What is the Australian Labor government's Help to Buy shared equity scheme?

Labor’s Help to Buy scheme is a shared equity scheme for eligible Australian home buyers.
Ava Crawford
Written by
Ava Crawford
Imogen Baxter
Reviewed by
Imogen Baxter
Last updated
May 17, 2024
0 minute read
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family who are looking for way to afford a new house hugging outside

The Albanese Labor government has announced that its headline housing reform, a new type of home-buyer scheme, the Help to Buy scheme, will start roughly in the first half of 2024.

Making good an election promise, this new initiative is designed to help get first-home buyers into the property market by loaning eligible applicants part of the upfront purchase price.

But since Australian property prices are so high, there are naturally a lot of terms and conditions to sort through — and not everyone who needs the program is eligible.

So, what do you need to know about the Help to Buy scheme, and what are the important eligibility criteria?

What is Labor’s Help to Buy scheme?

Labor’s Help to Buy scheme is a shared equity scheme for eligible home buyers. The government will loan applicants part of the upfront purchase price of a new home— either 30% of an existing property or 40% of a new build.

This means the federal government would own part of your home equity. Eventually, the equity share will need to be repaid to the government, either over time or when the property is sold.

Because it’s a shared equity scheme, Help to Buy loan repayments focus on increasing the homeowner’s equity, not repaying the exact loan amount. This means you could owe the federal government more or less than what they originally gave you, depending on how your home’s value changes over time.

However, the scheme also means homeowners won’t have to ask for that same money from a lender, potentially cutting the cost of a home loan by 30% - 40%. This has the potential to help demographics who struggle the most with financial barriers to homeownership, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and single parents.

Through the government scheme, eligible home buyers could buy new homes with lower loan-to-value ratios (LVRs), which can come with great advantages. Namely:

Sounds great, right? There are some catches.

How does Labor’s Help to Buy scheme work?

Labor’s Help to Buy scheme is designed to help 100,000 eligible home buyers get their own home over four years, starting in the first half of 2024. The scheme also has location caps so it doesn’t get used by homeowners in one area, like Sydney.

Applicants don’t need to be first-home buyers, which differentiates the government scheme from the first-home guarantee and family home guarantee schemes. However, you can’t own your own home when you apply — either in Australia or overseas.

The shared equity scheme is only available to Australian citizens making less than $90,000 individually or $120,000 as a joint couple per year. Eligible applicants will need to have saved a minimum deposit of 2% and show they can comfortably finance the rest of the property price through a home loan.

Australian home loan statistics 2023

How does the government's Help to Buy scheme compare to OwnHome?

Similar to the Help to Buy scheme, an OwnHome Deposit Boost Loan provides the opportunity for customers to get a foot on the property ladder without hundreds of thousands of dollars upfront.

Unlike the government’s Help to Buy scheme, OwnHome does not own any of your property equity. There is also no cap on income, and you can take out a Deposit Boost Loan for a home value up to $3 million.

We are designed to help those who can service a traditional mortgage - have a good career and a good salary - but are not able to save the huge sum of money required for a 20% deposit.

Backed by some of Australia’s most trusted financial institutions, OwnHome is working alongside the big players to help you get ahead in the game.

What is it?

With an OwnHome Deposit Boost Loan, all you need is 2% upfront, and we’ll cover the rest of your 20% deposit - so you don’t pay Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI)! Plus, once you're ready to start the house-hunt, you'll be supported by our team of expert Buyer's Agents - at no additional cost!

Here's how it works:

  1. Bridge your deposit gap - For just 1-2%* upfront, we’ll cover the deposit you need to unlock your very own 80% LVR mortgage.
  2. Hello, pre-approval - There are no restrictions on which lenders you can pair with your OwnHome deposit.
  3. Find your dream home - Our qualified team of home-buying experts will help you every step of the way—from search to settlement.
  4. Low monthly repayments - You repay your OwnHome Deposit Boost Loan over time, just like you would with your mortgage. Think of it as paying for your deposit while you live in your home. Plus, there are no penalties for paying off your loan early.

Who is eligible?

OwnHome exists to help aspiring homeowners who need a boost to their deposit. Key requirements for a Deposit Boost Loan are:

  • Credit in good standing
  • Proof of employment
  • Permanent residency or citizenship for at least one applicant
  • Looking to buy an owner-occupier property
  • Savings to cover 2.2% Low Deposit Premium and government fees
Can you afford mortgage repayments but not the deposit? Learn more about a deposit boost loan.
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What does the Labor Help to Buy scheme not cover?

The scheme does not cover costs related to stamp duty, home utility bills, and body corporate fees like strata, so eligible home buyers will need to show they can cover these, as well.

Details are still being ironed out on how exactly successful applicants will make loan repayments to the Australian government. But Labor says the repayments will be voluntary and that the federal government will not charge rent on the government’s share of your home equity.

Property price caps will apply but will vary depending on the state or territory the homeowner lives in since some housing markets are steeper than others. Capital cities and regional centres will have higher price caps than regional suburbs.

Here are the price caps for the Help to Buy scheme.

New South Wales

  • Sydney and regional centres like Newcastle, Illawarra, Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Central Coast, and North Coast: $950,000
  • Regional NSW: $750,000


  • Melbourne and Geelong: $850,000
  • Regional VIC: $650,000


  • Brisbane, the Gold Coast, and the Sunshine Coast: $700,000
  • Regional QLD: $550,000

Western Australia

  • Perth: $600,000
  • Regional WA: $450,000

South Australia

  • Adelaide: $600,000
  • Regional SA: $450,000


  • Hobart: $600,000
  • Regional TAS: $450,000


  • $750,000

Northern Territory

  • $600,000

Jervis Bay Territory and Norfolk Island

  • $750,000

Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands

  • $400,000

When will Labor’s Help to Buy scheme start?

The program is slated to start in the first half of 2024. It must be approved by local territory and state governments first, who will have to launch the Help to Buy scheme alongside existing homebuyer funds.


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This article is intended to be general in nature and is not personal financial product advice. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation, or needs. In particular, you should seek independent financial advice and read the relevant product disclosure statement (PDS), or other offer documents before making an investment decision in relation to a financial product (including a decision about whether to acquire or continue to hold).
Prepared by OwnHome Services Pty Ltd ACN 664 492 059. This information does not take your personal objectives, circumstances or needs into account. Always read the disclosure documents for products and services before deciding on a product or service, and consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice for your unique circumstances.

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