Sunday, 21 April 2024
    Unique scheme lifts home ownership

    Unique scheme lifts home ownership

    For a handful of locals in the very remote townships in Queensland’s Burke Shire council, the idea of owning a home has turned from impossible to imaginable, as a unique homeownership scheme takes hold, says a Westpac report.

    “Housing is a big issue right around the country,” says Dan McKinlay, the Burketown-based chief executive of the council, which covers nearly 40,000 square kilometres of Gulf Country and has a population of just 354.

    “But it makes it harder here because of our remoteness – we’re in the middle of a desert, surrounded by four rivers and salt flats, with the nearest big shopping facilities six hours away in Mount Isa.

    “It’s so expensive to build, with the cost of materials and transportation that much dearer. And with our postcode, generally, it’s a bit harder for people that live here to borrow, when buying a home often means coming up with up to a 60 per cent deposit.”

    McKinlay says these challenges have contributed to a chronic shortage of houses across the predominantly Indigenous community and very few of the homes are privately owned. Rather, the vast bulk are rented out by the council – one of the region’s largest employers – along with the state government and Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation affiliates.

    To address these issues, McKinlay says the council, in partnership with not-for-profit Head Start Homes and Westpac, devised a unique plan that will see an initial nine of the region’s 21 council-owned homes sold at a 40 per cent discount to the council staff who rent them, deposit-free and without the need for mortgage insurance. The council will put the proceeds towards building more homes.

    “We had to get ministerial exemption so we didn’t have to put the homes out for tender… we could just offer a certain number of homes to our staff members at valuation, less 40 per cent, to help staff get a mortgage over the line,” McKinlay says.

    “Now the really important point to grasp is that the way the agreement was structured has meant that Westpac doesn’t require a deposit or mortgage insurance from the homebuyers to get their loan, and that's been a huge factor.”


    Outback town lifts homeownership with unique scheme (Westpac)


    Sisters Madison (left) and Jordan Marshall were the first to buy their Burketown homes through a unique homeownership initiative. (Supplied)