REAL estate agents and finance experts say they’re disappointed changes to the first home owners’ grant scheme favour buyers in metropolitan markets over those in regional and rural locations.
The changes, announced in last week’s state budget, will allow people to apply for a $15,000 grant when they buy a new home that’s worth up to $750,000.
Previously the grant was only available to home owners buying houses worth $650,000 or less.
Century 21 Real Estate principal Andrew Vogler said it was rare to see first home owners in Orange spend that much on a property so the change would have little impact here.
“I can’t think of too many first home buyers who have bought properties above $500,000, it’s more of an incentive for metropolitan areas,” he said.
Mr Vogler said he would have liked the scheme to have been altered to allow people buying existing homes to apply for the grant.
“Most new properties are $400,000 or more and that’s something that only some people can afford,” he said.
Mr Vogler said extending the scheme to include established properties would give first home owners more choice.
Orange’s Greater Building Society lending manager Haimish Karrasch agreed the increase in the threshold wouldn’t impact Orange residents.
“Most new home buyers we lend to in Orange are not borrowing more than the existing threshold of $650,000,” he said.
“Whilst the threshold increase is probably more aimed at capital city home buyers, the first home buyers’ incentive is an important initiative to help first home buyers to realise their dream of owning a new home at a time when home loan interest rates are low.
“[However] New homes are generally more expensive than existing homes for local first home buyers.
“The scheme is about boosting construction and local jobs as much as helping with home ownership but, from the point of view of local first home buyers, it would be better if the scheme was still also available in some form to help them to purchase existing homes too.”
Smartline’s Paul Jarratt said the increase in the price bracket had no effect locally.
“Both land and new houses locally usually fall well within the first home owners’ grant limit,” he said.
“I have never had an issue with a client falling outside the limits.”
Member for Orange Andrew Gee said the grant would now only be available to Australian citizens and permanent residents, and restricted to one grant per person, per year.
He said there were instances where foreign, non-residents had claimed the grant or multiple applications for the grant had been made by a single claimant.
“It is important that the grant scheme is fair, while also providing financial support for young families entering the market,” he said.