First home owner – essential information
Before you buy your first home, here are some essential facts you need to know.
You can receive $10,000 with the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG)
If you are buying or building a new home valued up to $750,000, you may be eligible for a First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) of $10,000. To be eligible, the home must not have been previously sold or occupied.
You pay stamp duty on your purchase
When you buy your home, you will most likely pay land transfer duty (otherwise known as stamp duty). How much you pay depends on:
- the property's value
- what you're using it for
- if you are a foreign purchaser, and
- whether you are eligible for any exemptions or concessions.
There are exemptions and concessions
You may be eligible for, and receive, more than one exemption, concession or reduction from stamp duty for your property. In Victoria, these include:
- First-home buyer duty exemption or concession – a one-off duty exemption for a principal place of residence (PPR) valued up to $600,000, or a concession for a PPR with a dutiable value from $600,001 to $750,000. This duty exemption or concession is separate from the First Home Owner Grant. The grant is a payment made to you, whereas the first home buyer duty exemption and concession is a reduction in the amount of land transfer duty you pay.
- First-home buyer reduction – a one-off duty reduction of up to 50% for a PPR valued up to $600,000 if you entered into your contract before 1 July 2017.
- Off-the-plan concession – a duty concession for an off-the-plan property, either as a land and building package, or as a refurbished lot.
- Pensioner concession – a one-off duty exemption or concession for a new or established home valued up to $750,000.
- Principal place of residence (PPR) concession – a duty concession for when a property you buy, valued up to $550,000, is intended as your primary home.
- First-home owner with family exemption or concession – a one-off duty exemption or concession for properties valued at $200,000 or less.
- Young farmer’s exemption or concession – a one-off duty exemption/concession for young farmers buying their first farmland property.
Our comprehensive comparison table will help you understand the differences between our most common grants and concessions or benefits when buying your first home.
As the ongoing owner of a property in Victoria, you may also have to pay various annual taxes and levies, such as the 2% absentee owner surcharge.
If I buy residential property, what taxes, duties and benefits are involved?
Will I be eligible for the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG)?
If you are buying or building a new home, you may be eligible for the FHOG ($10,000) if you signed your contract on or after 1 July 2013.
Your new home must be valued at $750,000 or less and be a new home. The property must not have been previously sold as a place of residence, occupied as a home, or leased out or used for short-term accommodation, such as Airbnb.
You’re not eligible for the FHOG if you or your spouse or partner have already:
- received the FHOG in Australia
- owned a home or other residential property in Australia, either jointly or separately, prior to 1 July 2000, or
- lived in a home in Australia which either of you owned or part-owned on or after 1 July 2000 for a continuous period of at least six months.
These criteria apply even if your spouse or partner is not an applicant with you for the FHOG.
You may still be eligible for the FHOG if you or your spouse/partner purchased property on or after 1 July 2000 and have not lived there as your home. For example, Tom bought his first property in July 2004. It was a house and Tom has always rented it out. As he has never lived there himself, this house is not considered to be his first residential home and he may be eligible for the FHOG.
- All FHOG applicants must be at least 18 years of age at settlement or completion of construction (although there is discretion).
- You, or at least one applicant, must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident:
- in the case of the purchase of a new home, as at the date on which the applicant(s) become entitled to possession of the home under the contract, which generally occurs on the date of settlement,
- in the case of the entering into of a comprehensive building contract, as at the date on which the building is ready for occupation as a place of residence, which generally occurs when the construction of the home is completed.
- You (or at least one applicant) must occupy the home as your PPR for at least 12 months, commencing within 12 months of settlement or completion of construction. From 27 June 2017, Australian Defence Force personnel are exempt from this residency requirement. The exemption applies to current members of the Australian Army, Air Force or Navy who are enrolled to vote in Victorian elections and are either on duty or leave. The exemption does not apply to reservists or to Australian Public Service staff.
Anyone holding a permanent visa under s30(1) of the Migration Act 1958 is considered a permanent resident of Australia. New Zealanders holding a special category visa under s32 of the Migration Act 1958 are also eligible for the FHOG but must be physically in Australia at the time of settlement.
Will I be eligible for the First Home Owner Grant?
Established homes are no longer eligible for FHOG. However, if you are buying an established home as your first home and you meet the FHOG eligibility criteria but for the fact that it is not a new home, you may be entitled to a first-home buyer duty exemption (for homes valued at $600,000 or less) or concession (for homes valued at $600,001 up to $750,000) where the contract is entered into on or after 1 July 2017.
If you entered into a contract before 1 July 2017, you may be entitled to a first-home buyer duty concession of up to 50% (for homes valued at $600,000 or less). In addition, you may be eligible for the PPR concession (for homes valued at $550,000 or less).
Who must be included on the FHOG application?
Anyone who will be named on the property’s title must be listed as a FHOG applicant. Importantly, you must also include your spouse or partner’s details on the application form regardless of whether they are going to be on the property’s title. Their details must be considered when answering the eligibility questions.
If you are ruled ineligible for the FHOG, but believe you can prove otherwise, please lodge a written objection with us.
Applying for the FHOG
In the majority of cases, the bank or credit union that is providing your finance (see the list of approved agents) will lodge the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) application form on your behalf. Check with them that they are lodging it for you. If you require the grant for settlement or first draw down/progress payment, you must lodge your application with an approved agent.
Only lodge your application with us if an approved agent is not lodging the FHOG application on your behalf. You can apply online, including copies of your supporting documents. Applications cannot be lodged with us until after the completion of the eligible transaction.
First home buyer duty exemption or concession - contracts dated on or after 1 July 2017
If you enter into a contract to buy your first home on or after 1 July 2017, you may be eligible for a one-off duty exemption for a principal place of residence (PPR) valued up to $600,000, or a concession for a PPR with a dutiable value from $600,001 to $750,000.
Meeting the eligibility requirements of the FHOG entitles you to this duty exemption or concession.
More about this exemption or concession
First-home buyer duty reduction - contracts dated before 1 July 2017
If you bought your first home under a contract entered into before 1 July 2017 and it is valued at $600,000 or less, regardless of whether it is a new or established property, you may be entitled to a duty reduction of up to 50%.
The amount of your duty reduction will depend on when settlement occurs. If your settlement is on or after 1 September 2014, you will receive the full 50% reduction.
Meeting the eligibility requirements of the FHOG will entitle you to this duty reduction.
You can receive a duty concession as a first-home owner buying an off-the-plan land and building package or a refurbished lot. If you sign your contract on or after 1 July 2017, you must live in the property as your home.
From this date, the off-the-plan concession will only be relevant to determining dutiable value for the purpose of the PPR duty concession, the new first-home buyer duty exemption or the new first-home buyer duty phase-in concession.
The off-the-plan concession deducts the cost of construction or refurbishment occurring or after the contract date from the contract price of your home. This means that you pay duty only on the improved value of the land, the non-deductible costs and the completed construction or refurbishment, including GST, as at the contract date.
Typically, construction will not have started or is incomplete at the date of the contract.
Off-the-plan land and building packages
An off-the-plan land and building package is where you enter into a contract to buy land and build a new house, townhouse, apartment or unit on that land.
Off-the-plan refurbished lot
An off-the-plan refurbished lot is where you enter into a contract for the refurbishment of an existing building and the refurbishment is not complete at the date of contract. A typical example is the conversion of an office building or warehouse into residential apartments.
A refurbishment can also occur where new construction works take place but the facade or shell of the original building is retained.
For refurbished lots, the off-the-plan concession only applies to the first sale after registration of the plan of subdivision. It does not apply to either subsequent transactions or sub-sales.
More about the off-the-plan concession
First-home owners with a family
A duty exemption or concession may be available to eligible first-home buyers with a family who bought their home on or after 1 January 2006.
A full exemption is available where the property’s total value is not more than $150,000. A concession is available where the property’s total value is not more than $200,000.
There are eligibility requirements. Most importantly, you must have a dependent child at the date of the contract of sale. A dependent child means a child under 18 in the custody, care and control of, and ordinarily resident with the person/s buying the property.
If you bought the home with your spouse/partner, you must both be eligible.
If you believe you are eligible, please contact us on 13 21 61.
Are you a pensioner?
You may qualify for the first-home buyer duty exemption, concession or reduction and a one-off pensioner exemption/concession when buying your home.
You cannot, however, receive both so you must elect to receive one or the other when you submit your application form. You can calculate your duty to work out which is worth more for you.
- The first home buyer duty exemption applies to homes valued up to $600,000 if you enter into your contract on or after 1 July 2017.
- The first home buyer duty concession applies to homes valued from $600,001 to $750,000 if you enter into your contract on or after 1 July 2017.
- The 50% duty reduction applies to homes valued up to $600,000 with contracts entered into before 1 July 2017.
- The one-off pensioner exemption/concession applies to homes valued up to $750,000. The full exemption applies up to $330,000 and the concession applies between $330,000 and $750,000.
To be eligible for this exemption/concession, you must:
- hold one of the relevant concession cards at the settlement date
- buy the property for market value
- intend to reside in the home as your principal place of residence.
Your home must be one of these:
- newly built
- an established property
- a home built under a house and land package where the person who sells you the land also builds the home as part of the agreed price
- a home that is built within three years of you acquiring the land.
Eligible pensioners can receive the exemption or concession only once.
Joint owners where one or both are pensioners
We apply flexibility in cases where eligible pensioners buy a part (fractional) interest in a property rather than the whole property. You can still be entitled to an exemption or concession if you buy a home with someone who is not an eligible pensioner.
Example of fractional interest in a property for pensioners
Alex is an eligible pensioner who buys a home with Bryan, who is not an eligible pensioner. Each buys a 50% interest in the property. The total purchase price is $600,000. Duty on $600,000 is $31,070. The current threshold limit for a full pensioner exemption from duty is $330,000 (with the pensioner concession applying from $330,000 to $750,000).
- Alex is fully exempt as her 50% interest in the property equates to $300,000.
- Bryan must pay $15,535, being 50% of $31,070.
Eligibility for the PPR concession
A principal place of residence (PPR) simply means the primary home in which you live. It does not include holiday or investment properties.
As a first-home buyer, you may be eligible for a PPR concession from duty if you intend to live in your home for a year, within 12 months of your settlement. This is called the residency requirement.
The concessional rate of duty you pay depends on the value of your PPR and the date on which you signed the contract of sale. Use our calculator to calculate what you will pay.
What is the residency requirement?
The residency requirement means that you must intend to live in your home for at least a year as your PPR within 12 months of settlement.
You must tell us in writing as soon as possible if circumstances beyond your control prevent you from meeting this requirement for whichever grant, concession or discount you have received.
With two or more owners on title, at least one has to satisfy the residency requirement but it is not necessary for the same owner to live in the property for the entire 12 months.
Please note your home must be lawfully fit for residential occupation to be considered your PPR.
Young farmers buying a farm
Eligible farmers aged under 35 may receive assistance when buying their first single parcel of farmland:
- For farmland valued at less than $600,000, eligible farmers may be exempt from duty on the first $300,000.
- For farmland valued between $600,000 and $750,000, eligible farmers may receive a duty concession.
You must choose between this young farmer exemption or concession and the PPR concession, whichever is worth more to you. You cannot apply for both.
Complete our application form if you wish to claim the young farmers duty concession or exemption.
You are still eligible even if you have previously owned non-farmland.
Your obligations and responsibilities
You must always provide us with true and accurate information. If we find you have provided false or misleading statements on any application or do not meet the residency requirements, you will be ordered to repay the grant and any duty amounts. You may also face penalties.
If you believe that you overpaid duty when you bought your home because, for example, you were eligible but didn’t claim an available benefit, you can apply for a duty reassessment. If we find that you are eligible, we will refund the overpaid duty.
To apply for a reassessment, you should send us a cover letter along with the completed application forms for the relevant exemption, concession or reduction, as well as any supporting documents.
Apply for a reassessment
Your request must be made within five years of paying the duty.
The amount of your refund depends on a number of factors, including the settlement date and the value of your property at that time. Your case may take up to 60 days to process.
Getting it right
Our priority is to help you pay the right amount of tax, or receive the right benefit, at the right time. Learn more about how we do this.
Last modified: 18 August 2022