FHOG boost little help for regional Queensland

The Queensland government’s First Home Owner Grant, which was recently boosted from $15,000 to $20,000, has provided limited support where it is needed most, according to the REIQ.

REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella said while the grant was welcome as a tool to help first-home buyers get into the market, it did not deliver help where it was needed most — to the established housing market of regional Queensland.

Areas in regional Queensland, such as South Mackay and Blacks Beach have lost 30 per cent off the value of property over five years, according to the REIQ Queensland Market Monitor June report, she said.

“These markets have a surplus of housing, established homes, and there is no need to build more housing — but to qualify for the government’s grant home owners are forced to build.

“This is grossly inefficient and is damaging to our regional markets,” Ms Mercorella said. “In regional Queensland, it’s like handing a drowning man a glass of water,” she said.

The solution to the problem is simple, Ms Mercorella said, suggesting that the grant be broadened to include established homes.

“First-home buyers in regional Queensland face the same pressures of saving up for a deposit that purchasers in the south-east corner face, so let’s help them get into the market with a $20,000 grant and help the residential property market at the same time,” she said. “This is governing for the whole state, and not just for the construction industry.”

From its introduction in 2012 until June 30, 2016, only 4,284 grants were accessed in regional Queensland — just 1,071 grants a year.

“This is not a scheme that is working for regional Queensland, and it’s so frustrating because the fix is so simple,” Ms Mercorella said.

[Related: FHBs continue to lose confidence]

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