Cameron Bell

First home buyers: Is this the answer you've been waiting for?

By Cameron Bell

The First Home Owner Grant could make your property investment dreams a reality.

Blogger: Cameron Bell, sales and marketing manager, Complete Homes

If you are thinking of buying or building your first home, a little bit of help from the government in the form of the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) may just be the extra boost you need.

The FHOG is a national scheme, funded and administered by the states and territories under their own legislation, which pays a one-off tax-free grant to first time homeowners who meet all the eligibility criteria. Some states and territories have additional incentives, subsidies and variations on the regulations, but the objective is consistent –- and that is to incentivize first home buyers and help them get a foot onto the property ladder.

The grant isn't means tested, which means people don’t have to undergo any income or assets test to qualify but, in some areas, there is a cap on the price of the property that is to be purchased. There may also be differences in the amount of the grant payable, depending on whether the first-time home owner is buying a new home or an existing one.

How does it work?

If someone is buying a house and land package, they can apply for the FHOG as soon as the contract has been signed; they can do this either from an approved agent, such as a bank or mortgage provider, or they can apply directly to the state government’s revenue office.

Are there restrictions on the type of property?

The grant only applies to residential dwellings and can’t be used for business premises, holiday homes or vacant land (unless of course it’s part of a house and land package). In some instances, substantially renovated homes may qualify for the grant.

How do I know if I am eligible for the grant?

A comprehensive list of eligibility criteria can be found on the websites of each state’s revenue office, but here are some of the main things that are required:

  • Each applicant and their spouse cannot have owned residential property anywhere in Australia before 1 July 2000;
  • Each applicant must be 18 years or older;
  • Only one grant is payable per transaction and anyone who has a spouse or partner who has previously received a grant in any state or territory won’t be eligible;
  • Each applicant must be a person. In other words, the grant cannot be paid to a company or a trust.

Do I have to live in the property to qualify for the grant?

The rules state that each applicant must live in the home as their principal residence for at least six concurrent months, and that six-month period must start within 12 months of the property having been built or the transaction completed. Sometimes, special consideration will be given to those who can’t fulfil those conditions, but a written application has to be made to the Commissioner.

When is the grant paid?

Generally, the money is paid at the following times:

  • When settlement takes place (in the case of an established home, a new home or a home off-plan);
  • At the time of the first progress payment (paid to the builder);
  • On receipt of the Certificate of Occupancy (in the case of an owner/builder).

The grant is usually paid directly to the finance house and most major mortgage lenders are authorised to receive the grant on the applicant’s behalf.

If you’ve always dreamt of starting a new life with a new home, you may find that the FHOG is just the kick-start you need.

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About the Blogger

Cameron Bell

Cameron Bell

Cameron Bell is the Sales and Marketing Manager for Ross North Developments. Ross North Developments is the specialist property development Perth division of the award winning Ross North Group.

Cameron has over twenty years’ experience in the building industry, including working for two-storey, multi-unit development builders and for land estates.

Cameron also has his real estate agents' licence and has run his own real estate company, allowing him unique insights into the property market in WA.

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