Most Australians are not aware of the federal government’s $1.2 billion First Home Saver Accounts (FHSA) scheme, a national survey has found.
According to Loan Market Group, 46 per cent of respondents had never heard of the scheme, which was launched two years ago as a means of helping young Australians save for a home loan deposit.
Twenty nine per cent said the requirement for people to keep their savings in the account for four years before they can use them to buy a home was too long.
Loan Market chief operating officer Dean Rushton said less than 20,000 accounts had been opened nationwide since the scheme started in October 2008.
“The scheme when it was launched was aiming to assist more than 700,000 people within the first four years but it has attracted nowhere near the amount of interest anticipated,” Mr Rushton.
"Despite the 2010 budget announcement by the federal government of draft laws to boost the flexibility of the scheme, it is clear from our survey results that prospective homebuyers are unaware of the FHSA or still find it too complicated.”
Under the FHSA, the government contributes 17 per cent on the first $5,500 of individual contributions made each year. Account holders are required to keep savings in the FHSA for four financial years before they can use the funds to buy a home.
Mr Rushton said he welcomed proposals allowing for FHSA savings to be paid into an approved mortgage after the end of a minimum qualifying period, rather than requiring it to be added to a superannuation account.
But he said the Loan Market survey found the scheme still had other issues with 18 per cent of the 400 respondents saying it lacked flexibility and seven per cent believing there was too much paperwork involved.