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Labor’s proposed shared equity scheme is neither scary nor radical. Despite the hysterical tone in some of the commentary surrounding Labor Leader Anthony Albanese’s recent announcement of a shared equity policy for housing, most Australian states and territories already support struggling home buyers with some form of the scheme.

The remaining states and territories are either considering introducing such a program (New South Wales), or have offered it in the past (Northern Territory).

Here’s The Fifth Estate’s rundown of the programs currently on offer across Australia.

Western Australia

Western Australia’s Department of Communities offers a limited number of shared ownership home loans through its home loan lender Keystart

Through Keystart, the state’s Housing Authority offers up to 30 per cent equity in newly-built homes and off-the-plan properties listed on the state’s Opening Doors website. Deposits are set at either $2000 or two per cent of the purchase price, whichever is higher.

The program is open to singles earning up to $70,000 per year, as well as couples and families with a combined annual income of up to $90,000.

South Australia

The South Australian government’s HomeStart Finance agency offers between 5 per cent and 25 per cent equity, up to a maximum of $200,000. 

This shared equity option is not available for land-only purchases, and homeowners need to meet eligibility rules.

Victoria

In late 2021, Victoria’s state government introduced the Victorian Homebuyer Fund

The program offers eligible homebuyers up to up to 25 per cent equity, with a minimum deposit of 5 per cent. For Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people, the share of offer increases to 35 per cent, with a 3.5 per cent minimum deposit.

Home owners must meet a range of criteria, including earning $125,000 or less a year for individuals, or $200,000 or less for joint applicants. The purchase price for properties must be less than $950,000 in metropolitan Melbourne or Geelong, or $600,000 in one of the other eligible regional locations.

Tasmania

Tasmania’s Director of Housing offers up to 30 per cent equity, up to a cap of $57,000, with the remainder lent through the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, as part of the HomeShare loans program

The homebuyer must borrow the maximum amount approved by the program’s lender and buy out the Director of Housing’s share of the property over 30 years.

Australian Capital Territory

In the ACT, eligible low- to moderate-income earners can obtain a land rent lease from the territory government rather than purchasing land to build a home. 

This means the lessee doesn’t need to finance the cost of the land – they need to cover the costs associated with the transfer of the land (such as duty) and the construction of their home.

Queensland

Queensland offers a limited shared equity program, but it is limited to selected public housing tenants.

The Pathways Shared Equity Loan program allows some tenants in government-owned housing to buy a share in their home if it comes up for sale.

Northern Territory

The NT government has offered shared equity loans in the past. In July 1987, the territory government introduced a scheme that allowed people to pay a reduced rental for the government’s equity in the dwelling. 

The NT replaced this program with a subsidised and low-deposit loans program called HomeBuild Access, alongside grants for first-time home buyers.

New South Wales

New South Wales doesn’t currently offer a shared equity plan, but the state’s Department of Planning and Environment is looking into the possibility of offering one in the future.

One of the key recommendations in its Housing 2041 2021-22 Action plan document is to “investigate barriers to and opportunities for innovative financing arrangements to support first home buyers”. 

This includes looking at “emerging models for investigation include fractional ownership through shared equity and shared-ownership schemes, rent-to-buy, and first home buyers’ right of first purchase”.

The expected completion date for the review is listed as 2022.

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