Homebuilder surpasses 11,000 applications, majority for new builds

Homebuilder surpasses 11,000 applications, majority for new builds

A $680 million government initiative intended to stimulate the construction industry during the lull of the coronavirus pandemic has yielded more than 11,000 applications, but so far only about 800 people have received the funds.

The government’s Homebuilder grant pays out $25,000 to eligible applicants spending from $150,000 to $750,000 on a renovation or a new build, in an effort to keep the construction industry afloat and prevent further eroding of the Australian economy.

Federal housing minister Michael Sukkar revealed 11,367 applications for the homebuilder grant were received by state and territory revenue offices as of 9 October, since the initiative’s introduction in early June.

“Given the construction industry’s long project lead times, this level of applications was not expected until November,” he said.

“Every HomeBuilder application represents a signed contract, which means more work in the pipeline, keeping our tradies on site, on the tools and in a job.”

About 800 of these applicants have received the $25,000 grant, Mr Sukkar said, as it is dispersed after certain construction milestones have been reached.

“Provided you meet that criteria, you’ll absolutely get the grant,” he told Sky News. “You’ve got to lay the (concrete) slab.”

Possibility the initiative could be extended -- but time will tell

Treasury estimates the $680 million grant will support about 27,000 projects, but it’s possible more projects could be supported and that the initiative could be extended beyond its December 31 expiry date.

“A scheme that’s working well, that’s supporting the industry … all of those factors go in favour of the program,” he said.

“... We’re keeping a really close eye on it and we’ll make a call as that date (31 December) gets closer.”

The data paints a general picture of the initiative’s uptake as states and territories have different guidelines.

Most accept applications when sales or building contracts are signed, but Western Australia, for instance, begins taking applications once construction commences and milestones have been reached.

Almost 80 per cent are for new builds

Of the 11,367 applications submitted, 8884 are for ‘new builds’ and not ‘rebuilds’, accounting for a share of 78 per cent.

Victoria, a state continuing to wrangle with a second wave lockdown, held the highest number of overall applications at 4176, followed by Queensland at 2331 and New South Wales at 2331.

The remaining states and territories had fewer than a thousand applications. The Northern Territory had the fewest at 29, as of 9 October.

  New Build Rebuild Total
NSW 1,517 814 2,331
VIC 3,364 812 4,176
QLD 2,070 466 2,536
WA* 432 34 466
SA 800 146 946
TAS 398 56 454
ACT 276 153 429
NT 27 2 29
TOTAL 8,884 2,483 11,367

Building industry worries what’ll happen after Homebuilder

An uptick in business was observed by construction industry associations, which generally praised the initiative.

The Housing Industry Association (HIA), an industry body representing the residential building, renovation and development sectors, said sales lifted by 11.8 per cent over the seven months since COVID-19 restrictions came into effect when compared to the same period a year earlier.

“HomeBuilder has been successful in providing consumer confidence for those customers that had delayed a major investment decision earlier in the year,” Tim Reardon said, chief economist at HIA.

“The program has also brought buyers into the market that would otherwise not (have) been able to purchase their first home for a number of years.”

The Property Council of Australia (PCA), an advocacy group championing property owners, investors and managers, said Homebuilder had contributed to an uplift in sentiment for the residential construction sector, but added business still trailed pre-pandemic levels.

“The challenge will be maintaining this momentum beyond December when the current scheme expires and we are looking at a huge drop in population growth due to closed borders,” Ken Morrison said, chief executive of PCA.

Government stimulus measures are beginning to wind down over the coming months, causing unease and uncertainty in the industry, Felicity Emmett said, senior economist at ANZ.

“While sentiment is very weak, government support has clearly helped to prevent the worst. HomeBuilder, JobKeeper and the raft of other government stimulus measures are helping to underpin sentiment,” she said.

“Looking ahead, the recent federal budget should build confidence both in the property sector and more broadly, although the outlook remains extremely challenging and further stimulus may be required over coming months.”

 

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Learn more about home loans

When do mortgage payments start after settlement?

Generally speaking, your first mortgage payment falls due one month after the settlement date. However, this may vary based on your mortgage terms. You can check the exact date by contacting your lender.

Usually your settlement agent will meet the seller’s representatives to exchange documents at an agreed place and time. The balance purchase price is paid to the seller. The lender will register a mortgage against your title and give you the funds to purchase the new home.

Once the settlement process is complete, the lender allows you to draw down the loan. The loan amount is debited from your loan account. As soon as the settlement paperwork is sorted, you can collect the keys to your new home and work your way through the moving-in checklist.

What are the features of home loans for expats from Westpac?

If you’re an Australian citizen living and working abroad, you can borrow to buy a property in Australia. With a Westpac non-resident home loan, you can borrow up to 80 per cent of the property value to purchase a property whilst living overseas. The minimum loan amount for these loans is $25,000, with a maximum loan term of 30 years.

The interest rates and other fees for Westpac non-resident home loans are the same as regular home loans offered to borrowers living in Australia. You’ll have to submit proof of income, six-month bank statements, an employment letter, and your last two payslips. You may also be required to submit a copy of your passport and visa that shows you’re allowed to live and work abroad.

When does Commonwealth Bank charge an early exit fee?

When you take out a fixed interest home loan with the Commonwealth Bank, you’re able to lock the interest for a particular period. If the rates change during this period, your repayments remain unchanged. If you break the loan during the fixed interest period, you’ll have to pay the Commonwealth Bank home loan early exit fee and an administrative fee.

The Early Repayment Adjustment (ERA) and Administrative fees are applicable in the following instances:

  • If you switch your loan from fixed interest to variable rate
  • When you apply for a top-up home loan
  • If you repay over and above the annual threshold limit, which is $10,000 per year during the fixed interest period
  • When you prepay the entire outstanding loan balance before the end of the fixed interest duration.

The fee calculation depends on the interest rates, the amount you’ve repaid and the loan size. You can contact the lender to understand more about what you may have to pay. 

Why does Westpac charge an early termination fee for home loans?

The Westpac home loan early termination fee or break cost is applicable if you have a fixed rate home loan and repay part of or the whole outstanding amount before the fixed period ends. If you’re switching between products before the fixed period ends, you’ll pay a switching break cost and an administrative fee. 

The Westpac home loan early termination fee may not apply if you repay an amount below the prepayment threshold. The prepayment threshold is the amount Westpac allows you to repay during the fixed period outside your regular repayments.

Westpac charges this fee because when you take out a home loan, the bank borrows the funds with wholesale rates available to banks and lenders. Westpac will then work out your interest rate based on you making regular repayments for a fixed period. If you repay before this period ends, the lender may incur a loss if there is any change in the wholesale rate of interest.

Cash or mortgage – which is more suitable to buy an investment property?

Deciding whether to buy an investment property with cash or a mortgage is a matter or personal choice and will often depend on your financial situation. Using cash may seem logical if you have the money in reserve and it can allow you to later use the equity in your home. However, there may be other factors to think about, such as whether there are other debts to pay down and whether it will tie up all of your spare cash. Again, it’s a personal choice and may be worth seeking personal advice.

A mortgage is a popular option for people who don’t have enough cash in the bank to pay for an investment property. Sometimes when you take out a mortgage you can offset your loan interest against the rental income you may earn. The rental income can also help to pay down the loan.

How much is the first home buyer's grant?

The first home buyer grant amount will vary depending on what state you’re in and the value of the property that you are purchasing. In general, they start around $10,000 but it is advisable to check your eligibility for the grant as well as how much you are entitled to with your state or territory’s revenue office.

What is a construction loan?

A construction loan is loan taken out for the purpose of building or substantially renovating a residential property. Under this type of loan, the funds are released in stages when certain milestones in the construction process are reached. Once the building is complete, the loan will revert to a standard principal and interest mortgage.

Can I get a NAB first home loan?

The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme of NAB helps first home buyers purchase a property sooner by reducing the upfront costs required. This scheme is offered based on a Government-backed initiative, with10,000 available places announced in October 2020.

Suppose your application for the NAB first home buyer loan is successful. In that case, you’ll only need to pay a low deposit, between 5 and 20 per cent of the property value and won’t be asked to pay lender's mortgage insurance (LMI). You’ll also receive a limited guarantee from the Australian government to purchase the property.

If you’re applying for the NAB first home buyer home loan as an individual, you need to have earned less than $125,000 in the last financial year. Couples applying for the NAB first home loan need to have earned less than $200,000 to be eligible. To be considered a couple, you need to be married or in a de facto relationship. A parent and child, siblings or friends are not considered a couple when applying for a NAB first home loan.

The NAB First Home Loan Deposit Scheme is currently offered only to purchase a brand new property, rather than an established property.

What is breach of contract?

A failure to follow all or part of a contract or breaking the conditions of a contract without any legal excuse. A breach of contract can be material, minor, actual or anticipatory, depending on the severity of the breaches and their material impact.

What happens when you default on your mortgage?

A mortgage default occurs when you are 90 days or more behind on your mortgage repayments. Late repayments will often incur a late fee on top of the amount owed which will continue to gather interest along with the remaining principal amount.

If you do default on a mortgage repayment you should try and catch up in next month’s payment. If this isn’t possible, and missing payments is going to become a regular issue, you need to contact your lender as soon as possible to organise an alternative payment schedule and discuss further options.

You may also want to talk to a financial counsellor. 

Are bad credit home loans dangerous?

Bad credit home loans can be dangerous if the borrower signs up for a loan they’ll struggle to repay. This might occur if the borrower takes out a mortgage at the limit of their financial capacity, especially if they have some combination of a low income, an insecure job and poor savings habits.

Bad credit home loans can also be dangerous if the borrower buys a home in a stagnant or falling market – because if the home has to be sold, they might be left with ‘negative equity’ (where the home is worth less than the mortgage).

That said, bad credit home loans can work out well if the borrower is able to repay the mortgage – for example, if they borrow conservatively, have a decent income, a secure job and good savings habits. Another good sign is if the borrower buys a property in a market that is likely to rise over the long term.

Does Real Time Ratings' work for people who already have a home loan?

Yes. If you already have a mortgage you can use Real Time RatingsTM to compare your loan against the rest of the market. And if your rate changes, you can come back and check whether your loan is still competitive. If it isn’t, you’ll get the ammunition you need to negotiate a rate cut with your lender, or the resources to help you switch to a better lender.

What is the difference between fixed, variable and split rates?

Fixed rate

A fixed rate home loan is a loan where the interest rate is set for a certain amount of time, usually between one and 15 years. The advantage of a fixed rate is that you know exactly how much your repayments will be for the duration of the fixed term. There are some disadvantages to fixing that you need to be aware of. Some products won’t let you make extra repayments, or offer tools such as an offset account to help you reduce your interest, while others will charge a significant break fee if you decide to terminate the loan before the fixed period finishes.

Variable rate

A variable rate home loan is one where the interest rate can and will change over the course of your loan. The rate is determined by your lender, not the Reserve Bank of Australia, so while the cash rate might go down, your bank may decide not to follow suit, although they do broadly follow market conditions. One of the upsides of variable rates is that they are typically more flexible than their fixed rate counterparts which means that a lot of these products will let you make extra repayments and offer features such as offset accounts.

Split rates home loans

A split loan lets you fix a portion of your loan, and leave the remainder on a variable rate so you get a bet each way on fixed and variable rates. A split loan is a good option for someone who wants the peace of mind that regular repayments can provide but still wants to retain some of the additional features variable loans typically provide such as an offset account. Of course, with most things in life, split loans are still a trade-off. If the variable rate goes down, for example, the lower interest rates will only apply to the section that you didn’t fix.

What do mortgage brokers do?

Mortgage brokers are finance professionals who help borrowers organise home loans with lenders. As such, they act as middlemen between borrowers and lenders.

While bank staff recommend home loan products only from their own employer, brokers are independent, so they can recommend products from a range of institutions.

Brokers need to be accredited with a particular lender to be able to work with that lender. A typical broker will be accredited with anywhere from 10 to 30 lenders – the big four banks, as well as a range of smaller banks, credit unions and non-bank lenders.

As a general rule, brokers don’t charge consumers for their services; instead, they receive commissions from lenders whenever they place a borrower with that institution.