DISCOUNTED stamp duty charges for first home buyers are expected to inject fresh confidence into the south-west real estate market, which slowed last year.
The state government’s concessions, which rose to 30 per cent savings from New Year’s Day, will kick up to 50 per cent in September next year.
“Any incentive is good to bring first home buyers back into the market,” Real Estate Institute of Victoria south-west delegate Bruce Ludeman said.
“The advantage of this concession is that it applies to established, as well as new houses.”
But it won’t put a spark into the rural property market, which has been quoted about 25 per cent lower, with minimal sales last year.
Depressed farming profits and tighter bank lending were blamed for the slump.
Across the state there were 6000 less residential sales last year, compared with 2011, and auction clearance rates rose slightly.
“In 2012 it was a very ordinary first half for sales across real estate, but things picked up later, particularly in the past three months,” Mr Ludeman said.
“Lower interest rates helped restore some confidence.
“I would describe the market as alive and ticking.”
Mr Ludeman, of Warrnambool, said if vendors were prepared to adjust their expectations for market conditions, properties would sell.
“Barring any major problems on the international front, I think 2013 should be OK,” he said.
“Interest rates are dropping and housing is becoming more affordable.
“Warrnambool is still the jewel in the south-west crown.”
Long-time Warrnambool agent Brian Hancock, of Brian O’Halloran and Co, said buyers generally were reluctant to take on large debt levels.
“Buyers and sellers are adjusting to the market and banks have tightened their criteria,” Mr Hancock said.
“The higher end of the market has been hit hard.
“There’s been a correction rather than a crash and people need to adjust accordingly.
“Going into the year there is quiet confidence, particularly in Warrnambool.”
Ray White Real Estate spokesman Jess Densley also saw renewed optimism for 2013 and predicted investors would return to the market.
He said stamp duty discounts, combined with the continued $7000 Victorian government grant for first home buyers and low interest rates, would encourage new purchasers.
Mr Hancock said rural property sales slowed by 20 to 25 per cent last year and the future hinged on better profits for farmers.
“Finance is tight,” he said.
“People are sitting on the fence waiting to see what happens, especially with the farmgate milk price.”