Building brighter future for housing

FOR Tenielle Bryant the Federal Government's first home buyers' boost could not have come at a better time.

Early this week the Government announced that first home buyers would now be eligible for grants of up to $21,000.

Those who purchase established homes will have their grant doubled from $7000 to $14,000 and those who buy a newly built home will receive the full $21,000.

The grants apply to contracts entered into by June 30, 2009.

Ms Bryant and her partner, Matthew Lewis, of Lismore Heights, have been looking to buy their first home since the middle of the year.

On advice from parents they decided to build up their deposit and Mr Lewis has recently gone up to Mackay to work in the mining industry to take advantage of the big money available there for his line of work - fitting and turning.

He's working 14-hour days six and seven days a week to boost their deposit.

“The new grant is fantastic, just the best news,” Ms Bryant said.

“We're now considering building a home because of the extra money available for new homes.

“We have friends who have a building company and they've been encouraging us to look at that option.

“We're not sure what we'll do just yet, but we're hoping to buy something early next year.”

The couple are now living in a flat and hoping they can either have a home built in the new estate at Goonellabah or find something to buy around Lismore.

“I really like the area, Ms Bryant said.

“My mum and dad moved here five years ago and we want to stay nearby.

“But it's not really that easy to find a three or four-bedroom home at a good price.

“You're looking at between $300,000 and $350,000 for something decent.”

She said, at 22, she was grateful the Federal Government was helping out young people to break into the home market.

“We want to have as big a deposit as possible and the new grant is just such a wonderful helping hand,” she said.

Of course, the new grant is welcome news for the housing industry as well.

John Chaseling, a Ballina builder who specialises in quality homes, said that while the extra grant was a good thing it still represented only 5 per cent of the average cost of a home in the area - running at $400,000.

“At this stage we've had a fairly limited response in inquiries,” he said.

Perry Homes specialises in the lower end of the home market, building new houses from $110,000.

Shane Stockwell is the sales manager and said while the Government's announcement was a positive one, the news would take some time to filter down.

“We haven't had a real lot of interest expressed in the past few days,” he said.

“But we're expecting bigger numbers to come through our homes over the weekend. And we'll be doing some promotion of our cheaper homes in light of the news.”

Mr Stockwell said the Government's grant boost had prompted a lot of discussion among the company's younger staff who were now talking about buying a home for the first time.

Perry Homes is also offering new home deals to cater for those with limited funds.

“We're drawing up new designs where the basics of the house are built and the owners can buy things such as carpets and other inclusions later as they can afford them,” Mr Stockwell said.

He said Perry Homes had been busier than most companies over the past 12 months, with other companies putting off staff.

“I think if the grant produces a home building boom then there will be enough tradespeople around to fill the gap because, overall, the building industry has slowed over the past year,” Mr Stockwell said.

Principal of The Professionals real estate agency in Lismore, Sharon Dowling, said she had not noticed any increase in first home buyer inquiries yet, but she expected it would happen.

Ms Dowling said a lot of younger people were not really switched on, and she expected some parents would be talking to their young adult children about the benefits of this limited offer.

“I think a lot of parents will be nudging their children to thinking about buying a home. In fact, my own children are starting to think about it. I think the boost in grants is just fantastic,” she said.

The Lismore housing market was less up and down than coastal markets and it was always a good place for first home buyers to look, she said.

The Professionals has organised a seminar on November 6 to explain the new grant.

BUYERS' BOOST:

• Grant doubles to $14,000 for buying an established home

• Grant of $21,000 for buying a newly-built home

• All contracts entered into before June 2009 are eligible

• New homes will have to meet energy standards

• More than 150,000 first home buyers to benefit



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