With the ACT’s increasing median house price pushing first-home buyers out of the market, many Canberrans are looking across the border to buy their first home.
It’s not surprising as Queanbeyan’s median price of $526,000 is significantly lower than Canberra’s $753,516.
Another enticing factor is the stamp duty exemption in NSW for first-home buyers.
Last year the NSW government brought in legislation exempting first-home buyers from stamp duty on homes up to $650,000.
After the NSW government implemented the changes on July 1, 2017, the percentage of first-home buyers in the state jumped.
Domain group data shows from July to December 2016, the percentage of first home buyers in the NSW market was sitting at a record low of 8.05 per cent. From July to December 2017, the number rose to 13.32 per cent.
In Queanbeyan alone there has been a significant increase in the number of first-home buyers.
“After the introduction of the changes in July 2017, the figures show that in the first seven months of the scheme, 238 first-home buyers in the Queanbeyan area have used the government’s stamp duty exemptions,” said Member for Monaro and NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro.
“This is an impressive increase from the 148 local first-home buyers who bought a home and used the exemptions in the entire 2016-2017 financial year.”
LJ Hooker Queanbeyan director Jason Maxwell said a majority of his buyers were from the ACT.
“Approximately 70 to 75 per cent of our buyers on a weekly basis are coming from a fixed Canberra address,” he said.
“About 60 per cent are first-home buyers and the balance is made up of investors and second or third-home buyers.”
Barilaro added that he was not surprised Canberrans were looking to purchase their first property in Queanbeyan.
“Stamp duty abolishment on homes under $650,000 means that buyers can save up to $24,740 in stamp duty exemptions,” he said.
“In addition to financial savings, moving across the border to the Queanbeyan region means terrific lifestyle benefits for first-home buyers. Our area is a great place to live, work, play and raise a family.”
Maxwell agreed and said that Queanbeyan has become a more attractive option in the last 20 years.
“As Canberra has grown and expanded width wise, Queanbeyan has become more central to business hubs in Civic, Manuka and the airport,” he said.
“There’s easy access to infrastructure in Queanbeyan such as hospitals, daycare centres, primary schools and kindergartens.
“When you add the fact that prices are somewhere between 10 to 20 per cent cheaper than what they’ll pay for a similar property in Canberra, Queanbeyan is very appealing.”
Nathan Hill is one Canberran who has made the switch to NSW. He bought his first home in December 2017.
“The stamp duty exemption was certainly an incentive,” he said.
Hill said Queanbeyan offered everything he was looking for in a home.
“Queanbeyan is actually closer to Canberra’s CBD than several Canberra south suburbs,” he said.
“I wanted an established place, I didn’t really like any of the newer places. I also wanted a reasonably sized parcel of land.”
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Last week, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr called on state and territory governments to abolish stamp duty entirely for first-home buyers struggling to get into the market.
Mr Barr said state governments can cut stamp duty in a “fiscally sustainable way” through the removal of first-home buyer grants. The grant in the ACT dropped from $12,500 to $7000 on January 1, 2017, and is only eligible for new homes.
The owners of 2 Hakea Street in Queanbeyan have listed the property for sale. Photo: LJ Hooker Queanbeyan
“Abolishing stamp duty for first-home buyers in the ACT is something I have been talking about for a long time,” said Domain chief data scientist Dr Nicola Powell.
“We know the upfront costs are the biggest barriers to home ownership for a first-home buyer.”
Currently, stamp duty concessions for first-home buyers in the ACT are only applicable to properties that are new or substantially renovated and are priced up to $468,000. Buyers only have to pay a $20 flat fee.
“If stamp duty is abolished in the ACT for first-home buyers it needs to be across the board for both new and established homes to even the playing field,” said Powell.
Powell is an advocate for Canberrans making the move across the border.
“Queanbeyan is so close to the ACT that for first-home buyers it’s a very attractive location, particularly when they have a broad spectrum of property types from units to detached houses at a more affordable price point for first-home buyers,” she said.