No timeline for when the $ 25,000 HomeBuilder system will be operational

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The federal government launched the HomeBuilder program on June 4, but just over three weeks later, it is still not operational and no start date is in sight.

Each state and territory is responsible for administering the program and, according to the Treasury, a national partnership agreement is still being negotiated.

So far, only Tasmania and South Australia have signed HomeBuilder.

In Queensland, a spokesman for treasurer Cameron Dick said he had “expressed concerns about its design and implementation” and that the department was still working on details of how the program would work.

“The Queensland government supports the intent of the policy and seeks to resolve the remaining administration issues,” said the spokesman.

“We continue to work with the federal government to resolve these issues as quickly as possible.”

The CBA understands that the New South Wales Treasury is responsible for drafting the National Partnership Agreement, but the questions posed to it have received no response.

According to Master Builders Queensland, there were key questions that needed to be answered urgently in order to provide certainty to buyers and the construction industry.

Deputy CEO Paul Bidwell said her organization was inundated with program questions that she couldn’t answer.

“There is no problem signing contracts between June 4 and the end of December,” said Bidwell.

“The problem will start construction within three months of signing the contract – it will be difficult for some people,” he added.

The other big question is when does the grant actually land in the recipient’s account.

“This prevents people from signing contracts because they want to know for sure that they are going to get the grant,” said Bidwell.

“We hope that by the end of this month, people will be able to apply and the builds will start.”

A sandwich panel announcing a house and land
Developers, buyers and builders agree that the HomeBuilder grant has created renewed interest in homes and land.(ABC News: Stephanie Zillman)

Buyers Say HomeBuilder Cuts Funding

Early home buyers, Troy and Alana Simons, are exactly the kind of people the federal and state governments are targeting for a construction-led economic recovery.

The couple have chosen a block of land in the Lockyer Valley in southeast Queensland, where they plan to build the home of their dreams.

However, they cannot proceed with the sale until the HomeBuilder Grant and the Queensland First Home Buyer Grant are online.

“Everything is up in the air right now,” said Simons.

“You choose the design of your house, you choose your block, but you have to lock your finances before you can do anything.

Troy and Alana Simons stand on a street smiling at the camera.
First-time home buyers, Troy and Alana Simons, cannot build their home until they are sure of the HomeBuilder program.(ABC News: Stephanie Zillman)

In a statement, Housing Minister Michael Sukkar said HomeBuilder was specifically designed to complement existing state and territory first owner subsidy programs, stamp duty concessions and other programs. grants, as well as the government’s first mortgage loan deposit program.

“The Commonwealth is currently engaged with state and territory governments on national partnership agreements to make HomeBuilder delivery as seamless as possible,” said Sukkar.

While the plan is expected to cost taxpayers $ 688 million, it is not capped and, based on the 32,923 interest registrations to date, could end up costing billions of dollars.

“HomeBuilder is demand driven and there is no limit to the funding,” said Sukkar.

“Eligible home buyers who enter into a construction contract for a new home or rebuild between June 4 and December 31, 2020 will receive the subsidy.”

Concerns about strict criteria could have an impact on regions

On the outskirts of Toowoomba, developer Stephen Bowers said that HomeBuilder had already announced a turnaround for the construction industry.

He said he had serious concerns about the fate of The Avenues at Highfields, which entered the pandemic with the 60 unsold lots.

Stephen Bowers looks worried.
Stephen Bowers says he felt sick of what the pandemic could have meant for his residential development in Highfields.(ABC News)

“In the COVID-19 environment, we had almost 60 batches to bring – and it made my stomach ache enough about what was going to happen,” said Mr. Bowers.

“Since the creation of HomeBuilder, we have sold 30 lots in 14 days.

“It’s incredible – I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire career.”

Bowers said HomeBuilder, along with the Queensland’s first homebuyers’ $ 15,000 grant for new homes, and regional grants of $ 5,000, have undoubtedly made a difference.

But he was also concerned about unscrupulous traders who could take advantage of young, inexperienced buyers and how the industry would grow to meet demand.

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