The year of the first home buyer

When life gives you lemons, the saying goes, you make lemonade. With its lockdowns and lost opportunities, 2020 was undeniably a lemon — but for many first homebuyers, government stimulus and a short pause in a booming property market meant that first toehold on the home ownership ladder was made all the sweeter.

14 April 2021

Back in April 2020 when the fast-moving panic caused by the first global pandemic in over a century caused the Australian economy to take a steep nose-dive, buying houses was probably the last thing on people’s minds. As a robustly growing property market skidded to a halt, state and federal governments took decisive measures. The $25,000 national HomeBuilder grant was ushered in to keep the construction sector moving, quickly followed by a succession of grants and incentive schemes at the state level. The result was that new homebuyers, especially first homebuyers, were suddenly awash with assistance.

A year on, and the results have been nothing short of spectacular. Treasury figures show that applications for HomeBuilder more than exceeded expectations with double the number of people applying than original forecasted. And while HomeBuilder was not limited to first home buyers, the $25,000 federal grant along with existing state first homeowner grants, meant the ability to finance a new first home was up to $55,000 more attractive, depending on the state you were in.

To find out exactly how much of a difference 2020 made to the plans of first homeowners, we caught up with some brand-new soon-to-be residents of Frasers Property communities around the country.

Jessica Taylor, Baldivis Parks, WA

Like many young Australian’s, Jessica Taylor had a long-term plan to save up, weigh her options, and strike when the moment was right to buy the perfect property. The combination of incentives available in 2020, meant that her plan was put into action several years ahead of schedule. "I always thought i'd wait until i got married to buy a place, but i realised in 2020 that i was wactually in a position to do it on my own:, Jessica explained. "When it came to the extra grants available, I realised I’d be crazy not to take the plunge now. Even if I’d waited a few more years to save, I wouldn’t have actually been able to save up that extra $55,000 in any reasonable amount of time.”Jessica started looking at potential new home sites in May last year, with Baldivis Parks in Western Australia a stand-out candidate as a place she could see herself putting down roots. “I knew Baldivis Parks from afar and I had friends that lived in the area. Every time I drove through the community, I got a really safe, family-friendly feeling like I was at home. So, that’s how I decided it was the one for me.”

Erika Moncada, Ed.Square, NSW

For first homebuyer and new Ed.Square resident Erika Moncada, 2020 was a lesson in what really matters most — a sense of community and connection with the people in her new neighbourhood. "Covid has definitely changed the way I and many others view homeownership,” says Erika. “With restrictions and working from home, I personally felt a bit of a void with a lack of physical day to day interaction. But now, with Ed Square building up and moving in here, I really feel excited for this community. You do want to have interactions and feel like you’re living normally with everything at your doorstep and neighbours you can rely on and talk to. I’ve met a few of my neighbours and they’re so lovely. It’s great to move in with a bunch of people who are friendly and always up for a chat, it keeps my spirit high.”

Daniel Monger, Brookhaven, QLD

When Daniel met Tamara, they each brought to their relationship two children and a desire to make a welcoming home for their blended family. Brookhaven’s location halfway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, as well as located close to the kids schools, ticked all the boxes. We knew a little bit about what Brookhaven had to offer,” says Daniel. “But the more we investigated and gotto know the community, the more it really unfolded. From initially just being impressed with the natural surroundings and the fantastic parks, we then found out about the walking tracks and the free fitness classes. We realised how perfect for us Brookhaven actually is. Everyone is so friendly. It is really what a neighbourhood should be for kids — somewhere you know your neighbours and see them down at the park in the afternoon.”

Daniel says the increase in grants available to new home buyers in 2020 was the difference between dreaming about life in Brookhaven and actually living it. “It has always been a long-term goal to own a house but the renting and saving game always seemed to be taking longer and longer,” says Daniel. When Tamara and I met and decided it was time to join our families, we really focused on ramping up our savings. But it still seemed like it would take a long time to reach our goal. When the 2020 incentives were announced, it was the extra boost we needed to take the leap into buying land and building a home. Not having purchased previously, I was blessed to be able to qualify for the First Home Buyers Grant and the Home Builder Grant. Honestly, if it was not for the incentives, I dare say we would still be renting for many more years. As a first home buyer, the really exciting thing is that this is our first forever home — somewhere that we can grow as a family in the community.”

Jake Farrugia & Claudia Abela, The Grove, VIC

t’s safe to say that the trials and tribulations of 2020 were never going to get in the way of Jake and Claudia’s plans. The couple not only got engaged, but they also wasted no time in the next step of building a life together — buying a home. The right place had to be both a great investment for their future and the kind of neighbourhood that would offer a great life right away. Their search soon led them to The Grove in Melbourne’s west.

While COVID-19 restrictions on movement made house-hunting that much more complex, the couple found the online tools available at The Grove a huge help. “We did our research, weighed our options, and visited the project virtually so we knew it was high on the list. As soon as we were able to visit, we knew that the extra time we took was worth it, and that we’d found our perfect spot at The Grove,” says Jake.

Adds Claudia: “We ended up taking the plunge in January this year because we knew we’d found a place we loved, and we wanted to get going while the HomeBuilder Grant still applied. We ended up saving $15,000, which is amazing for us.”

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