The Riot Act article
There’s a bit of fake news going around about the Federal Government’s $25,000 HomeBuilder grant.
Put in place to stimulate the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic by keeping tradies and apprentices in work, about 6000 people have so far applied for the cash since it was introduced in June 2020.
But contrary to popular opinion, a cheque isn’t handed over before construction starts. In fact, buyers get the dollars after building is completed. That has caused some confusion among people trying to access the funds to reduce their loan before signing contracts.
Independent Property Group’s executive director of project marketing, Wayne Harriden, says early on, buyers were also disappointed when the grant’s strict criteria knocked them out of the ball game.
“Initially, people thought it was only for first home buyers because no grant has ever been provided for anyone else,” he says.
“Then they realised their income was too high for the allowable threshold. But Canberra people are politically savvy and the ones who realised they were eligible are winning.”
Wayne cites recent sales at the Oaks precinct in Woden as examples of the multiple ways people can use the HomeBuilder grant. Sitting on the edge of the Woden Town Centre, the Oaks has access to and views of Mount Stromlo, Black Mountain and Mount Taylor.
Once completed, the three-stage project will boast three residential towers on a 13,882-square-metre block sitting in the geographic centre of Canberra. Stage 1 incorporates 156 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, ranging in price from $350,000 to $725,000.
Wayne says one Independent Property Group client, 18-year-old Dom, recently bought a one-bedroom, off-the-plan apartment in the Oaks precinct. He says Dom will be using the $25,000 from the HomeBuilder grant to pay his mortgage for 12 months.
“Then there’s retirees Mildred and Keith, who wanted to downsize to a two-bedroom unit in the same complex, and they’re going to gift the grant to their first home buyer daughter,” he says.
It’s a similar story for 26-year-old Meg, who will be buying furniture for her new apartment, and 30-year-old Nick, who will use the HomeBuilder grant for a deposit on another property.
Wayne says the HomeBuilder grant is stimulating the economy for people who can already afford to buy.
“It’s brought forward people’s decision making,” he says. “Whether they’re downsizing or first home buyers, or know they don’t have to settle on an off-the-plan home until next year, they’ve just been able to jump in earlier than planned.”
Wayne says about 35 per cent of presales of Stage 1 at the Oaks have incorporated plans to access the HomeBuilder grant. Importantly, the developer, Amalgamated Property Group, has confirmation from the ACT Revenue Office that the precinct fulfils the ‘commence construction’ criteria of the HomeBuilder grant.
Under that criteria, substantial earthworks, excavations, demolition and physical building work must be started within three months of the building or off-the-plan purchase contract being signed.
“The Oaks really appeals to everybody in Canberra,” says Wayne. “People who don’t want to live in a town centre want easy access to everything that’s in a town centre. Oaks at Woden is a 500-metre stroll to restaurants, cafes, cinemas and shopping.”
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