions:
- New South Wales: no stamp duty on properties up to $650,000 and vacant land up to $350,000. Discounted stamp duty for properties between $650,000-$800,000 and vacant land between $350,000 and $450,000.
- Victoria: no stamp duty on properties under $600,000 and discounted stamp duty on properties between $650,000-$800,000
- Queensland: no stamp duty on properties under $500,000 and vacant land under $260,000. Discounted stamp duty on properties under $550,000 and vacant land between $260,000 and $400,000.
- Western Australia: no stamp duty on properties up to $430,000 and land up to $300,000. Discounted stamp duty on properties between $430,000-$530,000 and vacant land between $300,000 and $400,000
- South Australia: no stamp duty concessions
- Tasmania: 50% discount on stamp duty on established homes up to $400,000
- ACT: no stamp duty on new properties up to $470,000 and vacant land up to $281,200. Discounted stamp duty on new properties between $470,001-$607,000 and vacant land between $281,200 and $329,500.
- Northern Territory: no stamp duty on established properties up to $500,000 and discounted stamp duty on established properties between $500,000-$650,000.
Of course, these reductions and discounts assume you already meet the eligibility criteria, which we’ll discuss below.
Are you eligible for your state’s First Home Owner Grant?
Although the eligibility criteria for each state and territory will be slightly different, you will typically need to meet the following requirements:
- You are over 18
- You or your spouse must never have owned a property in Australia prior to 1 July 2000
- You have not received a First Home Owner Grant in any State or Territory
- You need to live in the home (as an owner-occupier) for a continuous period of at least 6 months
- At least one applicant is a permanent resident or Australian citizen
You also need to be an actual human person and not a company or trust, so make sure you aren’t one of those before applying.
Can the First Home Owner Grant really make a difference?
If you are eligible for the grant, then this injection of cash can potentially make a huge difference to your ability to buy a home a home.
Domain’s State of the Market report for the March 2018 quarter found that the median house price across Australia is $809,201 – not exactly pocket change. This rises and falls depending on where you live. Darwin, for example, has a median house price of roughly $520,000, whereas Sydney’s average house will set you back $1.15 million.
While cutting down on eating out, coffee, electricity, breathing and other luxury items like food and clean water is seen as the best course of action by some of Australia’s more out-of-touch personalities, it isn’t always that easy for some.
Saving 20% for a house deposit (to avoid paying Lender’s Mortgage Insurance) can take the average young couple about eight years in Sydney, according to the ABC. While other capital cities might take half this time, we all know that house prices can change pretty significantly, so after five years that deposit you thought you needed might no longer be enough.
This is where the First Home Owner Grant can come in handy – if your 20% deposit on a $600,000 house is $120,000, then a $10,000 or $15,000 contribution you can get in certain states can seriously offset some of this cost. It can even be the difference between securing the property or losing it to that annoying couple you hate.
The Two-Cent Takeaway
Don’t feel too helpless if you’re struggling to buy your dream first home. A first home buyer grant is one of several ways you can get help. Other options include the First Home Super Saver Scheme, using a guarantor, financial assistance programs and more.
But keep in mind that government grants and concessions are subject to the ever-changing nature of state budgets and legislation, so don’t hang your hat on them. You should aim to save enough to be able to buy property without a grant, so that it merely serves as an added bonus.
While the information in this article is accurate at the time of writing, it is subject to change. Check your state government’s website to see what the grant requirements are and what changes are in the works.