by REIWA President – Damian Collins
As it currently stands, the Western Australian First Home Owners Grant (FHOG) unfairly discriminates against first homebuyers who choose to purchase established properties by only offering the $10,000 grant for newly built homes.
The $3,000 grant for established properties was removed by the Barnett Government in 2015 with the purpose of stimulating the construction and building industry, without proper consideration given to the impact it would have on first homebuyer activity throughout the wider market.
While WA retains the highest proportion of first homebuyers in its owner-occupier market out of any state or territory in the country, first homebuyer activity has slowed considerably over the last couple of years.
Initially, the decision to implement the FHOG for new-build properties saw an increase in first homebuyers choosing to build, but recently first homebuyer preferences have shifted back towards established properties, with more first-time buyers choosing to forego the grant in favour of purchasing an existing property in an established suburb.
Recent analysis by reiwa.com shows the number of first homebuyers in WA purchasing established properties increased 20% between the December 2017 and 2018 quarters – despite the grant only being in place for those who choose to purchase new builds.
It’s not fair so many first homebuyers are missing out on the grant simply because they don’t want to build a new home. Or even worse, it means some first homebuyers who want an established property are unable to enter the market. Housing affordability remains a significant hurdle for many Western Australians and we should be encouraging and incentivising all first homebuyers to enter the market, not just those who choose to build their first home.
REIWA is a strong advocate for the reintroduction of an FHOG for eligible first homebuyers who purchase an established residential property.
Increasing the demand for established housing will have a knock-on effect to other areas of the market while also supporting the government’s infill policy. This would allow more WA households to right-size into accommodation that suits their changing needs, resulting in more transfer duty revenue for the state.
First homebuyers have shown consistently they prefer to buy established homes. The WA Government should respect the preferences of first homebuyers by not discriminating between established and new-build properties, enabling more Western Australians to make the dream of homeownership a reality.