I think we’re all aware that buying a home is one of, if not the biggest financial commitment most Australians will make in their lifetimes — so it goes without saying that if there is any way to make that purchase a little easier on the wallet then you’ll want to know how to make that happen.
There are a whole host of fun expenses associated with property buying, and stamp duty can be one of the nastier ones — so it follows that stamp duty exemptions and concessions are a couple of the best ways to significantly reduce the costs of buying a home. This is especially true of first home buyers but also for those transferring property over into someone else’s name – particularly between family (thanks, mum), and is also applicable for pensioners and farmers.
What exactly is stamp duty?
You might have heard the term a thousand times but have no idea what it actually means. Stamp duty, also known as transfer duty, is a government tax imposed on certain transactions — these are applicable to almost all real estate purchases or title transfers. It gets a little more complicated though… The relevant costs can vary quite a bit from state to state, depending on the kind of transaction, and the value of that given transaction.
Stamp duty can sometimes end up exceeding 5% of the overall purchase of a property, so it’s fair to say that this is a sizable cost that isn’t easily written off. Basically, to sum it up, stamp duty is the incredibly expensive cherry on top of your already expensive house-cake, but this is one cherry that you’d prefer to throw away whenever possible… you know, one of those sticky, artificial, sickly sweet ones that kind of just ruin it for everyone.
So with that being said, let’s go over exactly how you might be able to exercise that cherry-throwing power with the available stamp duty exemptions and concessions at your disposal.
First home buyers for the win
Arguably one of the most well known stamp duty exemptions available for the vast majority of Australians is that awarded to first home buyers. Almost all state governments offer this to their residents and in some cases stamp duty has been completely stamped out (sorry couldn’t help myself) for those looking to buy their first ever home.
For instance, the Victorian government has completely removed the need to pay stamp duty for first home buyers where a property is valued under $600,000 and the home buyer resides there for at least 12 months. Not bad, eh? A similar initiative exists in NSW where stamp duty has been removed for properties purchased by first home buyers that come in under $650,000. Both states then apply a sliding scale concession rate to any homes that exceed those values by another $150,000.
For example, if you were a first home buyer purchasing a $700,000 home in Victoria, you wouldn’t be eligible for a full stamp duty exemption, but you would be eligible for a decent concession on a standard stamp duty cost. Just remember that the closer the cost of a property is to $600,000, the larger the concession you’ll be able to get.
Again, just make sure you check your state government website for specific details as they do vary depending where you want to put down roots.
Buy cheap and save big
In the same vein as the sliding scale concessions mentioned above, the majority of states and territories will apply a similar method of determining the cost of stamp duty associated with the purchase or transfer of a home. The easiest way to understand this is by comparing it to income tax where the more you make, you more you pay in income tax:
The more expensive a property is, the higher its rate of stamp duty will be. This goes for all property purchasers (not just first home buyers) and works both ways.
So you know what that means right? If you’re keen on saving big when it comes to stamp duty, you might want to settle for that “renovator’s dream” after all.
In all seriousness, this would be a good time to mention that it is absolutely essential that before settling on any home, you have it professionally looked over by an expert to ensure that you don’t end up buying something that costs more in repairs than the purchase price itself — and that’s not an exaggeration. So, if you are on the hunt for a new home, give us a call on 1300 033 332 or get in touch online so that you ultimately end up with your dream home.. and not a nightmare home.
Getting back to the sliding scale; if, for example, you are looking to buy a home in NSW, the first $14,000 of a property is subject to a 1.25% rate of stamp duty, which is the smallest rate available. After that, the rate of stamp duty steadily increases along with the cost of a property — this reaches a top rate of 5.5% for all homes over $1 million.
Of course, the last thing I would do is encourage you to buy a home that’s structurally unsound or has some serious issues that only a bulldozer could solve, but cheap doesn’t have to mean defective. Look around and do some research into suburbs that are up and coming or maybe consider something a little further out of town — there are plenty of options available, you just need to know where to find them. What I’m really trying to say here is that at the end of the day, it pays not to pay too much.
Buy new or build from scratch
Many states offer stamp duty concessions on homes that have been newly built or are even yet to be built. This applies to first, second, third or 100th home buyers, so basically anyone can apply. In Victoria for instance, an “off-the-plan concession” is available to eligible individuals – be they home owners or property investors – for the purchase of house and land packages, which are often touted as being a highly affordable and very flexible option compared to committing to a pre-existing home.
Other concessions you may have missed
There are in fact a whole slew of exemptions and varying concessions on stamp duty that you might have never even thought of. These are those sneaky little tax cuts that can often fall under the radar and sometimes even go completely under utilised when people don’t even realise they’re there to be taken advantage of!
Some of these are as follows:
- Property transfers between family members or spouses can oftentimes qualify for either exemptions or concessions
- Inheriting or receiving property as a gift can often entitle the giftee to reduced stamp duty fees
- Eligible pensioners are often given significant concessions when purchasing property valued at a certain price or for pensioners buying their first home. For example, in the ACT, stamp duty will cost eligible pensioners a pretty tempting $0.00 when buying a home worth $440,000 or less
- Young farmers or those moving into the farming industry can qualify for concessions in some states, and in Victoria, farmland that’s valued at $600,000 or less might even qualify for an exemption
As property prices seem to just endlessly be heading in a seemingly skyward direction, it’s very important for anyone interested in purchasing property to know what financial initiatives are in place to help them out. For some people, this can mean the difference between entering the property market at all or being perpetually trapped on the sidelines. The stamp duty exemptions and concessions outlined above are a great start but they are not the full gamut that are available, and there are also many variations on eligibility depending on where you live and your current circumstances. With that said, I would highly encourage you to do as much research as possible to find out exactly what help you’re qualified to receive in your state or jurisdiction, and perhaps make the time to discuss your options with a lawyer or conveyancer for all the juicy info.