Surge in WA first-homebuyers

Lower interest rates, improved confidence in the property market and the flow-on from tight rental conditions in the past few years boosted the number of homes bought by first-homebuyers in WA last year to the highest in four years.

The number of First Home Owner Grants paid in WA grew 19 per cent to 20,441 last year, returning the number of first homes bought to the highs of 2009 when the Federal government offered a temporary grant boost, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia.

It comes after a 28 per cent increase in first-homebuyer numbers in 2012.

UDIA WA chief executive Debra Goostrey said declining interest rates and a shortage in rental properties until recently had made home ownership an attractive prospect for many young West Australians.

She said many first-homebuyers were buying new rather than established homes because they were increasingly competing with investors for properties in the sub-$500,000 category.

The number of First Home Owner Grants paid for new homes rose almost 40 per cent last year and there was a 12.1 per cent rise in the number of grants paid for established dwellings.

A shortage of established homes under $500,000 on the market had nudged first-homebuyers towards buying new dwellings. “The last time we had so many first-homebuyers was during 2009 when the Federal government provided up to $14,000 on top of the existing $7000 grant,” Ms Goostrey said.

During November and last month, 40 per cent of grant applications were for new dwellings.

The reported increase in first-homebuyers opting for new-build purchases comes after the First Home Owner Grant amount was cut from $7000 to $3000 for established homes in September.

Real Estate Institute of WA president David Airey attributed the increase in first-homebuyers to very low interest rates, confidence returning to the property market and first-homebuyers’ exemption from stamp duty on purchases under $500,000.

Mr Airey said the smaller number of established properties on the market and attractive deals in the new house and land package market were likely behind the move by first-homebuyers towards new dwellings.