The number of first-home buyers using stamp duty concessions has more than doubled after the state government introduced several savings measures nearly three months ago.
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More than 2100 Victorians have used first-home buyer incentives since July 1, including 1850 who paid no stamp duty when buying their first property, according to state government figures to be released on Saturday.
The incentives also appear to have been particularly popular in regional centres including Ballarat, Bendigo and Shepparton.
But housing experts have reiterated concerns that the increase in first-home buyers has pushed up prices in affordable areas.
The changes mean people buying their first home do not pay any stamp duty on properties under $600,000 and receive stamp duty concessions for properties under $750,000.
The government also doubled the first home owners grant to $20,000 for the purchase of newly-built houses in regional Victoria
The new data — which covers July 1 to September 15 — shows 160 first-home buyers received the grant in regional Victoria, compared to 26 during the same period last year.
The government said the changes had saved first-home buyers a total of $37 million.
“We implemented these reforms to make it easier for first home buyers to crack into the housing market, and already we’re seeing a very strong uptake, resulting in significant savings for first-home buyers,” Treasurer Tim Pallas said.
Taj Singh, director of First Home Buyers Australia, said cuts to stamp duty had allowed young people to enter the market with bigger house deposits.
“But we’re seeing entry-level housing get less affordable because there’s more buyers competing,” he said.
“We’re seeing houses, units and townhouses in that $500,000 to $600,000 bracket now starting to creep up toward $700,000.”
Domain Group chief economist Andrew Wilson said an increase in demand could lead to a surge in prices.
“It does allow first-home buyers to pay more, the question is how much prices will rise as a consequence,” Dr Wilson said.
“We’re already seeing some strong prices growth in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, where one would logically expect most first-home buyers are active.”
The government said local government areas that had proven popular for first-home buyers since the changes include Wyndham, Casey, Hume, Moreland, Geelong, Bendigo, Shepparton and Ballarat.
Mr Pallas said the government wanted to make it easier for young people in regional Victoria to buy and live in their community.
“As our regional communities grow, we’re also investing in public transport, local roads, and the schools and hospitals they need.”
The average loan among Victorian first-home buyers in July was $329,000, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
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