6 things to know when buying your first home in ACT

At Snedden Hall & Gallop, we understand that buying your first home can be as overwhelming as it is exciting. Christina Berlis, Conveyancing Manager at Snedden Hall & Gallop, explains 6 things you should know when looking to buy your first home in ACT.*

1. Know the current Grants & Concessions

First Home Owner Grant (FHOG)

  • The current FHOG available is $7,000;
  • At least one applicant must be 18 years or above and be an Australian Citizen or permanent resident;
  • You must purchase a new or substantially renovated property for no more than $750,000 to be eligible; and
  • You must live in the property for a continuous period of at least 1 year commencing within the first year after settlement.

Stamp Duty Concession

  • You must purchase a new home or vacant land to be eligible (substantially renovated properties are no longer applicable);
  • The purchase price must be under the upper threshold of $607,000 for a new home of $329,500 for vacant land;
  • You must be under the income threshold, which is calculated on the number of dependent children you have;
  • To receive full concession (zero duty), the purchase price must be under the lower threshold - being $470,000 for a new home or $281,200 for vacant land; and 
  • If the purchase price is between the lower and upper thresholds, you will receive a part concession.

The most common mistake first home buyers make when assessing their eligibility is that they do not take into account their domestic partners. Regardless of whether or not your domestic partner is noted on the Contract for Sale as a purchaser, their eligibility status and income are taken into consideration when ACT Revenue assesses eligibility.

2. Know your options when buying an established property

If you are a first home buyer, but are not buying a new property, you may be eligible for the Deferred Duty scheme.

  • To be eligible for the duty deferral, you need to satisfy the eligibility requirements under the FHOG, except for the requirement that the property must be new or substantially renovated; 
  • The purchase price must be under the threshold of $607,000; and 
  • You must live in the property for a continuous period of at least 1 year commencing within the first year after settlement.

There are two payment options under the Deferred Duty scheme:

  • You can start payment instalments immediately to repay the total duty, plus interest, within 10 years; or 
  • You can defer making payments for up to five years. You will then pay the duty in full within the next 5 years so that you repay all of it, plus interest, no later than 10 years. 

You will still be able to make voluntary repayments at any time.

3. Know the value of the property

First home buyers can spend months attending Auctions and find that they are out-bid time and time again. It is important to understand that the Selling Agent is working for the Seller, not you and will often advise an “estimated price” below what the property actually sells for.

We recommend that you research what similar properties in the area have sold for - not just what they have been listed for. Attend Auctions in the area and research recent sales online using sites like Domain & RealEstate.com. You can also talk to a professional valuer and request a market valuation based on the current market in your ideal area.

4. Know your limit

ACT properties are often sold at Auction, which can be quite daunting for first home buyers. Attend 1 or more auctions to understand the flow. When hoping to purchase at an Auction, it is easy to get carried away in the moment - especially when you really want the property. It is imperative that you set a limit and stick to it.

Seek financial advice from your bank or a mortgage broker prior to attending the Auction. Once the “hammer falls” at the Auction, if you are the winning bidder, you are legally bound by your obligations under the Contract for Sale. There is no cooling off period.

5. Know the additional costs

Don’t forget to factor in the additional costs such as stamp duty, legal and mortgage fees and lender’s mortgage insurance, as well as furniture, goods and moving costs for your new home. It is important to calculate all costs associated with the purchase and factor them into your budget.

Avoid borrowing to your limit. Remember that mortgage repayments will not be your only regular outgoings once you move into your new home. Calculate your rates, utilities and life costs into your “post-purchase budget”.

6. Know the importance of legal advice

Don’t assume that it will save you money to do your own conveyancing. A solicitor or conveyancer will be able to pick up on issues in the Contract for Sale that can turn a bad purchase into a great one. If you want to bid at an Auction, obtain Pre-Auction Contract advice, so you can go into the Auction 100% prepared and aware of exactly what you are bidding on.

In summary, first home buyers are of course coming into the market inexperienced and excited to purchase their first home. It is easy, as a first home buyer, to fall into the common pitfalls of purchasing property. It always pays to be prepared.

How can Snedden Hall & Gallop assist?

For more information on purchasing your first home, contact Christina Berlis and the Property Team at Snedden Hall & Gallop. Every body’s circumstances are different. We will explain the steps in plain English and assist with your individual issues. Many properties are auctioned in the ACT. We can provide pre-auction contract advice. Please call us today for effective and responsive conveyancing services in the ACT by phone on (02) 6285 8000 or by email

Christina’s biography

You can find out more about Christina Berlis in her biography.

*All figures and details are accurate at publication date of 8 November 2017.