Despite Wagga being ranked in the top 20 postcodes in NSW for taking up first homeowner benefits, agents say the market hasn’t lifted as much as expected following the sweetening of the scheme on July 1.
The new First Home Buyers Assistance Scheme gives eligible buyers exemptions on transfer duty on new and existing homes valued up to $650,000 and concessions on duty for new and existing homes valued between $650,000 and $800,000.
In the 2015/16 financial year 195 grants were paid for home buyers in Wagga totaling $1,640,609. Wagga remains 13th in the state for claiming these grants.
Shaun Lowry, director at Fitzpatricks Real Estate said while the market in general has picked up, the result was underwhelming.
“We thought it would have a bigger impact than it actually did,” he said.
However, he said there’s been a noticeable increase in out-of-town buyers.
“In the last 12 months, 60 per cent of our sales were out 2650 area code,” he said.
“A big part of that was investment and smaller part first home buyers from the city trying to get into the market.”
He believes soaring city prices have driven people to look to the country areas for their first home, which are now more visible than ever thanks to technology.
Holly Newbigging, licensed real estate agent from Hore and Davies said while they also thought the market would take off more, they have seen a significant boost to buyer activity on established homes as a result of the stamp duty saving.
“A lot of first home buyers cant afford $450,000 plus for a brand new home so making that available on existing homes makes a huge difference,” she said.
She believes the scheme was likely pegged at the Sydney market where the median house price is currently $900,000 and near impossible to crack, compared to Wagga’s $340,000.
But, she said a lot of buyers and builders are ill informed about the benefits available to them now.
“I’d say about 20 per cent of buyers aren’t aware there’s no stamp duty on established homes up to $650,000,” she said.
“It’s just about getting it out there more so they can start saving and know they've got help.”
She said within their agency, first home buyers tend to be local whereas good rental returns continue to drive a huge demand for investors coming in from Sydney.