‘Act fast’: A homebuyers’ guide to government grants
A huge amount of financial firepower is available to help home buyers who know where to look for it.
Federal and state government grants and incentives were available before COVID-19 struck, but some have been turbocharged by the pandemic.
It's key reason why house prices, building approvals and lending activity are heading higher, but mortgage specialists say buyers first should understand the key details and potential pitfalls.
Mortgage broker Rebecca Jarret-Dalton says the assistance currently available includes:
• First Home Owner Grants for people buying new property or building a new home.
• Stamp duty exemptions or discounts for new homes, which vary between states.
• The First Home Loan Deposit scheme, which offers 10,000 places each financial year and allows buyers to borrow up to 95 per cent of the purchase price without paying expensive lenders mortgage insurance.
• HomeBuilder grants for new home purchases or renovations, ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 depending on the contract date.
"Be informed about the caps and limits - and make sensible decisions when buying," Jarret-Dalton says.
"Don't buy the wrong property just to get a grant. The cost of selling and buying again way outweighs this."
Jarret-Dalton says people can improve their home buying chances by strengthening their income, cutting expenses, paying down debts and building savings.
"And be patient - it's a very slow process at the moment with staff everywhere overwhelmed and working from home," she says.
Mortgage Choice CEO Susan Mitchell says there's also the First Home Super Saver Scheme, which helps people build their deposit using superannuation's lower-tax environment.
"Buyers today have unprecedented access to government support when buying their first home," she says.
"Some grants or schemes are state based, while others are federal so it's important you find out which grants are relevant to you."
Mitchell recommends speaking with an experienced mortgage broker to help understand and navigate grants and incentives.
"Know what you're eligible for - each state and territory has its own rules and you may actually be eligible to access more than one grant or scheme at the same time," she says.
"Be clear about your goal when applying for particular grants such as the HomeBuilder Grant."
Buyers should get the ball rolling as quickly as possible, Mitchell says, as some schemes are set to end within months and there's been huge demand.
"It takes time to get approval for grants and loans so keep that in mind if you don't want to miss out," she says.
Chloe Bartlett and Jake Marchant are in the process of buying a house, and benefited from stamp duty discounts.
"We are happy and grateful to be saving around $9000 on stamp duty because of the incentives," says Bartlett, 28.
She says the couple has also benefited from having a guarantor. "It would have taken a lot longer for us to break into the property market without our guarantor."
WHERE TO LOOK FOR HELP
• Visit www.firsthome.gov.au and click on your state to discover details about the First Home Owner Grant and other incentives. Scheme sizes and details vary between states.
• Information about the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme can be found at www.nhfic.gov.au.
• State government revenue office websites, mortgagechoice.com.au and canstar.com.au have good information about the HomeBuilder grant scheme, which ends on March 31.
• Superannuation fund websites and ato.gov.au contain details about the First Home Super Saver Scheme.
• Pick up the phone and speak with your lender or mortgage broker.
Originally published as 'Act fast': A homebuyers' guide to government grants