Time ticks away for first home buyers

THE housing industry may still be lobbying for an extension of the First Home Buyers Grant but one young Coffs Harbour couple have already taken advantage of the windfall.

The government has not categorically ruled out ending the grant that has helped stimulate the economy in the current economic downturn.

There has been continued speculation that next week's Budget will include some incentive for new housing stock but the grant for existing stock will be rolled back.

The grant was boosted after the initial downturn last October from $7000 to $14,000 for first home buyers and $21,000 for people building a new home.

But time is ticking out to the June 30 deadline and the economy is still in a critical situation.

The grant is a lot of money for cash-strapped young people about to step into the biggest investment in their personal lives.

For John Williamson, 20, and his fiancée Carlie Barkley, 19, the bonus was the reason they decided to buy a house so early in their lives.

When most 20-year-olds are thinking of taking a major overseas holiday or just partying around, the couple have taken the huge step of buying their first home in West Coffs Harbour.

“You have to do it eventually, you might as well do it now, better than paying off someone else's investment,” Mr Williamson said.

For Mark Teel, licensee and sales manager of Woolgoolga Crown Property Sales the First Home Buyers Grant had been good for business.

He said houses ranging from $330,000 to $360,000 had sold quickly and land sales were also up about 50 per cent in the last 12 months.

He said lower interest rates had also contributed significantly to the increased business at the lower end of the market.

However, there was always the problem that once the existing properties disappeared and there were not many new properties for sale that prices would be artificially lifted.

Optimism felt by local realtors has not reflected the national average.

House prices in Australia's capital cities have fallen for the fourth straight quarter.

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