Buyers in New South Wales (NSW) often struggle to purchase their first homes, hardly surprising given that the average property price in the state is now over a million dollars. To help first home buyers into the property market, the NSW Government has offered various schemes, discounts, and grants over the years.
In 2023, two of these schemes are the First Home Buyers Assistance (FHBA) scheme and the First Home Owner (New Homes) Grant (FHOG) scheme. House hunters can use the Home Buyer Assistance Finder to check their eligibility for the main programs provided by the NSW Government.
First Home Buyers Assistance (FHBA) Scheme
Transfer duty (commonly called ‘stamp’ duty) is a state tax that is paid by buyers when they purchase property in NSW. The amount of transfer duty to be paid is based on the purchase price of the property. Given the high price of most property in NSW, transfer duty can be a considerable expense, and it is often cited by first home buyers as a major barrier to the purchase of a home.
Under the FHBA scheme, homes valued at under $800,000 attract a full exemption from transfer duty, while homes over this threshold but under a million dollars benefit from a concessional rate of transfer duty. A similar arrangement applies to the purchase of vacant land, with a full exemption existing for land valued at up to $350,000, and a concessional rate for land valued at up to $450,000.
First Home Owner (New Homes) Grant (FHOG)
Under the FHOG scheme, first time buyers are eligible to apply for a $10,000 grant that can be put towards the purchase of a home. It is important to know that the First Home Owner Grant is paid in addition to other exemptions or concessions for eligible homebuyers, including concessions for first home buyers in relation to transfer duty.
Are You Eligible as a Buyer?
The FHOG is not income or means tested. It is available to Australian citizens and permanent residents, and to those buying property with citizens and residents. You will not be eligible for the FHOG if you (or a co-buyer) have previously:
- received a First Home Owner Grant in Australia, or
- owned a home or other residential property in Australia, either jointly or separately, before 1 July 2000, or
- lived for six continuous months or more in a home located in Australia that you owned (wholly or partially) on or after 1 July 2000.
However, you may still be eligible for the FHOG if you purchased a residential property after 1 July 2000 and did not live in it for more than six continuous months.
Is the Home Eligible?
The FHOG is designed to support the purchase of new construction homes. As such, there are three categories of homes that are eligible under this scheme. Most straightforwardly, newly built properties (such as houses, townhouses and units) are eligible properties under the FHOG. In addition, if you purchase vacant land, and enter into a building contract to build a new home, this constitutes an eligible property under the scheme. Finally, if you buy a home which has been substantially renovated by the seller, this is also an eligible property under the scheme.
To make things more complex, each category of property has a maximum price to maintain eligibility. New homes must be valued at $600,000 or under. If you are planning to build, the total value of the land and the building contract must not exceed $750,000 to maintain eligibility. If you purchase a home which was substantially renovated by the seller, the purchase price must not exceed $600,000.
How to Apply
To apply for the FHOG you can lodge the application forms through the FHOG customer portal and provide proof of identity documents. You must lodge within 12 months of settlement or the completed construction date of your new home.
If you require the grant for settlement or first drawn down/progress payment, you can lodge your application with the lender who is providing your finance. Your agent will lodge your application form on your behalf after you have completed the form.
Obligations after Receiving Grant
If your circumstances change and you cannot move into the home within 12 months from the settlement date, you must repay the FHOG grant. The fine for failing to do so is up to $11,000. In addition, after moving in, you must live in your home for a continuous period of twelve months otherwise you will need to repay the grant.
Getting into the property market can be very challenging, particularly under current conditions. The NSW Government, however, operates various schemes to assist first home buyers. Such schemes have evolved over the years, and it is helpful to stay abreast of these to ensure that you are aware of current opportunities.
This is general information only and you should obtain professional advice relevant to your circumstances. If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice, please contact us on 02 9792 8413 or email [email protected].