Why boost­ing the Great Start Grant won’t work

Con­sumer tips pro­vided by REIQ

Whitsunday Times - - RESIDENTIAL -

THE gov­ern­ment is in­creas­ing the first-home buyer’s grant by $5000 to $20,000, and in­dus­try groups have voiced their dis­ap­point­ment at this mea­sure.

Since the an­nounce­ment we have been speak­ing to hun­dreds of peo­ple within the com­mu­nity and we have re­alised how lit­tle is un­der­stood about this grant or our po­si­tion.

The Great Start Grant is only avail­able to pur­chasers who build a brand new home, or buy a house and land pack­age, or buy an apart­ment off the plan.

The grant has been in op­er­a­tion in its cur­rent form since 2012 and was brought in as a mea­sure to stim­u­late the con­struc­tion in­dus­try.

In the wake of the GFC, when the hous­ing mar­ket through­out Queens­land (and the rest of the coun­try) faced a sig­nif­i­cant slump and was strug­gling to find its foot­ing, the Great Start Grant was de­signed to cre­ate jobs and get the econ­omy mov­ing again.

How­ever, at the same time as the af­ter-ef­fects of the GFC were still re­ver­ber­at­ing through­out the global econ­omy, Queens­land’s min­ing in­dus­try started to slump and that slump con­tin­ues to­day.

Through­out re­gional Queens­land, the price of houses has slipped and with lower in­ter­est rates, first-home buy­ers who have been able to save a de­posit have had their choice of es­tab­lished homes at bar­gain prices.

There has been no need – and im­por­tantly, no in­ter­est – in build­ing a new home.

Over the past four years, only about 4000 grants have been ac­cessed in re­gional Queens­land.

This is a re­flec­tion of a lack of need and also a lack of in­ter­est in new hous­ing through­out re­gional Queens­land.

Gen­er­ally speak­ing, there are very few op­por­tu­ni­ties to build a new home within rea­son­able prox­im­ity of the CBD, whether you’re in re­gional Queens­land or in Bris­bane.

Va­cant land sim­ply does not ex­ist within built-up ar­eas.

We know from the way the Bris­bane and Gold Coast apart­ment mar­kets have ex­pe­ri­enced sus­tained de­mand, that Queens­lan­ders are em­brac­ing a new style of liv­ing, where they want to live within close prox­im­ity of work and leisure fa­cil­i­ties.

The grant has been more pop­u­lar in th­ese mar­kets and we agree it has served a pur­pose, stim­u­lat­ing con­struc­tion and ad­ding much-needed stock to the sup­ply of dwellings.

But in re­gional Queens­land why would you go through the has­sle of build­ing a home on the fringes, which means deal­ing with com­pli­cated plans, tradies, builders and plan­ning de­part­ments, when you can buy an es­tab­lished home close to the city, for a re­ally af­ford­able price?

The REIQ has been lob­by­ing the State Gov­ern­ment for many years on broad­en­ing the first-home buyer grant to in­clude es­tab­lished homes. We know that one of the main bar­ri­ers stop­ping firsthome buy­ers get­ting into the mar­ket is sav­ing the de­posit.

The Great Start Grant can be used as a de­posit and could help thou­sands of re­gional Queens­lan­ders get into the mar­ket – if it’s use­ful for their goal of buy­ing an es­tab­lished home.

Mr Pitt’s an­nounce­ment last week was dis­ap­point­ing be­cause it is an ex­ten­sion of a failed pol­icy and it is clear the State Gov­ern­ment is fo­cused on help­ing buy­ers in a small cor­ner of the state, rather than help­ing all Queens­lan­ders.

Hous­ing is in over­sup­ply (to vary­ing de­grees) through­out re­gional Queens­land and this was an op­por­tu­nity for the gov­ern­ment to in­tro­duce mean­ing­ful sup­port that would have di­rect im­pact on th­ese mar­kets and th­ese lo­cal economies.

It’s a shame that such an op­por­tu­nity has been missed.

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