Government extends support to First Home Loan Deposit Scheme applicants amid coronavirus auction ban

By Katherine O'Chee ·

The Federal Government has extended the loan approval period for first home buyers under the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme as coronavirus shutdowns bring new challenges to finding a property. 

Successful applicants were previously required to snag a property within 90 days of approval. But the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) yesterday announced that the 27 participating lenders can now give these borrowers another 90 days (or three months), given that they are still eligible and meet the bank’s lending criteria. 

This decision comes after further social distancing measures introduced last week included a ban on on-site real estate auctions. As a result, 40% of auctions across the country were pulled from the market, while preliminary auction clearance rates plummeted to 51.4% - the lowest level since June 2019. 

“The option to extend the 90 day pre-approval period gives both scheme lenders and first home buyers the flexibility and support to deal with the evolving COVID-19 situation,” NHFIC Chief Executive, Nathan Dal Bon said. 

As of late March, over 4,700 of the 7,661 approved applicants have still yet to find a home.

RELATED ARTICLE: Virtual home buying is officially a thing! Here’s how it works

What is the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme? 

The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, launched in January this year, allows eligible first home buyers to borrow from participating lenders with as little as a 5% deposit, while dodging the cost of Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI). This is thanks to the government’s guarantee of the remaining 15% deposit requirement. 

Among the participating lenders are big banks NAB and Commonwealth Bank. 

Around 2,000 more spots remain open in the current financial year, with an additional 10,000 places set to become available from July 2020, according to the NHFIC. 

But with economic conditions worsening in light of COVID-19 and the RBA predicting that the current period of disruption could continue to the latter part of the year, it’s expected the takeup of those places may not be as enthusiastic as the first round. 

For more information, check out our comprehensive guide on the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme. Or scroll down below for a list of loan options for first home buyers.

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Katherine O'Chee
Katherine O'Chee
Money writer

Katherine O’Chee is Mozo’s international money transfer and forex expert and business banking writer. She keeps Mozo’s readers on top of the latest news and writes in-depth features to inform and help Australians make smarter financial decisions. Her work has been published in major media outlets including Sydney Morning Herald, SBS News and Bangkok Post. She has a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications) from the University of Sydney.