First Home Super Saver Scheme is up and running

First Home Super Saver Scheme is up and running
First Home Super Saver Scheme is up and running

Sydney's property prices have been falling yet first-home buyers have been taking out higher home loans.

First-home buyers in NSW are now borrowing $391,700 on average, which reflects a 6.1% annual increase, according to the latest ABS housing finance figures.

This is intriguing.

Some prospective investor buyers have waned and some exisiting investors are quietly bailing out given the prospective of higher repayment once they must convert their interest only loans.

Meanwhile emotionally charged first timers have been diving into the market with much of the influx coming after last year’s expansion of generous first-home buyer concessions.

It is likely these stamp duty exemptions have assisted in holding up the prices in the least expensive suburbs since CoreLogic have calculated prices in Sydney's more expensive suburbs are experiencing the bigger declines.

The five postcodes in Sydney to have received more than $760 million in tax breaks and grants for sales to first home buyers since July 2000 are Liverpool, Westmead, Campbelltown, Blacktown and Parramatta.

Across NSW there were 32,000 first home recipients in the past financial year, according to the latest NSW Office of State Revenue figures, the highest figure since the cash grant splash following the global financial crisis when there were 44,000 beneficiaries in 2009/2010.

Many of those buyers saw their home values then fall, though thankfully without losing their homes in the following brief downturn.

Grant recipients slumped to just 6,900 in 2012-2013.

Under the current rules, no stamp duty is payable for all new or existing properties valued up to $650,000 and for homes valued between $650,000 and $800,000 there is a sliding scale of discounts.

It represents a saving of somewhere between $26,000 to $34,000 depending on the purchase.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she has been "thrilled" at the big impact the latest grants have had on the market mix.

She made helping first home buyers one of her first priorities as Premier, but you'd have to wonder whether the tax break will be illusionary, notwithstanding the moderating property market.

Earlier this year, CoreLogic’s head of research Cameron Kusher warned first home buyers must be vigilant to avoid negative equity.

“Don’t be lured into buying because of attractive incentives,” he advised.

Kusher even went onto suggest a better option for FHBs would be to remain on the sidelines somewhat longer as values potentially continue to slide.

That would allow more time to save an even larger deposit.

First home buyers are of course now able to dip into their superannuation to help pay for their deposit. 

Savers can make a voluntary super contribution of up to $15,000 a year and $30,000 in total towards their home deposit.

The new First Home Super Saver Scheme (FHSSS) was then-Treasurer Scott Morrison's policy for giving first home buyers a “significant leg-up”.

According to the initial Australian Taxation Office figures, some 498 FHSSS recipients secured an average of $10,727 per super savings accounts in the first month the scheme was up and running.

That's a good start, but beware it can take up to 25 business days from request to release. First time buyers are not allowed to sign a contract in that time or you will be taxed on the benefit, and also note the funds can only be released once.

This article first appeared in The Sunday Telegraph. 

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

First Home Buyers Fhsss

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