Homebuyers beat stamp duty

First-homebuyers have been snapping up homes at volumes not seen in more than 18 months as they try to beat the cut-off for a fall in the stamp duty threshold.

The maximum price a first- homebuyer could pay for a home to avoid paying stamp duty fell from $500,000 to $430,000 yesterday - the first reduction in six years.

Agents say the changes, announced in the State Government Budget in May, have prompted an increase in first-homebuyers scrambling to sign contracts and avoid thousands in stamp duty before the deadline on Wednesday.

Latest Office of State Revenue figures show 2164 people applied for the first-homebuyer's grant in May, compared with 1633 in the month before changes were announced.

The Real Estate Institute of WA has also noted unseasonal increases in property sales in the past two weeks, recording a surge in sales of 1019 properties last week, compared with 887 in the same week last year.

MLG Realty director Cindy Lee said first-homebuyers made up half the sales in the last week of the financial year and at a rate not seen since interest rate falls in late 2012.

Most first-homebuyers had been looking for properties priced close to the previous $500,000 threshold, Ms Lee said.

"There's definitely been more activity from first-homebuyers - we've had seven in the last week-and-a-half alone," she said.

"To have that many first-homebuyers come in with a timeframe on themselves is rare." Ms Lee said in many cases parents were lending their children home loan deposits to help them get homes before the end of the financial year.

Acton director Travis Coleman said inquiries from first-homebuyers in the past month had doubled from the same period last year and the deadline had put sellers of cheaper properties in a good position to negotiate. "In the lower half of the market, sellers could stick to their guns a bit because they knew about the threshold changes coming up," he said.

Real Estate Institute of WA president David Airey agreed there had been a recent surge in first-homebuyers, though last week's increase in sales was also believed to have been caused by agents trying to boost sales tallies before the end of the financial year.

The West Australian

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