What is the BuyAssist Program?

The BuyAssist Program provides financial support for eligible Australians to purchase a newly built approved property as home owners.

The program has been designed by a leading Not For Profit affordable housing provider to help make home ownership more affordable and more attainable for more Australians.

However, the BuyAssist Program is not suitable for everyone. Home ownership and the financial responsibilities that go with it have to be carefully assessed.

Why is the BuyAssist Program needed?

More and more Australians on lower to middle incomes are struggling to buy a home.

The two main barriers people face are saving for a deposit, especially if they are meeting ever-rising rental payments, and the gap between what they can borrow from a bank and the actual price of a home to buy.

In many cases willing buyers with reliable incomes just cannot bridge these gaps

BuyAssist is designed to help eligible households bridge these gaps

How does the BuyAssist Program work?

BuyAssist helps eligible households by meeting the deposit requirement of the banks and providing interest free support to reduce the size of the bank loan they need to raise.

The amount of funds made available will typically be around 25% of the purchase price of the property.  This is the “BuyAssist Support Amount”.

The BuyAssist Support Amount is combined with any savings you might have and a normal home loan from a lender that supports the program.

You do not pay interest on the funds provided through BuyAssist for as long as you are eligible (see below – there are some costs). This means your mortgage payments are lower than they otherwise would be.

You will need to enter into a BuyAssist Participation Agreement (“BAPA”) to access the financial support.  The BAPA outlines the rules that govern how the financial support is provided and your obligations to us and our obligations to you.

In exchange for the BuyAssist financial support, BuyAssist will be entitled to an agreed share of the properties future value as full repayment of the financial support provided.

If the financial support amount was 25% of the properties purchase price then BuyAssist will receive 25% of the property’s agreed value when the BAPA is completed. This is usually repaid when you decide to sell the property or refinance it.

The same calculation is applied even if the value of the property falls.

Is this a shared equity arrangement?

The program is similar to shared equity arrangements that have operated successfully in WA, SA and the ACT.  The major difference is that BuyAssist does not actually own a percentage of your property – you own the property 100%.  We are not co-owners or tenants in common.

Like other shared equity arrangements BuyAssist does receive a share of the increase or decrease in the value of the property when the property is sold in the future.  Funds to complete the purchase are provided by lenders as standard featured home loans.

Who is behind BuyAssist?

BuyAssist Australia Pty. Limited is a 100% wholly owned subsidiary of the National Affordable Housing Consortium (“NAHC”).

NAHC is a Not-for-Profit socially responsible enterprise focused on providing affordable housing solutions for Australians.  It has facilitated over 3500 affordable rental properties under the National Rental Affordability Scheme across Australia

NAHC believes that smart investment in social and affordable housing can deliver sustainable benefits to health, employment and social inclusion for the whole community.

Who owns the property?

You will be the sole owner of the property.  BuyAssist does not share the ownership with you.  It will be your responsibility to meet all the normal costs of home ownership.  BuyAssist will hold a second mortgage securing its rights.

When does the financial support amount need to be repaid?

The financial support amount must be repaid in the following circumstances:-

  • You sell the property;
  • You no longer want to live in the property;
  • You repay your first mortgage in full;
  • You decide to refinance your first mortgage, or
  • You are no longer eligible for BuyAssist financial support.

What are the costs to participate in the program?

If you are approved and matched to a property that you agree to purchase, there is a one-off Participation fee of $1,100 (Including GST).

Once you have purchased the property, you will pay a monthly services and administration fee of $137.50 (Inc. GST) to BuyAssist. This is payable until the you exit the BuyAssist Agreement. This fee is indexed to the published CPI annually.

You will need to pay the normal costs associated with the purchase of a property and residential mortgage.  This may include stamp duty, valuation and legal fees.  We will work through all the costs with you before you decide to purchase.

I have owned a property before. Can I apply?

Yes.  You do not need to be a first homebuyer to qualify for the program. However, the program has a strong focus on helping first home buyers.

People who own other residential property are not eligible for BuyAssist.

Why can’t I choose my own property?

The newly built properties that are available under the BuyAssist Program have been carefully selected.  BuyAssist is committed to improving the supply of new properties in Australia to meet the growing gap between unmet need and current supply.

If we were to provide additional financial assistance to purchase existing properties this may just push up prices, resulting in less affordability over time.

By applying this condition, we believe we will be able to make housing more affordable, thereby assisting more people into home ownership.

Will I be subject to property inspections?

Whilst BuyAssist does not conduct inspections on properties they support in the normal course of our business, we do reserve the right to make an inspection. If we do request an inspection we will provide timely written notice in advance.

Can I choose any type of home that I like?

For example, a unit, townhouse or free-standing house

BuyAssist expects to be able to provide you with a choice of property types and locations. These will increase as the program grows.

Please remember that the properties that may be offered to you will depend on what you are able to reasonable borrow and service. We will all apply careful criteria that reflects future uncertainties, like interest rates rises and other risk factors.

If we do not have a property available that you like you can wait until further properties become available.

Must I reside in the property?

Yes.  Under the terms of the BAPA you are required to occupy the property as your principal place of residence.

If there are particular circumstances that may require you to vacate the property for any length of time (transfer of employment, illness) you must contact us to discuss.

Can I make improvements to the property?

Yes. Like any home buyer improvements can be made subject to your normal mortgage documentation and any planning or building code requirements. If improvements are made you should keep all receipts, permissions and documentation.

Am I free to sell the property?

Yes. You can sell the property at any time and through any channel.  The BAPA sets out the process for selling the property.

How do I get a standard home loan to complete the purchase?

BuyAssist will also assist you to obtain a loan from a panel of lenders who have agreed to support the program.  You will need to meet standard lending criteria to be approved for a loan from one of the panel lenders.

Why must I use a lender from the BuyAssist panel for the standard home loan?

Lenders on the panel have agreed to work with BuyAssist and its applicants and have reviewed and accepted the BuyAssist documentation.  This means the Lenders understand that you are receiving financial support from BuyAssist and you have entered into the BAPA.  The Lenders accept the terms of the BAPA and have agreed security arrangements with BuyAssist.  This arrangement protects both you and BuyAssist.

Will I have to pay more for my standard loan from the panel lenders?

No. The panel of banks do not impose any additional charges or interest for BuyAssist purchases and we do expect them to offer competitive rates.

Our home loan experts will work with you to select the right panel lender for your circumstances and general banking needs.  We have agreed with our panel that the standard loan must be a principal and interest loan.  The panel may offer variable and/or fixed rate options but interest only options are not available.

Why must my standard loan be a principal and interest repayment loan?

By making principal and interest repayments you will be building up equity (the amount you actually own) in the property.  Principal repayments will reduce your standard home loan and your interest costs.

Am I Eligible?

BuyAssist will publish broad eligibility requirements on its website and potential applicants can take the first step by using the self-assessment tool.

The program is also supported by a number of social impact investors who may further refine these broad eligibility requirements.

Each applicant will be assessed against the eligibility criteria before being offered properties to view.  Eligibility criteria may include income levels, locations available and occupation.

Deposit/Program Costs

You will need to demonstrate that you can meet the costs of participating in the program.

No genuine savings are required for a deposit, but if you have savings this will help.

Maximum Support Amount

We want to assist people is a sustainable way. This means we are careful in how we assess your eligibility and we will only support your purchase of a property you can reasonably afford.

Eligibility Criteria Set

When you are approved the BAPA will detail the eligibility criteria you have been approved under.  We will detail the maximum level of income that the support is provided for.

What happens if my income increases?

Firstly, we would welcome the improvement in your financial position as it demonstrates a success for the program.

Ultimately our aim is to provide you with support for as long as you need it. We recognise that you might need our financial support for a number of years into the future.

Once you are able to manage without our financial support we would be aiming to transition you off that support. This would enable us to recycle the support to help another household get into home ownership.

The process we follow is to conduct an annual review with you to ensure ongoing eligibility for our support.

If your income has increased and exceeds the maximum amount that we agreed with you when we signed the BAPA and provided the financial support, then certain options will need to be considered by you.

These are set out in the BAPA and may include our assistance to help you refinance out of the Agreement or the ending of our interest free support and the charging of interest at the prevailing rate.

BuyAssist provides up to 12 months to carefully work through the options with you

How to do check if I am eligible?

You can get an indication of whether you are eligible for BuyAssist support by answering a series of questions at www.buyassistaustralia.com.au/eligible.  If you meet the eligibility criteria we can then show you a list of available properties and discuss your standard home loan application.

What if I don’t like any of the currently available properties?

We will keep you informed when new properties are added that may suit your specific requirements.

Can I repay or reduce my BuyAssist support amount at any time?

Yes. If you have saved extra funds or had a windfall that allows you to repay or reduce your BuyAssist support amount please contact us to work through the process.