Can I gift my house to a family member for free?
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 given as a gift.
Generally, you can not avoid all of the costs involved so it's unlikely you'll be able to gift a house to a family member or relative for free.
The 2 big fees you may be liable to pay are stamp duty on the market value of your property, and potentially capital gains tax (CGT) if it was an investment property.
What is a property title and why does it cost money to transfer it?
A property title is a legal document that holds all the information about a property. It includes details on who owns the land or has a mortgage on it.
When the owner changes, either through gifting or through selling it, the title needs to be legally updated.
Accessing property titles varies by state and territory.
Do you have to pay stamp duty on a gifted property?
You generally have to pay stamp duty on the market value of your property.
Even if no money changes hands, the transfer will be considered to have been done based on 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.
For some examples:
- On a property worth $500,000 transferred in QLD, the stamp duty is around $20,000.
- On a property worth $600,000 transferred in WA, the stamp duty is around $32,500.
- On a property worth $700,000 transferred in VIC, the stamp duty is around $39,000.
- On a property worth $800,000 transferred in NSW, the stamp duty is around $31,000.
If the person receiving the gift of the property has not owned a property before, you may be entitled to a discount or waiver on stamp duty.
[important text] Learn how much stamp duty you may have to pay
If you're transferring a property to a family member, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) says you need to make an effort to get an actual value to estimate from.
"You should obtain a valuation from a professional valuer, or work out the market value yourself using reasonably objective and supportable data," they say.
"This can include the price paid for very similar property that was sold at the same time in the same location."
Does anything change depending on the state or territory you live in?
Yes. The law around transferring property titles is Australia-wide, but the rules on stamp duty are different in each state and territory.
Use our stamp duty calculator for a guide on how much stamp duty may cost.
Ways to transfer the property
There are 2 ways you can transfer a property to a family member: gifting and selling.
You can give ownership of your property to a family member as a gift. No money changes hands in this scenario, but this requires filling out the necessary paperwork with your state revenue office and title office. Your conveyancer may advise you to organise a deed of gift as well. If the property was an investment and not the seller's primary residence, there will likely be CGT costs as well (more on that below).
You can sell your property to a family member. You will be liable for stamp duty and it will be calculated based on the property's market value, and not the sale price. For instance, 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.
What costs 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:
Costs paid by the original owner
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 know how much to report that you have gained or lost when filing your income taxes. Independent valuations cost between $300 and $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, as well as personal details for both parties. These legal documents can be used in case the validity of the property transfer is ever questioned.
Capital gains tax (CGT). The CGT cost will depend on the amount of capital gain or capital loss resulting from the CGT event. In the 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.
Costs 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 or territory office of revenue. Stamp duty is calculated based on the state or territory you're in.
Legal fees. You should have a conveyancer check over everything before signing, and the fees for this can range from a few hundred dollars up to $1,000.
Vanessa and Adnan own a home in NSW. They sell it to their son Al for $500,000, knowing that its true value is actually $900,000. Al pays them $500,000 and Vanessa and Adnan get a professional property valuer to look at the property. The valuer puts the property's market value at $900,000.
Al's costs therefore are:
Sale price: $500,000
Stamp duty (calculated on $900,000 for first home buyers): $20,200
Vanessa and Adnan have used the house as their primary residence for more than 10 years. Therefore they won't have to pay CGT.
* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.
Can you avoid fees and charges when transferring property?
Not entirely. When you gift your property you are still charged stamp duty, 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 arm's 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 (i.e. the address is on your current driver’s licence and you receive mail there) then you may be exempt from CGT when gifting or selling a property to another.