Government home loans and assistance

Rates and Fees verified correct on October 21st, 2016

Government Home loans feature image

If you’re having trouble securing a home loan through traditional means, there are some government programs that might help you achieve your property goals.

As house prices rise, saving a deposit for a home becomes increasingly difficult. Many Australians may be able to service a home loan, but find themselves shut out of the housing market due to an inability to save a deposit.

However, depending on where you live, there could be options for low deposit home loans that help get into the property market faster than traditional options. Here’s a look at the loan programs on offer through state governments around Australia.

Keystart Home Loans logoKeystart

If you live in Western Australia and can’t save the deposit required by many traditional lenders, the WA government’s Keystart program might be able to help.

What is it?

Keystart was established in 1989 to help West Australians who are unable to meet the deposit requirements of mainstream lenders. The scheme provides low deposit home loans to WA residents who fall below an income cap. The loans are available with a 2% deposit in metro areas and a 10% deposit in regional areas. First home buyers can also use the state’s first home owner grant scheme to help fund their deposit.

In spite of carrying a high loan-to-value ratio (LVR), Keystart loans differ from the low deposit home loans traditional lenders may provide because they do not require lenders mortgage insurance (LMI). The loans carry no ongoing fees, and have an interest rate that’s calculated based on the average of the four major banks’ standard variable rate.

The program also has home loans tailored to the needs of specific groups of Australians. In addition to the standard Keystart Home Loan, Keystart also offers an Aboriginal Home Loan, a Disability Home Loan, a Sole Parent Home Loan and home loans for Housing Authority properties and shared ownership arrangements.

Shared equity home loans

A unique arrangement offered by Keystart is the Shared Equity Home Loan. This loan helps finance properties offered by the Housing Authority. The program enables loan recipients to finance part of the price of the property through a Keystart Home Loan, with the Housing Authority contributing a percentage and sharing ownership.

Who’s eligible?

Keystart home loans are available to West Australian permanent residents who meet the following criteria:

  • Earn a maximum of $90,000 per annum as a single applicant
  • Earn a maximum of $110,000 per annum as a couple
  • Earn a maximum of $130,000 per annum as a family
  • Have existing monthly debt repayments that do not exceed 10% of gross income
  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Intend to live in the purchased property as a principal place of residence for the life of the loan

How do I find out more?

Keystart’s website offers a full rundown of products, as well as questionnaires to determine eligibility.

Homestart logoHomeStart Finance

South Australians can increase their borrowing power and reduce the amount they need to save for a deposit by utilising the SA Government’s HomeStart program.

What is it?

HomeStart was launched in 1989 as a government organisation to help South Australians achieve home ownership sooner. The program enables borrowers to avoid paying LMI, and instead pay a much less expensive loan provision charge. It also offers loans at 97% LVR for certain groups of customers.

HomeStart also has a Repayment Safeguard in place to help borrowers manage repayments. The system sets an initial repayment rate based on what borrowers can afford rather than the loan’s interest rate. HomeStart repayments generally only change once a year, when they are adjusted for inflation.

The program offers a range of home loans for purchasing existing homes, vacant land, building a home or refinancing. Low deposit loans are available for graduates with a Certificate III or IV, diploma, bachelor degree or higher qualification. HomeStart loans can also be combined with other loans to enable home buyers to borrow up to 30% more without increasing their repayments.

Who’s eligible?

To qualify for a HomeStart loan, you must:

  • Be purchasing a home in South Australia for residential use only
  • Be an Australian citizen, permanent resident or skilled migrant
  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Have held $3,000 in savings for at least three months, or have 12 months of good rental history

Other eligibility criteria may apply for specific loans.

How do I find out more?

A full rundown of the loans available through HomeStart and the eligibility requirements for each product can be found on the Homestart Finance website.

Queensland Housing Finance Loan

Queensland Government logoIf you live in Queensland and can afford home ownership, but are struggling to get a loan through a traditional lender, the Queensland Housing Finance Loan may be the answer.

What is it?

The Queensland Housing Finance Loan is a low deposit home loan to help eligible Queenslanders build or buy a home. The loan has variable or fixed rate options, and requires only a 2% deposit with no LMI. It also carries no monthly account keeping fees.

The loan is structured to help borrowers meet their repayments. Rather than calculating repayments solely on loan size, term and interest rates, the Queensland Housing Finance Loan also takes into account borrowers’ income. Initial monthly repayments start at 30% of the borrower’s income, and will not exceed 35% of their income.

Who’s eligible?

To qualify for the Queensland Housing Finance Loan, you must:

  • Live in Queensland
  • Be an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • Not own another property
  • Use the purchased property solely for residential purposes
  • Have a good credit history and no significant debts
  • Have a regular savings history
  • Have enough savings for a deposit, stamp duty, insurance and legal fees
  • Be able to afford the home loan repayments without causing hardship
  • Have earning potential for the life of the loan

How do I find out more?

The Queensland Government’s website includes information on the Queensland Housing Finance Loan, including eligibility requirements and how to apply.

These three states are the only places where government loan options are currently available. If you live elsewhere, such as in New South Wales or Victoria, you may want to check with your state government for any other options that may be introduced over time.

Adam Smith

Adam has more than five years of experience writing about the Australian home loan market.

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