Help to Buy Scheme, Australian government shared equity: what to know

Help to Buy is a proposed federal shared equity scheme that lets first-time buyers co-own a home with the government with a 2% deposit.

Help to Buy Scheme, Australian Government shared equity scheme: everything you need to know

Help to Buy is a proposed federal shared equity scheme that lets first-time buyers co-own a home with the government with a 2% deposit.

Flinders University senior lecturer and business program director Dr Philip Palmer said Help to Buy will assist home buyers who are facing a tough market.

“Many prospective home buyers are struggling to save enough for a deposit to enter the housing market. The Help to Buy scheme is designed to fast-track entry into the housing market by loaning eligible applicants up to 30% of an existing home or 40% of a new build.

“This enables participants to buy or build a home sooner than if they had to save for a larger deposit. As participants are borrowing less money from the bank, the scheme will potentially avoid costly lender’s mortgage insurance and make demonstrating loan affordability easier,” Dr Palmer said.

Dr Palmer said while the scheme will assist some people to enter the housing market than they may have otherwise, limits will apply.

“There will be caps on the value of homes eligible under the scheme, depending on city and region. Additionally, there will be a limit on the number of places in the scheme while it runs (10,000 every year) as well as income limits. Participants will need to fund 2% of the purchase price [and] all other up-front costs,” he said.

Buyers can access a shared equity loan from the Federal Government with this deposit, but need to earn less than $90,000 a year for individuals or $120,000 as a couple.

Help to Buy is set to begin in 2024 and provide 40,000 equity loans. Here is everything you need to know about the proposed Help to Buy scheme.

How will the Help to Buy scheme work?

Help to Buy will provide shared equity home loans to eligible buyers with a deposit as low as 2%.

The government acts as an 'equity partner', funding and owning 30-40% of the property.

help to Buy scheme

No LMI (lender's mortgage insurance) will be payable on the loan.

You won't need to pay any rent on the government's share. However, you will be expected to pay the government's money back - plus its share of profits - when you sell the property.

The scheme makes homeownership more affordable by lowering upfront costs and boosting buying power.

Read our detailed explainer on shared equity schemes here

Who is eligible for the Help to Buy scheme?

  • Be an Australian citizen 18 years or older
  • Earn less than $90,000 a year for singles or $120,000 as a couple
  • Live in the purchased home
  • Must not currently own a home or land in Australia or overseas (can have owned a property in the past)

Eligible participants will need to provide a 2% deposit, upfront costs like stamp duty, and finance the remainder of the loan.

You will be responsible for ongoing property costs, including bills and maintenance.

There will be 10,000 places in the scheme annually, reaching 40,000 across four years.

Help to Buy property price caps

Help to Buy will have property price caps depending on the median house price of where you are buying.

State Capital / regional centres Rest of the state
New South Wales $950,000 $750,000
Victoria $850,000 $650,000
Queensland $700,000 $550,000
Western Australia $600,000 $450,000
South Australia $600,000 $450,000
Tasmania $600,000 $600,000
ACT $750,000 $600,000
NT $600,000 $550,000

How much can I save with Help to Buy?

You could effectively save up to $380,000 based on a 40% equity contribution to the highest property cap.
But it is important to remember you will need to pay back the government's equity share and potentially share profits.

So, if you sell a property the government has a 30% equity share in for $1,000,000, they will take a $300,000 share in the sale. Assuming you haven't bought any equity back.

One appeal of shared equity is that you won't need to pay rent or interest on the government's share of the loan.

There are also upfront savings including not paying LMI and a lower deposit, getting you into your own home sooner.

Advantages of the Help to Buy scheme

Australians face one of the toughest housing markets in over three decades with increasing house prices and rises in mortgage rates, according to PropTrack.

Shared equity schemes like Help to Buy enable buyers to get into their own homes sooner by lowering upfront costs and boosting borrowing power.

You can enter the market sooner with a waiver on lender's mortgage insurance (LMI) and a deposit as little as 2%.

Your shared equity mortgage repayments will also be lower than if the loan balance didn't have any shared equity.

Dr Palmer said some argue Help to Buy could potentially increase house prices.

“If participants are seeking existing properties in high demand areas, such a scheme will increase the demand for housing and therefore increase the prices of housing more broadly.”

This has happened with some government schemes—like HomeBuilder, a $25,000 grant introduced by the Federal Government during COVID-19—before.

In 2022, RBA assistant governor Luci Ellis said first home buyer grants like HomeBuilder and First Home Owners Grant (FHOG) made housing less affordable, especially if they are short-term policies.

However, Help to Buy will have place limits unlike HomeBuilder and FHOG.

When does the Help to Buy scheme start?

Originally a 2022 federal election promise, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese recently confirmed Help to Buy will commence in 2024.

The scheme will be available in all states and territories, subject to the annual 10,000 participant limit.

Can I buy back the government's share of my property?

You will be able to pay down the government's share of your property by 5% of their share at a time after two years, according to the ABC.

How much deposit do I need for the scheme? Can I use the First Home Owners Grant as a deposit?

Help to Buy requires you to have at least a 2% deposit of genuine savings.

Genuine savings are money you have saved yourself. Generally, this doesn't include gifts or money from family.

You cannot use the First Home Owners Grant (FHOG) as a deposit for the Help to Buy Scheme because this would not be considered genuine savings.

However, if you have the required deposit in genuine savings, you are likely to be allowed to put the FHOG towards your deposit.

What if I get a pay rise?

What if you earn below the income threshold at the time of your application, but get a pay rise after?

You will likely need to buy back the government's share of the property.

But we don't yet know what will actually happen in this scenario and won't find out until laws for the scheme are passed in 2024.

How do I apply for the Help to Buy scheme?

The Help to Buy scheme is yet to be officially legislated so we don't know how the application official application process works. However, it is likely to look something like this:

  1. Check your eligibility: Ensure you meet the Help to Buy criteria, including income limits and home ownership status.
  2. Find the right lender: Talk to a UNO broker about your finance options to find a participating lender.
  3. Find the perfect home: Search for a property, keeping in mind the above price caps for each state and territory.
  4. Submit paperwork: Work with your broker to submit relevant paperwork for your application.

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Ashley Morson
We are truly grateful for uno home loans and our broker Karis Churchill. This is our second time purchasing a home with the help from Uno and both times have been a very positive experience. Our recent purchase had many obstacles due to different factors however it was our dream home and we were up for the challenge. Our broker Karis was a true support and went above and beyond. She communicated so well with our solicitor and the real estate agents. She kept us updated through every step and kept us motivated when things seemed impossible. Uno is very fortunate to have Karis as a broker and we would highly recommend her to anyone. Our family are so happy we are now in our new forever home. Thank you so much Karis and to the uno team!!!

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