‘FREE MONEY’: ‘Never been better time’ to build first home
GENEROUS government grants on offer mean "there's never been a better time" to build your first home but buyers are being warned to carefully consider their next move and not wander "blindly" into a financial hole.
In a bid to boost a flailing economy battered by COVID-19, the Federal Government introduced the $25,000 HomeBuilder grant.
Eligible first home buyers can also access the $15,000 Queensland First Home Owners' Grant and regional Queenslanders can get their hands on the State Government's $5,000 Regional Home Building Boost.
The south east Queensland land market experienced its strongest monthly sales in more than five years in June, with the grants being credited for the resurgence.
Urban Development Industry Queensland Ipswich president Sam Burgess said the market "completely stopped" when COVID-19 restrictions kicked in.
"The industry really ground to a halt," he said.
"As restrictions got lifted, we saw a bit of an uptick in the market.
"Then certainly since HomeBuilder was announced, the interest in the market, especially from first home buyers, has significantly improved."
Mr Burgess said this interest has been particularly strong in Ripley, Springfield and Collingwood Park.
"It's really anywhere where there's registered stock or land that can be delivered within that time frame that HomeBuilder has," he said.
"You've got to sign a contract by December 31 and have it commence within three months.
"There's probably never been a better time with these announcements to be a first home builder.
"You've got the $15,000 First Home Owners' Grant as well as another $25,000 on top.
"It gives you instant equity in your home once you settle.
"The federal 95 per cent (First Home Loan Deposit Scheme) really compliments that as well."
Mr Burgess said Ipswich City Council had been "very accommodating" in facilitating the registration of new land.
"(The council is) turning around building applications for the part they play as quickly as they can," he said.
"It's such a first home buyer driven corridor (between Ipswich and Springfield) and these stimulation packages really help."
CGIO Finance owner Cara Giovinazzo said buyers can risk making hasty and potentially costly decisions because of the attraction of "free money".
"The appeal of getting the grant might blindly encourage people to make poorly considered investment choices as they are so focused on getting $25,000 for free," she said.
"They need to tread carefully so it does not cost them more in the long run."
Ms Giovinazzo said HomeBuilder funds are not released until the slab stage of a home project and this means most banks will not accept approval for the grant to be used as funds to complete.
She said being able to access up to $45,000 was a "massive incentive" but buyers needed to "tread carefully" to ensure they are not being caught out.
"This means buyers in that situation will still need a deposit so they should talk to a mortgage broker regarding options as a few banks will accept it or can work around the delay," she said.
"Another issue is some builders and developers are promoting the grant to clients when those buyers may not be eligible, or they know they can't meet the contract deadlines.
"For example, if the land is not registering until next year, these clients can't possibly start construction as you only have three months to clear the site and start construction from signing the contract.
"This can be problematic if you are expecting funds, but your builder has delays. If this happens, you must seek special consideration to still get the grant and there is no guarantee that it will be approved.
"It is really important to do your research and get advice before making any major decisions."
According to data compiled by Oliver Hume Research, there were just 273 land sales in the south east corner in April with that figure rising to 1110 in June.
The total number of sales for the June quarter was 1,910, up from 1,518 in the March quarter and the strongest quarterly sales since December 2017.
Oliver Hume national head of research George Bougias said the HomeBuilder grant, combined with record low interest rates, was driving the demand from first and second home buyers.
"Despite the coronavirus shutdowns and their economic impact, there are still plenty of buyers with stable incomes who are more than happy to take advantage of the numerous grants and incentives available," he said.
"These are the right incentives at the right time and will keep thousands of tradies in jobs as homes begin to spring up on these blocks in the next few months."
Mr Bougias said while sales had been boosted by the incentives, there was also an underlying increase in demand.
"The first half of 2019 was a tough time for the SEQ land market but there was a solid recovery underway towards the end of the year and right up until the lockdowns commenced in the final two weeks of March," he said.
"The lockdowns severely dented buyers' ability to purchase homesites while economic concerns dented confidence.
"With the restrictions lifted and the great incentives in place the pent-up demand is returning."
While volumes experienced strong growth, prices remained relatively stable during the quarter, with the median price in Ipswich sitting at $217,925.
Moreton Bay took 26 per cent of the market share in the south east, with Ipswich at 24.9 per cent.
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