Do you pay stamp duty when refinancing in Sydney?

The world of property purchases can be a bit confusing, especially when it comes to understanding all the costs involved. One of the most significant costs you'll encounter is stamp duty. In this article we aim to demystify this tax, focusing on how it applies to refinancing in Sydney, and hopefully, make your journey into homeownership a little less daunting.

First, let's talk about home loan refinancing. This is when you switch your current home loan to a new one, either with your existing lender or a different one. People refinance for various reasons, such as to get a better interest rate, access equity in their home, or consolidate debt. However, it's crucial to understand that refinancing comes with its own set of costs, including stamp duty.

Comprehensive Understanding of Stamp Duty

So, what exactly is stamp duty? It's a state tax that you pay when you buy a property, and it's been around in some form since the 17th century. The name comes from the old practice of physically stamping a document to show that duty had been paid. These days, it's all done electronically, but the name has stuck.

Stamp duty plays a significant role in property purchases because it can add a substantial amount to your costs. It's typically around 4% of the property's purchase price and is usually paid upfront. However, the exact amount can vary depending on the state and the type of property you're buying.

Stamp Duty in New South Wales

Let's zoom in on New South Wales (NSW), and more specifically, Sydney. In NSW, the government has recently introduced a new policy that allows eligible first home buyers to pay stamp duty as either a lump sum or an annual land tax from 2022-2023. This is a significant change and can make a big difference in how you budget for your property purchase.

The stamp duty rates in NSW are based on the value of the property. For example, for a property worth $600,000, you'd typically pay around $22,490 in stamp duty. However, there are some exemptions. If you're a first-time home buyer and you're buying a house worth less than $800,000, you're exempt from stamp duty.

Stamp Duty Relief

Now, let's talk about stamp duty relief. Some people may be eligible for relief, which can reduce the amount of stamp duty you have to pay. For example, pensioners and health care card holders may be eligible for stamp duty relief. This can be a significant help, especially if you're on a tight budget.

In NSW, the government offers a scheme called the First Home Buyers Assistance scheme. This provides exemptions or concessions on stamp duty for eligible first home buyers. For example, if you're buying a new home worth up to $800,000, you may be eligible for a full exemption from stamp duty. If the home is worth between $800,000 and $1 million, you may be eligible for a concessional rate.

Refinancing a Home Loan

Let's start with the basics. Refinancing a home loan is like trading in your old car for a newer model. You're essentially swapping out your current mortgage for a new one, hopefully with better terms. This can save you money in the long run, especially if you secure a lower interest rate or reduce the term of your loan. However, it's not a decision to be taken lightly.

It's crucial to ensure that the potential savings outweigh the costs involved in refinancing. Think of it like this: if you're buying a new car, you wouldn't just look at the sticker price. You'd also consider the cost of insurance, maintenance, and fuel. Similarly, when refinancing, you need to factor in all the associated costs and fees to determine if it's a financially sound decision.

Refinancing Costs

Now, let's break down the costs involved in refinancing. These can include exit fees (charged by your current lender for ending your loan early), establishment fees (charged by your new lender for setting up the new loan), mortgage discharge fees (to release the property held as security by your old lender), Lender's Mortgage Insurance (LMI), stamp duty, other government charges, and a break fee if you're on a fixed-rate loan.

Each of these fees can vary significantly, so it's essential to understand what they are and how much they could cost you. For instance, LMI is a one-off insurance payment that protects your lender in case you default on your loan. If you're borrowing more than 80% of your property's value, you'll likely have to pay LMI.

Involvement of Brokers in Refinancing

This is where brokers come in. They can help negotiate these fees and guide you through the refinancing process. For example, Principal Mortgages, is one of the best brokers in Sydney, and they can negotiate on your behalf, potentially saving you thousands of dollars.

General Advice on Refinancing and Stamp Duty

It's also important to understand that different rules regarding stamp duty apply in different states. This can significantly impact the cost of refinancing, so it's advisable to consult a broker or financial advisor to understand these rules fully.

Specifics of Refinancing in Sydney

If you're in Sydney, there may be additional costs to consider when refinancing. For instance, you may need to pay lawyer fees for the legal work involved in the refinancing process. These fees can vary, so it's important to factor them into your overall cost calculation.


In conclusion, understanding stamp duty and the costs involved in refinancing a home loan is crucial when considering this financial move. It's not just about securing a lower interest rate or reducing your loan term; it's also about ensuring that the potential savings outweigh the costs involved.

Whether you're in Sydney or elsewhere in Australia, it's advisable to consult a broker or financial advisor to help you navigate these costs and make an informed decision. Remember, knowledge is power, especially when it comes to your finances. So, take the time to understand these costs and fees, and you'll be well on your way to making a smart, financially sound decision about refinancing your home loan.

About the author 

Harold Simmons

Harold is the founder and creator of the Asset Owners Discussion Project. He creates quality resources so investors can get access to information they wouldn't normally be able to access. He has been investing in real estate for almost three decades and is particularly experienced with mortgages and refinancing.

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