Purchasing in ACT

What set’s Canberra apart when it comes to purchasing property.

Ask someone who has never visited Canberra, what their thoughts are on the nation’s capital and a typical response may be something along the lines of – “It’s a city full of nothing but public servants and too many politicians – A soulless and boring city with no nightlife- A city full of round abouts and freezing cold winters” (that last sentence is true!)

But here are some fun facts about Canberra you may not know

  • Canberra is very progressive. It was the jurisdiction to legalise gay marriage, the first to celebrate our first nations culture and community with a reconciliation day public holiday and the first mainland state or territory to achieve 100% renewable energy.
  • Canberra is a foody haven – with the highest rate of hatted restaurants per capita in Australia and 140 vineyards and 40 cellars to be explored within a 30-minute drive from the city centre.
  • It has the highest average income, the highest rate of university education & the highest percentage of people who cycle to work.
  • In 2018 Lonely Planet ranked Canberra 3rd
    on its top 10 list for travellers noting it was “criminally overlooked” and “one of the world’s hottest destinations” –

When it comes to purchasing property, Canberra is also quite unique – From 99-year leases and mandatory disclosure of energy efficiency ratings to the phasing out of stamp duty, here we break it down for you.

99-year lease

Technically, nobody owns their land in the ACT. All residential land in Canberra is leasehold, and instead of owning the land, purchasers lease the land for 99 years. Don’t stress though – you won’t get evicted and you won’t pay any lease fees.

As most of Canberra’s first development took place in the 1920’s the first 99 year leases are only just falling due.

Stamp duty reforms

In 2012, the ACT Labor government embarked on ambitious stamp duty reforms. At the end of the 20-year program, transfer duty will no longer be payable in the territory.

Over the seven years since total taxation revenue in the ACT from stamp duty has declined from 20 per cent to 13 per cent – the ACT has the lowest stamp duty dependence in the nation. Canberrans pay some of the lowest stamp duty in the country, and stamp duty is waived in full for eligible first home buyers under the Home Buyer concession scheme

In not such good news for home owners, the stamp duty reforms have been replaced with increases to ongoing rates.

Mandatory disclosures of energy efficiency ratings

The ACT is the only state or territory where it’s mandatory to disclose the energy efficiency rating of a property when it is sent to market. These laws came into effect in the late 1990s and were among the world’s first.

Prior to putting a house on the market, a vendor is required to employ a trained energy assessor to inspect the house and determine a rating.

Land tax (unimproved land value)

Land tax in the ACT is payable on all investment properties, it is not based on an aggregation of all property assets. Increases to the tax also form part of the stamp duty reforms.

Price guides

Laws around price guides are highly contentious and a point of great difference across the states and territories. For example, it’s illegal to give a price guide in Queensland while it’s mandatory in Victoria.

The ACT has some of the laxest price guide laws in the nation. It’s up to the agent’s discretion as to whether they are willing to disclose a guide prior to an auction and there are no laws around vague guides, unlike in NSW.

Building inspections

In Canberra, it is the responsibility of the vendor to do a building and pest report of their house prior to selling. All relevant documents are then passed onto the buyer.

For any further questions or to speak to our Canberra guru Sam please contact Up Loans.