ACT home buyers to save thousands on stamp duty 

The 2024–25 budget handed down by the ACT government on 25 June has substantially changed the territory’s home buyer stamp duty concession scheme.

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The scheme currently provides a full stamp duty concession on the first $1 million of property value for eligible applicants and lower rates of duty on property valued above $1 million depending on whether the property is sold for under $1,455,000 or over that amount.

Under the changes, beginning on 1 July 2024, the eligibility threshold for household income will increase to $250,000 per year up from $170,000 per year. However, the scheme will now only apply to buyers who have not owned a property for five years instead of two under the previous criteria.

The scheme has always allowed for income adjustments based on the number of dependent children in a household. From 1 July, the additional income a person can earn per child and remain eligible for the scheme will increase from $3,330 per child to $4,600 per child.

The territory has made a provision for people fleeing family violence to be exempt from the requirement to have not owned a property in the previous five years.

In addition, the ACT’s 2024–25 budget also revealed that the territory will increase the threshold for a stamp duty concession for off-the-plan apartment or townhouse purchases from $800,000 to $1 million, also beginning on 1 July 2024.

In line with this change, the threshold for a stamp duty concession on the first transfer of unit-titled dwellings on suburban residential (RZ1) blocks will also be lifted from $800,000 to $1 million.

The territory’s existing Disability Duty Concession Scheme, which is available to eligible home buyers with a disability, has been altered to provide a partial concession on stamp duty on properties over $1 million beginning on 1 July 2024. Previously, the scheme only provided a concession on properties valued up to $1 million.

A new Severe Disability Duty Exemption will be introduced from 1 July 2025, which will apply to homes bought by people with severe disability or their carers, allowing them to avoid paying stamp duty without requiring the home to be bought through a Special Disability Trust.

In its final measure of stamp duty relief, the ACT government has also extended the Pensioner Duty Concession Scheme to provide a full stamp duty concession on the first $1 million of property value and a partial concession of over $1 million for pensioners downsizing their homes. It’s a substantial increase in the program, as under the former rules, a full stamp duty concession was only available for homes valued up to $550,000, with a decreasing concession to zero for homes valued between $550,000 and $765,000.

Cost-of-living pressures in the spotlight

Other property-related measures included in the 2024–25 budget looked to tackle the household costs that have caused increasing pressure under tightened economic conditions.

The government announced it would increase the electricity, gas and water rebates available to low-income households to $800 per year.

The support voucher payment for those experiencing energy stress has also been increased from $100 to $300.

For renters experiencing hardship, the territory’s Rent Relief Fund has been granted funding to allow it to continue. This program provides grants for up to four weeks’ rent capped at $2,500 to individuals or households who meet certain income caps, pay a substantial amount of their income on rent and have a low level of liquid assets.

Boost for social and affordable housing

Alongside its stamp duty shake-up and cost-of-living relief, the ACT government has announced it will increase funding to support social and affordable housing development.

This includes expanding the Affordable Housing Project Fund to $80 million to grow the number of affordable rental properties.

A further $108 million has been earmarked for new public housing and to improve existing public housing, taking the total budgeted for Housing ACT’s Capital Works Program to $530 million over four years.

The state has also announced it will create a taskforce to improve the maintenance of public housing and oversee a pilot for insourcing maintenance of two large multi‑unit properties.

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