ADAM and Leigh McArthur haven’t wasted any time putting some personal touches on their first home.
Since buying their four-bedroom Goonellabah house late last year, they’ve painted, put on new doors, dug up the gardens and even ripped up the carpets.
“It’s great because we can do whatever we want – it’s our place,” Mrs McArthur said.
They were among 70,000 NSW residents who received the first home owner grant in 2009, with the Federal and State governments chipping in more than $1 billion since the scheme started in 2000.
Mr and Mrs McArthur finalised their purchase in September, after searching for the perfect property for about six months.
“The first home buyer’s grant was doubled at the time when we bought,” Mrs McArthur said.
“It really inspired us to do it, otherwise we might have kept putting it off.”
The grant has since been put back to $7000, but ‘every dollar helps’, according to new homeowner Paul Hingst.
“I bought a place at Wardell,” the 35-year-old said.
“Being on my own, it was really hard. I saved up for two years. But I wanted to get out of the rental cycle.
“For me, it was a case of now or never. The first home owner’s grant is a good thing – there are a lot of people doing it tough, and this helps.
“Having your own home is the great Australian dream.”
NSW Premier Kristina Keneally said the $1 billion in grants generated more than $26 billion worth of property being purchased last year.
In addition, $647 million worth of stamp duty was waived by the NSW Government for first home buyers, she said.
“Owning a home is an investment in a better future for our State’s families and contributes to a stronger NSW economy,” Ms Keneally said.
This year could also be the year for investors to get into the market.
Wal Murray Ballina licensee, Brian Warrick, said there was still ‘plenty of demand’ for lower-priced properties.
“There has been a lot of activity. We had a pretty good year, considering the economic climate,” he said. “But now we also have a lot of investors looking around, particularly on Ballina Island.
“We’ve got a really tight rental market at the moment – between 0.5 and 1 per cent. So investors know that they can get good returns.”
Since first home buyer grants were introduced in July 2000, more than 440,000 first homeowners have received benefits worth more than $6.6 billion.