The much anticipated 2021-22 Federal Budget was released on 11 May. Among the millions pledged for critical services and tax cuts, the Budget also contains some important updates for prospective property purchasers.
The Budget Papers outline a Department of the Treasury payment of $622.2 million for 2021-22 to ‘increase home ownership… and enhance housing data’. This is part of a $782.1 million commitment over four years to support housing, including payments to support homelessness and maintaining housing data research and statistics.
Applicants for the HomeBuilder grant will be pleased to hear that under new budget measures, the construction commencement date requirement has been tripled, from 6 months to 18 months. The extension applies to existing applicants (who signed eligible contracts between 4 March 2020 and 31 March 2021) and means they have an additional 12 months from the date they signed to building contract to commence work. Not only is this a practical financial measure, but it also protects purchasers of land against possible delays in settlement without affecting their HomeBuilder grants. Those who applied for ‘off the plan’ OTP purchase grants would now have some breathing space if construction were delayed, and the registration date was pushed back.
First Home Super Saver Scheme
Although perhaps less well known, the First Home Super Saver Scheme (FHSSS) allows eligible applicants to withdraw voluntary contributions from the superannuation to put towards a property purchase. The scheme has now had its limit increased to $50,000, meaning that eligible applicants could withdraw up to $50,000 of voluntary super contributions to put towards buying a home. The property must be residential, and it must be your primary residence, not an investment property. Vacant land on which you plan to build falls within this criterion, but according to the ATO, motorhomes and houseboats are not eligible purchases. These measures will apply to any concessional or non-concessional (taxed or pre-tax) contributions made from 1 July 2017.
First Home Deposit Schemes
The First Home Deposit schemes have also seen some welcome reforms. The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme guarantees up to 15% of the deposit, meaning that eligible purchasers could make that critical 80% LVI ration for a mortgage with only 5% of the deposit amount. Places in this program are limited, so it was a welcome addition in the 2021-22 budget announcement that an additional 10,000 New Home Guarantees were added. The new Family Home Guarantee has also been established to support eligible single parents to enter or re-enter the housing market. With only a 2% deposit, the Government will guarantee the other 18% to give single parents a better chance to purchase property without having to accumulate savings worth 20% of their loan.
Stamp Duty Concessions
There is often confusion around the different schemes for first home buyers. It is important to be aware that many of the Federal Government initiatives apply only to new or newly built homes. This is to ensure the double benefit of supporting the construction industry as well as buyers. However, in most states and territories, buyers of their first home (not including investment properties) are eligible for a concession on the stamp duty. Stamp duty is simply a state government tax levied on property transfers for things deemed ‘dutiable property’. This includes houses, cars, and property. Crucially, stamp duty concessions usually apply no matter how old the property is, meaning that first-time buyers of established property can usually benefit from a tax-free purchase.