Can I really receive $25,000 from the government for buying a house this 2020?

July 7, 2020

A quick rundown of HomeBuilder’s definition and requirements

The Covid-19 pandemic hit Australia hard along with perhaps the majority of countries around the world. More than a health issue, it created a far-reaching global crisis that pushed sunk economies and industries down. Has it affected you and your dream of having your own house, too?

The Australian government rolled out stimulus programs in response to the economic crisis brought by the pandemic. One of these programs is the HomeBuilder program.

Early this June Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the HomeBuilder program, a house construction grant. “$25,000 to support those families and Australians whose dream was to build their homes or to do that big renovation,” he said. “We’re here to tell them that we’re going to keep the dream alive for them,” he added. The grant also aims to create jobs and projects to kick-start activity in the housing sector.

This is great news for those who got caught by surprise just when they were planning to get an opportunity. Individuals and families can apply for the grant and receive the cash to be able to acquire the dream home they’ve always wanted.
We at BuildQ Group listed a few questions you might ask and answered them in advance for you.

What is HomeBuilder and what can I do with it?

The HomeBuilder grant allows eligible owner-occupiers and first home buyers a construction subsidy of $25,000. The money can only be used on buying a new home or for a major renovation of an existing house.

Is that a whole net amount or will the tax be deducted from it?

It’s a grant, so it’s completely tax-free. What’s more, it complements existing State and Territory first homeowner grant programs, stamp duty concessions, and other grant schemes.

Here’s the catch: it’s time-limited, and there are requirements for eligibility for the grant which will be discussed below. The grant application period runs from 4 June 2020 to 31 December 2020. Construction must also start within three months of the contract date.

The HomeBuilder is implemented through a National Partnership Agreement. It’s important to know if the State or Territory you plan to move in has signed it for local implementation. The application process will be made available by local administrative authorities so make sure you regularly check their website for updates.

Can I avail of the grant if I’m buying or renovating a house or project in New South Wales (NSW) or Sydney?

Currently, the Revenue NSW is working to open the HomeBuilder grant for eligible applicants. It will soon be available, and you can check out for yourself on their website. The application process can be a bit tedious, so we at BuildQ Group would recommend to plan ahead.

Who’s qualified, and how do you qualify?

There are several HomeBuilder eligibility requirements clearly outlined as:
1. Only persons can apply, not companies or trusts
2. Of age 18 or above on the contract date
3. Is a citizen of Australia
4. Receives only up to $125,000 annual income for individuals and up to $200,000 for couples (combined), both based on their 2018-2019 taxable income
5. Should enter into a housing contract from 4 June to 31 December 2020 for either:
a. A new home to live in principally, with property value not exceeding $750,000
b. A major renovation for an existing home where you reside, and the renovation contract is above $150,000 but not over $750,000. The total property value before renovation should also not exceed $1.5 million.

It is critical to note that you should submit proper documents for the application. Aside from the application form itself, you should also lodge a Tax Return and applicable personal documents.

These papers will include domestic relationship registration for couples, although this shall be determined by the relevant State or Territory authority.

Individuals with permanent residency but are not Australian citizens are not eligible for the program. Owner-builders (meaning licensed or registered builders who own properties) are also not qualified for the grant.
Other documents shall also be specified by State and Territory authorities.

What are the conditions for availing the grant?

The HomeBuilder grant has many conditions on how it should be used.

All dwelling types such as houses, apartments, house and land packages, and off-the-plan projects are eligible for the use of the grant. Non-dwellings such as office spaces and properties not meant for the applicant’s residence (like investment properties) are not eligible.
The grant can be used for only one project, and you also have to live in the residence for at least six months. This period is also for confirmation by your relevant State or Territory authority.
In addition, the grant program supports healthy business relations in the industry. Some conditions such as affiliation between owners and builders are currently being discussed and considered by authorities.
The program currently expects that the parties negotiating for the building contract can do so at arm’s length. This means that the two sides are acting freely and without influence by the other. The measure seeks to prevent the possibility of offering favour or special relationship (such as relatives). It also ensures that the property for which the grant will be availed for is listed with a fair market price and not inflated or decreased to meet the grant requirements.
Concerning project dates, houses finished or have started construction before June 4 are also not eligible. If you are buying an off-the-plan dwelling and have signed the contract after June 4, but the construction of the place commenced before the said date, it is also counted as not eligible.
You might also ask: what if my paperwork is delayed?
The current implementation of the program states that construction should begin within three months of the contract date. Should unforeseen or uncontrollable circumstances cause a delay in the start of construction beyond the three-month rule, the State authorities shall decide or exercise discretion. This is a common problem for first home buyers.
NSW applicants can also enjoy the benefits of the grant along with the following State and Territory First Home Owner Grant programs. They can also use the grant in with the Commonwealth’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme andFirst Home Super Saver Scheme.

How do I know if my renovation is “substantial” enough for the grant requirements?

Homeowners who are applying for the $25,000 grant may find the “substantial renovation” clause confusing. Here are some details to bring clarity to the issue.

As mentioned above, the renovation contract price should be in the $150,000 to $750,000 range. The value of the existing property should also not exceed $1.5 million, pre-renovation. The modifications to be done should be enough to improve accessibility, safety, or livability.

Knock-down rebuilds are a primary example of substantial renovation. However, it does not necessarily mean the removal or replacement of the house’s foundations or walls, flooring, or roofs. Adding new doorways, staircases, and other features may count, as long as they help perform the functions mentioned above.

Some works that are not qualified under the “substantial” clause are swimming pools, sports areas, and granny flats. Standalone structures not connected to the house itself such as sheds and standalone garages are also not counted. In line with this, landscaping and ornamental modifications are also not included as “substantial renovations.”

Assessment of the property’s pre-renovation value will be determined by relevant State or Territory authority.

Conclusion

The Australian government is kick-starting the economy to help home buyers, and builders continue with their dream home projects. The $25,000 grant is sure to help the housing industry bounce back and stabilize. It is projected to provide significant financial aid to citizens who wish to push through with their construction projects done with licensed, registered builders.

Application for the grant process is still underway in NSW and will be made available soon.

If you’re pushing through with a house purchase this 2020, choose the builders you can trust – theBuildQ Group.

We make some of the finest custom-built residential projects in various Sydney suburbs in NSW. Choose to set up residence in our prime building areas such as The Ponds, Schofields, and Marsden Park. In the span of 10 or so years, we have built and successfully finished more than 500 projects. With BuildQ, you can be sure your dream home will be built by good hands.

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