Regional first-home buyer scheme about to kick in
A measure of relief is set to take effect for first-home buyers in regional areas, with a new Federal Government scheme offering thousands of new places within days.
From Saturday 1 October 2022, 10,000 new places will be available under the Australian Government’s Home Guarantee Scheme (HGS), helping thousands more Australians living in regional areas to enter the housing market sooner.
The new Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee (RFHBG) supports eligible first home buyers living in regional areas to purchase a modest home in a regional area with a deposit of as little as 5 per cent.
To be eligible, home buyers (or at least one borrower when applying as a couple) must have lived in the regional area or adjacent regional area they are purchasing in, for the preceding 12-month period to the date they execute their home loan agreement.
Australian Defence Force members may be eligible for a partial exemption. Other eligibility and lender’s criteria, as well as HGS property price caps, apply.
The introduction of the RFHBG increases the total number of annual HGS places to 50,000. Home buyers who are not eligible for the RFHBG may be eligible for the First Home Guarantee or the Family Home Guarantee. Home buyers should discuss their individual circumstances with a participating lender.
The scheme placements also come as a year of record-breaking real estate price hikes for regional property markets is finally faltering.
The Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) President, Mr Hayden Groves has welcomed Wednesday’s (28 September) announcement on the arrival of the scheme, which he said kicks in as regional towns struggle with housing supply and affordability.
REIA’s latest Real Estate Market Facts report showed that many regional towns experienced soaring price hikes over the year to June 2022.
“In NSW, Wollongong was up 17.1 per cent while Newcastle housing saw price hikes of 13.1 per cent,” Mr Groves said.
“In Queensland, houses on the Sunshine Coast increased by 19.6 per cent while the Gold Coast recorded an overall rise of 17.5 per cent.
“Victoria’s regions recorded more modest growth with Ballarat and Bendigo seeing rises of 3.6 per cent,” he said.
Mr Groves said scarcity of supply in the regional towns has become a driving factor in housing affordability particularly as interest rates rise and first home buyers jostle for what little property is for sale in those areas adding that, “the RFHBG will ease some of the pain many first home buyers have been experiencing.”
Maxwell Shifman, Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) National President, said the guarantee is a smart approach, as it efficiently targets the greatest hurdle for first-home buyers - the deposit - and enables them to stretch their savings further without excessive additional spend by the Government.
“However, to make the regional guarantee more effective, it needs to be coupled with more measures to address the chronic shortages of development ready land in many regional areas, and the shortage of skilled labour required to build those houses.”
From Saturday, regional home buyers can access detailed information about the RFHBG on the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) website. Interested regional first home buyers will be able to check eligibility, search the areas they are able to purchase in, as well as the applicable property price caps.