24 May 2021

ACT Government releases new Affordable Home Purchase Buyer's Guide

| Ian Bushnell
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Roof trusses of house under construction

Most of the affordable homes in the ACT are new builds and sold off the plan. Photo: File.

Struggling to buy your own home in Canberra’s hot market? A new Affordable Home Purchase Buyer’s Guide has been produced by the Suburban Land Agency (SLA) to help potential first-home buyers into selected properties available through the ACT Government’s Affordable Home Purchase Scheme for low to middle-income earners.

The guide takes people through the eligibility criteria, how to apply, and shows different types of homes available under the scheme. However, income thresholds are not included in this edition.

An SLA spokesperson said income thresholds are not included as they change from time to time, and vary based on the number of dependents, although the current levels are on the SLA website.

As at 20 April 2021, to be eligible for the Affordable Home Purchase Scheme, household income must be below $100,000 for any number of adults and up to two children under 18, increasing to $116,000 for households with three children; $132,000 for households with four children; and $148,000 for households with five or more children.

The guide shows the different housing types available and their maximum prices based on their size.

The scheme includes apartments, townhouses and detached houses, with the price threshold for homes up to 80 square metres at $330,000. For homes between 80 square metres and 105 square metres, the price threshold is $381,000. For homes greater than 105 square metres, the threshold is $434,000.

The SLA spokesperson said price thresholds are assessed each year against Australia’s wage price index and are based on how much a person or household on a low-to-moderate income can afford to spend on a home purchase without allocating more than 30 per cent of their gross income on mortgage payments.

“While independent valuers determine the value of the land, constraints such as the potential yield, and the maximum sale price of affordable dwellings, are considered as part of the valuation process,” the spokesperson said.

Applicants are notified when a property becomes available. If it is suitable, they go into a ballot.

The guide explains the process, offers guidance on financial and legal advice and off-the-plan purchases – which comprise most of the available homes – as well as dealing with builders.

The SLA spokesperson said there are currently more than 1700 applicants who have registered their interest for the Affordable Home Purchase Scheme. Of these, there are 190 who have submitted their documents and been assessed as eligible, with more than 45 applications currently under assessment.

During the past 18 months, 37 sales have been made to eligible homebuyers who have submitted their documentation for assessment.

In most other cases, the available properties did not meet the needs of eligible buyers, such as not being in desired locations, not having the desired number of bedrooms, or financial circumstances or timing preventing them from participating.

“As the Affordable Home Purchase Scheme grows, further work is being done to increase awareness of the scheme and encourage registered applicants to submit their documents for eligibility checking and to increase awareness of properties as they become available,” the spokesperson explained.

“This includes improving education, identifying target audiences, and improving guidance for affordable buyers to help them through the process of buying their home.”

The ACT Government is facing increasing pressure to do more to ensure more affordable housing in the ACT, including releasing more land, expanding affordable housing schemes, building more public housing, and encouraging more non-government social housing.

The Affordable Home Purchase Buyer’s Guide is only available online.

To find out more about the Affordable Home Purchase Scheme, and to register your interest, go to the Suburban Land Agency website.

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What about less government taxes and fees, that might help with making housing more affordable

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