couple plan to build dream home no savings no mortgage
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
August 31, 2020 ·  4 min read

Couple with no savings, no mortgage plan to build their dream home

Dreaming of owning a home but unsure how you will ever be able to afford it? This couple in Australia knows the feeling – so they put their heads to figure out how to use the system to make their dreams come true. This is how, without any savings, they can afford to build their dream home without a mortgage.

Australian Couple Builds Dream Home Without Any Savings

Even before COVID-19, buying a home in Australia was difficult. Young couples especially have been essentially priced out of the market. Then the pandemic-caused economic downturn made homeownership even more untouchable for people.

Christie and Chris Gorter of Brisbane, however, have figured out a way in which they can turn their misfortune into their dream home. (1)

Not long after the pandemic hit, Christie lost her job in fashion. Chris, an operator of a snake catching business in south-east Queensland, was determined to not let that stop their dream of owning a home. He came to her with an innovative plan. (1)

For the 2019-2020 year, the Australian government is allowing citizens to withdraw up to $10,000 from their superannuation tax-free, then another $10,000 the following financial year. (2) The superannuation is essentially a retirement fund: Money put aside by a person’s employer over the course of their working life that they will live on when they retire. (4) This is part of their pandemic relief response.

Chris and Christie plan to combine their supers with two grants offered from the federal and regional governments:

  • $25,000 federal home builders’ initiative for new homes (1)
  • $15,000 grant for building a new home from the Queensland government (1)

In total, the couple will have $80,000 for the project. (1)

“With the first-home buyers’ grant of $15,000 and the home builders’ grant of $25,000 we are able to access $80,000 … without savings.” Chris explained. (3)

Read: This Family Of 4 Built A Tiny Home Village – One Home For Each Family Member

The Building Plan

In order to make their dream a reality, the couple knew that they had to look outside of the city for land that would actually be affordable. They purchased a plot of land on Russell Island, a small island about 45km east of Brisbane, for $21,000. (1)

“It’s always perplexed me how cheap land is outside of the city. I’d always been keeping an eye on land here, but a lot of young couples who are priced out of the housing market, they should think about this,” Chris said. (1)

This leaves them with $59,000 to do with what they need. Several items can be took care of with the remaining money, including (1):

  • Clearing the land of trees
  • Purchasing their one-bedroom kit home
  • Buying a deck 
  • Buying a shipping container for more outdoor storage

The couple plans on living there long-term, so they also would like to eventually work on landscaping and beautifying the space. (1)

“Basically we’ve had soil testing and pre-drainage work done, and we’ve got some site plans and a builder that will sign off on the project,” (1)

According to Chris and Christie, they meet all the requirements for both grants, they just have to get started. (1)

Do Your Own Research

It’s important to note that:

  1. This is an Australian couple and these are grants given by the Australian government. This is not available in every country, and amounts and access vary from region to region within Australia. It is also unclear if these grants would be available to non-Australian citizens living in Australia. (2)
  2. It’s different depending on whether or not you want to build something that you would have to mortgage. If you need a mortgage, it’s not quite that simple. (2)

Jodi McKeown, associate director and mortgage broker with Prosolution Private Clients, if you are looking to use your superannuation for a down payment and then have a mortgage (aka borrow money), it’s more complicated.

“I understand people on JobKeeper can access their superannuation in an emergency, but they would need to get another job and serve the probationary period and then approach lenders [to successfully get a mortgage],” (2)

You would also have to:

  • Meet the requirements of the genuine savings credit policy of the bank or lender (2)
  • Have at least a 5% available deposit from longer-term savings, which is typically considered to be those with the bank for more than 3 months (2)

For Chris and Christie, living the island life in a small pre-fab home is the dream. If you live in Australia and have access to the same grants, perhaps this is something you may want to try, too. 

For the rest of us, we can look on in envy of their mortgage-free life.

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