Deposit Support Schemes

February 24th, 2022

The federal government, as well as the Commonwealth Bank, have announced deposit support schemes to help first-time homebuyers. The schemes acknowledge the difficulty of new entrants into a market with accelerating house prices but no commensurate rise in incomes. However, there seems to be no plan, or even appetite, to address any of the systemic problems and inequalities in the Australian housing market.

The problem is that these schemes, which have been regularly rolled out for as long as I remember, are actually a price rise incentive more than a levelling influence. It is taxpayer funding being used as a band-aid to make it look like they are doing something. The schemes never go to the core problem of ensuring low-income social housing or key worker equitable access to purchasing or rental dwellings. Fixing endemic outdated planning and policy problems is too hard. Although ACT has done away with Stamp Duty and NSW may soon follow.

Between  1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022 the federal government is offering 10,000 First Home Loan Deposit Scheme places to eligible first home buyers. The NHFIC (National Home Finance and Investment Corporation) will administer three Schemes on behalf of the Australian Government:

  • First Home Loan Deposit Scheme supports you to buy your first home sooner, with a deposit as small as 5%.
  • New Home Guarantee supports you to build or buy a new home, with higher property price caps available in selected areas.
  • Family Home Guarantee aims to support eligible single parents with at least one dependent child in purchasing a family home, with a deposit as small as 2%.

Price Cap

What is laughable is that this scheme has a price cap on eligible housing. The price cap for Byron Shire, for example, is $600,000. Has anyone done any research to know that the median house price in Byron Shire is more than $1,800,000 – three times the cap on what any recipient is allowed to buy. It has been a long time since I have seen a house sold here for under $600,000.

The CommBank Plan

CommBank announced it has invested $31 mil in a rent-to-own startup called OwnHome. The scheme works by enabling approved, credit-worthy customers to move into their own homes without the need for a deposit. The recipients pay an upfront fee and make monthly payments that build their deposit over time. After three to seven years, customers have the option to buy their home at a pre-agreed price and put the accrued deposit toward the purchase.

CommBank says that the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ has become one of the dominant lenders for young Australians. Yet for those who cannot or prefer not to use their parents’ help, building a deposit can be a long process. They hope to fill some of this gap. It is an alternate path to homeownership for aspiring buyers who can afford regular mortgage payments but don’t want to wait out years while they save the deposit.

Again, a worthy scheme and may assist a few people in normal property markets. It will not work in Byron and if it did, the whole investment amount would be gone with only a few dozen people.

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