As seen on page 28 of the Advertiser, 28 March 2015, by Tom Dougherty 

First homebuyers are starting to return to the property market this year, agents say, but more needs to be done to help them get a start.

Professionals Real Estate South Australia chief executive Ted Piteo says 2014 was a poor year for first homebuyers but he says there will be a change this year.

"There weren't too many first homebuyers around last year, it was really patchy," Mr Piteo says.

"It was a combination of factors, the big one is I don't think first-home buyers are in a hurry to own their own home.

"But on the upside, we are seeing a bit more activity, all of a sudden at the beginning of 2015 it is different to last year." He says the increase could be due to the interest rates dropping to their lowest level.

"The lower interest rate gives them a little bit of confidence and the fact there may be another cut," he says.

"The State Government really needs to have a look at the cost of stamp duty, because the upfront cost to get in is difficult if they don't have a deposit.

"Another thing that needs to be talked about is the mortgage insurance required if they don't have enough of a deposit." Mr Piteo says the large number of investors in the market are making it harder for the first homebuyers to get into the market.

"Investors have one big advantage if they have a little extra ... they can outmuscle the first homebuyers because they have a tax advantage, they will get income coming in as they rent it out." Toop&Toop Real Estate chairman Anthony Toop says the removal of the firsthome owners grant has had an impact on the market.

"First homebuyers have had a bit of a blow losing the firsthome owners grant unless they are building," he says.

"They will start getting into the market again when rents start to increase ... the other thing that has happened is that the lines have crossed where owning a property is at or cheaper than the cost of renting." He says the market is impacted by confidence issues and the increase in unemployment may have an effect.

"They are buying into Lightsview, the new subdivisions at Mt Barker, and also whatever they can close to the city such as Prospect at the $400,000 range," Mr Toop says.

First homebuyer Tania Reckwell bought a house last year at Sellicks Beach through HomeStart, and says owning a home is more enjoyable than renting.

"It is so much better, we couldn't put up hooks in our last place," Ms Reckwell says.

"We had no garden so we love now having a big yard, renting was hard for us, being able to own our own home is so much better." She says the help of HomeStart, which aims to remove some of the major barriers for home ownership, was instrumental in her ability to buy a home.

"HomeStart helped us in our situation with two children, without them we wouldn't have been able to get into our first home," she says.

HomeStart chief executive John Oliver says his organisation helped 1000 first homebuyers into their first property this year.

"Our belief is that home ownership offers a broad range of financial and social benefits, so we strive to ensure that more South Australians make the step into home ownership and begin realising all of those benefits sooner," Mr Oliver says.

"Removing stamp duty on property would eliminate one of the major hurdles for first homebuyers, but any changes in this area would have to balance the needs of all homebuyers and homeowners alike, and also be sustainable for the state's economy." Investors have one big advantage if they have a little extra ... they can outmuscle the first homebuyers because they have a tax advantage, they will get income coming in as they rent it out".