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First home buyer grants in Victoria, and other handy savings

So you’re thinking of buying your first home? An exciting move, and we’re here for you every step of the way with the latest info and tips. Yes, there’s some lingo to wrap your head around, but before long, you’ll be on top of stamp duty concessions, the FHOG and the HomeBuilder Grant.

If you’re buying or building a home for the first time in Victoria, you could be eligible for financial help from the state government, bringing your dream of getting into the property market that much closer.

Here are Victoria’s 4 assistance programs if you’re buying your first home:

1. First Home Buyer Duty Exemption, Concession or Reduction

Stamp duty is a government tax on certain purchases, including buying a home, land or investment property. The good news is, when you buy your first home and it’s in Victoria, you might be eligible for a stamp duty exemption (you pay no stamp duty) or concession (a discount on the stamp duty). The amount of the discount depends on the value of your home.
 

Who can access it?

Victorian residents buying their first home valued at $750,000 or less, which can be a house, townhouse, apartment, unit or something similar. You can apply for a refund up to five years after the stamp duty was paid – if you overpaid stamp duty on your purchase because you didn’t claim an exemption, concession or reduction you were actually eligible for.
 

Are you eligible to save on stamp duty?

  • You must be 18 or over at the date of the contract.
  • At least one of the first home buyers must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
  • You must be an individual, not a company or trust.
  • You and your spouse/partner must never have owned or co-owned residential property in Australia.
  • You and your spouse/partner must never have received a first home buyer grant in Australia.
  • You or one of the other first home buyers must move into the new home as your principal place of residence within 12 months after buying the property, and live there for a continuous period of at least 12 months. There’s an exemption for Australian Defence Force personnel who are either on duty or leave, and enrolled to vote in Victorian state elections.
  • Your contract must be dated on or after 1 July 2017.
     

How it works

If you buy a first home valued up to $600,000, you can apply for a full exemption. Let’s say Matt buys his first home for $580,000. According to a Victorian stamp duty calculator, he’ll pay no stamp duty and save $29,870.

If you buy a first home valued at between $600,001 and $750,000, you can apply for a stamp duty concession. A Victorian stamp duty calculator will help you work out how much you can save. If Louisa pays $700,000 for her first home, she still has to pay $24,713 stamp duty – but that’s a saving of $12,357 off the full rate.

If you buy your first home on vacant land, you’ll only be charged duty on the vacant land – as long as you build your home and move into the property within 12 months of settlement of the land contract. Imagine if Luke, a first home buyer, buys a block of land for $500,000 and builds a $650,000 home on it. As he moves in within a year, he pays no stamp duty. While the value of his home is $1,150,000, Luke will only pay duty on the land value of $500,000, which is below the $600,000 maximum for a stamp duty exemption.

If you buy your first home off the plan (sign a contract for a property that hasn’t been built yet), you may be eligible for an off-the-plan concession. Amanda, for example, signs a contract to buy a $700,000 unit in a new development as her first home. Even though it’s above $600,000, she can access a special concession and pay no stamp duty at all. That’s because the “dutiable value” of her property is actually the contract price less the construction cost. Given that $300,000 of Amanda’s contract price will be spent constructing her unit, the “dutiable value” of her home is $400,000, meaning no stamp duty and happy days for Amanda.
 

How to apply for it

You’ll need to use the State Revenue Office “Digital Duties Form”, which can be found at sro.vic.gov.au under Duties Online. Be sure to have the following info and documents on hand to apply for your stamp duty exemption, concession or reduction:

  • Copy of the contract of sale
  • Title details, including copies of transfer-of-land documentation. 
     

2. First Home Owner Grant (FHOG)

If you’re buying or building a new home in metro Melbourne, you could receive a $10,000 grant. If you live in regional Victoria, it’s a $20,000 grant for contracts signed between 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2021.
 

Who can access it? 

First home buyers of a new home with a price of $750,000 or less.
 

Are you eligible for the First Home Owner Grant?

  • You must be 18 or over at the date of the contract.
  • At least one of the first home buyers must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
  • You must be an individual, not a company or trust.
  • You and your spouse or partner must never have owned or co-owned residential property in Australia.
  • You and your spouse or partner must never have received a first home buyer grant in Australia.
  • You or one of the other first home buyers must move into the new home as your principal place of residence within 12 months of buying the property and live there for at least 12 continuous months. Again, there’s an exemption for Australian Defence Force personnel who are either on duty or leave and enrolled to vote in Victorian state elections.
     

How it works

To qualify for this grant, you must be buying or building your first new home. This includes:

  • A newly built first property
  • An existing new property less than five years old that’s being sold for the first time as a new residential premise
  • A land and building package
  • Vacant land on which you’ll build a new home.
     

How to apply for your FHOG

If you’re applying for the FHOG through an approved agent (your lender, which can be a bank or other financial institution), they’ll lodge the application form on your behalf – you just need to have signed it and had it witnessed.

If you’re applying for the FHOG directly to the State Revenue Office, go to sro.vic.gov.au  for the application form and the details. You’ll need to lodge your application within 12 months of settlement or completion of construction. 

 

3. HomeBuilder Grant

If you’re building a new home, substantially renovating an existing one or buying a new (or off-the-plan) home, you could be eligible for the government’s $15,000 HomeBuilder grant.
 

Who can access it?

This grant applies to first home buyers and existing homeowners who earn no more than $125,000 (individuals) or $200,000 (couples).
 

Are you eligible?

  • You must be 18 or over at the date of the contract.
  • You must be an Australian citizen.
  • You must be an individual, not a company or trust.
  • The value of your new home (including land) can’t exceed $850,000. If you’re doing significant renovations (substantially altering your home or demolishing your home and rebuilding), they must be valued between $150,000 and $750,000, and the value of the existing property can’t exceed $1.5 million.
  • Your new home must not have previously been sold or occupied as a place of residence (unless you are doing significant renovations).
  • The contract must be signed between 1 January 2021 and 31 March 2021 (inclusive). Construction doesn’t have to start before 31 March 2021, but it must start within six months of the contract date.

Eligibility and application process for the HomeBuilder Grant is governed by each State or Territory Government. Please speak with a lender to discuss how the grant could assist with your loan application.
 

How to apply for HomeBuilder

Details of how to lodge your application online are available on the Victorian state website: sro.vic.gov.au. You’ll lodge your application in a multi-step process, with the initial lodgement made after an eligible HomeBuilder contract has been entered into. Applications must be received no later than 14 April 2021.

 

4. Land transfer duty waiver for residential property

In November, the Victorian Government announced that home buyers can access a stamp duty waiver up to 50% on residential properties valued at $1 million and less.
 

Who can access it?

This waiver applies to first home buyers and existing homeowners buying a property to live in or as an investment.
 

Are you eligible for the waiver?

  • You must be buying residential property, whether or not you intend to live there.
  • The property must be valued at $1 million or less.
  • The property can’t be a gift.
  • You must sign the contract after 25 November 2020 and before 1 July 2021.
     

How it works

  • If you buy a new residential property, 50% of the stamp duty you would normally pay will be waived.
  • If you buy an existing residential property, 25% of the stamp duty you would normally pay will be waived.
  • If you buy vacant residential land, 25% of the stamp duty you would normally pay will be waived.

The waiver will be applied after all other eligible benefits – including the First Home Buyer Duty Concession – have been taken into account.
 

How to apply for the waiver

You just need to fill in the “Digital Duties Form” (found at sro.vic.gov.au under Duties Online). If you meet all the eligibility requirements, the State Revenue Office will automatically apply the waiver.

 

Got questions?

We’ve got time to talk. Call our Home Loan Concierge on (03) 8664 0250.

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