Effect of changed laws will vary

IT IS not easy to generalise about changes to stamp duty announced in the recent State Government budget, a Warwick solicitor warns.

Neil Maxwell of Maxwell Solicitors said misconceptions about how the changes would affect homebuyers were creating a degree of uncertainty among purchasers.

“It's difficult to make a general assessment that relates to every transaction,” he said.

“Each case has to be looked at individually because it depends on the price of the property and whether it is a principal place of residence, a first principal place of residence, or neither of these such as an investment property.

“The best advice I would give is for people to talk to their solicitor about it and be careful not to take advice from anyone without qualifications.”

The significant change is the elimination of the concession that currently applies to a principal place of residence.

Currently a concessional rate of duty of $1 per $100 is charged for such purchases up to $350,000, when it is withdrawn progressively.

For contracts dated after July 31, no concession will apply.

Mr Maxwell said just how much extra duty would be payable after July 31 on a principal place of residence depended on the actual purchase price.

“There is no change to the duty exemption for a first principal place of residence purchase up to $500,000,” he said.

“Also the changes to transfer duty involve changes to the steps at which the rates of duty change, which further complicates the matter and makes it impossible to generalise.”

Mr Maxwell said stamp duty was not worked out as a percentage across the board.

“It goes up depending on how much the house is worth,” he said.

Realtor Helen Harm from Helen Harm Real Estate encouraged those thinking of buying homes to secure a contract by July 31.

“Owner-occupiers have between now and then to get their contract in where they won't have to pay the extra stamp duty,” she said.

“After that the owner-occupier concession will cease.

“In Queensland about 60% of sales are to owner-occupiers, so these changes will affect a huge percentage of the market.”

Mrs Harm said the increases to the average Warwick property sale would be between $6000 and $7000.

“(These changes) are going to push up the rental market in the area dramatically,” she said.

“It will make it harder for people to find rental properties. One month ago we had 70 homes for rent – now there's very few.”

Mrs Harm said the stamp duty changes have made it an ideal situation for first homebuyers.

“First homebuyers will in fact be better off – they will have the $7000 first-home grant and the $10,000 boost if they're buying a new home,” she said.

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