The changes, which came into effect last Wednesday, will expand the eligibility of the $7,000 Regional Relocation Grant to long-term renters (two continuous years in one or more homes) in metropolitan Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong.
As part of the new changes, the state government has launched its Skilled Regional Relocation Incentive of $10,000, which aims to encourage people to relocate for jobs unfilled in regional workforces. This grant will also be available to self-employed people, including small businesses and entrepreneurs considering a move to regional areas.
The two grants will be subject to a new minimum relocation distance requirement of 100 kilometres to ease any potential misuse of the schemes in areas that border metropolitan and regional boundary lines.
Deputy premier and minister for regional infrastructure and services Andrew Stoner said the new measures aimed to enhance the appeal of regional relocation to an economically active demographic including young families, young professionals, small business owners and tradespeople.
“This is about attracting much-needed skills to our regions and developing sustainable and more vibrant regional communities,” he said.
The grants will be allocated on a first served basis until the annual budget allocation of $10.4 million for 2013/2014 has been exhausted.
CEO of Raine&Horne Angus Raine has applauded the state government’s decision.
“Given that Sydney median house prices have crashed through the $700,000 ceiling, buying a home in regional towns such as Tamworth (median house price $290,000 ), Wagga Wagga ($320,000), Port Macquarie ($385,000), and Orange ($331,000) makes enormous sense,” he said.
Mr Raine said the decision to expand the $7,000 regional relocation grant to long-term tenants had merit, but the skilled worker incentive was a potential game changer for regional economies and property markets.
“The incentive for skilled workers is a very smart move as it will attract key people to regional towns to help drive those economies, and of course, eventually they’ll buy houses and hopefully create jobs for others to buy and rent properties,” he said.
CEO of Landmark Harcourts Darren Cole also praised the new measures.
“I think investment into regional centres is a really positive and productive investment, given that often the median price in a lot of these regional communities is more affordable for the bell curve family, and I think the more regional communities are invested into the more chances of prosperity they have," he said.
While the grant would particularly favour first home buyers struggling to enter the Sydney metropolitan market, Mr Cole said it would also suit investors looking to secure a property in a stable environment.
“A lot of these regional communities aren’t boom-bust mining towns necessarily; there are industries like agriculture, and a lot of these regional centres are self-sustaining with service-based industries now. I think the more the population grows, there is a demand out there and my view is that the healthier the regional centres are, the healthier Australia is,” he said.