The First Home Owners Grant
The First Home Owners Grant (FHOG) scheme was introduced to assist first home buyers to get into the property market and provide relief from the impact of stamp duty and the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Though it is available to first home buyers across the country, each State administers its own version of the scheme, and the terms and conditions vary slightly from State to State.'
Originally, the First Home Owners' scheme was open to all first home buyers, whether they were purchasing a new or existing property, or building a new home. But this is no longer the case. Current regulations exclude the purchase of established homes.
For the purposes of the scheme, a ‘new’ home is defined as one which has not been previously occupied or sold as a residential dwelling. It can also include owner-built homes, substantially renovated homes, as well as those built to replace a home that has been demolished.
The amount of money available to first home owners varies depending on the State and the date of the contract of sale. The First Home Owners Grant is payable either on settlement of the contract of sale, or at the drawdown of the first progress payment on a house under construction.
Before applying, there are many criteria that must be met, and applicants must meet ALL the criteria to be eligible. Again, these may differ slightly from State to State, but basically the following conditions apply in all States and Territories:
- All applicants must not have previously received a First Home Owners Grant.
- At least one applicant must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
- All applicants must be ‘natural’ people – i.e. not a company or trust.
- All applicants must be over 18 years of age. In the Northern Territory, at least one applicant must meet this condition.
- All applicants (and their partners, married or de facto) must not have previously owned a residential property in any State or Territory of Australia before July 1, 2000.
- All applicants (and their partners, married or de facto) must not have previously owned a residential property and occupied that property for a continuous period of at least six months.
- At least one of the applicants must occupy the home as their principal place of residence for a continuous period of six months, commencing within 12 months from the date the title is registered in their name. In South Australia and Tasmania, all applicants must occupy the property. Defence Force Personnel may be exempted from this requirement under certain conditions in some States.
- All applicants must have entered into a contract to purchase a new home or signed a contract to build a home on or after January 1, 2016. Owner builders must have laid foundations on or after this date.
- The total value of the property must not exceed $750,000. In South Australia, the value must not exceed $575,000. In Queensland, this limit is extended to $1million if the property is located north of 26°S parallel of latitude. In Tasmania and the Northern Territory, there is no limit.
How Much is the First Home Owners’ Grant?
The amount of the First Home Owners Grant also depends on the State in which the property is purchased. As of July 1, 2017, the figures below apply:
ACT $ 7,000
VIC $10,000 metro or $20,000 regional
TAS $20,000 until July 1, 2018, then $10,000
Saving for a Deposit
As well as the above grants, in the Federal Budget of May 2017, the Government also announced changes to the rules regarding superannuation, which will also be of benefit to first home buyers.
From July 1, 2017, people trying to save up a deposit for their first home will be eligible to salary sacrifice up to $30,000 of their pre-tax income, over and above the compulsory contribution, into an approved superannuation fund. That equates to $15,000 a year for two years, taxed at only 15% when deposited to a super fund. Compared to the normal marginal tax rate, this is a huge incentive to save. The money thus deposited will be available for withdrawal from the super fund after July 1, 2018, and must be used towards the purchase of a first home.
Recent Stamp Duty Changes
Both Victoria and New South Wales have recently announced the abolition of stamp duty for first home buyers who meet certain price cap conditions, and concessions on amounts over the cap. Unlike the FHOG, these changes also apply to first home buyers who purchase an established dwelling. The other States have concessions or deferrals of duty which can be applied to first home purchases. Added to the FHOG, the savings are significant.
The latest information on eligibility, current terms and conditions and application forms for the FHOG in each State is available on the following website - https://www.firsthome.gov.au/ and we recommend that you consult your lender or conveyancer for information specific to your own situation. The next step to make building your new home a simple and stress free experience is in the Building Home Masterclass Series at Build In Oz.