First home buyer? Here is your simplified first home buyers checklist

1 August 2022 5 mins
first home buyers grant

Buying your very first home? We’ve created this simple checklist so you can easily apply for a First Home Buyers Grant.

Anna-Louise McDougall

Buying your first home might just be one of the biggest ‘firsts’ you can do in your lifetime. For first home buyers, dipping your toe into the property market can feel like a “What have I done?” rollercoaster of emotions. But with anything worth the stomach butterflies, knowing what you’re doing, and how to do it will help alleviate any confusion.

On one hand, you’re feeling excited because you’re ready to live life in your dream home, on the other – it’s looking like mounting costs, endless forms to fill out, understanding the First Home Owner Grant scheme, more application forms to fill out… never fear! We’ve distilled the most important information to make the process feel simplified, and stress–free.

What is the First Home Buyers Grant?

First things first, before you start yelling, “Help! I know nothing about the First Home Buyers Grant!” we’re going to break it down for you.

Ah, the year 2000. Y2K, the Olympics, mad cow disease and GST. It was also the year of the First Home Owners Grant launch, designed to offset the impacts of GST and introduced by state and territory governments to help people (just like you) to enter the property market. Basically, the scheme offers financial support to first home buyers in the form of a one–off payment.

If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that Australia’s states and territories govern themselves very differently and change their minds rapidly, and the same goes for grant requirements and other concessions (reduced rates). To make matters a little less confusing, we’ve compiled this checklist to help you navigate the application process and help get you into your first home.

First homeowners eligibility checklist

Thankfully, one thing that remains largely the same is eligibility. The eligibility criteria for first homeowners across Australia is actually pretty straightforward. Things to tick–off are;

  • You're over 18;
  • You're a first home buyer, meaning you or your partner have never owned property in Australia before or after 2000, either separately or individually;
  • At least one applicant is an Australian citizen or permanent resident;
  • At least one applicant will reside in the home for a minimum of six months. This must happen within 12 months of settlement. There is, however, an exemption for members of the Australian Defence Force.
  • You’re a person. As in, you’re not purchasing under a business or trust
  • The contract date must be on or after 1 July 2017 and must be for the whole property

How to apply for the First Homeowners Grant in your state or territory

There are two main ways of applying for the First Home Owners Grant, and these too, don’t differ much between states and territories.

  1. It’s most common for first homeowners to go through an agent. This will be your bank, a financial agent, or a mortgage broker with whom you’re negotiating your finance. In this instance, they could make the application for you.

    In fact, Honey Insurance has partnered with some mortgage brokers, in our effort to seamlessly integrate mortgage broking with home insurance. Why? Well, for instance, it’s possible that paperwork like obtaining a Certificate of Currency can delay the mortgage application process; we work with our brokers to assist a faster settlement for you.  
  2. The other way is if you’re applying directly with your state or territory revenue office. The federal First Home Owner Grant page can also link you to where you need to go.

Hot tip: How you apply can determine when the grant payment is made.

A great rule of thumb? Don’t rely on the grant money for your deposit, as it’s often paid only after settlement. In most cases, you can apply for a grant in the timeframe between the contract being signed and 12 months after settlement.

What’s next? Paperwork! Yay. Yes, gathering the documents you need to apply can be where it gets tricky but rest assured, it’s really not so hard.

Document checklist

  • Proof of identity: When applying directly with your state revenue office, four categories (yes, four!) of ID are required. Each state application form goes into detail about the categories and what you will need. If you’re applying with an approved agent or financial institution, they will perform ID checks so less information is needed.

    If you’re unsure, the Australia Post website is a great resource for general ID information and certification requirements across Australia.

  • Proof of name change: Married? Divorced? Separated or widowed? On the run? (joking… sort of) If your name differs on the application from any form of ID submitted, confirmation and certification are required.

  • Contract of sale: It's proof you bought a house!

Each state or territory requires a certified copy of the sale contract. The main transaction types are;

  • Contract to purchase a new home (the owner or builder will have to prove the house has not been previously owned);
  • Contract to build a home. This means you're building the home through a builder.
  • Contract to purchase an "off the plan" home. This often means the house isn't built yet, but you are not part of the building process.
  • Owner–builder contract – this is for the people brave enough to build a new home themselves.

Your state form will go into more detail about exactly how proof of purchase is determined. Rest assured, so long as you’re following the usual steps to first homeownership, simply ask your builder or seller's agent for the relevant documentation.  

The First Home Owners Grant schemes have adopted many forms over the years. Fluctuating property markets and economic factors motivate the sector, and governments continue to change the finer details.

Everything here is correct at the time of writing, but – life happens – we recommend you either check back in with us here at Honey Insurance, or follow your state government website.

Don't forget to read the fine print

Insurance issued by RACQ Insurance Limited ABN 50 009 704 152, AFSL 233 082 and distributed by Honey Insurance Pty Ltd ABN 52 643 672 628, AFSL 528244. Conditions, limits and exclusions apply. This is general advice only and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and may not be right for you.  Always read the PDS, any applicable SPDS and TMD available at honeyinsurance.com before making any decision.

Anna is Honey’s resident copywriter and product marketer, responsible for making insurance make sense. When she’s not grammar policing, she’s being her own devil’s advocate; could it read better, could it help more people, how much Honey is enough?

Anna-Louise McDougall

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