All Topics / General Property / Understanding Stamp Duty When Buying a House in Australia

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    What is Stamp Duty?
    When you’re buying a house, there are several fees to consider, and one of the main costs is stamp duty. Stamp duty is a tax that the Australian government charges when you buy certain items, like real estate. This tax also applies to transferring property titles, buying cars, getting insurance, and taking out home loans.

    Stamp duty can significantly impact the total cost of buying a property. Before you commit to purchasing a new home, it’s essential to understand how much stamp duty you’ll need to pay.

    How Much Does Stamp Duty Cost?
    The cost of stamp duty varies based on several factors:

    Location: Each state has its own way of calculating stamp duty, so the amount differs.
    Property Price: Generally, the higher the property price, the higher the stamp duty.
    Property Type: Buying vacant land usually incurs less stamp duty than purchasing an already built house.
    When Do You Pay Stamp Duty?
    In most states or territories, stamp duty is due within 30 days of either signing the contract or finalizing the purchase (settlement). So, after signing the contract or completing the deal, you’ll have about a month to pay the stamp duty.

    Stamp Duty in Australia: State-by-State
    New South Wales (NSW)
    In NSW, stamp duty is known as “transfer duty.” The amount depends on the property’s sale price or market value. There’s a regular rate for most properties and a higher rate for homes worth over $3 million.

    Starting July 1, 2023, the First Home Buyers Assistance Scheme in NSW offers a stamp duty exemption for properties up to $800,000 and discounts for properties up to $1 million. You can calculate your stamp duty using the transfer duty calculator available online.

    In Victoria, stamp duty rates changed on July 1, 2021, for new contracts. However, contracts signed before this date may follow older rates. Various exemptions and discounts apply, especially for first home buyers.

    First-home buyers who signed contracts after July 1, 2017, may not have to pay stamp duty or might receive a discount. For new homes in Melbourne worth up to $1 million, there’s a potential 50% discount or no stamp duty if it’s your primary residence. Pensioners may also get concessions based on the property value.

    Queensland offers relatively low stamp duty rates. First-home buyers purchasing properties under $550,000 may receive a first-home concession, saving up to $15,925. Foreign buyers pay an additional 7% stamp duty.

    Western Australia (WA)
    WA provides standard and discounted duty rates, with special rates for first-home buyers. Specific exemptions apply for transactions between spouses, family farm transfers, and charitable transactions.

    South Australia
    Foreign buyers face an extra 7% stamp duty. First-home buyer relief is available, potentially lowering or eliminating stamp duty depending on the property value.

    Tasmania uses a sliding scale for stamp duty based on the property value. Discounts are available for first-home buyers and pensioners moving to smaller homes, offering a 50% discount if eligible.

    Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
    In the ACT, stamp duty is called “conveyance duty.” From July 1, 2023, eligible properties worth up to $260,000 are charged a lower rate of 0.49%. Commercial properties under $1.8 million are exempt from conveyance duty. Exemptions and discounts are available depending on individual circumstances.

    Northern Territory (NT)
    Stamp duty in the NT is calculated as a percentage of the property value. Pensioners, seniors, and carers may receive up to $10,000 off stamp duty for homes up to $750,000 or vacant land up to $385,000. The NT government also offers a Principal Place of Residence Rebate (PPRR) of up to $7,000 for new homes, land, and major renovations.

    Who is Exempt from Paying Stamp Duty?
    For first-time buyers, various states offer exemptions and concessions to make buying a home easier:

    NSW: Generous exemptions for new homes under $550,000, with discounts for pensioners and health card holders.
    Queensland: Exemptions for transferring property interests between spouses or changing tenure.
    Victoria: Common exemptions for first homes under $600,000.
    How to Minimize Stamp Duty
    To minimize stamp duty costs:

    Consider buying properties valued below $500,000 or vacant land under $300,000.
    Check eligibility for any concessions or exemptions.
    Negotiate with the seller to lower the property price, potentially reducing stamp duty.

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