First Home Buyers Given Leg Up In Budget
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First Home Buyers Given Leg Up In Budget

The government has outlined plans to expand its First Home Loan Deposit Scheme.

By Terry Christodoulou
Tue, Mar 29, 2022 1:39pmGrey Clock < 1 min

The Federal Budget for 2022 is set to ‘unlock’ 50,000 new places for the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (FLHDS).

Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) president Mr Hayden Groves said this significant investment into supporting home ownership shows confidence that the scheme is serving the private property market.

“NHFIC (the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation) estimates that around 15% of Australian households are prospective homeowners and this announcement makes that dream one step closer for those Australians who are eligible,” said Mr Groves

“The number of first home buyers decreased to 37,620 in the quarter, a decrease of 18.3% over the past 12 months.

“At the same time the average loan size increased to $470,548, an increase of 12.9% over the same period.”

Mr Groves said that the support of the FHLDS was a priority for the REIA and went on to thank the Federal Minister for Housing, Michael Sukkar MP.

“REIA supported this innovation in public policy when it was first announced in the Federal Election 2019 and the program has gone from strength to strength.

“Now up to 1 in 10 first home buyers utilise the Guarantee program with 6,000 of Australia’s key workers securing their first home through this program – our COVID-19 heroes.”

With the government seeking to triple the scheme from an initial 10,000 places in 2019, Mr Groves suggests Australians looking to buy their first home seek advice for accessing the scheme.

“With these new places coming online you will have more opportunity than ever to secure a place, we strongly encourage interested first home buyers to speak with their mortgage broker.”



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Stronger demand in some areas is pushing unit rents up faster than houses

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Renters are returning to the apartment market, leading to higher growth in weekly rents for units than houses over the past year, according to REA data. As workers return to their corporate offices, tenants are coming back to the inner city and choosing apartment living for its affordability.

This is a reversal of the pandemic trend which saw many renters leave their inner city units to rent affordable houses on the outskirts. Working from home meant they did not have to commute to the CBD, so they moved into large houses in outer areas where they could enjoy more space and privacy.

REA Group economic analyst Megan Lieu said the return to apartment living among tenants began in late 2021, when most lockdown restrictions were lifted, and accelerated in 2022 after Australia’s international border reopened.

Following the reopening of offices and in-person work, living within close proximity to CBDs has regained importance,” Ms Lieu said.Units not only tend to be located closer to public transport and in inner city areas, but are also cheaper to rent compared to houses in similar areas. For these reasons, it is unsurprising that units, particularly those in inner city areas, are growing in popularity among renters.

But the return to work in the CBD is not the only factor driving demand for apartment rentals. Rapidly rising weekly rents for all types of property, coupled with a cost-of-living crisis created by high inflation, has forced tenants to look for cheaper accommodation. This typically means compromising on space, with many families embracing apartment living again. At the same time, a huge wave of migration led by international students has turbocharged demand for unit rentals in inner city areas, in particular, because this is where many universities are located.

But it’s not simply a demand-side equation. Lockdowns put a pause on building activity, which reduced the supply of new rental homes to the market. People had to wait longer for their new houses to be built, which meant many of them were forced to remain in rental homes longer than expected. On top of that, a chronic shortage of social housing continued to push more people into the private rental market. After the world reopened, disrupted supply chains meant the cost of building increased, the supply of materials was strained, and a shortage of labour delayed projects.

All of this has driven up rents for all types of property, and the strength of demand has allowed landlords to raise rents more than usual to help them recover the increased costs of servicing their mortgages following 13 interest rate rises since May 2022. Many applicants for rentals are also offering more rent than advertised just to secure a home, which is pushing rental values even higher.

Tenants’ reversion to preferring apartments over houses is a nationwide trend that has led to stronger rental growth for units than houses, especially in the capital cities, says Ms Lieu. “Year-on-year, national weekly house rents have increased by 10.5 percent, an increase of $55 per week,” she said.However, unit rents have increased by 17 percent, which equates to an $80 weekly increase.

The variance is greatest in the capital cities where unit rents have risen twice as fast as house rents. Sydney is the most expensive city to rent in today, according to REA data. The house rent median is $720 per week, up 10.8 percent over the past year. The apartment rental median is $650 per week, up 18.2 percent. In Brisbane, the median house rent is $600 per week, up 9.1 percent over the past year, while the median rent for units is $535 per week, up 18.9 percent. In Melbourne, the median house rent is $540 per week, up 13.7 percent, while the apartment median is $500 per week, up 16.3 percent.

In regional markets, Queensland is the most expensive place to rent either a house or an apartment. The house median rent in regional Queensland is $600 per week, up 9.1 percent year-onyear, while the apartment median rent is $525, up 16.7 percent.

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