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First-home buyers have flocked to new developments in south-east Queensland, with or without government incentives, property developers and sales agents report.
The keen interest comes despite the economic burden of the coronavirus pandemic, with Brisbane’s broader housing market so far defying the gloom. Established home values in Brisbane rose 0.5 per cent in September, the latest CoreLogic figures show.
Under the First Home Owners’ Grant and HomeBuilder grant, buyers can receive a total of $40,000 towards their first home for properties valued at $750,000 or less, subject to eligibility criteria.
But even completed and off-the-plan projects that aren’t eligible have seen substantial interest from the keen demographic.
A lack of competition from investors due to the COVID-19-related recession is behind the trend, those in the industry say, along with changing buyer behaviour.
First-home buyers now comprise about 50 per cent of sales for some developments, up from an estimated 20 per cent before the pandemic, TOTAL Property Group managing director Adrian Parsons said.
“The first-home buyer has become one of the largest buyer segments, which we’ve never seen before,” he said.
“It’s hard to really understand exactly what is making these first-time buyers actually take action, but I have to think that it’s finally hitting home about how affordable a first time home is with the current level of interest rates.”
Mr Parsons said coronavirus-related lockdowns might have also led buyers to reassess their finances and housing situation.
“I think people have assessed, ‘Well, if I’m locked down and I’m in this property, am I happy being locked down in this property, or should we actually think about buying our own property, where it’s ours?’” he said.
“We’re definitely seeing the very positive flow-on effects of people being unable to travel and spend their discretionary income in other areas.”
Managing director for CBRE Residential Paul Barratt said he usually saw two to three properties a month sold to first-home buyers but, in recent months, that number had jumped to more than 10 for projects qualifying for government grants.
He said while investors were starting return after a lull caused by the pandemic, the market remained relatively open to first-home buyers.
“What they’ve had is a little bit of a holiday from the competition that investors bring to the market,” he said.
“For a first-home buyer, it is absolutely the best time to buy at the moment.
“I think as the end of the year comes up and the HomeBuilder grant expires, at the end of December, there’ll be a real rush from first-time buyers.”
Travis Gielen, director of sales at Morris Property Group, said while first-home buyers were attracted to the grants, a lack of government assistance wasn’t a deal-breaker.
He said it had been a noticeable trend at Burleigh Heads development Sandbar, which may not be eligible for grants.
“We had a lot of people initially spurred by that [the grants] and made inquiries, and then pressed ahead without the grant, just based on the fact that Burleigh’s such a strong location and a good place to invest,” he said.
He said he wasn’t surprised by the boost in interest, given how the combination of coronavirus-related restrictions and government and bank crackdowns on lending had curbed investment.
“I certainly expected to see that increase in activity from that part of the market now that competition isn’t as fierce with investors and foreign investors,” he said.