The government’s new housing grant has piqued the interest of thousands of Australians. Find out if you are eligible and how you can avail of the stimulus package. 

The government’s new HomeBuilder program has received its fair share of backlash, with many industry experts blasting the “very restrictive” rule on needing to spend $150,000 more on a renovation to be entitled for the $25,000 grant.

But despite the criticism, more than 12,000 Australians have flocked to the Treasury’s website to register interest in the scheme a week after it was announced. The grant can also be availed by investors building new houses valued at less than $750,000.

Housing minister Michael Sukkar said the number of applications will likely surge, with the stimulus package garnering more than 130,000 inquiries on the website.

So, who is eligible for the grant and how can eligible parties apply? Your Investment Property gives you the answers.

Are you eligible?

To qualify for the scheme, you must be:

  • A current or prospective owner-occupier, not an investor
  • An individual, not a company or trust
  • An Australian citizen
  • At least 18 years old
  • Earning $125,000 or less annually if you’re single, or less than $200,000 a year for couples (based on 2018/19 tax return or later)

Where can the grant be spent on?

The grant must be used to:

  • Build a new home as a principal place of residence valued at up to $750,000 (including the land); or
  • Substantially renovate an existing home as a principal place of residence, with renovations valued at between $150,000 and $750,000 and the dwelling not valued at more than $1.5m before the renovation

Renovations must also improve the accessibility, safety, and liveability of the home. This means additions to the property that are unconnected to the principal dwelling such as swimming pools, tennis courts, outdoor spas and saunas, and detached sheds or garages cannot be part of the upgrades. However, combination works like kitchen and bathroom renos are permitted.

Who can do the building?

Renovations and constructions must be carried out only by licensed builders who have gotten their licenses before 4 June.

The scheme also requires owners to have no special relationship with their contractor, such as being related.

The terms of the contract should be also be commercially reasonable – meaning the contract price should not be inflated compared to the fair market price.

Additionally, construction or renovations must start within three months of the contract date.

How can you apply for the grant?

To access the grant, applicants must pay a licensed builder the first instalment for starting work. They can then apply for the HomeBuilder stimulus through their state or territory revenue office.

Officials will conduct checks and once all the criteria are met, they will transfer the cash directly into the applicant's chosen bank account.

The scheme runs from 4 June until 31 December.

The government said that states will backdate acceptance of HomeBuilder applications to 4 June once the official agreement has been signed.

Another thing to note is that the $25,000 cash grant is on top of existing state and territory First Home Owner Grant programs, stamp duty concessions and other grant schemes, the Commonwealth’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, and First Home Super Saver Scheme.