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WA buyers given more time for HomeBuilder grants

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A surge in new home sales is putting pressure on tradies in WA. Photo: Shutterstock

WA buyers given more time for HomeBuilder grants

Prospective homebuyers in Western Australia have been given an extra three months to access the federal government’s $25,000 HomeBuilder grants, as sales of new houses continue to surge in the state.

Prospective homebuyers in Western Australia have been given an extra three months to access the federal government’s $25,000 HomeBuilder grants, as sales of new houses continue to surge in the state.

Premier Mark McGowan announced the extension this week, using the WA state government’s discretionary authority to give homebuyers six months from signing a contract to start work, instead of three.

The extension moves the expiry date of the program to the end of June rather than the end of March, with building activity in WA rising to a level not seen in more than 11 years.

Industry representatives say the surge in new home sales in WA is likely to create bottlenecks in the construction sector, putting pressure on tradies and elevating the risk that some may miss out on the grants.

People willing to build a new home in WA, whether they are residents of the state or wanting to move there, are eligible for up to $45,000 in grants if they combine the federal HomeBuilder initiative with WA’s $20,000 Building Boost.

Mr McGowan last month announced the state government would also extend its Building Boost to give homebuyers and the building industry enough time to cope with the surging demand.

More than 2,400 applications have been received for Building Boost, while data from the Housing Industry Association showed new home sales in WA in the three months to October was 132.2 per cent higher than at the same time last year.

Forecasts by the Master Builders Association indicate home building starts are likely to exceed 18,000 in the 2020-21 financial year, up from a cyclical trough of 13,454 in 2019-20.

MBA WA executive director John Gelavis said the extension of the grants would result in smoother construction timeframes and higher quality homes being built.

“Due to the heightened demand driven by unprecedented state and federal stimulus, we expect some delays in the construction process with specific trades, however it is important that consumers remain patient and work closely with their builder,” Mr Gelavis said.

“When COVID-19 exacerbated the already poor conditions in the housing market, we called on the Government to act and they have responded with stimulus packages which have saved many businesses such as builders, subbies, manufacturers, suppliers and apprentices and will keep thousands of people in work and many Western Australian families financially secure.”

The Urban Development Institute of Australia was similarly welcoming of the extension, which industry had been lobbying for for some time.

“Our land sales figures show that in the June quarter when the grants were first introduced, sales jumped a massive 126 per cent in just one quarter,” UDIA WA chief executive Tanya Steinbeck said. 

“While our September quarter figures represent a moderation in activity, sales are still up 132 per cent compared with the same time last year.

"This type of activity reflects just how busy the development industry still is.

“Forecast construction of new land over the next 12 months has increased by 50 per cent compared with last year which also shows that developers are continuing to deliver land to the market at a rapid rate”.

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