Western Australia’s State Budget this year has laid out several policies that would support the local housing market.

Among the policies is the amendment to Keystart’s Urban Connect pilot program, which will now include one-bedroom apartments.

The program, which provides Urban Connect Home Loans, creates an opportunity for buyers to break into the market without having to shell out a huge amount for a deposit. Urban Connect was first rolled out last year, with the aim of supporting medium and high-density living. The program was originally intended for buyers gunning for apartments with at least two bedrooms.

Housing Minister John Carey said the expansion of the program’s eligibility shows the government’s commitment to provide support would-be buyers in the state. Meanwhile, there are talks for a new Keystart loan program that will help customers secure pre-sale off-the-plan properties.

Tax reforms and incentives

Also included in the state government’s commitments this year is delivering tax reform and incentives to boost housing and land supply.

The government will set aside $33m to fund the off-the-plan transfer duty concession that will run until the end of June 2025. “We continue to deliver a range of important tax reforms and incentives that will provide a boost to housing and land supply, while continuing to work with industry to cut red tape,” Mr Carey said.

“Our commitment in this Budget to extend the off-the-plan transfer duty rebate and lift the threshold for exemptions and concessions is a clear incentive to build new apartments and provide more opportunity for Western Australians to downsize or buy their first home.”

Here are the changes to the thresholds for exemptions and concessions:

  • 100% concession for properties valued up to $650,000 (up from $500,000).
  • Phasing down to a 50% concession for properties valued at more than $750,000 (from $600,000)

These changes build on the state’s measures to boost housing supply throughout Western Australia, building on the $80m Infrastructure Development Fund, which removes headworks barriers to new housing developments. The state government is also delivering $55m in strategic water and wastewater infrastructure to unlock more than 15,000 new homes across Perth.

Off-the-Plan Transfer Duty Rebate

The extension of the Off-the-Plan Transfer Duty Rebate for another two years and changing the incentive from a rebate to a concession is a direct response to UDIA WA advocacy and will provide certainty for both developers and buyers looking to purchase an apartment off-the-plan.

The Off-the-Plan rebate was available for people who enter a pre-construction contract to purchase a new residential unit or apartment off the plan. Making the rebate a legislated duty concession means that purchasers will have their stamp duty concession recognised up front at contract stage rather than having to pay the duty and then claim the rebate upon settlement.

For apartment projects in particular, developers rely heavily on presales to make a project viable, so these measures will assist in building much needed consumer confidence and attracting investors to this sector of the market. Combined with already announced land tax concessions for Build-To-Rent which are now supported by recent Federal Government taxation changes, future supply of rental accommodation is also looking brighter following the budget announcements.

Keystart

This week’s budget makes an ongoing Investment in social housing while also continuing to use Keystart as a lever for the provision of more affordable housing.

Keystart is a low deposit lender aimed at providing an affordable pathway to home ownership in WA.

Amendments will be made to Keystart’s pilot ‘Urban Connect’ program, which boosts housing at the affordable end of the market and supports infill development, which will now also enable customers to secure pre-sale off-the-plan properties.

Other small wins in the budget include investment in attracting more skilled migrants to the building and construction sector and further investment in social housing and homelessness.

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