Stamp duty discount schemes established by State and Territory Governments are best suited to seniors who are moving to more affordable regional areas, an analysis by Downsizing.com.au has found.

Downsizing.com.au has undertaken a scan of stamp duty concession schemes available across the nation. A number of States have recently expanded their schemes to stimulate home construction and activity in the wake of the COVID-19 economic shutdowns.

These schemes can be used by downsizers when moving into general apartments, villas and homes.

The analysis shows that Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, Western Australia and Tasmania offer stamp duty discounts for seniors and pensioners.

seniors stamp duty incentives

The analysis also shows that the price threshold of these schemes generally aligns with property prices in the relevant regional area of that State, rather than the capital city.

This makes these schemes most attractive to people who are selling up in the city, and moving to rural or regional areas.

Victoria

Victoria arguably has the most lucrative stamp duty discount in Australia.

It allows eligible pensioners to get a full exemption from stamp duty for homes valued up to $330,000, with a duty discount available for homes valued from $330,001 to $750,000.

By paying no stamp duty on homes valued up to $330,000, the purchaser will save $12,870.

However, the low $330,000 threshold is unlikely to buy you much in Melbourne, where the median price of established standalone houses is $706,000 (according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for March 2020). The median price of attached dwellings, including in unit blocks, is $565,000.

However, the stamp duty concession scheme would be more likely to get you something in regional Victoria, where the median house price is $380,000 and median attached dwelling price is $300,000.

The incentive can only be used once and, if a home is purchased, it must be used as the family home. There is no requirement for the newly-purchased property to be smaller or less expensive than a previous home.

This program is expected to cost the government $91m in 2019-20, and increase to $109m in 2022-23, despite the fact Victoria has not changed the price threshold for its scheme for many years.

Importantly, the Victorian pensioner stamp duty concession can be used alongside stamp duty discounts announced by the Victorian Government in November 2020 as part of its COVID-19 economic recovery package. These discounts cut stamp duty cuts for new residential property by 50 per cent, and vacant land and existing residential property by 25 per cent, for purchases before 1 July 2021.

Australian Capital Territory

On 4 June 2020, the ACT Government extended its pensioner stamp duty concession scheme for a further year to 30 June 2021.

The government’s scheme is designed to “assist eligible pensioners to move to accommodation that is better suited to their needs by reducing the duty payable on their new purchase of a residential home or residential vacant land.”

Eligible pensioners in the ACT pay no stamp duty for home purchases up to $440,000, representing a saving of $9,360, and receive a stamp duty discount for purchases up to $570,000.

The scheme is relatively unattractive for people looking to buy a house, given that Canberra in March 2020 had a median established standalone house price of $720,000. The scheme however could be more easily used by buyers of attached dwellings, given these dwellings have a median price of $450,000.

Also, on 4 June, the Australian Capital Territory also announced it will cut stamp duty by up to $11,400 for owner-occupiers who buy new single residential blocks, or off-the-plan apartments and townhouses.

This concession will be in place until 30 June 2021, and have a price threshold of $750,000.

“These measures will save new home buyers thousands of dollars whether they are entering the housing market for the first time, or looking to move,” said ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

READ MORE: From sleepy capital to downsizing paradise: how tax cuts and light rail are transforming Canberra

The ACT Government has unveiled generous stamp duty incentives in the nation's capital

Tasmania

In March, the Tasmanian Government announced an extension of its downsizing stamp duty concession for a further two years.

The scheme was due to end on 30 June 2020 - it now has a targeted end date of 30 June 2022.

Through the incentive, pensioners have the opportunity to claim a 50 per cent stamp duty discount worth up to $7,000 if they sell their family home in Tasmania and downsize into another existing home in the State with a lesser value..

The downsizer must live in the home for at least six months.

While it is good news that the Tasmania Government has extended the scheme, unfortunately it hasn’t increased the $400,000 price threshold to take into account rising real estate values.

This means that, based on median real estate values across Tasmania, the scheme would be most likely to be used to buy attached properties - such as apartments - in all parts of the State, or existing houses in regional areas but not in Hobart.

Hobart’s current $540,000 median house price (as of March 2020), which would mean it would be tough to find an established house for $400,000 or under. Hobart has a median price of $416,000 for attached properties such as apartments.

Meanwhile, in regional Tasmania, the median price for houses is just $340,000, and the median price for attached properties is $300,000. 

There are a number of other terms and conditions, so it is well worth checking out the detail.

Launceston in regional Tasmania

Northern Territory

As part of its 2020-21 Budget, the Northern Territory has decided to expand its seniors stamp duty concession scheme until at least 30 June 2021.

This scheme gives a flat $10,000 stamp duty discount for eligible seniors or pensioners, who purchase homes up to $750,000.

This means that you pay no stamp duty for purchases for up to $292,000.

This low threshold is well outside the median existing house price in Darwin ($599,000) but a little closer to the price of attached dwellings ($290,000) in the September 2020 quarter.

Western Australia

In Western Australia, you are able to claim a stamp duty rebate scheme for off-the-plan apartment purchases, where construction on the apartment project has not commenced.

The potential $50,000 rebate remains in place until at least October 2021.

There is no cap on the purchase price or value of the unit or apartment, and the scheme can be accessed by people who already own property (ie: non-first home buyers). This makes the scheme suitable to be used by downsizers seeking to move into a new apartment.

The WA Government is keen to stimulate apartment construction through stamp duty incentives

Conclusion

Every penny counts when you’re downsizing, so it is well worth checking out the above options.

The above information is at a reasonably high level, so looking more closely at the relevant government-supplied details is a must before making your downsizing move.

It also important to note that, for many types of retirement and downsizing property, you don't need to pay any stamp duty at all - see this story to find out more.