Understanding Queensland’s First Home Owners’ Grant in 2017
Are you dreaming of your first home? With the Queensland Government’s increased First Home Owners’ Grant, your dream could soon become your reality. The First Home Owner’s Grant, an initiative from the Queensland Government, could help you to buy your first home sooner. Depending on the contract date, you may be eligible to receive $15,000 to $20,000 towards buying or building your first home.
The First Home Owner’s Grant is available for eligible transactions dated on or after 1 July 2016, but is only on offer until 30 June 2017. If you are thinking of buying or building a new home, this one-off payment of $20,000 will help you get started. You can even buy off the plan, or choose to build yourself.
However, the First Home Owners’ Grant is not available to everyone and certain criteria must be met in order to benefit from this initiative.
Am I eligible?
To be eligible to receive the First Home Owners’ Grant:
o You, or the person you are applying with, must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident
o You, or your spouse must not have previously owned property in Australia
o You must be at least 18 years of age
o You must be buying or building a brand-new home which is valued under $750,000
Firstly, let’s look at the types of dwellings that would be classed as a new home.
A dwelling can include houses, units, duplexes, townhouses and granny flats built on a relative’s land.
A ‘brand-new’ home is a dwelling that has not previously been occupied as a place of residence or sold as a place of residence. A brand-new home can include substantially renovated homes, in certain limited circumstances, and homes that have been moved from one site and fixed as a home to a different site. The exception of this is relocated homes that have been occupied or sold as a place of residence since being fixed to the new site.
A ‘substantially renovated’ home is a home where all, or most of the structural and/or non-structural components of a building are removed or replaced. The renovations must have affected the building as a whole for it to be considered a substantial renovation.
Factors affecting eligibility
You would not be eligible for the First Home Owners’ Grant if:
o You have purchased an established home.
Although you would not be eligible for the $20,000 grant if a contract replaces another contract that was made prior to 1 July 2016, you may still be eligible for the $15,000 grant.
However, there may still be options…
If you have held or currently hold an interest in a residential property since 1 July 2000, and the property was or is solely used for investment purposes, you may be eligible for the grant on a subsequent property.
You would need to give evidence showing you have not lived in the investment property. Such information would be:
o Tenancy / lease agreements
o Current electricity / phone accounts
o Tax return details
Once you have submitted your application and supporting documents, your application will be reviewed and a decision will be made on your eligibility.
However, if you held an interest in residential property before 1 July 2000, regardless of how the property was used, you will not be eligible for the grant.
Other conditions which apply…
Ok, so you have ticked all the boxes, you are eligible, what happens next?
You must move in within 1 year of the completed eligible transaction and you must live there for 6 months continuously in order to keep the grant. If you do not adhere to these conditions you may have to pay back the grant as you would no longer be eligible.
An eligible transaction, for the $20,000 grant is one of the following:
o A contract made on or after 1 July 2016 for the purchase of a new home in Queensland
o A building contract made on or after 1 July 2016 by the owner of the land in Queensland or a person who will, on completion of the contract, be the owner of land in Queensland on which the new home is being built
o The building of a new home in Queensland by the owner-builder where the foundations are laid on or after 1 July 2016
If you are applying for the First Home Owners’ Grant with a spouse, they must be included on the application either as an applicant or non-applicant spouse. With joint applications, all applicants must live in the house. If your spouse or joint-applicant has previously owned a home they have lived in, you will not be eligible for the grant.
As mentioned above, the grant is dependent on the contract date.
Payment timeframes for the grant are different depending on the type of transaction. Types of transactions are:
o Off the plan
o Instalment purchase contracts
o Vendor finance contracts
o Building contract
o Other types of transactions
For more information on types of transactions and payment timeframes, see the Queensland Government website www.firsthomeowners.initiatives.qld.gov.au .
If you are eligible for the grant, you may also be eligible for the first home buyer’s concession on the transfer duty (formerly called Stamp Duty).
How can we help you?
Determining your eligibility for the grant can be confusing and complex if you don’t have the correct information and knowledge at hand. Errors made in determining your eligibility can mean you will not only have to pay back the grant in full, but you may also be liable to pay penalties as well.
Engaging a solicitor to assist is the best option. For more information on the First Home Owners’ Grant or to seek legal advice on purchasing your first home, please contact us.