Property stamp duty: State-by-state costs

author-avatar By on March 24, 2021
Property stamp duty: State-by-state costs

Stamp duty is one of the biggest property buying costs there is, and where you live can influence what you pay.

Depending on your home state and a few other key differences, your total stamp duty costs when buying your next home could be very little, tens of thousands of dollars or anywhere in between.

To help you avoid getting sprung by the size of stamp duty fees, read Savings.com.au’s breakdown of the different stamp duty costs by state.


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Rates correct as of September 25, 2021. View disclaimer.


What is stamp duty?

Stamp duty is essentially a tax on the purchase of a property, a mandatory (in most cases) one paid to your state or territory government. It also includes the cost of transferring the ownership of the property from one owner to the next, which is sometimes called transfer duty.

Stamp duty isn’t just payable on properties. Another major stamp duty cost is on the purchase of a car, while you may also have to pay stamp duty on the following:

  • Insurance policies
  • Hire purchase agreements
  • Transfers of other assets, like a business or certain shares
  • Intellectual property
  • Equipment

And more. But in the vast majority of cases, stamp duty on a property will be the biggest in terms of cost.

How much does stamp duty cost?

Stamp duty can be a huge expense when buying a home, easily setting you back thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars. As an example, stamp duty for an established home valued at $500,000 in New South Wales can cost over $17,000.

Because it can be so expensive, some buyers often forget to factor it into their calculations when looking for a property. While they might have enough for a deposit, adding stamp duty can scupper plans to buy, which is why you need to budget for it beforehand.

Factors that influence stamp duty costs

Stamp duty is not one fixed cost. It varies from state-to-state (or territory), while it also fluctuates based on:

  • The cost of the property (land+ the house)
  • Your household income
  • The purpose of the property (are you investing, or living in it?)
  • Whether you’re a first home buyer or not
  • The type of dwelling (is it an existing home, vacant land or a newly constructed home?)
  • Your number of children or pension status

Stamp duty costs by state: Buying property

Aside from the cost of the property, where you live is likely to cause a difference in the amount of stamp duty you’ll need to pay.

Below are some examples of stamp duty costs in each state and territory, based on a $500,000 property for non-first home buyers purchasing an established home with no children and earning a dual-income of $140,000. Other government fees include land transfers and mortgage registration fees.

NSW | VIC QLD ACT | SA WA | TAS NT |

NSW stamp duty costs

In New South Wales, you need to pay stamp duty within three months of signing a contract for sale, except for off-the-plan purchases.

Property purchase

Stamp duty cost

Total government fees (est.)

Owner-occupier

$17,835

$18,128

Investor

$17,835

$18,128

VIC stamp duty costs

Victoria is one of the most expensive states for stamp duty but does offer a principal place of residence (PPR) concession for those who live in the property for 12 months after buying.

Property purchase

Stamp duty cost

Total government fees (est.)

Owner-occupier

$16,478

$17,866

Investor

$18,803

$20,191

QLD stamp duty costs

Queensland is one of the cheaper states for stamp duty but doesn’t have extra concessions for pensioners, and also charges an extra 7% to foreign buyers.

Property purchase

Stamp duty cost

Total government fees (est.)

Owner-occupier

$8,750

$10,286

Investor

$15,925

$17,461

ACT stamp duty costs

The Capital Territory provides a ‘Home Buyer Concession Scheme’, providing a stamp duty discount for those buying newly constructed homes or vacant land.

Property purchase

Stamp duty cost

Total government fees (est.)

Owner-occupier

$11,40

$11,962

Investor

$11,40

$11,962

SA stamp duty costs

South Australia charges quite a lot for stamp duty. It’s one of the more expensive states, and offers the fewest discounts and concessions. Unlucky, South Australian buyers.

Property purchase

Stamp duty cost

Total government fees (est.)

Owner-occupier

$21,330

$26,201

Investor

$21,330

$26,201

WA stamp duty costs

Western Australia offers reduced stamp duty for homes valued between $430,001 - $530,000.

Property purchase

Stamp duty cost

Total government fees (est.)

Owner-occupier

$17,765

$18,211

Investor

$17,765

$18,211

TAS stamp duty costs

Tasmania has mid-range stamp duty costs but has a concession available to senior citizens and pensioners if they downsize to a new home worth $400,000 or less.

Property purchase

Stamp duty cost

Total government fees (est.)

Owner-occupier

$18,248

$18,598

Investor

$18,248

$18,598

NT stamp duty costs

Stamp duty is quite high up north, but there is a Principal Place of Residence Rebate (PPRR) of up to $7,000 for buying off the plan, newly constructed homes, blocks of land or “substantially renovated homes”.

Property purchase

Stamp duty cost

Total government fees (est.)

Owner-occupier

$23,929

$24,227

Investor

$23,929

$24,227

How can you save on stamp duty?

These stamp duty costs above are just two examples per state based on a single property purchase. The following are some of the key ways you may be able to reduce this upfront cost.

Related: State and territory stamp duty exemptions you can get 

Be a first home buyer

To alleviate some of the difficulty of buying a first home, most state and territory governments (bar South Australia) provide large stamp duty discounts or concessions for those purchasing for the first time. According to one study, 60% of first home buyers said they could have entered the market sooner were it not for stamp duty.

Saving this way is popular for first home buyers, as 40% of First Home Loan Deposit Scheme applicants reported saving on stamp duty.

How much you can save is different for each state. For example, New South Wales can waive most of the cost of stamp duty for properties below a certain price. All you have to do in order to qualify, aside from not owning a previous property, is meet the price and building criteria from each state. In New South Wales, that limit was increased from $650,000 to $800,000, and from $350,000 to $400,000 for vacant land until August 2021.

Based on these concessions and their price caps, here’s how much stamp duty would cost on that owner-occupied $500,000 house for a first-home buyer in each state:

State/Territory

Stamp duty cost (FHB)

Stamp duty cost (non FHB)

ACT

$562

$11,400

NSW

$293

$17,835

VIC

$1,370

$16,478

QLD

$1,536

$8,750

SA

$26,201

$21,330

WA

$13,879

$17,765

TAS

$18,598

$18,248

NT

$5,626

$5,328

Buy a cheaper home, or build one

Stamp duty costs are generally lower for people buying off-the-plan or vacant blocks of land and constructing their home from scratch. The reason for this is simple: Stamp duty needs to be paid on both the land itself and the building, so buying only a block of land means there’s less to pay stamp duty on.

But this isn’t always the case. For a non-first home buyer in Queensland, for example, stamp duty on vacant land worth $500,000 would cost almost twice as much (around $16,000) as buying a $500,000 existing house ($8,750).

If it was in NSW, on the other hand, both the $500,000 land and the $500,000 existing house would have the same stamp duty cost (over $17,800).

However, vacant land is often a lot cheaper than an existing property (so the stamp duty costs are lower) and you don’t need to pay stamp duty on the construction costs.


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Lender
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VariableMore details
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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%. However, the ‘Compare Home Loans’ table allows for calculations to made on variables as selected and input by the user. All products will list the LVR with the product and rate which are clearly published on the Product Provider’s web site. Monthly repayments, once the base criteria are altered by the user, will be based on the selected products’ advertised rates and determined by the loan amount, repayment type, loan term and LVR as input by the user/you. Rates correct as of September 25, 2021. View disclaimer.

As Savings.com.au has pointed out in ‘buying vs building a home’, it can still be cheaper in some capital cities to just buy an existing home, even after paying more stamp duty, as the costs with building a home can spiral.

Live in the house first

This may not always be the case, but you can see in some of those tables above that stamp duty for investors is a bit higher than the exact same property for owner-occupiers. In other states, there are reductions in the cost of stamp duty afforded to people who live in the home for at least twelve months after buying it, before turning it into a rental.

Stamp duty costs are also not tax-deductible for investors unlike other legal costs and investment expenses.

See also: The costs of investing in property.

Do you need to pay stamp duty upfront?

Stamp duty is regarded as an upfront property cost, so in the majority of cases, most lenders will require you to pay the stamp duty bill in addition to your deposit before you officially buy the property. The lender and conveyancer should tell you how to pay for your stamp duty, and depending on your State Government, you’ll have between one and three months to pay it from the settlement date.

In a few situations, a lender will allow you to add the cost of stamp duty to your loan amount, which will increase your total interest repayments. But generally, lenders will prefer the upfront method.

Other key upfront costs to watch out for

Another major upfront fee - which can often rival stamp duty - is Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI), which you’ll usually have to pay if you don’t have a deposit of at least 20%. To protect the lender from the risk of default, you may need to pay an LMI fee of $9,644 for that $500,000 house if you could only afford a 10% deposit.

Other upfront fees you’re likely to be charged can include:

  • Application fees and valuation fees
  • Conveyancing fees
  • Legal fees and mortgage registration fees
  • Search processing fees

Should stamp duty be scrapped?

As one might imagine, paying money to the government just to buy your home isn’t popular with too many people. Government taxes can make up one-third of homebuyer costs for some, and while real estate bodies in Queensland and Western Australia have called for the fee to be scrapped or reduced, the New South Wales government has proposed to the public the idea of removing it.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet argued removing stamp duty in favour of a land tax would generate 75,000 new jobs and add an extra $3,300 of income for every household in NSW, while The Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) claims it would create $1 billion in economic activity each year just in WA.

"Stamp duty is a relic from a bygone era when you picked one career, started a family, bought a home and basically settled in for life," Mr Perrottet said.

"It adds tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of the biggest financial commitment most people ever make."

However, there are also those in favour of stamp duty over a land tax, as some experts believe it could lead to the state governments hiking the land tax rate too far, older people and vulnerable groups being disadvantaged, and a major increase in property speculation.

Savings.com.au’s two cents

Much of the advice you’ll see around buying a property is to either build up your deposit to a certain portion of its value or to have enough equity in your current home to buy again. But you often won’t see stamp duty brought up in these discussions (who likes talking about expensive taxes after all?), which can lead to people forgetting about it when they think they’re ready to buy.

If you had to pay an extra $15-20,000 on top of your deposit, would you be able to afford that? Since you have to pay it upfront, it’s possible this could be the difference between buying and missing out.

Make sure you’re at least aware of how much stamp duty could cost you before you go to market, and have such a cost budgeted for. Then, check if there are any ways you can save on stamp duty, like:

  • Checking your state’s First Home Owners' Grant to see if you can get a stamp duty concession
  • Check if there are other state discounts, like downsizing benefits for seniors or reductions for homes in a certain price range
  • Buy a cheaper home
  • Check if you could save overall by building a home instead
  • Live in the property for at least 12 months before renting it out


Photo by Jaye Haych 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): Great Southern Bank, 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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author-avatar
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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