HomeBuilder scheme will drive a tradie-led recovery

HomeBuilder scheme will drive a tradie-led recovery
Jonathan ChancellorDecember 17, 2020

The Federal Government’s $25,000 Homebuilder package for the housing sector will help promote jobs and activity as New South Wales recovers from the economic effects of COVID-19.

That is important as construction is a key pillar of the economy – generating 7.5 percent of the nation’s growth as Australia’s third-biggest employer, after retail and health care and social assistance.

The $688 million package hopes to pull forward activity to avert the jobs cliff that could arise as exisiting projects finish in the second half of 2020 and early 2021.

The industry was not shutdown unlike other industries. But the package is aimed at forward work pipelines, with the time frame requiring quicker state government and council approvals, before any impact on the actual property market and prices and rents.

The program aims to provide 27,000 grants by December this year. It is for owner-occupiers, especially cashed up first home buyers, but not investors.

The means-tested grants will be restricted to large renovations and the construction of new homes as the project cost must be at least $150,000.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the scheme would drive a "tradie-led recovery" of the economy, and would support 140,000 direct construction jobs and a million workers in the wider residential building sector.

"The industry is facing a valley of death," the Master Builders Australia chief executive Denita Wawn warned.

The scheme will last until the end of the year, aiming to get 30,000 homes underway by Christmas.

Construction must commence within three months of the contract date.

Those eligible are singles who earned up to $125,000 the 2018-2019 tax year and couples who earned up to $200,000.

The scheme will work alongside existing state and territory first-home owner grants programs, stamp duty concessions and other grant schemes, including the federal government’s popular first-home loan deposit scheme and first-home super saver scheme.

The desired economic recovery will be swifter for having a housing that is robust, but there will be many would-be home owners who can't, won't or shouldn't participate.

It comes up against the backdrop that typically less than 20 percent of first-home buyers prefer to buy newly-constructed homes.

There are price thresholds that apply to the Homebuilder package, especially in Sydney which will be restrictive in most suburbs.

If you are building a new home the total value of the completed house and land needs to be less than $750,000.

Or if substantially renovating your existing home the value of your existing property does not exceed $1.5 million.

The package will primarily have an effect in the outer suburbs and its greenfield housing markets. Mostly people some way down the track to either buying or building will likely get to participate.

The scheme also covers buying units off the plan that are construction ready.

Architect academic Geoff Hanmer says no doubt the scheme's structure will encourage people to build in coffee makers, microwaves, fridges and washing machines to bump the contract price up above the $150,000 minimum.

Beware too that there are unscrupulous builders who may take advantage of the scheme, warns the NSW builder broker, Builder Finders' Lynette Manciameli, is concerned that the scheme is vulnerable to exploitation.

“What we are likely to see off the back of the HomeBuilder scheme is dodgy builders coming out of the woodwork." Mrs Manciameli suggests.

Adding it is more important than ever for consumers to do their due diligence when selecting a builder for their project including seeking out testimonials and checking credit scores.

This article was first published in The Daily Telegraph

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.

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