21 July 2020

ACT buyers and renovators line up for HomeBuilder grant

| Ian Bushnell
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Building site

The public’s response shows the HomeBuilder grant is doing its job, according to the MBA. Photo: File.

There has been a positive response in the ACT to the Federal Government’s HomeBuilder grant scheme, which is designed to assist the building industry through the COVID-19 economic slowdown.

The ACT Government has implemented the scheme and is responsible for administering it.

Applications for the $25,000 grant opened on the ACT Revenue Office website on Tuesday, 14 July, and by the end of the week (19 July), 37 applications had been received.

Thirteen were from home-buyers wanting to build a new home, including off-the-plan units, and 24 applications were from people seeking to renovate their existing home.

Master Builders ACT CEO Michael Hopkins said the program had resulted in an immediate boost in applications in the ACT with homebuyers rushing to new development sales offices over the past month since the grant was announced.

“As predicted by the MBA in our submission to Government in May this year, HomeBuilder is providing a boost for the local residential sector,” he said.

“It is pleasing to see that applications have been made for both new homes and renovations.”

Mr Hopkins said the combination of ACT stamp duty cuts and the grant meant home buyers would save about $34,000 on a typical house and land purchase in Canberra.

“With new land prices so high in the ACT, home buyers need every bit of assistance available,” he said.

The MBA also expected many existing homeowners to use the HomeBuilder grant for substantial renovations.

”The HomeBuilder grant applies to renovations above a value of $150,000 and with the average value of renovations in the ACT at $162,000, this grant will also provide valuable support to the renovations sector,” Mr Hopkins said.

He said that the success of stimulus measures advocated by the MBA showed the benefits of supporting the local building sector through the current economic downturn.

But he warned that without further support, the local construction sector faced thousands of job losses.

“Already around 1,200 jobs have been lost in the ACT construction sector since February this year. That number doesn’t include the many more construction jobs that would have been lost in the Canberra region without the support of these stimulus packages,” he said.

Mr Hopkins said it was vital that the ACT Government reversed its decline in capital works spending, and fund urgently needed community infrastructure to support thousands of jobs in the commercial and civil construction sectors.

The MBA had also urged the government to consider boosting construction of social housing, and providing a renovation fund to assist homeowners to upgrade the energy efficiency and accessibility standards of existing homes.

“In our discussions with various community and industry groups, it is clear that ACT Government stimulus measures could achieve multiple policy objectives of supporting employment in the construction sector, and achieving social and environmental policy objectives,” Mr Hopkins said.

HomeBuilder is a short-term stimulus program that expires at the end of the year, is income-tested and the property value for a new home is capped at $750,000, while the value of a home to be renovated is capped at $1.5 million.

For more information on HomeBuilder, visit the ACT Revenue Office website.

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