Grant will support building industry but not so good for first home buyers

TOO DEAR: 24 per cent of Queenslanders say buying a property is out of reach for them.
TOO DEAR: 24 per cent of Queenslanders say buying a property is out of reach for them. Tom Huntley GLA300413HOUS

EXTENDING the first-home owners grant to include existing properties had the potential to put significantly more people into their own home, according to Queensland's peak real estate industry group.

But the state government has rejected the change with its focus to remain on new construction.

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland wants the first-home owners grant, which was boosted to $20,000 for new properties until December 1, to also be available to buyers of existing properties.

REIQ chief executive officer Antonia Mercorrela said it would help more young people get into home ownership sooner.

But Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said more than 8000 homes, apartments and townhouses had been built because of the increased grant.

"It's a great help to so many people and at the same time boosts investment in new housing stocks with flow-on benefits for local contractors, subbies and suppliers who rely on the building industry for their livelihood.”

Ms Mercorella said at the very least the grant should be able to be used for existing stock in regional towns.

"The anecdotal feedback that we get time and time again is that there is no point (claiming the grant),'' she said.

"It's a bit of a pointless grant for many first-time buyers in regional Queensland because often the cost of construction, even when you take into account the benefit you get from the grant, is usually significantly more than what you could pick up an established house for and we hear that story a lot.''

But Treasurer Curtis Pitt said there was strong take- up of the grant in regional areas.

Since July last year 387 grants had been awarded in Cairns, 246 in the Fitzroy region, 311 in Toowoomba and 464 in the Wide Bay region.

Property analyst Terry Ryder said for first-home buyers, existing properties were much more affordable.

Mr Ryder said despite the grant, most first-home buyers still bought established property.

"That is because they are significantly cheaper, often better located and the grant doesn't go anywhere near making up the price difference,” he said.

Ms Mercorella said for some buyers there was also the issue of waiting for a new property to be built - which in the case of units could take years.

"You have go take into account that you need somewhere to live in the interim,” she said.

"That is one of the benefits of an established house, you know exactly what you are buying, can negotiate a settlement date and you can just move right in, so there is those sort of hidden additional expenses and hassle that don't often get talked about.''

She said more thought also needed to be given to helping home owners at

the other end of the property timeline.

There were many older Queenslanders staying in their larger family homes, whether for sentimental or financial reasons, who would prefer to sell but were put off by the high cost of stamp duty.

Older owners worried they would fork out tens of thousands in stamp duty if they sold and bought a new home so preferred to stay put rather than be hit with a big bill, or affect their pension if they achieved a really solid price.

"I am not suggesting that I want to be booting older Australians out of their home,'' she said.

"I'd like to see us introducing some measures and new initiatives to free up these properties which may no longer be fit for purpose and simply too large or no longer suitable for that time in your life.

"It does then free up properties for younger people who are trying to get into a particular suburb or area.''

Research by au found about 24 per cent of Queenslanders thought buying property was now out of reach for them.

Topics:  first-home buyers first-home owners grant real estate institute of queensland

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