How to transfer property title between family members at minimal cost

Learn how much you'll pay in taxes and fees when gifting property to a family member.

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There are many reasons why people are keen to know how to transfer property title between family members. Transferring or gifting property to a family member can be as simple as submitting a property transfer form, but there are costs involved – even when the property is a given as a gift.

You generally still have to pay stamp duty on the market value of your property and potentially capital gains tax (CGT) as well.

Knowing the proper way to transfer property within your family, and how to avoid being charged hefty fees is essential when thinking about any kind of property transfer. And however you decide to execute the property transfer it is vital to have a qualified conveyancer or solicitor guide you through the process.

Ways to transfer the property

There are two ways you can transfer a property to a family member: gifting and selling.

Gift

You can give ownership of your property to a family member as a gift. This simply requires filling out the necessary paperwork with your state revenue office and title office, including a Transfer of Land. Your conveyancer may advise you to organise a Deed of Gift as well.

No money changes hands in this scenario, but you are still liable for the paperwork processing fees and the stamp duty costs. If the property was not the seller's primary residence there will likely be CGT costs as well (more on that below).

Sale

You can of course sell your property to a family member. Parents will often sell to a child this way, and may adjust the price to cover their costs while offering their child a better deal than they would have received on the market.

But again you will be liable for stamp duty and it will be calculated based on the property's market value and not the sale price (if selling at a discounted price). Also, if the property is not the seller's main residence (say, if it was an investment property) then capital gains tax will probably apply as well.

Professional valuation

Even when selling or gifting a property to a family member you need to determine the property's market value. The government uses this "true" valuation to determine the stamp duty and CGT costs regardless of the discounted selling price.

The Australian Tax Office says, "You should obtain a valuation from a professional valuer, or work out the market value yourself using reasonably objective and supportable data. This can include the price paid for very similar property that was sold at the same time in the same location."

What fees will you pay when transferring property to family?

Below are a few examples of fees and charges that may apply when you are transferring or gifting property within your family:

Fees paid by the original owner

  • Capital Gains tax (CGT). The CGT cost will depend on the amount of capital gain or capital loss resulting from the CGT event. In event of a capital gain, your total gain amount will be the difference between your capital proceeds and the cost base of your asset. The actual CGT amount you pay depends on your income, as it’s added to your income tax for the applicable year. Read more about CGT when selling in our in-depth guide.
  • Valuation costs. You might need to have the property value determined by a certified valuer before transferring or gifting your property. This is so you will know how much you will report that you have gained or loss when filing your income taxes. Independent valuations cost between $300 - $900 depending on where the property is.
  • Legal fees. You should have a conveyancer or solicitor oversee the property transfer and have them draw up contracts or transfer documents with title details, the value and determined price of the property, and personal details for both parties. These legal documents can be used in case the validity of the property transfer is ever questioned.

Fees paid by the new owner

  • Stamp duty. Also referred to as Stamp Duty Land Tax, this tax is calculated on the value of the property or land that is being transferred or gifted and is represented as a percentage. Some purchases may be exempt from stamp duty, so check with your state office of revenue. Stamp duty is calculated based on the state you're in. Use our calculator for a rough guide on how much this would be.
  • Legal fees. You should have a conveyancer check over everything before signing.

Example transaction: selling a property to a family member at a discount

Vanessa and James own a home in NSW. They sell it to their son Tom for $300,000, knowing that it's true value is higher. Tom pays them $300,000 and Vanessa and James get a professional property valuer to look at the property. The valuer puts the property's market value at $500,000.

Tom's costs therefore are:

  • Sale price: $300,000
  • Stamp duty (calculated on $500,000 for non-first home buyers): $17,990
  • Transfer and mortgage registration fees: $328

Vanessa and James have used the house as their primary residence for more than ten years. Therefore they won't have to pay CGT.

How to avoid fees and charges when transferring property

When you gift your property you are still charged CGT, even if you sell the property for a small amount to a family member or friend. As the ATO states, the property is calculated at market value if you:

  • Receive no money for your property
  • Receive less than the market value for your property; or,
  • Do not deal at arm's length with the buyer during the sale event

Dealing at arms length refers to both parties in the sale acting independently and having no "influence or control over each in connection with the transaction".

You might be able to avoid hefty fees when transferring or gifting properties in some select situations and scenarios where CGT and other charges will not apply. Below are some examples of these situations:

  • If you acquired the asset before 20 September 1985: This date is when CGT came into effect, so any property or assets that were acquired before this date may be exempt from CGT.
  • If the property being transferred is your home (main residence): If you have been living at the property and have indicated it as your main place of residence (ie. the address is on your current driver’s license and you receive mail there) then you may be exempt from CGT when gifting or selling a property to another.

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86 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    BritanyJuly 21, 2021

    My Mum wants to gift me her home and I have never owned a home before. Do I have to still pay stamp duty and would I be able to claim my first home buyer grant to exempt me from paying the stamp duty when the property is transferred into my name?
    I am getting mixed answers and would like to know your thoughts.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      SarahJuly 23, 2021Staff

      Hi Britany,

      Stamp duty is charged by the state or territory’s office of state revenue when they go through the process of “”stamping”” and officially transferring the property title into your name. There are usually only a handful of exemptions from paying stamp duty – transferring the property to a spouse, for instance. When you are gifted a property, stamp duty is usually still payable. However as a first home buyer, you should be eligible for a discount or exemption, depending on the state or territory you’re in. Check out our guide to see the stamp duty exemptions per state or territory: https://www.finder.com.au/home-loans/stamp-duty-calculator

      The first home owner’s grant is delivered as a completely separate program or incentive, so it doesn’t impact your stamp duty at all. In most states and territories, the FHOG is only available on brand new or off the plan properties, so taking ownership of your mother’s existing home wouldn’t enable you qualify. It’s worth contacting the authority in your local state for clarification on this.

      Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Sarah

    Default Gravatar
    LeighDecember 10, 2019

    If spouse is living in a house as joint tenants (ownership) decide to transfer their property fully to one, must the other pay capital gains tax on the transfer? Assuming that the couple continues to live in the house?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoshuaDecember 12, 2019Staff

      Hi Leigh,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder. I hope all is well with you. 😃

      Regarding your question, Leigh, I can’t tell you exactly whether there will be Capital Gains Tax (CGT) or not on the transfer. However, if both of you continue living in the house as your main residence, there could be a CGT exemption (so no CGT) but it depends on the state. Nevertheless, it is more likely that you will probably have to pay stamp duty.

      I would strongly suggest you confirm with your state or territory government.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

    Default Gravatar
    MariaAugust 31, 2017

    Hi.
    I have a question about the landtax tax claim and hope that you can help.
    last FY, I has 1 IP and thus my land tax cost is 3K.
    for this FI year my landtax cost is 12K as I had have another IP.
    Question. For the tax perspective, how do I claim back the Land tax on each property. Should I claim 3K land tax of the 1st IP and 9K on the second IP or should calculate the landtax cost of each IP based on their land value.
    Thanks
    Maria

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      HaroldSeptember 4, 2017Staff

      Hi Maria,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      I’m afraid we are not able to provide you with specific answers to your questions as we are not tax experts. However, visiting your local tax office or speaking to a qualified financial adviser should help you get more details about your query.

      Moreover, please feel free to read our tax tips to help you get as many savings as possible in your tax filing.
      I hope this information has helped.

      Cheers,
      Harold

    Default Gravatar
    PatriciaApril 10, 2017

    My mother died and left me the house and an adjoining residential block of land. Probate will not be final until the end of year. Can I gift the block of land to my husband and if so will stamp duty be applicable?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      HaroldApril 11, 2017Staff

      Hi Patricia,

      Thank you for your inquiry. I’m sorry to hear about your mother.

      Regarding your question, I’m afraid even if the property is given as a gift, there’s a cost involved. You still have to pay stamp duty on the market value of your property and potentially capital gains tax (CGT) as well.

      If you wish to learn more, please read our guide on transferring properties to family members.

      With your current concern, you would need to seek a piece of advice as well from a solicitor for a legal and expert opinion.

      I hope this information has helped.

      Cheers,
      Harold

    Default Gravatar
    NatalieJanuary 19, 2017

    After our daughter’s marriage breakup, we took out a small mortgage loan and together with some of our savings bought a house for her and her two children in our names. Once her marital home was sold off, she paid off the mortgage loan and now owes us the remainder – paying us on a regular basis. We are keen to transfer the house into her name. Is this a relatively straightforward process?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      DeeJanuary 20, 2017Staff

      Hi Natalie,

      Thanks for reaching out!

      Regarding your question, I’m afraid I can’t provide specific answers as we are not we are not experts when it comes to changing property ownership.

      Each state has different processes and fees relating to changing the property deed. It would be best to reach out to the local government agency that handles property titles and deeds to discuss the process involved in changing ownership.

      Additionally, our guide to changing property ownership may also help you.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

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