FHOG 101: Your go-to guide in applying for Australia's First Home Owner Grant

By Gerv Tacadena

The First Home Owner Grant provides financial assistance to first-home buyers in Australia.

While it is true that homeownership is still the Great Australian Dream, many Australians struggle to make that aspiration a reality as they suffer the effects of skyrocketing living and housing costs and limited wage growth.

In the efforts to help would-be first-home buyers break into the housing market, the Australian governments introduced The First Home Owner Grant in 2000. The program provides financial support for the purchase of a property or construction of a new home.

The scheme is laid out to offset the effect of the goods and services tax on homeownership. While the grant is a national scheme, state and territories have the responsibility of enforcing the rules and ascertaining the amount of the grant. Over the years, these guidelines have changed. However, the basic eligibility requirements remained the same for all states.

Are you eligible for the First Home Owners Grant?

Even if you are a first-time property buyer, it does not automatically mean that you would get a green light when you apply for the First Home Owners Grant in your state. Case in point: if you are planning to have an investment property as your first home purchase, you would not be able to avail of the grant.

In order for you to know if you fit the mould, you need to comply with the items in this checklist:

  1. You must be a permanent resident or an Australian citizen. If you are applying with your spouse or partner, at least one of you must fit this requirement.
  2. You must be at least 18 years old.
  3. You must be buying the home as an individual, not as a company or trust.
  4. You must apply for the grant within 12 months after the settlement of your property purchase.
  5. You must live in the target property for at least 12 continuous months.

However, it is also crucial for you and your partner to take note of the things that will make you unsuitable for the grant. You will not be entitled to apply for the First Home Owner Grant if:

  1. You previously received a grant in Australia.
  2. You owned a home or other residential property before 1 July 2000.
  3. You have lived in a residential property you owned from 1 July 2000.
  4. You have previously owned an interest in land in Australia which had a dwelling on it, before 1 July 2000.

What are the grants and concessions available in each state?

Each state also has its own guidelines in implementing its respective First Home Owner Grant. The grants and duty concessions available also vary from state to state. Some states even provide stamp duty discounts.

Stamp duty is a mandatory tax that the state and territory governments levy on a homebuyer whenever they purchase a property. It is also known as land transfer duty. To know more about stamp duty, read this guide. Or you can try using Your Mortgage’s calculator for stamp duty. 

New South Wales

In New South Wales, first-home buyers can apply for a $10,000 grant for the construction or purchase of new homes. For a purchased home to qualify for the grant, its value must not exceed $600,000. If you are planning to build a home from scratch, then the total value should not be over $750,000 — otherwise, you might not be allowed to lodge in an application.

The state also offers exemptions from transfer duty on new homes with values up to $650,000. For buyers whose property is valued up to $800,000, concessions are available. If you are planning to buy vacant land with a value of up to $350,000, you will not need to pay any duties. For lands with price tags of up to $450,000, concessions are offered.

Queensland

Property buyers in Queensland would be allowed to apply for a $15,000 grant as long as their properties do not exceed $750,000.

First-home buyers can also apply for stamp duty concessions, but only if their properties are valued at less than $550,000. If they are buying a parcel of land, the price should not exceed $400,000 for them to still qualify for the discount.

Australian Capital Territory

You can get up to a $7,000 grant if you are planning to buy a house in the Australian Capital Territory. Take note, however, that the grant is available only to homes which are less than $750,000 in value.

The state also offers stamp duty concessions on new homes and substantially renovated properties. For you to qualify, the property should have a value of no more than $562,000.

Victoria

In Victoria, there are two variations of the grant: if you are buying a home valued up to $750,000, you would be able to get a $10,000 grant. Those who are buying in regional Victoria can apply for a $20,000 grant.

You will be exempted from paying stamp duty if your property is valued below $600,000. Concessions are available, provided that the property's value does not exceed $750,000.

Western Australia

First-home buyers in Western Australia are allowed to apply for a $10,000 grant. However, the value of the property eligible for the grant depends on the location. The value cap for properties located south of the 26th parallel is at $750,000. For properties north of the 26th parallel, values must not exceed $1m to qualify for the grant.

Stamp duty exemptions and concessions are also available for owners with properties valued less than $530,000 for homes and $400,000 for vacant land.

Northern Territory

Compared to other states, grant eligibility terms in the Northern Territory are somewhat less restrictive. As long as you are buying or building a new home, you will be eligible to get the $10,000 First Home Owner Grant (the Northern Territory recently updated its guidelines. Previously, the amount of the grant was $26,000).

The state also has a First Home Owner Discount. Those who purchased an established home after 24 May 2016 will be eligible to apply for the discount. For homes valued at $500,000 or below, the discount is a full concession, equating to a savings of around $24,000.

Tasmania

In Tasmania, the guidelines are also less limiting. The grant available for buying a new home or off the plan, and building a new home is $20,000. However, the state recently announced that the grant for transactions starting July 2020 would be reduced to $10,000.

The state currently has no provisions for discounts on the stamp and transfer duties for first-home buyers.

South Australia

The value cap for properties in South Australia is $575,000. If your property meets this requirement, you will be able to apply for a $15,000 grant.

Before applying for a grant, make sure you have the best home loan. Check out the most competitive mortgage offers in the market by clicking this link.

How should you lodge your First Home Owner Grant application?

You can apply for First Home Owner Grant either through an approved agent or directly to your state's revenue office. Your application must be lodged within one year from the completion date of your property purchase. It is highly suggested that you apply for the grant as soon as you can after your settlement date.

When you apply for the grant, you will be asked to fill out a form. It is critical that all the information that you supply is accurate and correct. False and misleading entries would likely get you in trouble.

Applying through approved agents is convenient, given that they will handle all the paperwork. Take note that approved agents are financial organisations recognized by your local revenue office.

Want to make sure that you have the perfect application, reach out to an expert by clicking this link.

What supporting evidence do you need to apply for First Home Owner Grant?

The number of supporting documents you need depends on which method you would choose to apply for the grant. Supporting documents are classified into four categories. The table below shows which documents are under each category.

Category 1 Category 2
Copy of Current primary identity document and evidence of citizenship

If you are an Australian citizen:
  • Australian birth certificate issued by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages,
  • Australian passport
  • Citizenship certificate
If you are a citizen of another country:
  • Passport
  • Evidence of permanent residency or permanent residence visa
If you are a New Zealand Citizen
  • Current Passport
Copy of evidence of link between identity and person (photo and signature)
  • Australian driver licence,
  • Passport,
  • Firearm licence,
  • Proof of Age photo ID card.
Category 3 Category 4
Evidence that each applicant and their spouse reside in Australia
  • Medicare card
  • Motor vehicle registration
  • Centrelink or Department of Veterans’ Affairs card
Evidence of each applicant and their spouse’s current residential address
  • Utility documents (e.g. bills for electricity, gas, water),
  • Building or contents insurance policy,
  • Rate notice,
  • Mortgage papers for the property for which you are claiming the FHOG,
  • Electoral enrolment card,
  • Lease or tenancy agreement,
  • Work notice/reports/reference,
  • Taxation assessment notice.

If you will be applying through an approved agent, then you and your partner would only need to submit a current primary identity document and evidence of citizenship, which is under Category 1.

However, if you are directly applying to your local revenue office, you need to submit one current document from each of the four categories.

In some cases, you might also need to provide additional supporting documents like marriage and divorce certificates.

Frequently asked questions

When will the grant be paid?

This matter also falls under the respective guidelines of the states. Typically, if an applicant is purchasing an established or a new home, the grant will be given at settlement. If you apply for the grant through your revenue office, you will get the fund when your name is officially registered in the property title.

If you are building a home, you will receive the grant when foundations of the property have been laid. If you are an owner-builder, you are likely to get your grant when the construction of the home is completed.

Am I allowed to use the grant as a deposit?

If you are applying for First Home Owner Grant through an accredited agent and while in the process of purchasing a home, you could use the grant as a deposit. However, you would still need shell out since the grant, in many cases, is not enough to cover for the deposit. It is highly advisable that you talk to your mortgage broker to know more about using the grant as your deposit.  

Will my income affect the amount of the grant?

It is important to know that the First Home Owner Grant is not means-tested — this means that your income would not affect your application for the grant. As long as you fit the eligibility requirements and your property is within the value cap, you can receive the grant.

Can I apply for the grant if I inherit the property?

The purpose of the grant is to help first-home buyers finance their home purchase. If you inherit a property and you plan to apply for the grant, do not expect to get approved. You must be a buyer or builder to be able to avail of the grant.

If I have a property outside Australia, will I still be eligible for the grant?

As long as you have not previously owned a property in Australia, you could still be eligible for the grant.

Would buying an existing home qualify me for the grant?

Each state has its specific rules surrounding the type of home that qualifies for the grant. You have to check with your local revenue office if your property meets their standards. Many states only allow new homes or vacant lands. However, there are also those which allow the purchase of established homes for the grant.

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