A state-by-state guide to the First Home Buyer Grant in Australia

Dominique Grubisa
Dominique Grubisa

Published 7:30 pm 6 Jan 2021

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Australia first introduced a Commonwealth first home owner grant back in 2000. Researchers predicted the GST (introduced the same year) would have a negative impact on the real estate market and so the grant was introduced to offset the effects of the GST.

The grant amount has changed over time, beginning at $7000, doubling to $14,000 for new homes in 2008 and 2009 (in response to the GFC), then was halved in late 2009 before ending as a national program. In January 2010 the Commonwealth fund was replaced by a state program called the First Home Owner Grant.

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Eligibility requirements for first home-related grants and schemes across Australia share key similarities, including that you must:

  • Be aged over 18;
  • Be an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or have a partner who is;
  • Not have received a similar grant previously, including in other states and territories;
  • Not have owned or co-owned property anywhere in Australia previously;
  • Be buying or building a new home, or ‘substantially renovated’ one, i.e., replaced/removed internal walls and made changes to almost every room;
  • Live in the home – as your principal place of residence – for six months within 12 months of the purchase.

Where a home has been substantially renovated and sold by an owner builder, for the home to qualify, that vendor must be registered for GST and the sale considered a ‘taxable supply’. It must also not have been lived in since that work was done.

Full eligibility terms for the grants must be thoroughly checked with the state you intend to buy in. The amounts of grants, and conditions of them, vary and depend on your situation and the prospective purchase.

One point that is also consistent is that engaging an ‘approved agent’ – a bank or lending institution – to apply for first home owner benefits is usually easier and speeds up the application processes.

The Commonwealth HomeBuilder grant program is also relevant to first home buyers (including owner-builders) who are building a new home or substantially renovating an existing one. The program is administered by the states and territories. The basic details are:

  • A $15,000 grant for eligible contracts signed between 1 January and 31 March 2021 (applications are due before April 14);
  • A $25,000 grant for eligible contracts signed between 4 June 2020 and 31 December 2020;
  • You must not earn above $125,000 as an individual or a total of $200,000 for a couple;
  • To receive the $15,000 grant, property values can’t exceed $950,000 for NSW, $850,000 for Victoria or $750,000 elsewhere;
  • To be eligible for the $25,000 grant, values are a standard $750,000.

Read on for details of first home owner grants and benefits (such as land transfer duty concessions and/or exemptions) in your state — and please be aware that while this information was accurate when published (in early 2021), it’s up to you to double check that it’s still up to date with official sources.

First Home Buyer Grant in Western Australia

The First Home Owner Grant is a one-off WA government payment for people wanting to build or buy their first new home. It is only available for existing homes if the home has been ‘substantially renovated’.

The grant amount is $10,000 in WA and is only paid once per property transaction (when it is paid depends on the type of home and your situation), so whether you’re an individual or a couple, the WA government can award you a maximum of $10,000 if you meet the eligibility conditions.

The relevant property values must not exceed:

  • $750,000 (for metropolitan Perth);
  • $1 million for areas north of metropolitan Perth.

Other things to note:

  • First home buyers may also be eligible for significant concessions on mandatory transfer duty (aka stamp duty);
  • Unlike the first home buyer grant, the transfer duty concession applies to the purchase of existing homes;
  • First home buyers purchasing a home worth a maximum $400,000 may also be eligible for a further $2000 to meet “incidental” costs under the Home Buyers Assistance Account scheme.

First Home Buyer Grant in NSW

The first home owner’s grant remains available in NSW, albeit capped at $10,000. It won’t excite all prospective buyers as it is only available for new and ‘substantially renovated’ homes valued well under median NSW home prices. There is better news though regarding transfer duty (aka stamp duty), with improved concessions and even exemptions available.

NSW mandates maximum home, or home-plus-land values to qualify for the First Home Owner’s Grant (New Homes) scheme, which are:

  1. Newly completed (and substantially renovated) homes: value must be less than $600,000;
  2. Land and planned dwelling: value must be less than $750,000.

Regarding transfer duties in NSW, the First Home Buyer Assistance Scheme funds stamp duty exemptions and concessions for first time buyers of new and existing (including unrenovated) properties. From August 2020 the thresholds were raised.

Exemptions: New homes worth under $800,000; and existing homes valued at under $650,000.

Concessions: New homes valued between $800,000 and $1 million; and existing homes worth between $650,000 and $800,000. The exact discount depends on the value of the home.

For information on the HomeBuilder Program, you can read about it in the introduction above.

First Home Buyer Grant in Queensland

First home owner grants in Queensland are awarded up to $15,000 towards buying or building a new (or substantially renovated) home. The value of the home and land must be under $750,000.

Applications can be lodged via an approved agent (i.e. a lender) or direct with the Office of State Revenue.

In addition to the HomeBuilder grant, Queensland has extended its regional home building boost grant of $5,000 until March 31 to help those buying homes worth less than $750,000 outside of metropolitan areas.

As with other states, transfer duty concessions are available for first home purchases. When applied to a home valued at $500,000 or less the first home concession means no transfer duty is payable. You can calculate the likely transfer duty on a prospective purchase at qld.gov.au.

First Home Buyer Grant in Tasmania

Tasmania had the most generous first home owner grant in the country: with $20,000 available for eligible applicants who buy or build a new home (home is a home that has never been occupied or sold as a residence), until mid-2022.

The relevant building requirements are that by June 2022:

  • You must have a contract to have a new home built;
  • Owner-builders must have commenced laying foundations;
  • You have agreed to a contract to buy ‘off the plan’ or a new home.

In Tasmania, the Commissioner for State Revenue pledges to process all applications for grants within 14 days of lodgment.

Tasmania also offers a property duty transfer discount of 50 per cent on the purchase of existing homes valued at less than $400,000 for first home buyers. This concession is available until at least June 30, 2022.

State guidelines specifically state that to be considered your primary place of residence for six months, within 12 months of buying it – a common requirement for the transaction to qualify for the first home owners grant – you must “usually eat and sleep there”.

It is possible to receive the HomeBuilder grant in addition to the first home owner grant. But buyers in receipt of a first home owner grant cannot also receive the $20,000 Tasmanian HomeBuilder grant.

First Home Buyer Grant in South Australia

The First Home Owner Grant in South Australia is set at $15,000, and is available to buyers for the purchase or construction of a new residential home worth $575,000 or less.

Revenue SA has a series of helpful online tools and resources to help buyers determine their eligibility and obligations:

  • First Home Owner Grant Eligibility Checklist to help you assess your eligibility. Available through forms.sa.gov.au.
  • The Residential Property Buyer Tool, available via zingtree.com.

First home owner grant applications in south Australia can be lodged either with approved agents or with Revenue SA. Full details and instructions on applying, including estimated processing times, are available through the revenuesa.sa.gov.au website. SA’s First Home Owner Grant homepage in hosted on the same website.

First Home Buyer Grant in Victoria

The First Home Owner Grant in Victoria is worth $10,000 for buying or building a new home worth under $750,000, although the State Revenue Office states that amount is doubled to $20,000 for a home in regional areas.

Although the grant is for ‘new’ homes, the building can be up to five years old as long as it was not previously sold as a residence or lived in. Victoria also specifies the home cannot have been used for short term accommodation such as Airbnb or a holiday home to qualify.

Victoria also has an online tool via sro.vic.gov.au to help you determine your eligibility and a step-by-step guide to the application process.

First home buyers in Victoria are exempt from land transfer duty (aka stamp duty) if their home is worth less than $600,000, or they can receive a concession if the value is between $600,001 and $750,000. These discounts are not conditional on the home being new

Victoria also has a general land transfer duty discount of 50 per cent on new residential homes, and 25 per cent for existing homes, provided the values are less than $1 million.

Victoria offers first home buyers a range of other exemptions and concessions – including off-the-plan, pensioner and principal place of residence concessions. Details can be found on the State Revenue Office website.

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Dominique Grubisa is a practicing lawyer with over 25 years experience. She is a property investor and developer, an entrepreneur with businesses in Australia and Southeast Asia, a speaker, educator, writer and published author.

This column has been written for general information purposes only. It is not intended as legal, financial or investment advice and should not be construed or relied on as such.

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Founded in 2009, DG Institute strives to empower everyday Australians to grow and protect their wealth. Our goal is to provide direction, motivation and inspiration to our clients and help them perform at their very best. We do that through our professional services, in addition to teaching them how to grow their wealth through property and business education.

This column has been written for general information purposes only. It is not intended as legal, financial or investment advice and should not be construed or relied on as such.

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