The Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) is leading a united, state-wide push from regional local governments, urging State Treasurer Curtis Pitt to expand the first-home buyer grant in regional Queensland to include established homes, as a measure to help regional markets recover. 

REIQ CEO Antonia Mercorella sent a letter, signed by 11 regional mayors, including the mayors of some of our largest and hardest-hit towns of Mackay, Townsville, Rockhampton and Gladstone, as well as all 12 leaders of the Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils, to Treasurer Curtis Pitt urging him to expand the grant.

“The economy in regional and central Queensland has drastically slowed due to the mining downturn and the property market, which is directly tied to jobs, has also slumped,” Ms Mercorella said. 

“Some areas, such as North Mackay, South Mackay, Bucasia and Black’s Beach, have lost almost 30 per cent from the value of their homes over the past five years and they desperately need help arresting this continued decline,” she said. 

Standard & Poor’s released its report into mortgage defaults earlier this month and out of the top 10 worst-performing postcodes Queensland was home to seven of them, with three of them in the Mackay region. 

“Our regions have been suffering enormously since the mining downturn, with rising vacancy rates and falling median house prices,” Ms Mercorella said.  

“This measure – expanding the first-home buyer grant – would help stimulate real estate sales and give a much-needed boost to the local economies.” 

By extending the Great Start Grant to include established homes in regional Queensland it could also improve the success of the grant. 

“The Grant is struggling to gain traction in regional and central Queensland because buyers do not wish to build and the cost of building can be higher than buying an established home,” Ms Mercorella said. 

“From 2012 to April 2016 only 4505 grants were accessed throughout regional Queensland – which is just 1100 grants a year – compared to the 12,944 grants that have assisted first-home buyers in southeast Queensland.” 

The REIQ together with Queensland’s regional mayors urges Mr Pitt to extend the grant, which would help more people in regional Queensland by bringing buyers to the vast market of established homes. 

“These markets don’t need more homes built,” Ms Mercorella said. “They need buyers for the oversupply of established homes,” she said. “It is within Mr Pitt’s power to bring those buyers to the market and help regional Queensland weather this continuing economic downturn,” she said.


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