What is the First Home Owner Grant?

author-avatar By on March 29, 2021
What is the First Home Owner Grant?

If you’re looking to buy your first home, you should be aware of First Home Owner Grants, which exist to assist new homeowners in buying their dream home.

See what grants are available in each state and territory below. 

Buying a home or looking to refinance? The table below features home loans with some of the lowest interest rates on the market for owner occupiers.

Base criteria of: a $400,000 loan amount, variable, fixed, principal and interest (P&I) home loans with an LVR (loan-to-value) ratio of at least 80%. If products listed have an LVR <80%, they will be clearly identified in the product name along with the specific LVR. The product and rate must be clearly published on the Product Provider’s web site. Monthly repayments were calculated based on the selected products’ advertised rates, applied to a $400,000 loan with a 30-year loan term.

First home buyers in Australia

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. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data (ABS), lending to first home buyers rose to a 12 year high in January 2021, occupying a market share of 36.5%. 

Extremely low interest rates are likely to have caused this gain, but boosts to various first home buyer grants and concessions around the country in the past few years may have also had something to do with it.  

Australian First Home Owner Grants (FHOG) were first introduced in July 2000 through a national scheme separately legislated, funded and administered 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.

Is it really that easy? Let’s explore.

How much is the First Home Owner Grant?

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:

First home owners grant NSW

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

First home owners grant VIC

In Metropolitan Victoria (aka Melbourne), first home buyers buying or building a new home can be eligible for a $10,000 First Home Owner Grant, while those in regional Victoria can qualify for a $20,000 bonus. In both regions, the grants are only available on properties that are valued at $750,000 or less.

Visit the State Revenue Office of Victoria for more information. 

first home buyers grant

Could $10,000 help you buy a new property down this trendy Melbourne laneway? Probably not. Source: Unsplash.

First home owners grant QLD

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. Contracts dated from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2018 can receive a grant of $20,000. 

Visit the Queensland Government for more information on the First Home Owner’s Grant and how you can apply.

First home owners grant WA

In WA, first home buyers can receive up to $10,000 towards buying or building new homes – it is no longer available for established properties.

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. 

First home owners grant SA 

South Australia offers 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. 

First home owners grant TAS

The Tasmanian Government will provide first home buyers with a $20,000 grant until 30 June 2022, provided they purchased or build a new home, not an established one. 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. 

First home owners grant ACT

Australian Capital Territory first home buyer grants ended in 2019, and was replaced by valuable savings on stamp duty (see below), which is also called the Home Buyer Concession Scheme. Visit the ACT Revenue Office for more information.

First home owners grant NT

The Northern Territory offers a grant of $10,000 towards buying or building a new home. It used to offer the largest grant of $26,000, but this has since been reduced since May 2019. 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.  

First home owners 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 $500,000 owner-occupied dwelling in New South Wales will set you back approximately $17,835 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: 

State

Stamp duty 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. 

(The caps on these concessions are higher until August 2021). 

Victoria No stamp duty on properties under $600,000 and discounted stamp duty on properties between $600,000-$750,000.
Queensland No stamp duty on properties under $550,000 and vacant land under $400,000. Discounted stamp duty on properties under $550,000.
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 Under the new Home Buyer Concession Scheme, full stamp duty concessions are available for applicants who earn below a certain amount for properties up to $585,000 – see the link above for more detailed information.
Northern Territory No stamp duty on new or established properties up to $500,000 and discounted stamp duty on properties between $500,000-$650,000. According to the Northern Territory State Government website, this discount no longer applies to properties bought after May 6 2019.

Of course, these reductions and discounts assume you already meet the eligibility criteria, which we’ll discuss below. There are also broader stamp duty concessions available to more than first time buyers, which you can see here

First Home Owner Grant eligibility 

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.  

What is the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme?

The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (FHLDS) is an initiative that was announced by the Morrison Government just prior to the 2019 election. Under the scheme, first home buyers who earn a maximum household income of $200,000 will only require a deposit of 5% in order to waive Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) on their purchase, something that could save them as much as $10,000. 

Other details of the scheme include: 

  • It will be capped to 10,000 loans a year on a first-come, first-served basis
  • An extra 10,000 places are available in 2021 for new home builds 
  • 27 different lenders are taking part in the scheme 
  • Price caps apply in each state/territory 
  • It will offer up to $500 million in the form of equity through the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, who will act as guarantors 

“It can take nine to 10 years for an average household to save a deposit. We want to help Australians realise the goal of buying their first home by cutting years off the time it takes to save up,” The Prime Minister said in his announcement in May. So far, the scheme is supporting as many as 1/8th of first home buyers

Not everyone is supportive of the scheme. Vice-chancellor research fellow at the University of Tasmania Saul Eslake said it could encourage people to take out 95% loan-to-value ratio (LVR) loans, which aren’t always good things. 

“In a market where prices appear to be falling, there’s a risk that someone who enters this scheme may find themselves in a negative equity position,” he said. 

On the other hand, Head of Property Market Research at Propertyology Simon Pressley told Savings.com.au the scheme is a “wonderful initiative to help first home buyers”.

“I’ve always been critical of the so-called ‘First Home Owners Grant‘, which is really just a construction grant for new homes and mainly benefits developers," Mr Pressley said. 

“This is a genuine first home owners grant, and someone contemplating that life-changing decision now has a genuine date and call to action to break themselves into the property market.”

Using first home owners grant as deposit

If you are eligible for the grant, then this injection of cash can potentially make a difference to your ability to buy a home a home.

Domain’s House Price report for the December 2020 quarter found that the median house price across Australia is $852,940, not exactly pocket change, and a 5.8% increase from a year prior. This rises and falls depending on where you live. Darwin, for example, has a median house price of roughly $533,845, whereas Sydney’s average house will set you back roughly $1.2 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 can take the average young couple about six and a half years in Sydney. While other capital cities might not take this long, prices can change quickly, and after five years that deposit you thought you needed might no longer be enough. 

This is where either the First Home Owner Grant or the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme 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. Likewise, reducing the deposit you need from $120,000 to $30,000 can also make it much easier to make that first step. 

It isn’t clear yet if you can use both schemes to buy your first home, but using even one of them can be the difference between securing the property or losing it to that annoying couple you hate. 

Does anyone actually use the First Home Owners Grant? 

It would seem that yes, lots of aspiring first home buyers do use the First Home Owners Grant. 

Using State Revenue Office data and comparing it to the ABS’ Lending Indicators data for First Home Buyers, we can see just how many people actually used the grants across Victoria and New South Wales over the 2019/20 financial year as a percentage of total buyers. 

New South WalesVictoria 
Number of First Home Buyer Commitments (2019/20) 28,152 37,244
Number of First Home Owner Grants (2019/20)  6,724 16,470
% of grants to home loan commitments 24% 44%

Source: ABS Lending Indicators data, Victoria State Revenue Office, Revenue NSW. Investment loans excluded. 

So based on this data the First Home Owners Grant is still pretty widely used, with about one-third using it between these two states. Victorian first home buyers appear to have a higher grant usage rate of over 40%, which may have something to do with the state government’s comparatively generous offering of up to $20,000 for properties in regional Victoria. 

Savings.com.au’s two cents

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 the new first-home buyer deposit scheme if it comes to fruition. 

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.


Photo by Gus Ruballo on Unsplash

Disclaimers

The entire market was not considered in selecting the above products. Rather, a cut-down portion of the market has been considered which includes retail products from at least the big four banks, the top 10 customer-owned institutions and Australia’s larger non-banks:

  • The big four banks are: ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac
  • The top 10 customer-owned Institutions are the ten largest mutual banks, credit unions and building societies in Australia, ranked by assets under management in November 2020. They are (in descending order): Credit Union Australia, Newcastle Permanent, Heritage Bank, Peoples’ Choice Credit Union, Teachers Mutual Bank, Greater Bank, IMB Bank, Beyond Bank, Bank Australia and P&N Bank.
  • The larger non-bank lenders are those who (in 2020) has more than $9 billion in Australian funded loans and advances. These groups are: Resimac, Pepper, Liberty and Firstmac.
  • If you click on a product link and you are referred to a Product or Service Provider’s web page, it is highly likely that a commercial relationship exists between that Product or Service Provider and Savings.com.au

Some providers' products may not be available in all states. To be considered, the product and rate must be clearly published on the product provider's web site.

In the interests of full disclosure, Savings.com.au, Performance Drive and Loans.com.au are part of the Firstmac Group. To read about how Savings.com.au manages potential conflicts of interest, along with how we get paid, please click through onto the web site links.

*The Comparison rate is based on a $150,000 loan over 25 years. Warning: this comparison rate is true only for this example and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate.

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William Jolly joined Savings.com.au as a Financial Journalist in 2018, after spending two years at financial research firm Canstar. In William's articles, you're likely to find complex financial topics and products broken down into everyday language. He is deeply passionate about improving the financial literacy of Australians and providing them with resources on how to save money in their everyday lives.

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