Changes to the First Home Owners Grant, also known as the FHOG, will make it even easier for first time homebuyers to enter the market in most states and territories. At the same time, legislation has been passed to increase the cost of owning a property in Australia for foreign investors. In NSW for example, one of the states that will see the most changes, the Foreign Investor Surcharge Duty will double from 4 to 8% and the annual land tax surcharge on foreign buyers will more than double.
The First Home Owners Grant scheme was originally introduced on 1 July 2000 with the intention of offsetting the impact of GST on home ownership. The idea behind the 2017 FHOG changes is to improve housing affordability for Australians, who in some regions are being priced out of the market by investor competition. Instead of allowing a housing crisis to emerge, the Australian government is hoping to increase housing supply at reasonable prices with the grant by encouraging new builds and making home ownership more affordable for Australians, particularly the younger generation, who have yet to buy their first home.
Each state or territory is implementing its own set of changes to the FHOG. Depending on where you live, you may not see any changes and in some states the grant is being reduced. Be sure to check the details of your state, as well as the specific requirements to see if you are eligible to benefit as a first time home buyer.
In the Australian Capital Territory, there is a first home owners’ grant of $7,000. The grant can be used to help pay for the purchase of a new build or substantially renovated home. Properties valued at $750,000 or less are eligible. The ACT reduced the amount of the FHOG to $7,000 on 1 January 2017. Stamp duty concessions for the ACT are updated every six months.
Grant Amount: $7,000
Stamp Duty Concessions: For new or substantially renovated properties valued up to $607,000.
NSW’s First Home Super Saver Scheme includes a $10,000 grant for new construction up to $750,000 and new home purchases up to $600,000, stamp duty concessions, and the insurance duty on lenders mortgage insurance has been abolished.
Grant Amount: $10,000
Stamp Duty Concessions: There are exemptions from stamp duty for new homes up to $650,000 and for new land up to $350,000. There are concessions for purchases from $650,000 to $80O,000.
First time home buyers of Victoria will no longer have to pay stamp duty on homes up to $600,000 as of 1 July 2017. For property values over $600,000 to $750,000, concessions are offered on a sliding scale. VIC is also offering a substantial FHOG increase for new homes built in regional Victoria for property values up to $750,000. The grant will double from $10,000 to $20,000. This grant amount will be in effect until 30 June 2020. For eligible first home buyers in metropolitan Melbourne, the grant will continue at $10,000.
Grant Amount: $10,000 in Melbourne, $20,000 in regional Victoria
Stamp Duty Concessions: No stamp duty required for new homes up to $600,000. Concessions between $600,000 and $750,000.
Queensland is reducing the amount of the first home owners’ grant from $20,000 to $15,000 for first time home buying and new construction for properties valued under $750,000. The $20,000 grant was offered from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017. Stamp duty concessions are still available.
Grant Amount: $15,000
Stamp Duty Concessions: Yes, for a new home valued up to $550,000, and vacant residential land up to $400,000, concessions are available on a sliding scale.
The $5,000 FHOG boost the Western Australia government made available has now ended. Instead of ending on 31 December 2017, it changed to 30 June 2017. WA still has a standing $10,000 grant for eligible first time home buyers of new homes. The cap on new home value for eligible properties is $750,000 for properties located south of the 26th parallel and $1 million for those north of the 26th parallel. Stamp duty concessions are available when you purchase a new property up to $530,000 and vacant land, up to a value of $400,000.
Grant Amount: $10,000
Stamp Duty Concessions: Yes, stamp duty is waived for first time buyers purchasing a home in WA up to $430,000, and then concessions are offered up to $530,000.
The government of South Australia is continuing a $15,000 FHOG for new homes and construction. As of 22 June 2017, SA has a $10,000 grant for eligible off-the-plan apartment purchases as well. This is a short term benefit; the contract must be entered before 30 September 2017. Stamp duty concessions will be extended, but as of 22 June, they will no longer be available for foreign investors.
Grant Amount: $15,000
Stamp Duty Concessions: Not for first home buyers, unless you are purchasing a qualifying off-the-plan apartment.
In Tasmania, the FHOG will reduce from $20,000 to $10,000 from 1 July 2017 onwards for first time buyers purchasing a new home, off-the-plan home or building their own. There are no stamp duty waivers or reductions.
Grant Amount: $10,000
Stamp Duty Concessions: None
In the Northern Territory, there are no 1 July changes. Residents who are buying their first home and opt for a new build or to construct their own are still eligible for the largest homeowners grant in Australia – $26,000. The grant is available for any new home value. NT continues to offer stamp duty concessions as well. Pay nothing for a value up to $500,000, for the purchase of an established home. There is a sliding scale for homes from $500,000 to $650,000. The stamp duty on homes valued above $650,000 ended on 31 December 2016.
Grant Amount: $26,000
Stamp Duty Concessions: Yes, they are available for first home buyers for properties valued up to $650,000.
These are the general eligibility requirements for Australia’s First Home Owners Grant. Keep in mind, the states and territories may have varying requirements as the specifics of this savings scheme were set by the individual governments.
There are a lot of questions around the first home owners grant from eligibility details to tax questions. Here are some of the most common questions to give you a clearer idea if and how you can take advantage of the First Home Owners Grant as it stands today.
If I’m applying with my partner and we are purchasing a joint property, do we both get a grant?
No. One grant is payable for each property purchased, not for each individual who enters a contract.
Am I ineligible if I make over a certain amount of income?
No. Your income level does not impact your eligibility nor the value of the grant.
Will I have to pay income tax on the grant amount?
You don’t owe tax on the grant at all.
Do I have to purchase a new build to be eligible?
It depends on the state. The grant is for first home buyers purchasing a new or established home, unit, flat, or other fixed dwellings. Each state or territory will have different rules about the type of property.
Can I receive the grant for a first home in Australia if I own a property outside of Australia?
Yes, you may be eligible as long as you have not previously owned a property within Australia.
Will I have to repay the grant if I don’t live in my home for six months consecutively?
Yes, if you move out before a consecutive six month period within the first 12 months of purchase or construction, you are required to repay the grant.
The First Home Owners Grant can help you save a lot of money on the purchase of a new home. With the new changes, it may be even more beneficial to enter the property market. Evaluate your financial situation to determine if you can comfortably take out a home loan to purchase your first property. With the FHOG, home ownership may be more accessible than you realise.