What is the BuyAssist Program?

The BuyAssist Program provides 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 overcome two major barriers to home ownership.

a) The Deposit Gap. BuyAssist can arrange support for people into home ownership who have not saved a deposit or have a part deposit.

b) Servicing a Loan you can Afford. BuyAssist support means you borrow less from the bank and therefore your monthly payments are less than they would otherwise have been.

The amount of support 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 provided by Investor who is looking to support home ownership. 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 will need to enter into a Home Ownership Participation Agreement (“HOPA”) to access the financial support.  The HOPA outlines the rules that govern how the support is provided and your obligations to us and our obligations to you.

In exchange for the support, you agree that the BuyAssist Investor (the party providing the funds) will be entitled to an agreed share of the property’s future value. For example, if the BuyAssist Support Amount was 25% of the property’s purchase price then the BuyAssist Investor will receive 25% of the property’s agreed value when the Home Ownership Participation Agreement is completed. This usually occurs 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 the BuyAssist Investor does not actually own a percentage of your property – you own the property 100%.  There are no co-owners or tenants in common.

Like other shared equity arrangements BuyAssist Investors do receive a share of the increase or decrease in the value of the property when the property is sold in the future. 

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 legal owner of the property.  BuyAssist Investors do not share the ownership with you.  It will be your responsibility to meet all the normal costs of home ownership.  BuyAssist will hold an equitable interest in the property’s future value and will hold a second mortgage securing these interests.

When does the BuyAssist support amount need to be repaid?

The BuyAssist 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. Currently set at $137.50 (Inc. GST) payable to the BuyAssist Investor. This is payable until the you exit the HOPA. 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 HOPA 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. Any improvements will be considered when you come to sell the property and your share of the sale proceeds may be adjusted to reflect the money spent.

Am I free to sell the property?

Yes. You can sell the property at any time and through any channel.  The HOPA 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 HOPA.  The Lenders accept the terms of the HOPA and have agreed security arrangements with BuyAssist.  This arrangement protects both you and BuyAssist.

What will I pay for my standard home loan from one of the panel Lenders?

Our home loan experts will work with you to select the right panel lender for your circumstances and general banking needs.  We expect that the interest rates offered to BuyAssist supported purchases will be competitive and the products will have the key features of standard home loans. Interest rates charged will vary between lenders and will normally reflect their appetite for the loans at a given time.

The key is to have access to first mortgage loans and secondly to ensure they are available at a competitive rate. 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 look to publish 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 their own eligibility requirements.

We maintain a record of the different eligibility criteria that may apply and each applicant will be assessed against these various criteria before being offered properties to view.  Eligibility criteria may include income levels, locations available and occupation. The initial eligibility assessment is based on your current gross income.

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 HOPA 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 (plus agreed %) that we agreed with you when we signed the HOPA and provided the financial support, then certain options will need to be considered by you.

These are set out in the HOPA and may include our assistance to help you refinance out of the Agreement.

BuyAssist gives you at least 12 months to carefully work through your options.

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.