The Housing Industry Association is calling the state government of Victoria to work with the federal government in extending the HomeBuilder scheme in the state.

Fiona Nield, executive director for Victoria at HIA, said home buyers in the state do not have enough time to process what needs to be done to qualify for the scheme. Under the scheme, eligible buyers have to sign up with a builder by the end of December. The HIA proposes that the deadline be extended in Victoria to 31 March 2021.

"Stage four restrictions in Victoria have slowed home buying activity and with the 31 December deadline for signing an eligible home contract for HomeBuilder fast approaching, Victorians simply need more time," she said.

The state government lifted the restrictions on private inspections at the end of September. Still, the lockdown has already affected the expected boost in housing activity from the HomeBuilder scheme. In fact, the HIA recorded a 14.4% decline in the sales activity for newly-constructed dwellings in August.

"When the grant was announced no one would have thought that a return to stage 4 restrictions would occur and that display homes would be closed for several months," Nield said. "With less than 12 weeks until the 31 December deadline, the fear is that many Victorians who want to access the grant won’t be able to through no fault of their own."

Nield said it takes at least 12 weeks for a contract to be signed and there are other factors that need to be considered when buying a home or entering a contract to build a new home. Renovators who would like to take advantage of the scheme will also be affected if the deadline is not extended.

"Unlike new home building, if work can’t start on a project, homeowners will delay engaging with builders to commence a renovation, meaning many of the Victorians planning renovations under HomeBuilder may also now miss out," she said.