Geocon make new pitch to first-home buyers as ACT prepares to abolish grant scheme

Geocon is marketing a lucrative new incentive designed to help young Canberrans break into the property market, as it braces for the abolition of the ACT government's first home-owner grant.

Under a scheme announced on Thursday, prospective first-home buyers will only need to pay $1000 when sale contracts are exchanged, with Geocon to cover the balance of the deposit up to a maximum of $50,000.

Geocon managing director Nick Georgalis, who says the new incentive will be a "big relief" for first-home buyers. Picture: Jamila Toderas

Geocon managing director Nick Georgalis, who says the new incentive will be a "big relief" for first-home buyers. Picture: Jamila Toderas

The offer will be available until June 30.

Geocon managing director Nick Georgalis said the incentive would be a "big relief" for buyers who might have been banking on the ACT government's $7000 first-home buyers grant, which will be abolished from July 1.

As part of changes announced in last year's ACT budget, the government will waive stamp duty on all properties for those with an annual household income of less than $160,000.

"We realise how difficult a deposit can be to come up with, which is why we're offering to pay deposits for first-home buyers and owner occupiers from Canberra, who want to step into a Geocon apartment," Mr Georgalis said.

"Even for a professional working full-time, missing $7000 when you're saving for a deposit can hurt. It's pleasing we are in a position to bridge that gap for Canberrans looking for their first purchase or a new Geocon property apartment to buy and move into."

The $7000 first-home grant had been a key part of Geocon's pitch to prospective first-home buyers.

Before unveiling its current offer, the construction giant had effectively been tripling the first-home owner grant by offering buyers an additional $14,000 towards their deposit.

Geocon's planning and development manager, Dan Stewart, said the developer had sold about 2000 apartments at its various developments to first-home buyers, the vast majority of whom had been supported by the grant scheme.

Geocon is confident that the abolition of the first-home owner grant won't affect off-the-plan sales at its new developments. Picture: Jamila Toderas

Geocon is confident that the abolition of the first-home owner grant won't affect off-the-plan sales at its new developments. Picture: Jamila Toderas

About 1200 Canberrans access the first-home buyer grant each year.

Mr Stewart was confident the abolition of the grant would not affect off-the-plan sales, saying he "firmly believed" Canberrans would continue to buy into Geocon properties.

The company is selling apartments at a number of project across Canberra, including its 1250-unit Republic precinct in Belconnen and the recently-approved 520-home development on Cooyong Street in the city.

The Canberra Times last month reported that anyone buying a property valued below $470,000 would be worse off post July 1, as they would have received the $7000 grant and not paid stamp duty.

A spokeswoman for Chief Minister Andrew Barr this week said that waiving stamp duty, at the expense of the grant, would increase the number of people receiving assistance by about 40 per cent.

She said the new scheme would also give buyers more options when choosing their first home, given the grant could only be used for a newly built or substantially-renovated property.

First-home ownership has emerged as one of the key themes of the federal election campaign's final week after both the major parties pledged to offer loan guarantees to allow buyers to purchase properties with deposits of just five percent - rather than the usual 20 per cent.

Just 146 Canberrans secured loans for their first home in March, the lowest amount recorded in a month since October 2016.

The chief minister's spokeswoman said the decline could indicate that buyers were holding off until introduction of the new concessions.