The number of first home buyers has more than trebled after the New South Wales government rolled out stamp duty concessions in July last year.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Sunday announced 19,000 people have since bought their first home, up from 5400 in the same period the year prior.
But the package barely made a ripple in inner Sydney.
The housing affordability package wipes stamp duty for first home buyers looking at properties valued up to $650,000. A concession is given for homes valued between $650,000 and $800,000.
Sydney has a median house price of around $1 million.
A map of the first home buyer figures shows stamp duty concessions favoured the outer-west and outer regions. Gosford on the Central Coast had the biggest growth in the state, with nine times as many people buying their first home compared to the year prior.
It comes after a study last week found Sydney’s key workers – teachers, paramedics, nurses and police – were commuting long hours after being pushed out of the city.
Ms Berejiklian rejected that inner Sydney was not benefiting from the concession.
“My first place was a tiny unit, and for most people who want to live closer to the CBD, that may be their first option,” she told reporters on Sunday.
“Some people prefer a freestanding home with four bedrooms, which you can get in Oran Park [south-west Sydney]. Others have benefited from the concession by investing in their first unit [in the city].”
The median house price in Gosford is $990,000, according to the most recent RP data from October last year. The median apartment price is $437,000.
Commuting from Gosford to Sydney during peak hour would take around an hour-and-a-half, or up to two hours. The train takes 90 minutes to Central Station.
Ms Berejiklian said the government was investing in a suite of other measures to tackle housing affordability as well as transport, to cut commute times from outer-regions.
“Is there more work to do? Of course there is,” she said.
Sydney University urban planning professor Nicole Gurran, who worked on the Key Worker Housing Affordability report released last week, said $900,000 was still unaffordable for key workers.
“So adjusting stamp duty won’t stop the exodus of essential workers from Sydney,” Dr Gurran told The New Daily.
“We need to boost the supply of homes in an affordable price range for key workers and others on moderate incomes.”
Almost 20 per cent of Sydney’s essential workers moved to outer and regional areas between 2006 and 2016, according to the report. At the same time, the number of key workers in the Southern Highlands increased by 17 per cent, 13.6 per cent in the Hunter Valley, and 10.5 per cent in the Illawarra.
Daniel Cohen, of First Home Buyers Australia, agreed a multi-policy approach was required – but the results were promising.
He said the $800,000 could be lifted to ease the burden in Sydney.
“We think there is room for that to be moved higher, towards the $900,000 or potentially the $1 million mark,” Mr Cohen told The New Daily.
Shadow Treasurer Ryan Park said NSW was falling behind other states, and the full picture remained “disheartening”.
“The ABS [Australian Bureau of Statistics] data shows that last year there were 9188 more first home buyers entering the market in Victoria and 2047 more in Queensland compared to NSW,” Mr Park said in a statement.
He noted mortgages and median house prices were far higher in NSW and Sydney than other markets.
“The rivers of stamp duty gold the Berejiklian government is raking in should be going to affordable housing measures – not a $2.5 billion stadium splurge.”