WA is booming for first home buyers, unlike the east coast

Recently there has been some national media commentary about an apparent slump in the number of first home buyers, with commentators saying this is due to unaffordable prices and competition from investors.

It’s important to note that this speculation is very east coast based and bears little resemblance to what’s happening here in Western Australia. Let’s look at the facts.

When the First Home Owners Grant (FHOG) was introduced in July 2000, this mechanism became a good way to record this demographic in the market. There were 1,430 FHOG applications across WA in July 2000 and the median purchase price for established homes among entry level buyers back then was $122,000.

Thirteen years later in June 2013, there were 1,840 first home buyers paying a median price of $430,000 on established property.

After more than a decade the numbers are steadily growing despite the accompanying price growth for dwellings.

For the last couple of years first home buyers have benefited from historically low interest rates, a stable and recovering housing market and the ongoing exemption from stamp duty for homes under $500,000. They are also eligible for a $3,000 grant when buying an existing property or $10,000 if building a new one.

This combination of factors has prompted very strong first home activity, particularly through 2013.

In recent years the number of first home buyers each month has been fairly steady at around 1,500 each month. For the past year however, it was trending up with monthly figures closer to 1,600 and 1,700 applicants. In October last year there were 1,969 applicants seeking to enter the first home buyer market and in December there were 1,573.

Around 20,000 first home buyers made their move last year. The Office of State Revenue reports that the median purchase price on established dwellings for first home buyers across the state is currently $438,000. That’s up by $28,000 on the same time last year and by $43,000 on 2012.   Of course the median is only the middle price which means that half of all first home buyers are purchasing under $438,000 and there is plenty of stock under $400,000, including house and land packages.

The percentage of first home buyers as a proportion of the overall housing market has been above average for some time and last year was at times almost 30% of the whole market.

There is little evidence that first home buyers in WA are being frustrated by competition from investors, as they are weak in the current market due to soft rents. While home affordability itself has rarely been better and this is reflected in the significant numbers of FHOG applicants and swift turnover with homes under $450,000.

David Airey is president of the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia.

This article was originally published on reiwa.com.


David Airey

David Airey

David Airey is president of the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia.

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