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First Home Buyers’ Guide: Which is best, QLD or NSW? – Stamp Duty, Grants, Concessions and Exemptions – Property & Commercial Law


Living near the QLD-NSW border and wondering which state has the best perks for First Home Buyers? Our guide for First Home Buyers Grants, Stamp Duty and exemptions, as applicable for both states, can help you make the best purchasing decision, writes Senior Conveyancing Paralegal and Property & Commercial Department Manager, Jessica Kimpton.

Time is running out to buy cheap property, with buyers facing increasingly competitive pressure as prices rise and demand surges. National house values rose 1.2 per cent in October, taking values 2.9 per cent higher since their lowest point in June, CoreLogic’s monthly house price index revealed in November.

Australia has a new record low cash rate of 0.75% following the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) decision to shave 25 basis points off the official rate at its October meeting in Sydney. With the latest interest rate drop, there’s never been a better time to buy your own first home.

Attwood Marshall Lawyers Property & Commercial Department has licenced conveyancers, experienced paralegals and property lawyers in QLD and NSW – with offices in Kingscliff, NSW, Coolangatta and Robina Town Centre (open late Thursdays and on Saturday).

Being positioned on the border gives us a unique understanding of the home market in both states. Knowing the differences in Stamp Duty concessions, other exemptions and First Home Buyers Grants in both states can make all difference in determining which state is best for you to buy your first home in.

Buying your first home in Queensland

Just like any other property purchase, you are going to come up against your fair share of fees when you are a first home buyer. Queensland Fair Trading’s Property Smart handbook goes into great detail about these costs, but as an overview you are looking at Transfer duty (although this may not apply once concessions and exemptions are factored in).

First home buyers grants in QLD

Depending on the date of your contract, you’ll get $15,000 or $20,000 towards buying or building your new house, unit or townhouse (valued at less than $750,000). The grant is paid per new home and not to each of the applicants for the same home.

You can buy off the plan or choose to build yourself.

To be eligible for the grant:

  • You must be at least 18 years of age.
  • You must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident (or applying with someone who is).
  • You or your spouse must not have previously owned property in Australia that you lived in.
  • You must be buying or building a brand new home.
  • The value of the home including the land is less than $750,000.
  • You must move into the new home as your principal place of residence within 1 year of the completed transaction and live there continuously for 6 months.


The value of the grant depends on your contract date:

  • $15,000 for contracts dated
    • October 2012 to 30 June 2016
    • 1 July 2018 or later
  • $20,000 for contracts dated from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2018.


QLD Stamp Duty Concessions

In Queensland, you must pay stamp duty within 30 days after the liability arises to pay transfer duty on the transaction. As a first home buyer you don’t pay stamp duty for the property up to $500k (due to First Home Concession Rate). Then you get a discount for properties valued between $505,000 and $550,000. If property worth more than that you pay full stamp duty rates.

Purchase price-Stamp duty after concession
$580,000-$11,950 (no concession)
Vacant land $240,000-$0
Vacant land $300,000-$4,125
Vacant land $450,000-$14,175

Exemptions for First Home Buyers in QLD

First home concession

You can claim a first home concession for transfer duty when acquiring your first residence if you meet certain requirements. The first home concession only applies to a home valued under $550,000 and can save you up to $15,925. The home concession may still apply for a home valued over $550,000. You do not have to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident to claim a concession, but you must still meet the eligibility criteria. Additional foreign acquirer duty may apply if you are a foreign person. To keep the benefit of the first home concession in full after you move in, you must not dispose of all or part of the property within 1 year. A partial concession may apply if you dispose within 1 year.

You can use the transfer duty estimator or rates for home concessions to find out how much duty you may have to pay when you buy your home. If there’s a non-residential part of the land, use the transfer duty calculator to check the amount you will pay.

Demolishing the home

The first home concession will not apply if you demolish the existing home without first living there, even if you construct and occupy a new home within a year.

Gold Coast First Home Buyers are the big winners of the new Federal Home Loan Deposit Scheme

Buying your first home in New South Wales

First home buyers grants in NSW

The grant currently gives eligible first home owners $10,000 to purchase a new home of up to $600,000 or to build a new home up to $750,000. The current grant applies to contracts dated after 1 January 2016. For contracts dated between 1 October 2012 and 31 December 2015, a higher grant of $15,000 applies. If you’re an owner builder, the contract date is the date when the building work commenced.

To be eligible for the grant:

  • All applicants must be over 18 and a person (not a company or trust);
  • At least one applicant needs to be a permanent resident or Australian citizen;
  • No applicant can have previously received a first home owner grant in any State or Territory unless they subsequently repaid it;
  • You or your spouse (including a de facto spouse) must not have ever held an interest in any residential property in Australia before 1 July 2000. If you bought after 1 July 2000, you may still be eligible if you did not reside in that property for a continuous period of at least six months;
  • Importantly, you need to live in the home for a continuous period of at least six months (there are exceptions if you are part of the Australian Defence Force and all applicants are on the New South Wales electoral roll) within a year of taking ownership.

The value of the grant depends on your contract date:

  • Contract date must be on or after 1 January 2016;
  • The home must be brand new;
  • The property must be valued at, or below, the First Home Owner Grant cap of $600,000 for buyers purchasing a new home and $750,000 for buyers building a new property.

NSW Stamp Duty Concessions

NSW Stamp duty for first home-buyers Stamp duty becomes payable within three months from the date when the sale or transfer took place. The First Home Buyers Assistance scheme provides first home buyers with exemptions from transfer duty on new homes valued at less than $650,000 and concessions for new homes valued between $650,000 and $800,000. No duty is payable by eligible purchasers buying a vacant block of residential land valued at up to $350,000, while concessions are available for vacant land purchased for between $350,000 and $450,000.

Purchase price- Stamp duty after concession
$800,000-No discount

Exemptions for First Home Buyers in NSW

The NSW government has made some changes to transfer duty rules, as a way to encourage new homeowners and help them get onto the property ladder. As a first home buyer in the state, you could be eligible for full or partial exclusion from transfer duty payment, as long as you meet the qualification criteria which includes but is not limited to:

  1. You are buying your first home in Australia, be an Australian permanent resident or citizen and over the age of 18
  2. The property is valued at no more than $800,000
  3.  You must occupy the property within 12 months of completing the purchase and live there for at least 6 consecutive months


This exemption applies to more buyers than the NSW First Home Owner Grant.

Buying your first home?

Attwood Marshall Lawyers offer free pre-signing contract advice. Don’t risk your most important investment with a cheap conveyancer. Call Property and Commercial Department Manager Jessica Kimpton on 07 5506 8214 or email today!

Office locations: Robina Town Centre, Coolangatta and Kingscliff, NSW.

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Jess Kimpton - Department Manager - Property & Commercial Attwood Marshall lawyers

Jess Kimpton

Department Manager
Property & Commercial

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The contents of this article are considered accurate as at the date of publication. The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and is of a general nature only. Readers should seek legal advice about their specific circumstances. 

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