Boost to grant of little use for most
A BOOST to the Great Start Grant might be welcome news to first homebuyers wanting to build, but an increase in stamp duty for overseas buyers may stifle investment.

Urban Development Institute of Australia Queensland
branch president Adam Gowlett said the Great Start Boost – which will now rise
from $15,000 to $20,000 – would ­likely only benefit a small pool of buyers. “The
increase to the first homebuyers grant is welcome news but unfortunately is
only accessed by a very small ­percentage of new homebuyers,” Mr Gowlett said. “Most
first homebuyers buy an established house, unit or apartment.”

Affordability was often the key issue for first-timers ­wanting
to get a step on to the ­property ladder. “Due to high housing costs and often
lower wages, regional first homebuyers buying new homes is very small,” Mr ­Gowlett
added. “That said, any support for the industry is welcomed. Every $1 million
spent in the development and construction industry equals three full-time jobs ­directly
created and ­sustained.”

The announcement by the State Government last week is
aimed at growing construction activity across Queensland. The scheme is only
available to those first homebuyers who build or buy a newly-constructed
property under $750,000.

Master Builders executive ­director Grant Galvin said the
increase to $20,000 only applied for 12 months. “We believe it will bring
forward demand,” Mr Galvin said.

However, Mr Galvin said the Government’s 3 per cent ­increase
in stamp duty for overseas buyers would put a dint in areas where most foreign
buyers tend to invest, and it is a sentiment Mr Gowlett shares. “Investment in
property in Cairns has always been quite high and the current prolonged
shortage of rental properties will not be assisted by the Government’s decision
to impose additional stamp duties to overseas buyers,” Mr Gowlett said. “That
additional construction ­activity is quite critical and might have unintended
consequences, such as for PNG or New Zealand nationals who move family to
Cairns for ­education, health and other ­opportunities while maintaining their
business ties to their home countries.”